The Vizcaino Serra Oak

Mural along Recreation Trail

Vizcaino - Serra Oak
The Tree Where Monterey Began

In the artists words

From artist, Stephanie Rozzo, about the process behind creating the mural:
 

"It was important to me as a Science Illustrator to try to recreate the scene as accurately as possible for the time period. I consulted experts to make sure the oak tree, other plants and ships were correct. The goal was to recreate a magnificent oak and make sure it was the star. Everything else needed to play a supporting role. While many images were used as reference, the landscape is mostly based on Jules Travernier’s drawing from 1876 and photos of the historic tree from the 1880s after it was stuck by lightning."

"Each element of the painting includes many small individual brush strokes to give it a realistic feel. The original main panel painting is 74” X 30” acrylic on stretched canvas. I scanned the original image at a high resolution with an 11¾ “X 8¾ “ flat scanner and merged it together will Adobe Photoshop. This preserved the brush strokes and details when it was reprinted at double the original size. The side panels have a watercolor background with pen & ink details that were put together using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator."

 

December 3, 1602

Sebastian Vizcaino, leading a fleet of three ships, sails into Monterey Bay.

Vizcaino names the bay Monte Rey in honor of the Viceroy of Mexico, Don Gaspar de Zuñiga y Acevedo, the Count of Monte Rey, Spain, who dispatched the expedition to find a port for Spanish galleons.

December 17, 1602

Carmelite friars of the Vizcaino Expedition hold a mass under a large live oak tree and Vizcaino claims Monterey for Spain. The tree, just above a cove and beach, is next to a little ravine whose creek enters into Monterey Bay and the tree’s branches touch the water.

October 1769

Gaspar de Portola’s expedition to find and establish Monterey fails to find Monterey Bay not recognizing the bay from Vizcaino’s description and inaccurate measurements.

May - June 1770

Portola’s second expedition finds Monterey Bay following Father Serra’s advice to look for the large oak tree above the shore.

Portola’s Expedition arrives by land and Serra arrives by sea on the ship San Antonio.

June 3, 1770

The Spaniards hang bells from the massive Live Oak’s branches, which touch fresh water pools of the creek. Mass is held under an arbor and the military officers conduct the ceremony to claim the land for Spain. Bells are rung, songs sung, cannons and muskets fired, cheers shouted. They then go to the nearby beach to enjoy a banquet.

1840s

The great Live Oak is struck by lightning, severely damaging the tree.

1904

Workmen unclogging a culvert cause water to flood the Oak Tree, and it dies.

1905

The Tree is blown down and washed away. A section of the trunk is retrieved from Monterey Bay, and placed in 1909 behind San Carlos Church (the Royal Presidio Chapel).

2013

Oak Tree remnants are displayed In the Heritage Center Museum of the Royal Presidio Chapel.

July 2015

Vizcaino-Serra Oak Mural displayed along the Recreation Trail is unveiled.