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July 2, 2011 / Linda Hartong

EL PASEO- ONE OF CARMEL’S COURTYARDS AND SECRET PASSAGEWAYS

I often step into the tiny courtyard of the privately owned El Paseo Building.

Much of Carmel’s business district was built in the 1920’s and reflects either the Tudor Revival Style that I see in The Court of The Golden Bough or the Spanish Colonial Revival style in this beautiful courtyard.

El Paseo is the passageway where new California meets old Spain.

Many visitors walk by this courtyard  on Dolores Street between Ocean Avenue and 7th on their way to check out the menu at Little Napoli or have a glass of wine at Vino Napoli next door.

The entrance to the courtyard lies between these two restaurants.

In the morning, I am greeted by trucks delivering produce, fish, and spirits. The doors are closed but the bustle has already started inside. I sidestep the delivery men to admire the many Spanish stylistic trademarks.

I love the ornate wrought iron railing

and patterned tile risers on this staircase,

planter

and fountain. Many of these tiles came from Spain.

The little red Vespa is sometimes in the entry ,

other times in the wine bar.

I walk past it to the courtyard’s “centerpiece”- a wonderful sculpture done by Jo Mora in 1928.

 The sculpture called “The Greeting” shows two Californios figures, bowing

and curtseying. 

  Mora was a sculptor, painter and writer born in Uruguay who came to the United State as a child. He studied art in New York and Boston and moved to Carmel after WWI. He purchased a full block at San Carlos and First where he built his home and studio.

Under this wonderful lantern hung from carved wood, this lovely woman is greeted by this courtly gentleman.

Behind them a fountain with a tiled back splash makes a sweet sound.

 It is surprisingly peaceful here ,

even though it is just feet away from the kitchen of Little Napoli.

The camellias are blooming. Chairs and a bench await the evening when they will be rearranged for al fresco dining.

I love the way this light is alway enveloped by the leaves of the Japanese Maple.

The carved wood detailing is typical of the Spanish Colonial style

as is the tiled roof. A colony of ferns has decided that this is the perfect place to grow.

While researching the courtyard , I find a handcrafted book published on this Courtyard. Too expensive for me , but perhaps you are a collector who has interest.


                EL PASEO: THE PASSAGE WAY WHERE NEW CALIFORNIA MEETS OLD SPAIN.

Carmel, CA: Lewis Charles Merrell, 1928. First edition. Octavo. 24pp (unnumbered). Cover design, frontispiece of Carmel Bay, title page, head-bands and marginal sketches by Jo Mora; 5 page-drawings by Rose Campbell. Original stiff brown covers bound with brown cowhide leather strip; marbled endpapers. Paperback. Minor wear to extremities otherwise a fine copy

This handcrafted book tells a charming story about the El Paseo building in Carmel, CA; the courtyard of El Paseo displays an original Jo Mora sculpture of an early Spanish California man and woman. A scarce Mora item; no copies shown in OCLC and no copies have come to auction in the past 30 years. (Not in Grandeau & Shorts)Price: $1,500.00
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3 Comments

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  1. kathysue / Jul 2 2011 8:24 pm

    Linda, Little Napoli is one of our fav stops in Carmel, I had no idea about this courtyard or that they had outside dining. I will be sure and check this out next time we are in Carmel. We are on the hunt for the best Clam chowder in Carmel, any suggestions. We had Flattery’s already and it was delicious. WE want to try all the different kinds of recipes made in Carmel. Would love some suggestions. Kathysue

  2. jeanette sclar / Jul 2 2011 10:46 pm

    Seems light years away from this heat and humidity!

  3. Pat Mulroy / Jan 22 2015 1:30 pm

    Nice pictures Rich. a long way from Edgewater Road and Palisade Avenue.

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