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Argyll Campbell

Argyll Campbell

Argyll Campbell (December 2, 1882 – November 24, 1943) was city attorney for Carmel-by-the-Sea, California from 1920 to 1937. He was former chairman of the California Democratic Party to elect governor Culbert Olson.[1] Campbell was a leader in Monterey Peninsula civic life for twenty-eight years. He was known for his efforts to "keep Carmel from radical change."[2]

Argyll Campbell
Argyll Campbell (1882-1943)
Argyll Clarence Campbell

(1882-12-02)December 2, 1882
DiedNovember 24, 1943(1943-11-24) (aged 60)
    Mabel Marie Phelps
    (m. 1909; died 1962)

    Early life

    Campbell was born on December 2, 1882, in San Jose, California.[3][4] His parents were attorney James Havelock Campbell (1849-1923) and Mary Ann J. Faulkner (1858-1908).[5] He went to Santa Clara University and attended Northwestern University, but did not graduate.[1] He married Mabel Marie Phelps (1880-1962) on July 8, 1909 in the chapel of Santa Clara college in Santa Clara, California.[6]



    Shortly after coming to Carmel, Campbell became involved with the Carmel Arts and Crafts Club and Forest Theater. On June 30, 1915, he wrote a column in the Monterey Daily Cypress and Monterey American, about the production of the four-act play, Junipero Serra, A Pageant of the Padres, at the Forest Theater from July 2-3, 5, 1915. He wrote about Perry Newberry as the director and producer of the play. They became good friends at the Forest Theater. Campbell was the director of dancing.[7][8][9]

    On April 16, 1919, he was in the play, A Night Off. Campbell played Justinian Babbitt, Professor of Ancient History, under the direction of Mary E. Hand.[8]

    City attorney

    He passed the California Bar Examination and opened a law office in San Jose. During World War I he joined the army, serving as a military law instructor at the Santa Clara University and at the Presidio of San Francisco.[4] He became a major in the United States Army Adjutant General's Corps department.[1]

    He was district attorney of San Jose before coming to Carmel in 1914.[2] When he came to Carmel with his wife, his first impression of Carmel was a "bay as blue as that of Naples and an altogether impossible sunset."[10][5]

    Campbell served as city attorney of Carmel-by-the-Sea for fifteen years, from 1920 to 1937. He served as city attorney for Pacific Grove, California and Soledad, California and as deputy district attorney of Monterey County, California.[1] He was responsible for drawing up many of Carmel's first zoning laws and ordinances. He is best remembered for writing Carmel’s "Magna Carta," ordinance No. 96 on June 5, 1929, which said:

    The City of Carmel-by-the-Sea is hereby determined to be primarily, essentially, and predominately a residential city wherein business and commerce have in the past, are now, and are proposed in the future to be subordinated to its residential character: and that said determination is made having in mind the history and the development of said city, its growth and the causes thereof: and also its geographical and topographical aspects, together with its near proximity to the cities of Pacific Grove and Monterey and the business, industries, trades, callings and professions in existence and permissible therein.[3]

    Campbell backed the ordinance with zoning ordinances that limited the business district and restricting the size of residential houses and lots. No sidewalks in the residential area, no streetlights, no commercial development on the beach, preservation of the native trees, one or two stories height limitation, and no billboards. These ordinances have helped preserve Carmel's character as a village.[9]

    Campbell shared the same philosophy as Newberry, who became the fifth mayor of Carmel in 1922 and was the editor of the Carmel Pine Cone. They were both known for their efforts to prevent the town from becoming "another Santa Cruz," with beach amusements and commercial tourist attractions. Campbell even suggested "building a wall around the town and restricting entry," much like the neighboring community of Pebble Beach, California.[9][11][4]

    In 1937, the city abolished the position of city attorney, thereby discharging Campbell from a position he had since 1920. Campbell's son, Gordon Campbell (1910-1995), a graduate from Stanford's law school, took on a position as city councilmen.[9] He later became a Monterey County Superior Court judge and lawyer.[12]

    He was active in the affairs of Carmel's American Legion Post No. 512.[1]


    Campbell, at age 60, died on November 24, 1943, from heart failure, at his home in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Private funeral services were held in Pacific Grove. Internment was at the Monterey City cemetery.[1][13]


    1. "Atty. Argyll Campbell Dies at Home in Carmel". The Californian. Salinas, California. November 26, 1943. p. 1. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
    2. "Argyll Campbell". Carmel Pine Cone. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. November 11, 1943. p. 1. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
    3. Grimes, Teresa; Heumann, Leslie. "Historic Context Statement Carmel-by-the-Sea" (PDF). Leslie Heumann and Associates1994. p. 42. Retrieved January 18, 2022.
    4. Wright, Connie (2014). "Argyll Campbell: A Man Who Truly Loved Carmel". Stories of old Carmel: A Centennial Tribute From The Carmel Residents Association. Carmel Residents Assoc. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. pp. 19–20. OCLC 940565140.
    5. Hale, Sharron Lee (1980). A tribute to yesterday: The history of Carmel, Carmel Valley, Big Sur, Point Lobos, Carmelite Monastery, and Los Burros. Valley Publishers. Santa Cruz, California. p. 83. ISBN 9780913548738. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
    6. "Normal School Girl Weds". The San Francisco Call. San Francisco, California. July 9, 1909. p. 9. Retrieved March 22, 2022.
    7. "Padre Pageant Has Fine Cast. Nearly Four Hundred People To Present Carmel Production". Monterey Daily Cypress and Monterey American. Monterey, California. June 30, 1915. p. 4. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
    8. "Forest Theater Plays". Harrison Memorial Library. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. July 9, 1910. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
    9. Gilliam, Harold; Gilliam, Ann (1992). Creating Carmel: The Enduring Vision. Peregrine Smith Books. Salt Lake City. pp. 16, 185–186. ISBN 9780879053970. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
    10. "Impressions of Carmel" (PDF). Carmel Pine Cone. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. February 3, 1915. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
    11. Hudson, Monica (2006). Carmel-by-the-sea. Arcadia. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. pp. 29–30. ISBN 9780738531229. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
    12. "Gordon Campbell, Carmel resident". The Californian. Salinas, California. September 22, 1995. p. 16. Retrieved March 22, 2022.
    13. "Monterey City Attorney Dies. Argyll Campbell, 61, State Leader". The San Francisco Examiner. San Francisco, California. November 26, 1943. p. 12. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
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