409. Robert Louis Stevenson House

Open Sat 1:00-4:00 (April- October)


Stop #409 Robert Luis Stevenson House Although the author, Robert Luis Stevenson never owned the house that bears his name, he is said to have rented rooms when the old adobe was operated as the French Hotel. If you look closely at the sign on the façade, you can see both names today. It was built as a family home by Custom House official Rafael Gonzales, in 1840. By 1856, Juan Giradin, an immigrant from France, moved his family into the house and converted the ground floor into a carriage repair shop. As you face the Houston Street entrance, notice the large double doors on the left that would have provided access for carriages. Just before Giradin died in 1879, he had remodeled the building into a rooming house. His widow, Manuela Perez Giradin continued to operate it as the French Hotel. It was in the fall of that year that Scottish author Robert Luis Stevenson is said to have stayed. Stevenson had come to Monterey to pursue a romance with American Francis VanDerGrift Osbourne. Fanny, as she was known, was staying with her sister nearby. The author, whom friends called Luis, had met Fanny while she was studying art in France and trying to escape an unhappy marriage. While in Monterey, Stevenson could be seen at a nearby restaurant playing chess with the proprietor, Jules Simoneau. Stevenson wrote about his experiences in an essay titled The Old Pacific Capital. Fanny and Luis were married the following year in San Francisco. Over the years the couple and Fanny’s children, Lloyd and Isobel, visited many South Pacific islands before settling in Western Samoa where today, side-by-side gravestones mark Fanny and Luis’ final resting places. On November 11, 1950, during a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Stevenson’s birthday, Cecilia Tobin-Clark, who with the late Edith van Antwerp had purchased the Stevenson House, presented it to the state of California as a memorial to the author who once stayed here.