Stevenson House

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A family member died after caring for sick little ones before knowing of their fate.


stevenson-paranormalThe Stevenson House is under the California Dept. of Parks and Recreation because it is considered a historical property of great interest to the public. it has been restored to its former glory, with two rooms devoted to Robert Louis Stevenson. The upstairs of this adobe portray a slice of history, having on display the way of life of the Girardin family when they owned the structure, and put it to work as The French Hotel. They are honored for having the gumption to transform this structure into a hotel that lasted for many years.

Two rooms in the downstairs area have on display artifacts of the structure’s most famous guest: American author, Robert Luis Stevenson. It looks like Robert just stepped out for a walk. His family had a boatload of his stuff that they gave to the state of California that visitors have been enjoying since the establishment of this museum in the 1940s.

Besides the wonderful museum, visitors and locals alike enjoy sitting in The Stevenson House gardens. The gardens are truly beautiful with their many flowers and shrubs. It is a great place for quiet meditation or a break from a hectic day.

Gardens Open Daily: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM



The two-story, 1830s’ adobe Stevenson House is a large rectangular structure with another rectangle wing that came into being during the Mexican Era in the 1830s’, after Mexico broke free from Spain. It was built originally for the Custom General. Throughout its long history, This structure was used for housing for the Custom General, families, government officials, artists, writers and fishermen.

The story of the Girding family is tragic because of the amount of deaths they suffered. Like many families, they migrated from the old country to Mexico. Juan Girardin was a Swiss immigrant of French decent who migrated to Mexico with his wife, his son and wife and two grandchildren, in hopes of a better life. Unfortunately, his first wife died in Mexico. However, Juan fell in love with a local Mexican woman, Manuela. Hearing opportunity calling, this extended family moved to Monterey, perhaps sometime after the United States took over California, which explains why the Custom General was selling his house.

The Girding family bought the Custom General’s grand house in the late 1860s/ early 1870s, did some renovations, and turned it into The French Hotel, becoming the 3rd Monterey hotel serving the public . They did very well financially, but tragedy wasn’t done with them. In some sort of accident, Juan’s son and daughter-in-law died in an accident, leaving their two children for Juan and Manuela to raise. Life went on as usual, with the hotel still booming and the children growing up.

The year 1879 turned out to be a disastrous year for the Girding Family. Typhoid fever went through Monterey, and Juan caught it and died on July 1, 1879. A few months later, the two children caught it, so Manuela, the devoted grandmother by marriage, put her all into nursing them, but she caught it and died December 21, 1879. Miraculously, the children survived and went on to lead productive, happy lives. Unfortunately. Manuela died before they recovered.

After all this death associated with this French Hotel, no one wanted to buy it until a man named Sionou bought the place for chump change. He continued to run it as a boarding house, and let his poor, sick friend, who was fighting TB, Robert Louis Stevenson stay there for free. Unknown author, Robert Louis Stevenson stayed there for a few months, sometime in 1880, and was nursed back to health by his friends. However, he didn’t feel sorry for himself, but instead he made good use of the time here by not only writing his piece; “Old Pacific Capital,” but he courted his future wife, Fanny Osbourne. Some think that he got the inspiration to write his popular book, TREASURE ISLAND by his health walks around Monterey; including the Monte De Oro beach area.

The restoration of this building is due not only to the hard work of the Girding family to transform the grand house into the French Hotel, but also to the Stevenson family, descendants of Robert Louis Stevenson himself. These descendants had carefully kept all of his belongings; having quite a collection of memorabilia , but had no place to display them in honor of this favorite American author. So, in 1940, they approached the state of California with a once in a lifetime offer that the state could not refuse. They offered to give all this memorabilia to the state of California if they would open and maintain a museum in Robert Louis Stevenson’s honor.

It so happened that the state of California had just bought many of the old adobe fixer-upper opportunities to restore and be part of the California State Park Monterey. So, the authorities in charge decided to move Robert Louis Stevenson’s memorabilia into the two rooms on the first floor of the French Hotel building, The Robert Louis Stevenson House. They also decided to honor the Girding family by setting up living quarters that they would’ve had in the rooms on the second floor.

California has been faithful in maintaining The Stevenson House under the watchful eye of the California Dept. of Parks and Recreation. For years, the public has enjoyed pursuing both floors of this fine museum. Apparently, a spirit also has decided to visit the second floor to remember a tragic event that eventually killed her and left her not knowing what happened. She may have other visiting spirits also with connections to this structure with issues of their own keeping her company.



The restoration of structures can act like an environmental trigger to draw back spirits with strong connections to the structure.

The spirit who visits started appearing after the restoration of this building, feeling right at home and safe to visit, as the second floor was dedicated to her family.

In 1879 Manuela’s two much-loved grandchildren came down with typhoid fever as well, in early December of 1879. Manuela devotedly nursed her two grandchildren both day and night, probably exhausting herself. Alas, Manuela also caught the fever and died on December 21st, without knowing that her grandchildren pulled through due to her efforts.

Sometimes spirits like to listen or observe the activities and events of the living who hold them in their favorite place in this world.

One afternoon while giving a speech to the California Historical Society , this honored speaker noticed that Manuela was part of her audience, listening with interest. She was standing in the room, and then she sat in the rocking chair brought into the room where the lecture was being given, and began rocking.



Spirit of Mrs. Manuela Giradin

She relives the last sorrowful weeks of her life in the house’s nursery room; almost always during the first three weeks of December; perhaps mourning the death of her grandchildren, not knowing they lived because of her efforts.

The nursery rocking chair will begin rocking all by itself, propelled by an unseen presence. Visitors to the house will smell the sickroom disinfectant, carbolic acid, which was used in the 1800s. One visitor felt a calming hand on her shoulder that began to softly rub her back. She also rearranges trunks by dragging them across the floor. She leaves the aroma of roses. She pulls books out of the bookcase; perhaps the ones she doesn’t like.

A woman in a black dress has been seen in the nursery by both visitors and the curator, Barbara. Visitors figured that the woman was the housekeeper because she was in costume like the curator, Barbara. However, the woman vanished before their eyes.

Barbara, while preparing to close the museum for the afternoon, spied this woman in a long, black gown, with a high lace collar, looking intently down at the children’s bed in the nursery. Barbara told this woman that it was time to close the museum, and the woman, looking straight at her, nodded that she understood. When Barbara looked again, the woman had vanished.

The Spirit of Manuela Girding apparently has a soft spot for children.

A seven year old boy took the tour with his parents. He went upstairs and decided to wait for his family to catch up with him. He sat down near the see-through barred door of the nursery.

As he peered into the nursery. he saw a solid-looking lady dressed in a long black gown and wearing a white shawl looking at him pleasantly. He wasn’t afraid; intact he had a short, cordial conversation with her. He turned to look and see if his family was coming yet. When he looked back into the nursery, he was surprised to see that this kind woman had vanished.

Spirit of a little girl

Is thought to be Manuela’s granddaughter, or another child whose family lived here.

She has been seen playing in the nursery toys on display. She always fades into the air, surprising witnesses.

Green orbs have been visibly seen by visitors flying around the room.

Spirit with a blurry face

Wearing a long black robe with a hood, it has been seen floating around the second story rooms and hallways.

Perhaps he lived here at some point in time.

Residual energy

A disembodied coughing has been heard by visitors in a second floor room.


Most Probably so! Spirits attached to this structure enjoy being here and/or have unfinished business to work out so they can let go.

For 78 years, people have seen the spirit of Manuela Girding in the nursery and in the lecture room. She appears as a live person, solid and life-like, fooling the many people who have seen her who think she is alive, until she disappears. She is kind and friendly, and doesn’t scare anyone, so she is excepted as being part of the museum. The other spirits and paranormal activity have also been noticed after the museum was set up.

Understandably, no paranormal investigators are allowed inside to investigate, as the museum wants to attract people interested in history and a famous author, Stevenson, and not attract ghost hunters; making their museum known as being haunted instead of a place to honor history.



530 Houston Street
Monterey, California 93940
(831) 649-7118

The Stevenson House is a California Dept. of Parks and Recreation Museum which is located in Monterey, at 530 Houston Street, near the corner of Pearl St. and Houston Street. It is secluded with trees and shrubs, away from the traffic and noise of the neighborhood. The museum is open every day but Wednesday, from 10 -11 am and from 1-4 pm. One must make reservations in advance for the tour.




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