Monday, December 1, 2008
(Photo: Casa Munras Hotel of Monterey; permission sought)
Munras Avenue is one of the best-marked streets in Monterey, Casa Munras one of the oldest hotels. Their namesake is Don Esteban Munras, a Barcelona-born artist who was sent to Monterey as a Spanish diplomat in 1820, just a year before Mexico won its independence from Spain and took control of Alta California. Munras stayed, and built the first house outside the presidio walls – Casa Munras - in 1824. He established a ranch in Monterey, trading cowhides and tallow to ship captains who brought fine furnishings from the East Coast, which Munras then sold in a store next to his family home. Some of the furnishings became family heirlooms and are now displayed in a Munras museum at the Carmel Mission. His most colorful remembrance may be the well-preserved frescoes in the chapel at Mission San Miguel, which Salinan Indians painted under his direction.