Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Wright and Sanders, Architects (firm); George Hippisley Sanders (architect); John Wright (architect)

Dates: constructed 1880-1880, demolished 1887

4 stories

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Monterey, CA

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Building History

Railroad tycoon, Charles Crocker (1822-1888) and other members of the "Big Four," the four men who founded the Central Pacific Railroad, organized the Pacific Improvement Company. The Pacific Improvement Company had many real estate interests throughout Northern CA; one of which was to develop Monterey, CA, as a vacation center. The Pacific Improvement Company built this large hotel, to serve the wealthy of San Francisco, CA, and elsewhere, who could relax and engage in a variety of leisure activities, including drinking, swimming, bowling and tennis. (The first golf courses on the West Coast were built here in 1890.) The Hotel Del Monte #1 opened on 06/10/1880, and burned seven years later on 04/01/1887. Although the huge hotel was filled to capacity with guests, no one perished. The fire occurred at 11:00 PM, and the night proved cold for guests caught outside in their bedclothes. They found shelter temporarily, according to a New York Times article of 04/11/1887, in the adjoining bowling alley, saloon and casino. (See "The Burned Del Monte," New York Times, 04/11/1887, p. 2.) The main Gothic Revival building with its two wings was rebuilt to original specifications by 1888. According to an article published in the Los Angeles Times on 04/22/1887, "...about $100,000 worth of diamonds and jewelry were buried in the ruins." Only about 20 per cent of which had been found three weeks later. (See "Treasure in the Ruins: Valuables Recovered from the Ashes of the Hotel Del Monte," Los Angeles Times, 04/22/1887, p. 4.)

Building Notes

The New York Times described the construction of the hotel: "For some time prior to 1880 the managers of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company had been anxious to find some place establish a public resort that would correspond in some measure with their projected improvements. Charles Crocker had always been favorably impressed with the natural beauties of the Bay of Monterey, and the groves of pine, oak, and cedar seemed to him to be the place to choose. He was seconded by his partners, and in 1880 work was begun." Owing to the extreme wealth of the Big Four, construction work on the Del Monte could proceed quickly. The New York Times correspondent summarized the building process: "A piece of ground containing 7,000 acres was bought, and 126 acres were reserved for the new building and approaches. A skillful landscape gardener was employed, with a large force of assistants, and in a few months the entire tract had been surveyed and laid out in the best manner. The roads were wide, thoroughly macadamized, and afforded drives of many miles in length through scenes of varied beauty. The work of building a hotel was not backward. Plans had been submitted by Wright & Sanders, and at once a large force of workmen were engaged to rear the famous Del Monte Hotel." The Times writer continued to describe the hotel as built: "The style selected was the modern Gothic, which corresponded exactly with the surrounding wealth of nature and the resources of modern art. The main building was 385 feet long by 115 feet wide, with two deep wings. The building was four stories, surmounted with a tall tower, that contained some choice rooms, with extended views of the whole country. It did not take long to require more room, which was furnished by a new addition, 198 feet long by 48 feet wide, four stories high. There were 65 single rooms so arranged that they could be converted into suites, with bathrooms between every two rooms. The entire hotel was supplied with gas made on the grounds, and with pure soft water from the Carmel River. The bar, bowling alleys, and smoking rooms were contained in detached buildings, while a large stable and carriage house was kept for the accommodation of the guests. The front and ends of the main building were ornamented with wide verandas, which afforded charming views of the bay, the surrounding hills, the walks and drives, and the lovely pond and fountain. The work of building this hotel was pushed forward with great success. In four months from breaking ground the building was finished, and, in June 1880, the Hotel Del Monte was opened by a grand ball under the special care of Charles Crocker." (See "The Burned Del Monte," New York Times, 04/11/1887, p. 2.)


R.P. Hammond, Jr. (b. 05/31/1859 in CA), a civil engineer and associate of the Big Four, supervised the layout and construction of the Hotel Del Monte #1. In about 1884, he directed the creation of a reservoir and pipeline system to bring water to the hotel for fire-fighting purposes. An internal series of pipes was designed to douse flames before they became unmanageable. Eighteen-inch iron mains carried water from the reservoir on the Carmel River 30 miles away. Unfortunately, this new fire suppression system failed at the crucial moment. In 1885, President Grover Cleveland appointed Hammond US Surveyor General, a post he held until at least 1889.

PCAD id: 16859