Pacific Grove History

Pacific Grove was originally inhabited by the Ohlone tribe who inhabited various parts of the Monterey Bay during prehistoric times. In 1602, Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino named the northern tip of the Monterey Peninsula “Punta de los Pinos,” or Point of the Pines while exploring the California coast. Back then the pine trees grew thick right to the waters edge. Point Pinos Lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast and still sits on “Punta de los Pinos.” It was put into operation in February 1, 1855 and has been a beacon of light warning sailors of the potential rocky dangers off the coast and it marks the southern tip of the Monterey Bay in Pacific Grove.


Pacific Grove was founded in 1875 as a Methodist Retreat like its east coast namesake, Ocean Grove, NJ.  Pacific Grove was a perfect place to come and enjoy the mild summers, rest the mind and body, enjoy the beautiful coastline, fresh sea air and watch the Monarch butterflies. The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle set up a west coast branch in Pacific Grove in 1879. Robert Lois Stevenson, who spent some time in Pacific Grove was quoted as saying after walking through Pacific Grove after the camp grounds were deserted by summer campers, “I have never been in any place so dreamlike. Indeed it was not so much like a deserted town as like a scene upon a stage by daylight, and with no one on the boards.” Before too long the small retreat campsite lots had Victorian era homes being built on them as people wanted to spend more and more time in this quaint seaside town. To read more about the history of Pacific Grove’s old retreat, click here.


Pacific Grove, like Carmel-by-the-Sea became an area where artists gathered for inspiration around the turn of the century. The natural beauty of the town and coastline attracted such famous painters as William Adam, Eugen Neuhaus and Charles B. Judson along with writer John Steinbeck who lived in a cottage owned by his father at 147 11th Street for several years.


Today Pacific Grove is called “America’s Last Hometown” and is said to have more Victorian era cottages than any other place in the country per capita! The city is also known for its butterfly population, often referred to as “Butterfly Town, USA.”  Many past traditions are still celebrated today such as the Good Old Days, the Feast of Lanterns and The Butterfly Parade among others. There is always something going on in this quaint little seaside town.