030. Casa Vasquez

Casa Vasquez The peaceful, pleasant Casa Vasquez seems an unlikely setting as the childhood home of one of California's most famous bandits of the 19th century, but it was here that Tiburcio Vasquez was born in 1835. Ironically, his mother, Guadalupe Cantua de Vasquez, bought the original one-story adobe house from then-Monterey police chief and blacksmith Luis Placencia. Vasquez grew up in this home. Old-timers recalled the young Vasquez as a bright and clever boy, a popular poet, musician and dancer who could read, write and speak fluently in English and Spanish. He grew up to be a dandy and a lady's man, and one of the most notorious bandits in California history. Vasquez and his outlaw gangs went on a crime spree lasting almost 20 years. From Ukiah to Los Angeles they robbed stores and stagecoaches, stole horses and cattle, and committed highway robbery. Vasquez achieved national notoriety. Eventually an $8,000 bounty was offered if he were captured alive - only $6,000 if he were dead. Vasquez joked with his captors that they should take good care of him and dress his wounds. If they let him die they'd be cheating themselves out of $2000. Not a bad profit for a little kindness. Legend suggests that the wily Tiburcio often returned to visit his sister in the old family home despite the house being located right behind Colton Hall - then the Monterey County Courthouse - with the County Jail right next door. In 1874 law enforcement officials finally caught Vasquez at a hideout in Southern California in what is today West Hollywood. Though he denied killing anyone, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. When he was hanged in San Jose at the age of 39, the Chicago Tribune called him "the most noted desperado of modern times." The Vasquez House has had several subsequent owners over the years. In 1922 a second story and backroom was added. Today, Casa Vasquez is owned by the City of Monterey and serves as the Administrative Office for the City's Recreation Department.