Hotel Del Monte
History and museums
The Hotel Del Monte was a large resort hotel in Monterey, California from its opening in 1880 until 1942. It was one of the finest luxury hotels in North America. During World War II, it closed and the building was leased to the Navy. It was first used by the Navy as a school where enlisted men spent the second, third, and fourth months of an eleven-month course being trained as electronic technicians.
Later the Hotel Del Monte became the Naval Postgraduate School of the United States Navy. It is now known as Herrmann Hall and functions as administrative offices and hotel for the school.
Charles Crocker, one of the California's Big Four railroad barons, established the resort through Southern Pacific Railroad's property division, Pacific Improvement Company, and opened the first hotel June 10, 1880. It was the first true resort complex in the United States. It was an immediate success. There was a railroad depot nearby along Monterey Bay.
The property extended south and southeast of the hotel and included gardens, parkland, polo grounds, a race track, and a golf course. Originally used for hunting and other outdoor activities, the hotel's property became Pebble Beach, an unincorporated resort community, and the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links. The famous 17-Mile Drive was originally designed as a local excursion for visitors to the Del Monte to take in the historic sights of Monterey and Pacific Grove and the scenery of what would become Pebble Beach. The hotel became popular with the wealthy and influential of the day, and guests included Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway, as well as many early Hollywood stars.
On February 27, 1919 Samuel Finley Brown Morse formed the Del Monte Properties Company, and acquired the extensive holdings of the Pacific Improvement Company, which included the Del Monte Forest, the Del Monte Lodge (since renamed the Lodge at Pebble Beach), and the Hotel Del Monte.
There have been three buildings on the same site. The first building was designed by architect Arthur Brown, Sr. It was destroyed on June 1, 1887 and was replaced. In 1906, two guests were killed and the hotel damaged in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
On October 28, 1924, that second building was destroyed by fire. The current building was built in 1926. It was designed by architects Lewis P. Hobart and Clarence A. Tantau.
The Old Del Monte golf course opened in 1897 and is the oldest continuously operating golf course west of the Mississippi River.
The Hotel Del Monte was requisitioned by the Navy at the beginning of World War II and used as a pre-flight training school. In 1947, the U.S. Navy purchased the hotel and its surrounding 627 acres for US$2.5 million. In 1951 the United States Naval Academy's postgraduate school moved to the new location from Annapolis, Maryland. It is now Herrmann Hall, the central building of the Naval Postgraduate School.
Also on the grounds are nine additional structures including the Roman Plunge Pool Complex which was built in 1918 and also designed by architects Lewis P. Hobart and Clarence A. Tantau. The pool itself was designed by Hobart. The Roman Plunge Solarium was restored in 2012 by architect James D. McCord. At that time the main Plunge was reconstructed as a reflecting pool and its original above ground finishes restored. The Arizona Garden (1882), originally designed by landscape architect Rudolph Ulrich, is also on the grounds.
Humorist Josh Billings died at the hotel in 1885.
Del Monte Foods traces its name back to an Oakland, California food distributor who used the brand name "Del Monte" for a premium coffee blend made especially for the hotel.
Currently the building houses offices, function rooms, and the Navy Gateway Inns and Suites.