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MONTEREY COUNTY

Salinas California Historic Houses

 

Salinas California is a charming town that's a mix of modest housing and well-kept Victorian properties constructed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and now used as office buildings, homes and even a museum in Oldtown Salinas. Located within view of the multi-million dollar Steinbeck Center, the historic homes help preserve the essence of an era. One very special building, the Steinbeck House, even serves meals to guests, providing the opportunity for visitors to be served by volunteers wearing period clothing.

 

The next time you pass through or by Salinas located off Highway 101 that extends from Los Angeles to northern California, be sure to take time to not only see the Steinbeck Museum, the great downtown shopping and dining and the surrounding houses located within a few blocks of downtown.

 

Show above in left photo is the Sargent House, now used for office space. Listed as National Landmark 80000824  B. V. Sargent House, AKA Sargent House, 154 Central Avenue, Salinas. The Sargeant House was designed by William H. Weeks and L. U. Grant. The architect of this Queen Anne house is unknown.

 

The house pictured middle-bottom row is the Nesbitt House. National Landmark 82002210


Sheriff William Joseph Nesbitt House, 66 Capitol Street, Salinas, California. William Joseph Nesbitt was elected Town Marshall in 1882, one year after bringing his bride to his new home on Capitol Street. From 1902 until 1923, he served Salinas as Sheriff. His well-to-do neighbors, the Steinbecks, had a boy, John, who would have known Sheriff Nesbitt well. Literary scholars maintain that Sheriff Nesbitt was John Steinbeck's model for Sheriff Horace Quinn in East of Eden.

Pictured on the bottom right photo is the Casa House, the Spanish building established in 1928. It is used as office space for approximately four businesses.  Location: 158 Central Avenue, Salinas, CA.

The pink house pictured above located at 141 Central Ave. in Salinas appears to be a home. An internet search listed it as an addiction recovery house. We were unable to find information about its age or history. Other historic houses include National Landmark 82002209 - Krough House, 146 Central Avenue, Salinas and the Steinbeck House, National Landmark 00000856


John Steinbeck House, 132 Central Avenue, Salinas.


Just a few steps from the National Steinbeck Center sits John Steinbeck’s boyhood home, The Steinbeck House. Now a restaurant, The House is a visitor favorite with its prix fixe menu and docent guided tours. The restored Queen Anne Victorian transports its patrons to early California times. Drop below to the Best Cellar Gift Shop for quaint culinary and craft gifts. The Harvey Baker House, thought to be the oldest standing structure within the Salinas City limits, is close by and also available for tours.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 934

Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Japanese American Citizens League chapters of Salinas Valley, Gilroy, Monterey Peninsula, San Benito County, and Watsonville and the city of Salinas.
February 19, 1984


Salinas Detention Center Monument was dedicated tto the 3,586 Monterey Bay Area residents of Japanese ancestry, most of whom were American citizens, temporarily confined in the Salinas Rodeo Grounds during World War II from April to July 1942. They were detained without charges, trial, or establishment of guilt before being incarcerated in permanent camps, mostly at Poston, Arizona. May such injustice and humiliation never recur. 

Black House 418 Pajaro Street Salinas National 1984000911

National Landmark 80000823
Peter J. Bontadelli House
AKA The Empire House
119 Cayuga Street
Salinas
The Empire House, designed by Peter J. Bontadelli, is considered the finest example of the French Second Empire style in Monterey County.

José Eusebio Boronda Adobe Casa
Built between 1844 and 1848 by José Eusebio Boronda, this is an outstanding example of a Mexican era rancho adobe. Virtually unaltered since its construction, it shows many features of the "Monterey Colonial" style which resulted from the fusion of New England and California building traditions during California's Mexican period.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 870

Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Monterey County Historical Society, Inc. and the Monterey Bay Chapter, A.I.A.. May 18, 1974.

National Landmark 03000337
Monterey County Jail
AKA Old Monterey County Jail
142 West Alisal Street
Salinas
This Historic District of five acres and two buildings was added to the National Register on September 4, 2004, primarily because of its association with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union.

Chavez was jailed here between December 4 and December 24, 1970, for refusing to end a boycott of Bud Antle lettuce. Ethel Kennedy and Coretta Scott King were among the many supporters who visited Chavez.

The government of Monterey County regards the building as a liability and approved its demolition several years ago. As of this writing (January 2006), the county continues to deny the jail’s significance and has appealed its landmark status to the Keeper of the National Register.

Please visit the website of The Architectural Heritage Association of Monterey County to learn how you can help preserve this building.

National Landmark 00000856
John Steinbeck House
132 Central Avenue
Salinas

GHOST CURSE
James Dean was a famous movie star of the 1950,s and like his screen image he liked to live life in the fast lane. In 1955 Dean was attracted to a car which was a silver gray 1955 Porshe Spyder.

He bought the car planning to race it in the upcoming races at Salinas. Dean was thrilled with the car but several of his friends were not.

Actor Alec Guiness told Dean to get rid of the car. George Barris said the car seemed to give off "a wierd feeling of an impending doom".

On a trip out of Atlantis mechanic Rolf Wuetherich rode with Dean. Behind Dean following in a Ford station wagon was Bill Hickman and Stan Roth.

Once on the open highway Dean speeded along until at 3.30 a highway trooper pulled the Porshe over and gave Dean a ticket. Soon Dean and Wuetherich were beginning the ascent of the Diablo Range mountains.

At 5.59 P.M. Dean smashed head on into another car driven by Donald Turnupseed. Dean was killed instantly.

Wuetherich was thrown free but suffered extensive injuries. Turnupseed suffered only minor cuts.

The porshed was very badly mangled.

Later on the car was sold to a Barris who planned to use it for spares. But upon the cars arrival at the garage it fell during unloading on to a mechanic breaking one of his legs.

Then two physicians bought the engine and drive train to place in their own race cars. On October 2, 1956 they raced the cars using these parts for the first time.

One was killed in an accident and the other seriously injured in another accident. Two of the tires off Deans car were sold to young man who later reported that both tires had blown at the same time very nearly causing a serious accident.

Souvenir seeking fans tried to steal parts off Deans car only to suffer severe injuries. The California Highway Patrol decided to use Deans vehicle as part of safety exhibit.

During one of the exhibits the garage used to house Deans car went up in flames. Strange all the vehicles inside were destroyed except Deans car.

Later when on display at a Sacramento high school the car fell off its pedestal breaking a students hip. Then after that the car was sent to Salinas, but on the way the car fell off the flat bed truck killing the driver.

Two years later it fell off another truck causing an accident. Then in 1958 it caused another accident.

In 1959 the car was on display when for no reason it suddenly collapsed into 11 pieces. In 1960 the car was crated and sent to Los Angeles. But it never arrived, somewhere on the way it just disappeared.

 

Salinas - old stage road - Old stage road has been known for many hauntings. It runs right outside of Salinas and goes through the back roads of King city. One of the most infamous stories that have been passed down was back in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s there was a woman that was walking along side the road and there was a man who asked her for a ride and she accepted it. After a couple of minutes passed by, he pulled over and savagely attacked and raped her. After this horrendous act he took the body out into the fields and decapitated her. Then he went out threw the head into the fields and left the body. After that there was sightings of a woman walking down the road holding her own head or you see a woman walking and if someone picks her up she’ll sit there for a moment and then vanishes right where the crime occurred.

Salinas - Market Street House - An old woman is said to have committed suicide by hanging herself in the living room. She has been seen wearing a black dress. Reports of a feeling of choking, and a feeling of her trying to interact with different ones, especially children.

Salinas - Salinas High Bell Tower - It is reported from several students that a teenage girl from the age of 15-18 (believed to be named “Jennifer”)has been seen and heard looking for her boyfriend by the name of Adrian. It has been said that she has asked students to tell him goodbye for her…. then disappears.

Salinas - old stage road - Old stage road has been known for many hauntings. It runs right outside of Salinas and goes through the back roads of King city. One of the most infamous stories that have been passed down was back in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s there was a woman that was walking along side the road and there was a man who asked her for a ride and she accepted it. After a couple of minutes passed by, he pulled over and savagely attacked and raped her. After this horrendous act he took the body out into the fields and decapitated her. Then he went out threw the head into the fields and left the body. After that there was sightings of a woman walking down the road holding her own head or you see a woman walking and if someone picks her up she’ll sit there for a moment and then vanishes right where the crime occurred.

Salinas - Market Street House - An old woman is said to have committed suicide by hanging herself in the living room. She has been seen wearing a black dress. Reports of a feeling of choking, and a feeling of her trying to interact with different ones, especially children.

Salinas - Salinas High Bell Tower - It is reported from several students that a teenage girl from the age of 15-18 (believed to be named “Jennifer”)has been seen and heard looking for her boyfriend by the name of Adrian. It has been said that she has asked students to tell him goodbye for her…. then disappears.


Small tribes of Native Americans first made their home here in the Salinas Valley many centuries before the first European explorers came to California to build a presido in Monterey and missions in Carmel, Soledad, San Juan Bautista and the San Antonio Valley.

During the time of Spanish rule settlements developed around the missions here on the Central Coast, but the area remained largely undeveloped until after Mexico overthrew their Spanish rulers and began granting lands in Alta California to its people.

"Salinas" is Spanish for 'salt marsh' because at that time there was a large slough that ran through the area. Sausal and Nacional were among some of the first ranchos granted by the Mexican government after Mexico seceded from Spain in 1822. It was on adjoining parts of these ranchos that "Salinas City" was born after California became a territory of the United States.

Early in the gold rush years James Bryant Hill bought Rancho Nacional and became a pioneer in the agricultural industry by farming wheat; the valley had primarly been used for cattle and other livestock from the time of some of it's earliest settlers until the 1920's. Sometime in 1854 Mr. Hill was named postmaster of Salinas, even though there was no town "officially" of that name yet. In 1852 Jacob Leese purchased Rancho Sausal for $600, later he sold 80 acres to Elias Howe. Howe built an inn called "Halfway House" at the intersection of the Monterey-San Juan Bautista and the Los Angeles-San Francisco stage lines in 1856.

In 1867 Alberto Trescony, Alan Riker and William Jackson formed a partnership with cattle rancher Eugene Sherwood and laid out a city plan of a half-square mile. Realizing the importance of the railroad to getting the agricultural products to market, Sherwood offered Southern Pacific Railroad free acreage for the right-of- way and a depot; which opened its doors for business in 1872, that was also the year that "Salinas City" became the seat of Monterey County. Two years later the name was changed to the "City of Salinas" and incorporated.

The agricultural industry began to change from hides and tallows to more of what we are know for to this date; products like grains, beans and of course sugar beets. After World War I the "green gold" of lettuce, broccoli and artichokes helped to make Salinas one of the wealthiest cities per capitia in the U.S.

In our community today the Spanish heritage is reflected in the names of our streets, lakes, shopping centers, recreation areas and school districts. Salinas is a very multi-cultural city with contributions being made for many different groups such as: The Chinese, Mexican, Dutch, African Americans and Germans just to name a few.

If you would like to know more about the history of the Salinas Valley please visit The Monterey County Historical Society at the Boronda Adobes or take the virtual tour at the Historical Society Website.

(Source: The Monterey County Historical Society)