403. First Brick House

Open Daily 10:00-4:00

Stop #403 First Brick House Most historians agree that this building was the first of its kind in Monterey – constructed of kiln-fired bricks instead of adobe. Its owner, Gallant Dickenson, came here with his family from Missouri, surviving Indian attacks and an outbreak of typhoid during their long, overland journey. The year was 1846, and America was at war with Mexico. Amos Lawrey, a skilled brick maker and mason, had met the Dickenson’s on the journey. The following year, Lawrey began firing bricks for construction of this house while courting Dickenson’s daughter, whom he eventually married. American presence from 1846 until statehood in 1850 encouraged waves of emigrant farmers and craftsmen who replaced the merchant seamen who arrived during the Mexican period. Although American troops occupied Monterey during the war with Mexico, many Monterey residents were resigned (and some even looked forward) to a change in government. But it wasn’t long before many recent arrivals, including the Dickensons, abandoned their buildings during the California Gold Rush of 1848. While in the gold fields, Dickenson went into debt and the house was sold at public auction in August of 1851 to Patrick Breen for just over $1500. The Breen’s continued to own the house for 55 years, leasing or renting the building to tenants. The first tenants were Captain John Davenport and his wife Ellen. Captain Davenport organized the Monterey Whaling Company, the first shore whaling operation on the Pacific Coast. Like many adobes in Monterey, it was sold and resold to different owners - It was purchased in 1915 for only $10 by Juan and Maria Garcia who operated it as a Spanish restaurant for many years. After a period of abandonment, eventually, it became a graphic arts gallery. In 1979, the Junior League of Monterey, aware of the building’s historical significance, signed an operating lease and spent many years restoring the old building, turning it over to California State Parks in 1995.