Friday, December 23, 2016

Cannery Row: Carmel Canning Company

Carmel Canning Company in the middle of Cannery Row, 1940s.
The Carmel Canning Company was somewhat unusual among the packing houses of Cannery Row in Monterey due to the fact that one of its warehouses was located south of the primary canning facility. Founded in January 1920 by Theodore H. Dean and his two sons, Ted E. and Marshall A., the cannery led a stereotypical existence throughout much of the mid-twentieth century, slowly being upgraded and expanded throughout the 1920s as revenue and demand increased. A gas explosion in 1946 followed by a disasterous fire on October 21, 1948, severely damaged the cannery complex, but it was rebuilt and outlasted most of its neighbors. In the 1940s, a reduction plant was partitioned off within the cannery, which was expanded to cover the entire jetty it occupied across from Hoffman Avenue.

Carmel Canning Company entrance after the 1946 gas explosion. [Historic Images]
The cannery boasted two warehouses along Cannery Row, the older of which sat at the corner of Ocean View and Hoffman Avenues. Built at the same time as the cannery, this structure was two-stories and was connected to the cannery via an elevated conveyor. Behind the warehouse, access was provided directly to the Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch tracks. A short siding was installed behind the warehouse to patronise the Carmel Canning Company and California Packing Corporation, which maintained an adjacent warehouse. In the 1940s, the siding was replaced with a northbound-exiting spur that ran directly behind the warehouse and along a covered platform. A second conveyor was also added around this time to connect to the primary cannery, with the older conveyor repurposed for use by a reduction plant This spur was still in place in 1962 and likely remained into the late 1970s when the railroad began to remove unused trackage in the area.

The Carmel Canning Company fire, Christmas Eve 1967. [Monterey Fire Department]
The cannery's second warehouse was constructed in the late 1920s. It was a straightforward, two-story rectangular structure covered entirely in corrugated steel. Like most of its neighbors, it boasted a decorated false-front at the roof-line, although the style was very simplistic. Since the warehouse could not use an elevated conveyor, it had two rather unusual features for local canneries: on one side of the structure the warehouse had a large loading dock to deliver and ship goods from, while on the street side a second-story hoist was installed allowing goods to be lifted directly into the warehouse from vehicles.

Carmel Canning Company fire, Christmas Eve 1967. [Monterey Fire Department]
View of Carmel Canning Company, Christmas Eve 1967.
[Monterey County Herald]
The Carmel Canning Company closed in 1962 when Ben Senderman retired and sold the complex to local investors. The packing house burned to the ground on Christmas Eve 1967, severely damaging the older warehouse at the same time. At some point in the late 1980s, the site of the cannery was cleared and El Torito Mexican Restaurant was built in its place. The older warehouse was rebuilt in 1971 as a three-story commercial complex under the architectural firm of Wurster, Bernardi, and Emmons. In the conversion process, most of the original structure was demolished, although the foundations remain as the base for the current structure. The older warehouse avoided the fire and continued to be used as a storage facility until it was purchased by Nichols Plumbing in the mid-1970s. It remains the only relatively untampered warehouse left on Cannery Row.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
Cannery Row Antique Mall, the former Carmel Canning Co.
warehouse #2. [Linda Hartong]
Cannery and Old Warehouse: 584-585 Cannery Row
New Warehouse: 471 Wave Street
36.614˚N, 121.899˚ W

Today, the scattered remains of the Carmel Canning Company can be found in three locations along Cannery Row and Wave Street. The cannery site itself is occupied by El Torito. The older warehouse structure now hosts Bay Bikes and office space. Meanwhile, the surviving warehouse on Wave Street has been home of the Cannery Row Antique Mall since June 1995, and has been only slightly modified since it ceased use as a packing house warehouse in 1962.

Citations & Credits:
  • Architectural Resources Group and Architects, Planners & Conservators, Inc. "San Carlos Park". Primary Record. State of California – The Resources Agency. Department of Parks and Recreation. In Final Cannery Row Cultural Resources Survey Report Document, Monterey, CA, 2001.
  • Hemp, Michael Kenneth. Cannery Row: The History of John Steinbeck's Old Ocean View Avenue. History Company, 2002.
  • Stevens, Dorothy Dean. Dancing Through Life On the Monterey Peninsula and Beyond: The Memoirs of Dorothy Dean Stevens. New York: iUniverse, 2009.
  • Ventimiglia, Mark. Images of America: Monterey Fire Department. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2012.


  1. Wow! I never knew this website existed. I do love trains, and old cannery row. What a great article. Do you have any information on the old Del Mar/ West Gate Sun Harbor cannery? I would love to see that! Once again, great website and A terrific article!

    1. Howdy squidfisher99, go visit the "Stations & Stops" page at the top of the website and you can find Del Mar/West Gate-Sun as well as many other canneries and railroad stops in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.


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