A Rich History: The Preserve

A Rich History

In 1990 Tom Gray and his partners were only the fourth owners of the land known as the Santa Lucia Preserve.


Archaeological discoveries suggest that the Monterey Peninsula's earliest aboriginal villages stood along the shoreline of the Del Monte Forest. Artifacts found there date back some 5,300 years and are believed to be from predecessors the Rumsen tribe, who were The Preserve's earliest residents, having settled here about 1,500 years ago at their village of Echilat along Garzas Creek. The arrival of Father Junipero Serra, the founder of the California mission system, changed land ownership in Alta California forever. The Rumen’s territory was first owned by the Spanish Crown and then by the Mexican government, which began to land grants in increments of 4,000 acres to loyal families in the region. Fact and
A Rich History: The Preserve - Carmel History & Monterey Peninsula History, California History
fiction compete in the saga of the 1830’s about Doña Catalina Manzaneli Munrás, who developed her original 8,000-acre Rancho San Francisquito land grant into a classic Old California ranch and farm, and her neighbor Rumsen neophyte Fructuoso del Real, who secured the adjoining 4,000-acre Rancho Potrero de San Carlos as his much more humble rancheria. In the late 1850’s Cattle baron Bradley Sargent, a progressive State Senator, began the assemblage of his Rancho San Carlos. He was dogged by rumors of private ruthlessness as he cobbled together the two Ranchos and the surrounding 80-acre homestead parcels from the hunters and hide-tanners who had settled there. He kept going until his 20,000 acres reached the ridge tops. Those boundaries remain his enduring legacy to The Preserve. After Sargent’s death in 1893 his holdings passed to his widow who sold the ranch to entrepreneur George Gordon Moore in 1923. Moore was a polo-playing social lion whose lavish spending and pursuit of Britain's most celebrated actress during World War One fueled international gossip. One scholar suggests, Moore may have inspired the portrait of the tragic hero of F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece "The Great Gatsby." Whatever the mysteries of his wealth, he lost everything in the 1930’s. In 1939 Arthur Oppenheimer, who had made a fortune in the dried fruit business, foreclosed on a loan he had made to Moore that was secured by Rancho San Carlos and became the third owner of the property. Fifty years later in 1990, his heirs sold the Ranch completely intact to Tom Gray, the late Peter Stocker and their partners.