Happy 4th of July! I can’t think of a better community to share with you on this day than the all-American dream town of Seabrook, Washington. (Yes, Barbara you predicted it in your comment! 🙂 )
My blog friend, Emily from Jones Design Company spent spring break in Seabrook. (And just an fyi, Emily is currently traveling in an RV with her husband and 4 children for over 3 months to see the sights in our beautiful country!) They live in Washington state, and when I read about their trip to Seabrook, I contacted her about the town. She told me that I would absolutely love it there, and goodness was she ever right about that!
So my husband, our son, and I left Olympic National Park and started on the leg of our trip that would take us to the Columbia Rover Gorge and Portland, Oregon. But, we had to first make a stop in Seabrook just for me. 🙂 (It wasn’t too far out of the way.)
If you have been reading here for awhile, you know I am a sucker for planned communities – from Seaside to Serenbe, from Palmetto Bluff to Habersham and everything in between. The guys in my family are not nearly as smitten as I am, but they did like the “natural side” of Seabrook…so there was something for everyone there. 🙂
Yes, I took a zillion photographs. So while you are looking at them, I want to tell you a little about the history of Seabrook.
Casey Roloff is the young man who had the vision to start the town. When he and his wife, Laura, were in college they operated a painting business. After they graduated (she with an art degree and he with a business degree), they moved to the Oregon coast and wanted to find a home that had character – not just your run of the mill house that you see popping up everywhere. Since none was to be found, they built one.
Apparently, this home garnered attention from many others who wanted a home with the kind of details that they put into it and a home in a beach community. With this interest, the Roloffs knew there was a market there for a different kind of beach place. So they began to develop a new kind of community on the Oregon coast.
Bella Beach was their first development. This was in 2000, and they had only graduated from college in 1995, so getting financing for this project was quite difficult. After finally securing the loan they needed, Bella Beach sold out in only 6 months! Casey knew that people wanted homes in walkable communities where they could connect with neighbors. This was the start of his idea for Seabrook.
They wanted to build a town..not just a development. So they studied many coastal villages across the United States to see what made them work – what made them attractive to people who lived there. They especially studied the market of Cannon Beach there in Oregon to see why people were driving hours from the northern parts of Washington to go there, and they were very much inspired by Florida’s Seaside (which is very evident as you walk through both towns.)
Originally they were going to build Seabrook along the Oregon coast, but they could not find a suitable piece of property.
Then they remembered the coastal views they had enjoyed when hiking in Olympic National Park, and they found some undeveloped property south of it – property that looked much like the Oregon coast. They purchased 300 acres some time after 2001 (I think) with the profit they had made from their Bella Beach development, and Seabrook finally had a location on which to grow.
But Casey didn’t just jump right into developing this town himself. Before he began anything there, he pulled together a group of leading architects, developers, landscape architects, and others from around the country for a major group brainstorming and planning session.
After much talking and planning and drawing, and more talking and planning and drawing, they came up with a master plan that encompassed the best ideas from planned communities around the United States. Seabrook would be a pedestrian friendly community with the ability to find everything you need within a 5 minute walk in town.
The houses would be close together and close to the street and sidewalk to promote contact between neighbors. There would be narrow streets to naturally slow down traffic and make it safer for pedestrians. Alleyways would be built between houses so that vehicles could be parked there out of sight.
Streets would have taller buildings on the corners to “bookend” the shorter buildings between them.
The views down each street would be a little different from the next one, and outdoor spaces would also have variety as you walk through them across town.
There would be common garden areas…
And recreational facilities like a basketball court, an indoor swimming pool, and areas for volleyball and shuffleboard.
Seabrook would have diversity in its architectural styles. The information I’ve studied says they drew on architecture of the Pacific Northwest, but to me, it looks like what you typically find in New England – especially in coastal Maine (which is why I was so drawn to it. 🙂 )
And so the town was launched in 2004. Architect and urban designer, Laurence Qamar was part of the team as was landscape designer, Stephen Poulakos (now the director of town development for Seabrook.)
It has quickly become the fastest growing coastal destination in the Pacific Northwest. A Coastal Living Idea House was built there in 2010. It was named the Community of the Year in 2011 – a national award. Sunset magazine named it their first ever Idea Town in 2012, and the magazine built 2 idea houses there in 2013. Not bad for such a young little town!
All of the homes I have shown you so far have been on one side of the road. Now I want us to cross State Road 109 over to the oceanfront areas.
I believe this home, Anchor Down, is the one that Emily and her family stayed in when they were there.
More lovely shingled architecture…
The oceanfront esplanade allows you to walk on a path along the bluff where the oceanside homes are built.
Just follow it a little further….
as it winds through the woods…
overlooking the water.
Then climb down the stairs…
and you are then at the wide beach along the ocean’s edge.
And I am going to leave you there today, but this is not all I have for you from Seabrook. No…far from it! I want to take you inside a couple of homes in the next post, and then we’ll look at the charming retail area there after that.
So I hope you have a safe and fun 4th of July, and I will see you back here soon. 🙂
Until next time…
p.s. I almost forgot! Sometime this month we will be traveling to see our daughter who is working in Oklahoma for the summer. If any of you have recommendations for things to see, places to eat, stores for good shopping, or hotels to stay in near Tulsa, I would greatly appreciate your recommendations. Thanks a bunch!