John Vonderlin: Do you know the way to Torquay?

[Remember, I had a pamphlet about a new Coastside town called Torquay? I’d never heard of the place and don’t even remember who gave me the pamphlet which I am now digging about for. Well, John Vonderlin has new information that clears up the location of this mysterious “city” that never appeared. Also, here are some web definitions for Torquay, please click here.]


Says John Vonderin:    As long as I’m writing about dreams dashed by the ’06 Quake, I should return to this small item. A while ago you posted the cover of a pamphlet for the planned city of Torquay, near Ano Nuevo. It was quite amazing, with Venice-like features; a hexagonal design, waterways, a lagoon, even a waterfall, all designed to accentuate the natural features of the area, rather then dominate them.  Unfortunately, other then your pamphlet posting and an online  mention of a post office of that name, I could find little else.

  Well, while looking through a copy of  author Tess Black’s book, “Portraits of Pescadero,”
that Meg gave me, I found this relevant quote from Ruth Steele:
   “I don’t remember if it was pronounced Tor-KAY or Tor-KEE, It was on the Renssalear place, the Cascade Ranch. There’s a place west of the road (Cabrillo Highway) where Renssalear [Steele] was going to establish this little town, but then when the earthquake hit in 1906, and the Ocean Shore went defunct, it just never materialized. My father remembered a post office that had already been built there, but I don’t remember it.”
   The Renssalear she refers to is Renssalear Steele, Jr. His investment in the town and the Ocean Shore Railroad ruined him financially, as he had mortgaged his ranch to get the project going, and had only sold a few lots, when it came to a screeching halt. 
   As I remember, Mr. Burnham’s firm’s architects, were the designers for this project. You can see that from the layout of the town in the brochure, as it is very similar to Granada’s, with spoke-like streets radiating from a six-sided  town center. My guess is Willis Polk, his western office manager, was responsible for this never-to-be project.
   If you can find the brochure I’d like to overlay the architect’s plan over a map of the historic Cascade Ranch and try to imagine what it would have been like. If not, I’ll contact Tess Black and see if I can get a copy, as she used  a small picture of the layout from the brochure in her book.
   Coincidentally, Cotati, in Sonoma County, where I lived for decades, is one of the two hexagonal designed cities in the country. Torquay would have been another. Here’s a website that will tell you about this rare city design through history.
[Again, for more information on hexagonal-designed cities, please click here.
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