Construction of this graceful adobe was begun in 1845 by Thomas O. Larkin. It was sold unfinished to Florencio Serrano, who completed the house following his marriage to the daughter of Don Joaquin de la Torre. They raised a family of six there, and Serrano became an important member of the community, succeeding Walter Colton as the second alcalde (mayor) of Monterey.
Casa Serrano has a special significance in California’s early history because it served simultaneously as one of the first schools after the U.S. flag was flown over the Custom House in 1846. Even after losing his eyesight, Serrano continued teaching, aided by his daughter and his own phenomenal memory.
Eventually, the Serrano descendants leased the property to assorted tenants, including several restaurants. Among the best known was Cadamatorie’s, where the Monterey History and Art Association was first proposed over the dinner table.
In 1959, MHAA purchased Casa Serrano, completely restored it and filled it with antiques and Monterey-related artwork, including a piano that came to Monterey by sea “around the Horn” and paintings by Armin Hansen.