It is claimed that Larkin House, located at 464 Calle Principal in Monterey, was the first two-story house in the state of California. It’s claimed that it was the first house in Monterey with a fireplace. Above and beyond the claims, we do know a few important facts about this historic Monterey home and treasure, deemed both a California and National Historic Landmark:
It was built in 1835 by Thomas Oliver Larkin, an American merchant operating a store out of his home, who was the “first and only United States Consul to Alta California under Mexican rule.” Larkin served during President James K. Polk term of office.
It is a two-story mud adobe brick home, with a design that incorporates Spanish Colonial, and building methods that incorporate New England architectural features. This originated the Monterey Colonial architectural style.
The home was acquired in 1922 by Alice Larkin Toulmin – Thomas’ granddaughter.
Today, the home contains many 19th century antiques from around the globe, and both floors can be toured.
Larkin was like many leading citizens of the day, in wanting to build a large house using sun-dried adobe bricks. For a time, he was in fact the most influential American in Monterey. His home was designated a California Historical Landmark in 1933, and then in 1960, a National Historic Landmark. According to the Online Archive of California, in their Guide to the Larkin House Collection, Larkin was able to adapt “eastern form to available materials: adobe and redwood.” They go on to say his house was unique due to features like the broad roof overhang: stylish, yet practical, in that it protected the adobe from the corrosive effects of wind and rain.
Thomas Larkin’s influence saw five years where his adobe building served as the center of and headquarters for social life in the Capital. A number of historic decisions were made at Larkin House, some of which affected California’s future.
For more information this Historic Monterey Home, a good place to start is the Monterey County Historical Society website.