Monday, April 13, 2009
Samuel F.B. Morse had nearly personal control of Pebble Beach development for 50 years, setting out in 1919 to protect the majestic shoreline as “one of the greatest private parks in existence.” He built golf courses with scenic views and rimmed them with residential lots. Sales of the lots paid for the golf course development and tolls from the private 17 Mile Drive – at first 50 cents for a car or two-horse wagon, 25 cents for a saddle horse – paid for maintenance. The “Duke of Del Monte,” as Morse was known, had such control that not even a tree in Del Monte Forest could be removed without his personal approval. The control reflected the racism of the times, with deed restrictions prohibiting “Asiatics or Negroes” or descendents of the Turkish Empire from buying or otherwise owning, leasing or occupying property in Pebble Beach. The racial covenants were ironic in light of Morse's dream of having the United Nations located in Del Monte Forest. Those covenants were dropped as unenforceable in 1964 after the Civil Rights Act outlawed racial discrimination in the U.S. Morse died in 1969 and in 1978, Del Monte Properties became the Pebble Beach Company.
(Image: Bust of Morse at Pebble Beach golf sculpted by Richard MacDonald. Photo courtesy of E11y)