By June Morrall
On the South Coast, you didn’t see fences cutting off one property from another. They weren’t horse friendly; they weren’t people friendly. Fences meant “keep out.”
Loren Coburn sealed his reputation as a mean landowner when he started putting up fences. The roads on his property, freely used until his appearance, were now marked “private” and the signs enforced.
In 1880 Loren nailed up one of the first of many public notices announcing that he was closing a main road on one of his properties, citing the unsafe condition of bridges in the area. This inconvenienced the locals greatly. Worse, the notice did not indicate when the road would open again, if ever.
The most offensive, controversial thing he did was to erect a gate and fence at Pebble Beach.
Pioneer Alexander Moore said: “We could go whichever way it was most convenient to get to [Pebble] Beach. We never traveled on any particular road.”
Before Coburn, the villagers had always used roads on private property; there was never a problem.
The first time that Carl Coburn stayed with the Loren Coburn family near Pigeon Point, he accompanied Loren to San Francisco on his trips to the bank to withdraw funds. Even though Carl was young, ten years old, he quickly became aware of Loren’s wealth.
On that first trip west, Carl and his parents, “JC” and Lucy, stayed six months and then returned home to the East Coast. But twelve months later they came back to Pescadero; by then the Loren Coburns had moved into the house on San Gregorio Street.
In an act of uncharacteristic generosity, Loren’s love of surrogate son, Carl, led him to buy a home across the street for the JC Coburns. Everybody respected JC’s wife, Lucy, who sometimes led the evening service at the nearby historic Congregational Church.