Carmel Valley Historical Society

The History of Carmel Valley’s Robles del Rio Subdivision

By Jeff Ohlson, Carmel Valley Historical Society
Painting by Patty Gaglioti

Carmel Valley Historical Society





New Exhibit opening Saturday, May 20, 2017

Back in 1927 developer Frank Porter and two partners purchased 678-acres of Rancho Los Laureles, naming it Robles del Rio (“oaks by the river” in Spanish) Carmelo Subdivision. In 1932 Porter bought out his partners and built Robles del Rio Lodge that included 35 guest rooms, a fine dining restaurant, pool, spa, tennis courts, theta , and horse stables. He also formed the Robles del Rio Carmelo Water Company to provide water to Robles residents. Porter sold the 10-acre lodge in 1939. 

Many people who’ve heard of the exhibit are beginning to share their personal stories about the Lodge much to our delight. One of our members was on a remote island off the coast of Japan and ran into a couple who once they learned that Andy lived in Robles said, “Oh, we loved the Lodge and returned often!” 5,000 miles away and the three of them had connection! Still others recount their early years working in the Lodge restaurant or for wedding and anniversary parties. One person remembered making 50 cents/hour as a waiter. 

One of the more colorful characters of the time in Robles del Rio was William Irwin “Rosie” Henry who operated his Rosie’s Cracker Barrel store for 53 years. Rosie’s was the de facto cultural and community center of Carmel Valley for decades. The back room tavern was named “Robles del Rio Country Club” and was a favorite meeting place for locals including cowboys, ranchers, cartoonists, film actors and a number of other famous personalities. In later years when he lost his eyesight, some remember Rosie making change by the feel of the coins.

These and other stories along with historic photographs and memorabilia of the era will be on display starting Saturday, May 20 at the Carmel Valley History Center located next to the Carmel Valley Village Community Park. There will be an opening reception for this exhibit from 2:00-4:00. Enjoy refreshments while talking with those lifelong Valleyites who wrote the story.  And those who worked on the exhibit were definitely “in the know.” Nancy & Patricia Porter and “Skip” Marquard are grandchildren of Frank Porter, and Tom Augustitus was a firefighter and 40-year postman in Carmel Valley. CVHS volunteer and former Board member Jeff Ohlson chaired the exhibit committee.

The History Center is open Friday & Saturday: 12:00 – 4:00pm, and Sunday: 11:00am – 2:00pm during the Farmers’ Market.

Carmel Valley Historical Society

Posted in Valley History