750. First French Consulate

The First French Consulate The low modest building that stands here today, the Monterey Visitors Center, was once the First French Consulate. It was established in 1843 to extend diplomatic, cultural and business relations between France and Mexican-ruled "Alta California." The adobe served as the home of Louis Gasquet, the first French consul or ambassador to Mexican California. It was elegantly furnished directly from Paris. As Consul, Gasquet served the interests of French immigrants including merchants, farmers and trappers. During Monterey's "roaring 40's," it was one of the town's busiest places. Though Spain and later Mexico controlled Alta California, the province and its principal port at Monterey saw a kaleidoscope of competing interests between Russians, British and French. King Louis Philippe the First considered California so important that France became the first country to establish a consulate in Monterey. This fact was not lost on Mexican officials, who worried about the threat of foreign invasion. The fears were well founded. Gasquet envisioned California as a French possession, and he advised his government to send naval forces. However, the American Commodore Sloat arrived first and took Monterey for the United States. Gasquet refused to recognize the authority of the new administration and was briefly imprisoned in his own house, under guard. Upon his release, Gasquet returned to France. When J. A. Moerenhaut replaced Gasquet in 1847 the house was described as "a spacious home with a beautiful rose garden, shrubs and trees." In 1850 Moerenhaut was recalled due to the revolution occurring in France. When he returned to Monterey, he found the house had been sold at auction and the Consul's office moved to the new Gold Rush town of San Francisco. As the Monterey Visitors Center, this adobe once again serves as an ambassador to visitors from around the world. Stop in to get more information about Monterey and the many things to do and see here.