National Register of Historic Places in Monterey County

National Register #66000216: Royal Presidio Chapel of San Carlos Borroméo in Monterey
22 November 2012
(Click Photo to Zoom)
National Register #66000216
Royal Presidio Chapel
550 Church Street
Built 1791-1795

The Presidio of Monterey was founded on June 3, 1770, as the second of four presidios established by the Spanish in California. The first buildings were rude log huts surrounded by a stockade.

In 1776, when Monterey was designated the capital of Spanish California, the log fort was rebuilt of stone. By 1778, the fort protected ten adobe houses, an adobe barracks and an adobe chapel. The adobe buildings were rebuilt again in 1789 and 1818, following large fires.

Construction of the Royal Presidio Chapel of San Carlos Borroméo de Monterey began in 1791 and was completed in 1795. Plans were prepared by the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City. The work was performed by Indians under the supervision of a Mexican master stonemason.

By 1841, the stone walls and all of the presidio buildings, except the Royal Presidio Chapel, had been razed, and their materials used to construct new houses in the town of Monterey.

In 1858, the chapel was enlarged and transepts were added at the southern end. Gothic windows with stained glass were also added at this time in the side walls of the church. In 1893, the original flat roof of the bell tower was replaced by the present peaked pyramid roof and crosses were added to the church.

The Royal Presidio Chapel is the only remaining presidio chapel in California and the only 18th century Spanish building in Monterey. The façade is the most elaborate of all of the surviving churches built by Spain in California.

Source: Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in the 1966.

The Royal Presidio Chapel is California Historical Landmark 105.

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