The Origins of Monterey Colonial

The Origins of Monterey Colonial post thumbnail image

We have talked a lot in this series about how architecture is often influenced by the styles that preceded it. Nowhere is this more true than at the Monterey House, or Monterey Colonial. This type of architecture combines the French, Spanish and English styles. In fact, it is so unique that it is always in demand.

Let’s take a closer look at the Monterey house. We examine its history, influences and defining characteristics to give you a clear picture of the DNA of this house. Read on below for more information.

History of Monterey homes

Unlike other architectural styles, the origins of Monterey houses can be traced back to a single source. They are the brainchild of architect and businessman Thomas O. Larkin. The style is inspired by the different places where he has lived all his life.

Larkin grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts, where he was undoubtedly familiar with classic colonial houses. As a young man, he traveled south to Charleston, South Carolina, to establish himself as a businessman. While there, he recorded observations in magazines about the architectural beauty of southern churches. After a career setback, Larkin moved to western California to live with his family. There he came into contact with the Spanish and Mexican architectural influences that dominated Californian culture at the time. All these influences come together in the Monterey House.

The first house in Monterey came from Larkin’s need to move to California. He built it as a family home and the style quickly gained popularity locally. As a result, after versions of the Monterey Houses incorporated basic elements of Larkin’s influence. They also contain their own unique details because the construction was completely left to each individual builder.

Cultural influences on Monterey homes

What makes Monterey homes so unique is that the style clearly shows the influences of different cultures. Specifically, you can see elements of English, French and Spanish architecture. We break them down for you in more detail below.


The exterior of the Monterey houses contains surprisingly few English details. A nod to the colonial houses of New England, however, can be seen in their symmetrical facades. The interior is a completely different story. The layout of the Monterey House is almost identical to that of a Colonial, which was revolutionary in California at the time. The houses there were generally arranged in the same way as the Mexican adobes.


The French influence of the Houses comes from the time when Larkin was traveling south as a businessman. Like the Creole houses that originated in Louisiana, the Monterey houses have an upper and lower balcony. Both are usually finished in wrought iron, too. Monterey homes also tend to have French doors.


Finally, you can see the Spanish influences through the choice of building materials. Most often, the walls were made of adobe, and sometimes the roofs were finished with Spanish tiles. Decoration with ceramic or hand-painted tiles was also common in the interior.

Characteristics of Monterey houses

Although the houses in Monterey can be very different from each other, there are a few characteristics that bind them together. Here are some of these features to give you a better idea of how these houses were built.


  • Symmetrical facade
  • Two-storey verandas
  • Wooden frame
  • Adobe walls
  • Covered access door
  • An equal number of windows on each side of the door
  • A low-pitched roof of tiles or shingles


  • Formal accession
  • Central Hall
  • Sala (combination living room and ballroom)
  • Kitchen in the main house instead of outside
  • Interior stairs
  • Rooms on the second floor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Post