404. Old Whaling Station

Open Tues-Fri 10:00-2:00

Stop #404 Old Whaling Station Like the building next door, the Old Whaling Station represents early American architecture in Monterey. Although the popular local building material, adobe, was used, the style of this house might be something you could see back in New England. In 1847, David Wight built this house similar in style to that of his family’s old stone house back home. He was assisted by his neighbor and owner of the First Brick House next door, Gallant Dickenson and by a local brick maker who was also new to Monterey at the time. Like others who had come to Monterey in 1847, Wight left the following year when gold fever sent dreamers and prospectors northeast to the Sierra Nevada mountains during the Gold Rush. He never returned to live in Monterey. By 1855, the house was leased to Portuguese whalers who had formed the Old Whaling Company and used the house as their headquarters. By then, whaling had become prosperous in Monterey. However, low whale oil prices and the scarcity of whales caused this and most other whaling companies to be abandoned by the 1880s. One sign of the old whaling days can still be seen today. Notice the unusual paving material that forms the sidewalk in front of the house. Those are not stone blocks, but sections of whale vertebrae cut into diamond shaped pavers. At one time this may have been a popular paving material in Monterey, but today, this is the last remaining whale bone sidewalk. If you have a moment, walk into the garden behind the building to see the old iron try pot that was used during the 19th Century to boil or “try out” the whale blubber into oil for lamps and lubricants. Through most of the 20th Century the house changed owners many times, even serving as a popular inn for tourists. By 1979 the Monterey City Council offered it to California State Parks, and, in partnership with the Junior League of Monterey, it’s maintained today as a museum and special event venue.