Stop #408 Cooper-Molera Adobe
Cooper-Molera sits on two acres and includes several buildings including a divided main adobe, two barns, a warehouse, and a cookhouse,
As you look at the building, you can see different styles of construction that help us tell the story of dramatic changes taking place in Monterey during the transition from Mexican to American governance.
American sea captain John Rogers Cooper came to Monterey in 1823, shortly after Mexico declared independence from Spain. Cooper, saw an opportunity to prosper in a new country and set the stage to operate a general merchandise store. To do this Cooper had to conform to Mexican law, becoming Roman Catholic, giving up allegiance to the U.S., and swearing to support the constitution of the Mexican Republic.
In 1827, Cooper married Incarnación, the sister of Mexican General Mariano Vallejo, and raised six children.
Nine years after his arrival, Cooper finally buys property on this site and begins construction of a one-and-a-half story adobe. However, his practice of buying up other properties continually places the Captain in debt. To resolve one debt, Cooper sells half of his house to John Coffin Jones who, in turn, sells part of his section to his clerk Nathan Spear who builds the warehouse on the property that bears his name. Spear then sells part of his property to Manuel Diaz, a prosperous storekeeper and politician, who operates the corner store.
In 1850 California becomes part of the United States, the economy shifts and the fortunes of Captain Cooper and Manuel Diaz reverse. The once successful Diaz faces bankruptcy, while Captain Cooper prospers. He had worked hard to strengthen trade with China, England, the U.S., and South America. It was in this year that Captain Cooper builds a second story on his half of the adobe.
After Coopers death in 1872, Cooper’s eldest daughter Anita inherits the house and buys back the Diaz portion. Her niece, Francis Molera inherits the house in 1912 and in 1968, gives the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which partnered with California State Parks to restore the building.
The Cooper-Molera is one of the few adobes in Monterey owned continuously by members of the same family. Today, the museum store and 19th Century-style gardens beyond are open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.