Stop #406 Casa Soberanes
This adobe was built by a Custom House official, Rafael Estrada, in 1842. In many ways Casa Soberanes is a typical Mexican-Era residence with a mix of Californian, Hispanic, and Mediterranean styles.
Notice the symmetry of design – each lower floor opening has a window or door centered above it. This reduces weight from the upper walls and roof from the supporting walls below. You may have noticed the roof has both tile and shingles, and there is a good reason. Since the second floor balcony has no posts to support the eaves, heavy clay roof tiles were used only up to the three-foot thick adobe walls. The discovery of original stone foundations extending far to the north, suggests that this building was almost twice as large as we see it today.
The adobe’s name, Casa Soberanes, refers to the family of Esequiel Soberanes who bought the house in 1860. Eventually inherited by later generations, the Soberanes family owned the house for almost 62 years!
The last private owners were Bill and Mayo Hayes O’Donnell who first leased the house in 1941. Mr. O’Donnell passed away eight years later, but Mayo remained. Mrs. O’Donnell, a well-known columnist for the Monterey County Herald Newspaper, worked to save many historic adobes in her hometown. In 1954, Mrs. O’Donnell gifted the property to the State of California, and, through special agreement, remained in the house until1977. Two years later, the building opened as part of Monterey State Historic Park and was shown by guided tour. Inside, visitors saw it much the way she left it in the 1970’s.
Today it stands as a testament to efforts by her and many more like her to preserve Monterey Adobes for many generations to come.