Nearly a century ago, Samuel Morse started the development company, Del Monte Properties. He had at age 30 been the manager for Pacific Improvement Company and because of economic uncertainty at the time in 1915, the company assets needed to be sold. In response Morse formed his own development company, Del Monte Properties, and was instrumental in keeping properties in the area as resort-like with conservation a key determining factor.
Morse with the backing of Herbert Fleishacker, bought 7,000 acres and developed Pebble Beach as a golf resort, Pacific Grove, Carmel Valley, Laureles Grade, and the Del Monte Hotel.
The Del Monte Hotel had been originally built in 1880 and burned down in 1887. The second Gothic structure was damaged by fire in September, 1924. When it was rebuilt by Samuel Morse, Del Monte Properties manager, the architecture changed from a wooden structure to cement and adobe. The fire damage was estimated at over $1 million dollars. Morse bought the entire 7,000 acres for $1.34 million.
He wanted the area to remain a sports resort, keeping it conserved environmentally to preserve it’s pristine natural beauty. Samuel F. B. Morse is related to Samuel Morse who was the inventor of the telegraph and Morse code during the mid-1800’s. He went to Yale, as did his father and was captain of the football team and voted the most popular at Yale. He was also a member of the illustrious “Skull and Bones” secret society.
The rich and famous in all social circles chose the Del Monte Hotel as their vacation destination because of it’s beauty and natural setting. For all of his development endeavor’s and dedication to conservation, Morse earned the name the “Del Monte Duke” and “Boss.”
He spent over 50 years in the area, developing the standard for what and what would not be built in the area.
Samuel F. B. Morse set the stage for the present day environmental conservation in the Monterey Peninsula, since he was a dedicated conservationist . Today there are EIR’s for EIR’s (Environmental Impact Report) and the hollowed mantra among residents is “no growth.” This is in part because of Samuel F. B. Morse, who married and raised children in the area made sure that the land did not get built up and destroy the natural beauty.
As for his ancestral background, his father was a soldier in the Civil War and then went on to be a Massachusetts lawyer. His grandfather was a Calvinist who was anti-immigration, anti-Catholic and pro-slavery.
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