610. Casa Serrano

Casa Serrano Construction of this graceful one-story adobe was begun in 1840 by John Chamberlain, an Irish-American blacksmith from Mexico who had deserted his whaling ship. Chamberlain hired Indian craftsmen as adobe brick-makers and masons for his new two-room house. The next year Chamberlain sold the building to prosperous businessman Thomas O. Larkin, who added a third room. Then, in 1846, Larkin sold the house to Florencio Serrano. Serrano was a school teacher who had arrived in 1834 from Mexico as part of the Hijar-Padres project. The goal of the Hijar-Padres project was to encourage more craftsmen and professional people to settle in California. As a teacher, Serrano was quite welcomed. In the year before he bought the house Serrano married the beautiful Rita, whose father was the distinguished soldier Joaquin de la Torre. Together, they raised six children in the home. Serrano had the distinction of being one of the first school teachers in California after the US flag was raised at the Custom House in 1846. In that year he taught 37 children in an old converted Mexican government building. Serrano also became a merchant, and was elected to several city positions in Monterey. In 1848 Serrano succeeded Walter Colton as the second Alcalde, the mayor and judge of Monterey under American rule. Known as a dignified, cheerful gentleman, Florencio Serrano continued to teach until old age, often using his home for the classroom. His descendants maintained the title to the house long after his death, leasing it to different tenants. Eventually, Casa Serrano became the home to a popular restaurant, Cadematori's, where the creation of the Monterey History and Art Association was first proposed. In 1959 Monterey History and Art purchased and restored Casa Serrano. It is now open to the public for a few hours each week.