Over the centuries, certain architectural styles have become synonymous with architects. Mies van der Rohe had Modernism. Frank Lloyd Wright had the Prairie style. Here in Northern California, Thomas O. Larkin had the Monterey style. Larkin is considered the pioneer of the architectural style, having built the first Monterey home in, you guessed it, Monterey, Calif., in 1835. The Larkin House, notable for being the first two-story house in the area, is a National Historic Landmark today.

Whether you want to call the style “Monterey Colonial” or “Monterey Revival,” one thing is clear: the influence of Larkin and his signature style has had a lasting effect. If you happen to be in the area for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this weekend, you can tour Larkin House, which is open for tours.

Draw: The mix of local adobe construction and the New England colonial style Larkin brought with him from Boston to Monterey created a unique profile that endures today. The style’s two main innovations: the two-story structure that was in stark contrast to all the single-story Spanish Colonial homes of the era; and the exterior balcony. “The balcony could possibly have originally been inspired by Spanish townhouses but was affectionately adopted and modified by new settlers from the eastern U.S. bringing traditional details with them,” said Houzz. People are also drawn to the Monterey style for clean lines that are “beautifully simple,” said Houzz, as well as  the timelessness of the architecture and the combination of warmth and spaciousness.

Elements to look for: In addition to the signature two-story construction and exterior balcony, Monterey style homes are characterized by features including: porches, hip roofs, and adobe walls, said Wikipedia. Low-pitched gable roofs with shingles or tiles, double-hung windows, plaster or adobe walls, and exposed beams may also be used.

Architects:Larkin is literally the architect of record for the Monterey style. Mariano Vallejo, who built the Rancho Petaluma Adobe in the area soon after, is also renowned, said Wikipedia. In Southern California, local architect Lawrence Test earned a following for his Monterey Colonial homes in Pasadena.

Neighborhoods:It just so happens the Monterey style did, indeed, originate in Monterey, CA, but there are few traditional Monterey-style homes there. Monterey’s Mary C. W. Black Studio House was called one of the “few good residential examples of the Monterey sub-style of the Spanish Colonial Revival on the Monterey peninsula, where the form was originated” during the home’s nomination to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993, according to Wikipedia. In San Francisco, the homes are found in neighborhoods such as Westwood Highlands, St. Francis Wood, and Forest Hill, while further south, Palo Alto plays host to many a Monterey-style home. In Southern California, the upscale neighborhoods of Pasadena are a hotbed for the style, as are areas like Huntington Park and Los Feliz. Susan Burns of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Montecito even has a $9,900,000 Monterey Colonial for sale.

Does the Monterey style inspire you enough to take a drive up the coast to pay a visit to the Larkin House and all the rare automobiles on display at the Pebble Beach Golf Links this weekend? Sound off in the comments.

Lead photo courtesy of Flickr