George Kohn: More Mystique from Spaghetti Hill

McGowan House

I enjoyed the article by Joe Livernois on his new home on Spaghetti Hill. To add a bit more to the lore, I did a PhD dissertation on “The Soul of a Place,” based on the location of Saint James Episcopal Church (where I am Rector/Pastor), located on the hill at Franklin and High streets.

The indigenous Rumsien Ohlone called “Hunukul,” which either meant “Fort Hill” or was just the name of the hill that the fort was on. The hill has always had some diversity. Along with the wonderful Italian contribution, in 1918 a large Arts & Crafts house was built to serve as a summer retreat for three families from Pasadena who were members of the United Lodge of Theosophists.

When it was too hot in Pasadena they’d come up to Monterey, light a fire, and read their Madam Blavatsky tomes. Each bedroom had a sleeping porch and bathroom access. The house never served as a private home, and was purchased by the Episcopal Diocese of California in 1954 to relocate Saint James, which had been the first non-Roman Catholic Church on the Monterey Peninsula in 1879, from down on Pacific Street. (That building was moved to Van Buren and now serves as the Mayo Hayes O’Donnell Historical Library.)

The church was built where the garage had been. It currently houses not only Saint James, but the Sarang Korean Church, the Monterey Friends of CG Jung, a Friday Brown Bag Zen meditation group, the ImageMakers photography group, an autism therapy program, and about 25 12-step recovery meetings each week. The grounds have recently been upgraded to provide a “Meander” labyrinth-like meditation path, an outdoor Stations of the Cross, and places just to sit and be at peace. A Torii Gate entrance from High Street is now being constructed. It’s clear — and I hope Livernois would agree — that the hill had, and still has, soul.

The Rev. Dr. George F Kohn (“Father Jeff”)


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