Monterey is extraordinary among California cities for having preserved more than 40 historic buildings from all periods of its long history. Dating back to the Spanish era in the 1770’s when Monterey’s foundation began based on a military and religious influence. Monterey’s earliest known military footing was located in the surroundings of the Royal Presidio Chapel (San Carlos Cathedral) constructed in 1791.

Throughout the historic district are fine examples of Monterey’s early buildings, such as Larkin House built in 1834 by Thomas O. Larkin the first and only United State Consul to Alta California under Mexican rule. This significant structure incorporated east-coast design and local materials, i.e. redwood and adobe, and was one of the first two-story buildings in Monterey, the house became known as the Monterey Style of architecture.

The adobes from the Mexican era typically faced the east to take advantage of the early morning sun at the front of the building, the walls were thick and the windows deep, each room had doors that opened to the outside gardens or porches.

After the American occupation of California in 1846, Reverend Walter Colton was appointed to serve as Alcalde, the Chief Magistrate of the Monterey District. During his short stay (three years) his accomplishments were vast. His most evident achievement being the construction of Colton Hall in 1849. Constructed of white stone quarried from nearby hills, and taking on the style of other public halls throughout the United States. Upon the completion of the hall Walter wrote, “It is not an edifice that would attract any attention among public buildings in the United States; but in California it is without a rival”. Colton Hall remains as the cornerstone to Monterey City Hall and is an active museum open to the public.