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Neighborhood Character

“Here in America, on this beautiful Pacific Coast, you cannot afford to lose what you have.”  Robert Louis Stevenson.  Although this statement specifically is in reference to the Carmel Mission, it applies to the local community as a whole.

Carmel Point is officially part of Monterey County, specifically the coastal zone, where the State and local community standards and ordinances are intended to preserve the natural coastal environment as much as possible in a residential setting. In general, Carmel Point, like Carmel-by-the-Sea, seeks to retain its small, close, and wooded neighborhoods.

Although modern changes have occurred, most residents here reference and adopt the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s original community character and traditions. These started with the first artists, bohemians, and nature lovers who settled in what was to become the two communities of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Point starting in the mid-nineteenth century. Early and subsequent residents had a love and respect for nature, and they wanted to protect this area from typical city development by incorporating nature into the community as much as possible. Hence, the designation of the City as a coastal, primarily residential, village in an urban forest.

Manifestations of this character can be still be found in the absence of sidewalks and streetlights outside of the commercial district, and in the diligence with which Carmel protects its trees, beach, and village aesthetic. These and other character-defining standards reflected the “love of the outdoors, appreciation of nature, and a great respect for the serene beauty of the land they were developing”, according to the Carmel Heritage Foundation.

A prominent early Carmel Point resident was the US poet laureate Robinson Jeffers, whose home and studio are on Ocean View here on Carmel Point.  His poetry was inspired by his love of the “astonishing beauty” of nature, and he deplored the negative influences of civilization and attempts to bend nature to the will of mankind. He built his home from local stone, and let the native vegetation become his “landscaping”, and planted over 2,000 trees on the Point. Many of the design guidelines of Carmel-by-the-Sea have also been adopted by most long-term residents on Carmel Point, even though Carmel Point is technically in unincorporated Monterey County, and is not officially within the boundaries of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  

It is important that those who plan to build on Carmel Point understand the building and landscaping ordinances operational in the coastal areas of Monterey County.  The legendary difficulties encountered by those who attempt to build or remodel in the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea are equally legendary when attempting to do so in the County of Monterey as well. Understanding and adopting the current local standards that have been established for Carmel Point is essential for successful development.

More about these standards can be found under the sections entitled “beaches”, “trees”, “landscaping”, “exterior lighting” "building", etc.  

Wikipedia does a good job of briefly explaining the history of Carmel from the time of the first Native American and European people.,_California

An historical timeline of the area can also be found at:

Much of the history described on these websites applies to Carmel Point. But here are some fun and interesting specifics:

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission
Founded in 1771, the Carmel Mission is the most widely known local landmark. Named after an Italian Cardinal from the 16th Century, it is considered one of the most authentically restored missions among the 21 original Spanish missions in California. It's website is located at  The mission churches were part of the colonization of the northern and western parts of North America by the Spanish Empire. Franciscan Catholic priests were part of these colonial expeditions and the churches were established to spread christianity among the Native Americans.

The Carmel Mission church was elevated to a basilica designation by the Holy See of the Catholic Church because of its cultural, historic, architectural, and religious importance.  The Basilica Church is now a registered National Historic Landmark and it has been carefully preserved along with its collection of Spanish Colonial Liturgical Art and Artifacts.  The church is still a place of worship, sacraments and celebrations, and music concerts. The Carmel Mission Basilica Schola Cantorum is a traditional choral ensemble which assists with the music leadership every week at the 11:00 a.m. Sunday Mass. The concerts around the winter holidays are very popular with local residents.

The site also houses an elementary school, five small museums, a museum shop, and gardens. The founder of the Carmel Mission, Father Junipero Serra, who is buried on the grounds, was elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis in 2015.  Father Serra's sainthood has both increased the number of visitors, but has also reignited the grievances of the local Native Americans who suffered under his rule. 

Poet Laureate Robinson Jeffers' Tor House and Hawk Tower
US Poet Laureate Robinson Jeffers came to Carmel Point in 1914 and built his remarkable home (called Tor House) here. This history can be found at  Tor House is open to visitors during limited hours, and tours include recitations of Jeffers' poetry and descriptions of the local history.  If you climb to the top of Hawk Tower, you will be rewarded with one of the best views of Carmel Bay anywhere. The annual garden party in early May, filled with music and poetry, is one of the best local events here.

Tours are offered Fridays and Saturdays, and reservations are required. Tickets can now be purchased online. The first tour is at 10 AM; the last tour is at 3 PM. Each tour is limited to a maximum of six people. There is a Garden Party at the Tor House during the first weekend in May. This is a wonderful time to see the gardens in full bloom and enjoy festivities at this beautiful site. Check the website for the latest information on tours and events.

To give you a taste of his poetry, Jeffers described his place on Carmel Point in this poem “The Last Conservative”:

Against the outcrop boulders of a raised beach
We built our house when I and my love were young.
Here long ago the surf thundered, now fifty feet lower;
And there's a kind of shell-mound, I used to see ghosts of Indians
Squatting beside the stones in their firelight,
The rock-cheeks have red fire-stains. But the place was maiden, no previous
Building, no neighbors, nothing but the elements,
Rock, wind and sea; in moon-struck nights the mountain coyotes
Howled in our dooryard; or doe and fawn
Stared in the lamp-lit window. We raised two boys here; all that we saw or heard was beautiful And hardly human.

                                                           From “The Last Conservative” [Hunt III, p 418]

Early Sporting Venues 
Carmel's first golf course and community softball field were located on Carmel Point. 

The Carmel Golf Club was organized in the early 1900's and the course, designed by Philip Wilson, Sr., former manager of the North Berwick course in Scotland, was located near the shoreline on Carmel Point, His daughter describes the course as “a sporty course...cluttered with gopher holes, several cows and a flock of sheep.” The clubhouse is built at 14th and San Antonio Avenues, utilizing an abandoned artist’s studio. This house was recently renovated in 2015 with care, and the original clubhouse now appears towards the back of the lot as a guest cottage.

World War I brought many changes to the community and the golf course was finally abandoned, and the land was sold and subdivided. Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House is reportedly built at the former 10th tee. 

Starting around 1921, the Abalone League, the first softball league formed in the Western United States with teams named the Pirates, the Shamrocks, the Bears and the Reds, played their first games at the Walker Tract on Carmel Point. The league name came about because so many balls were batted down to the rocky shore and onto abalone beds. From the beginning, Carmel women were included as team players.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Walker House
Carmel Point is also the location of the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed home in the region. Located on Scenic Drive, the home was designed and built for Della Brooks Walker who later became Mrs. Van Loben Sells. Ms. Walker had to plead several times to get Wright to agree to the project, which he did only after she sent him a photograph of the site on the rocks above the ocean. This inspired Wright to design the house like the prow of a ship setting out to sea. In 1959 the house was featured in scenes for the film “A Summer Place” starring Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee. The home, which is still owned by the Walker's family, is sometimes included on the home tour sponsored by the Carmel Heritage Society.  For photos of the home, see

Julia Morgan's River Winds Cottage
Renowned architect Julia Morgan (who designed Hearst Castle in San Simeon, among her other 700 buildings) "almost certainly" designed this cottage just after WWI. It is located on 15th and Carmelo and is privately owned by the 3rd generation of its first owners. 

Mission Ranch
Carmel Point is home to the Mission Ranch, currently owned by former Carmel City Mayor Clint Eastwood. The history of this property can be found at  Eastwood purchased the property to protect it from being bought and developed by a large hotel chain. His purchase was intended to preserve much of the old character of the place (and the sheep!) and it is a local gathering spot for sunset drinks on the patio or at the piano bar where a jazz musician is usually playing.  It’s fun to drop in and see who takes a turn at the mike – all are welcome!

Play Misty For Me Home
In this Clint Eastwood film, two local privately owned homes were used, one in the Carmel Highlands and one on Carmel Point on Bayview Ave. It is located on the west side, south of Martin, and has a funky looking high wooden fence--high enough so that you cannot look in. Sorry!

Carmel House Names

While mostly Carmel-By-The-Sea, this map of Carmel house names is kind of fun.





Last Updated 4/23/17

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