Stokes Adobe

More From Monterey More From California

A spirit who took his own life is restless with self-blame and
because loved ones found out his secrets.

Spirits who while alive loved their forever home,
The Stokes Adobe, and never left.

Their reactions to the living are mixed.



The two story Stokes Adobe building, built in 1833, sits on a 21,348 sq. ft. lot. The Adobe structure itself is 6,051 sq ft. It has an outside terrace, solid walls and foundation; built to last centuries. The original beauty of this historical upper class Adobe has been preserved.

Although the 1833 Stokes Adobe building has been transformed into a commercial restaurant space, back in 1950, the original rooms upstairs and the large one room space downstairs still remain the same, though used for another purpose. The upstairs bedrooms were made into another bar, and another dining room. The downstairs makes a lovely restaurant and bar.

Over the years, this property has been made into several beautiful restaurants, adding to the appeal of the original 1833 Adobe. explains; “The bars (upstairs and down) are solid oak. In the dining room rimmed with windows, the wine cellar/curing house behind a picture window was transplanted from elsewhere. The pine board floors have the lovely patina of time and a stippled effect, too, from high heels over the many decades.”

The outside front terrace was made into a lovely outside dining area, which still has the original palm tree planted so long ago. A redwood tree continues to grow and prosper as well.




In 1833, the original structure was built for the well-to-do Ambrose Tomlinson who had hired the talented duo, Hoge and Benjamin Day to build it. This finished, one room Adobe was considered quite pretentious because it was a showcase for Ambrose’s success and wealth. The workmanship was beautifully done. The cherry on top was the hand-made, red-tile roof. Needless to say, Ambrose Tomlinson was very happy indeed with the results.

However, just four years later in 1837, Ambrose had a change in fortune and had to sell his forever home. The next owner was James Stokes, a British Navy deserter who’d jumped ship in 1833, carrying a case of medications. He made the fraudulent claim that he was “Dr.” Stokes and opened up shop as a counterfeit physician and began treating people; not knowing anything about medicine. As a result, many of his patients died, including California Governor José Figueroa. A few must of survived his treatments because no one seemed to care about all of his dead patients, and he became rich enough to buy the impressive Adobe from Tomlinson.

He married the widow of one of his dead patients, and had a ready-made family of four children. He and his new wife, Josefa, had two more children. By 1844, the Stokes family Adobe needed more space for such a large family of eight people. Stokes had seven more rooms and a second floor added to the Adobe, in the same high quality way as before.

The fantastic detailing on the super-thick Adobe walls with deeply recessed windows, doors and walk-throughs were all well-done and remain quite impressive. Haley Jones, in his article for Monterey County Weekly (3/20/2008) also reports;”The wall texture is viscerally satisfying and the ideal surface for the original simple, thin, straight-line designs in thick gold leaf that frame geometric shapes painted in ultra-soft hues of earth and sky.”

James Stokes was Mayor of Monterey for awhile, and hosted many social events. like the Cascarone Ball for many years. The property was a social hub, the place to have a social event for the upper crust of society in Monterey.

Years later, James Stokes sold his forever home to a baker who is given credit for being the first owner to change this private home into both a residence and a commercial business. Presumably he lived upstairs and turned the downstairs into his bake shop, an idea that had become increasingly popular.

This structure inspired a variety of uses. Another owner had the distinction of printing California’s first newspaper on the first floor. Another owner had a kiln business. The Adobe also served as a garrison for officers.

Over the years, some owners turned it back into single, family residence, and the Adobe served as a single family home for a slew of families. In 1890, the last person to use this structure as a personal residence was Socialite Hattie Gragg who enjoyed having social events and parties here. She lived in her forever home until her death in 1948.

In 1950, the Adobe had been transformed into a high class restaurant, Gallatin’s, that became very popular in the 1950s; it was “the place” to eat and hang out for the upper echelons of society, including movie stars and other prominent people. They hosted many social events here.

The cuisine was exquisite. “Gallatin’s menu boasted some ambitious, exotic items, such as whole roasted wild boar, cream of red abalone soup, and bull’s head minotaur that included “the tongue simmered in spices and the brains and eyes sautéed in butter… crowned with pastry horns and wreaths of gaily colored flowers.”

When Stokes Restaurant and Bar opened to the public in 1950, it was reported to have a fine wine list, and tasty American cuisine in their small plate offerings. They closed in November of 2008.

In 2008, The Stokes Adobe property, former home of a restaurant with 3 years left on its current lease, was put back on the real estate market. It was physically described in an article on the website, this way; “The bars (upstairs and down) are solid oak. In the dining room rimmed with windows, the wine cellar/curing house behind a picture window was transplanted from elsewhere. The pine board floors have the lovely patina of time and a stippled effect, too, from high heels over the many decades. These days, everything about Stokes Adobe is very comforting, welcoming and hail-fellow-well-met.”

In 2011, a new restaurant was opened here, called Restaurant 1833. It was well received and did very well as a casually elegant establishment, run by parent company Coastal Luxury Management.

A published review gushed; Restaurant 1833 brought energy in ways the local foodscape hadn’t seen.” Restaurant 1833 earned some great achievements while it was open. The restaurant earned a nationwide James Beard Best New Restaurant nomination, a Robb Report Best of the Best and a 3.5-star review from The San Francisco Chronicle.

In 2017, it was sold to wine connoisseur Constance Laub, former owner of Constance Wine Bar in Carmel.

“It is that atmosphere that Dexter Salazar, Laub’s collaborator in this project, hopes to bring back to 1833. ‘I would like the vibe to be more Rat Pack, less haunted house,” he says. “Back in the day, with that Sinatra feel, Gallatin’s was the ‘It Place’ to be.’But Laub adds that the new restaurant won’t be so formal that you have to dress to the nines; ‘casual elegance’ is more the atmosphere she is hoping to achieve. “I’m looking at making it more approachable, an everyday thing, but not by sacrificing its elegance. I just like people to have a nice time with good food and wine.”

“Once paperwork is finalized, there will still be several weeks of regenerating and renewing the space. ‘I just want to paint and lighten. And I’m looking at hardwood floors upstairs. I’m not planning to change much, but I need to freshen it up,’ Laub says.”



James Stokes life didn’t end well. He poisoned himself in front of his sons. There are two possible reasons why he did this in this way.

People who are convicted either wrongfully are deservedly because of their supposed or real despicable act and are executed for it, or kill themselves or flee prosecution can be restless as spirit people especially if they have fallen a long way down from who they once were; losing a good name, fortune, family, status, etc.

Myrtles Plantation, LA (Spirit of Chloe is still looking for her old mistress, trying to apologize for poisoning her and her daughters, without much luck).

Tavern at Clinton, MD (The spirit of the once well-respected Mary Surratt still is trying to clear her name after she was falsely accused of being in the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln).

Powel House, PA (The spirit of Benedict Arnold still has unfinished business here).

The Stokes Adobe, CA (James’ spirit is restless because Stokes’ sons found out his secrets during his later years. Urban legend says that his sons caught him sexually abusing their sister. However, he didn’t sell his Adobe until years later and by that time his kids may have been up and out).

(More likely, they found out their dad was a fraud and murderer).


People who suffer a very painful loss sometimes can’t go on without this person; sink into depression and kill themselves.

The Daytona Playhouse FL (A woman killed herself when she didn’t know what happened to her husband).

The Pagoda on Five Mile Drive, WA (A man killed himself after watching his wife die in a boat accident).

Hassayampa Inn, AZ (A new bride suffers either the sudden death of her new husband or his cruel abandonment).

The Stokes Adobe, CA (James Stokes’ beloved wife, Josefa died in her upstairs bedroom, leaving James heart-broken).

(It could be a combination of the above theories. Perhaps James Stokes blamed himself for his wife’s death and blurted out a confession to his sons that he wasn’t a doctor all these years, and had practiced fraudulent medicine. He may have had deep remorse, realizing what he had done to other patients who died under his care. Perhaps, the chickens came home to roost).


People who loved their homes while alive, sometimes come back to visit or reside, especially if their spectral loved one can’t let go.

Joslyn Castle, NE (The whole family has come back here as spirits).

Eldridge Hotel, MO (Col Eldridge sticks around his favorite place helping the living. His spectral family visits him).

Old Allen House, AR (The female spirit Dell still resides here and her spectral son stays with her).

The Stokes Adobe, CA (The spirits of James and Josefa Stokes, and Hattie as well loved their forever home and reside here).

Former owners of a structure now in spirit form sometimes heartily approve of renovation changes or the use of their beloved home in a new way.

Geiser Grand Hotel, OR (Spirits were so overjoyed that the living were restoring their structure that they began to appear in front of workmen to encourage them).

Madrona Inn, CA (The spectral matriarch made sure that the new owners knew how much she liked the restoration and renovation efforts).

Hartford Twain House, CT (The spirits of the Twain family and a servant happily moved back inside).

The Stokes Adobe, CA (The spirit of party girl Hattie is an enthusiastic patron!).


Other spectral owners have strong disapproval of new changes in either the structure or how their favorite structure is being used.

Bullock Hotel, SD (What? Gambling in my hotel! Bad idea!).

Church Street Cafe, NM (You are ruining my house, so get out!).

Catfish Plantation Restaurant, TX (What are you doing in my kitchen and my house?).

The Stokes Adobe, CA (What are the throngs of humanity doing on both levels of our house?).



Spirit of James Stokes

Described as being disgruntled, and rigid. He is an unhappy, restless soul perhaps seeking the peace he once had here.

He has been seen wandering around the upstairs and downstairs in his white coat, in a restless mood, sometimes going through walls; not very happy.

Spirit of James Stokes shows his displeasure with the staff; either because he doesn’t like having his home fully commercialized, and so crowded with people, or he perhaps thinks the staff doesn’t do a good enough job.(The Curtis Inn, CT * The Bullock Hotel, SD)

He has shaken unsuspecting staff and shoved them out of the way as well.

Spirit of Josefa

She is a gentile and pleasant entity.

Josefa still enjoys her home remembering her life here, and does not mind sharing her former rooms with the living. She perhaps likes the company, having hosted many parties and events here, being the Mayor’s wife.

In her old quarters and the upstairs dining room, staff and patrons have seen her apparition going about her business.

In these rooms mentioned above, the living have heard multiple women’s voices, the cries of babies, and breaking glass.

Spirit of Hattie

While she still enjoys her home, she welcomes having an upscale restaurant, and event venue in her cherished home. She loved events and parties while alive.

Hattie loves having both bars in her home. She often visits them, likes to turn the lights on and off; flashing them to let the living know she is there, likes to play the piano, shuffles the wine glasses, and is friendly with the staff, calling out their names.

She also has a mischievous side. She has been given credit for putting salt in wineglasses and slamming the doors in the upstairs dining room; though slamming the doors sounds more like James Stokes.

She probably invites herself to any social events that take place in this space as well.

The ghostly trio of James, Josefa and Hattie created so much activity that renovation workers agreed to a strict buddy system when working at night.


These spirits have been active for a very long time. Many people throughout the eras have witnessed the paranormal activity.

At least one paranormal group has been asked inside to investigate. They caught some hard evidence, such as discerning clumps of “fog” in Hattie’s room.



A big Yes Indeed! The true fact that this building has spectral residents with quirks has been published in real estate promotional pieces, showing full disclosure. Many people have experienced the paranormal activity reported above. I wonder if the restaurants who were in this building had a high turn-over rate because of the attention their staff received, nice and not nice from the spirits who reside here.





500 Hartnell Street
Monterey, California 93940
(831) 373-1202

The Stokes Adobe building is located in a historical section of Monterey, near the intersection where Hartnell Street, Madison Street and Calleprincipal Street meet.



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  • BY Camilla M. Mann, published January 9th 2018
  • HISTORIC GHOSTS OF OLD MONTEREY, By Christine Delsol, October 12, 2007
  • Ghost hunting in historic Monterey – Christine Delsol, Special to SFGate, Published October 18, 2011

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