Asilomar Conference Grounds
Asilomar Conference Grounds is a conference center built for the Young Women's Christian Association in 1913. It is located east of what was then known as Moss Beach, on the western tip of the Monterey Peninsula in Pacific Grove, California. Between 1913 and 1929 architect Julia Morgan designed and built sixteen of the buildings on the property, of which eleven are still standing. In 1987, the original Morgan buildings that still stand were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Warnecke buildings will likely follow suit in the coming years. Alisomar Conference Grounds houses a large motel and holds a wide variety of events for visitors throughout the year, including marriages and team building exercises. While updates have been made to the area over the years, the tranquility and harmony found at Asilomar have been preserved, and tourists are encouraged to book a night at the hotel to experience a slice of natural beauty.
Backstory and Context
The history of Asilomar dates to its original usage as a YWCA Leadership Camp built in 1913. Known as Monterey Peninsula's "Refuge by the Sea," this state park is located on 107 acres of state beach and conference grounds. Asilomar Conference Grounds is the crown-jewel of the beautiful and peaceful town of Pacific Grove. Asilomar is renowned for its fully-restored dune ecosystem and is a hot tourist site for its architectural significance. The grounds have several historic structures designed by the famous architect, Julia Morgan, between the years of 1913 and 1928. Sadly, only thirteen of Morgan’s original structures are remaining. The buildings are fully maintained however and constitute her largest collection of “Arts & Crafts” style architecture in a single location.
During the years of 1917 to 1935, the YWCA hired young college-age men to help maintain the area, working as groundskeepers, busboys, and the like. These men formed a hierarchical group known as “The Pirates.” This group is notable for representing the main vision of Alisomar: the improvement of the soul from the experience of Mother Nature.
Thirty years after the installation of Morgan’s structures, John Carl Warnecke (the architect behind John F. Kennedy's gravesite memorial), created seven more complexes, beautifully complimenting the conference grounds.
In 1987, the original Morgan buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Warnecke buildings will likely follow suit in the coming years. While updates have been made throughout the decades to keep the areas operational and well-maintained, the tranquility and harmony of the area’s natural beauty found at Asilomar have been preserved.
The special heritage for the grounds has inspired an ongoing commitment to protection of Asilomar’s facilities, as well as it’s natural ecosystem. One of Alisomar Conference Ground’s main goals is enabling guests to enjoy the natural surroundings of the landscape, hoping to maintain it for future generations to experience.
History of Asilomar State Park CA. Asilomar Conference Grounds. n d. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://www.visitasilomar.com/discover/park-history/.