The name Jesus Soto has long been associated with this historic adobe. Built in the 1830s, legend has it that the magnificent Monterey cypress in the front yard was planted as a seedling over the grave of the occupants' first child who died in infancy. Legal records indicate that the property was first granted as a town lot to Dona Feliciana Lara on September 18, 1849. It was one of the few lots granted directly to a woman. Map.
During the 1860s, the property was somehow dropped from the tax rolls, but it is known that the house was occupied by Manuel Soto and his Indian wife Felicidad, in the 1890s. The similarity in the names led to speculation that Dona Feliciana and Felicidad were the same woman.
The adobe was still registered to Dona Lara until 1905 when the town marshal, administrator for her estate, sold it for delinquent taxes. To make sure the deal was completely legal, a second deed was also obtained from Antonio Dutra and his Indian wife, Romana, who were squatters on the property at the time.
Josephine Blanch, artist and curator of the first local art gallery at the old Hotel Del Monte, purchased the adobe in 1919 and restored it for use as her residence. She lived in it and occasionally rented it out until October, 1944 when it was purchased by the internationally acclaimed author, John Steinbeck.
Steinbeck had known the adobe since boyhood. Its large garden, its closeness to the wharves and its sense of history, led him to admit to a friend, "I've a wonderful sense of going home..." Steinbeck and his family lived in the adobe about one year, during which time he wrote The Pearl. Afterwards, Dr. Harry Lusignan purchased it and converted it to his physicians practice by adding on waiting rooms and offices to the two rooms of the original house. Mrs. C. Mark Thomas purchased the Adobe in 1976 and subsequently deeded the property to the Monterey Institute of International Studies. The building was extensively remodeled by the Institute in 1987, maintaining the original old Monterey architecture.
The institute is a fully accredited graduate school offering comprehensive multidisciplinary programs designed to prepare students for successful international careers in the private, public, nonprofit and educational sectors. It is fitting that the Lara-Soto Adobe now serves as the Admissions Office of a school dedicated to international understanding.
Location: 425 Van Buren Street