Carmel History

Carmel was originally founded by the Native American tribe known as the Ohlones. Though some believe that there were inhabitants prior to the Ohlones, most of the history recorded surrounds this tribe.


Carmel was founded in 1902 and incorporated in 1916 the area was originally inhabited by Native Americans. Carmelite friar Sebastian Vizcaino discovered Carmel Valley for Spain in 1602. It was named for his patron saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It wasn’t until 1770 that the Spaniard Gaspar de Portola, Father Junipero Serra and Father Juan Crespi returned to Carmel to colonize Carmel and Monterey. The Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was founded in Monterey but was quickly relocated to Carmel just a few hundred yards from the Carmel River and Carmel Bay. The move was said to be necessary as the soldiers in Monterey and the Native Americans not getting along.


In 1848 Carmel became part of the United States as a result of the Mexican-American War. Rancho Las Manzanitas, the area that is now Carmel-by-the-Sea was purchased in the 1850’s by Honore Escolle and in 1888 he along with Santiago Duckworth subdivided the area and sold 200 lots! The name Carmel had been used on another settlement near the Carmel Village, so Carmel-by-the-Sea was used by Abbie Jane Hunter, a San Francisco real estate investor to describe this part of Carmel on a postcard. It has stuck ever since!


Photo: Michael Troutman/DMT ImagingThe Carmel Arts and Crafts Club was formed and after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, Carmel-by-the-Sea was swamped with artists, painters, writers and musicians who were offered lots to build homes on. In 1910 the Coastal Laboratory was established bringing in a number of scientists. This mixture of artistic, creative and intellectual people made Carmel into a very unique experience for all involved. The creativity didn’t stop on the canvas either. Back in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s, guys like Michael J. Murphy and Hugh Comstock would forever change Carmel by designing and building the cute and sometimes whimsical Carmel cottages that Carmel-by-the-Sea will forever be known for.


Today Carmel-by-the-Sea is still full of artists, poets and writers who are devoting their lives to honing their crafts in this free-spirited little town. Over the years their creativity and love of their crafts truly shaped the town into the artsy village it is today. Whether it’s local art hanging in a gallery, the historical cottages, the dog friendly hotels and restaurants, the white sandy beaches, the laid back lifestyle or just the scenic beauty, Carmel-by-the-Sea has a way of saturating your soul and beckoning you back.