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Newport's Agate Beach Motel: Historic Oregon Coast Motor Lodge in Modern Times

Published 09/22/2018 at 4:07 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Newport's Agate Beach Motel: Historic Oregon Coast Motor Lodge in Modern Times

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(Newport, Oregon) – The Oregon coast will never be the same as many remember it back in the '60s and '70s, but maybe that's a good thing. Yet there are times it's pleasant to be reminded of some of the old ways and atmospheres, and Newport's Agate Beach Motel is one of those examples. It has that old motor lodge feel – an aesthetic that started almost a century ago – and because of that there's a built-in following of those who wander the country in search of just that.

This little historic beauty sits in its own oceanfront cul de sac, where you might find yourself lost after taking a wrong turn, and momentarily feeling awkward as you realize you've wandered into a private property area while trying to turn around. Then, however, you find yourself taken with it, and you may feel compelled to stop at Agate Beach Motel.

Owner Wendy Kelley acquired the motel property back in 1989, but its story goes back much farther.


“I know it was built in the 1940's and Ernest Bloch the famous musician and composer stayed here when it was first built,” Kelley said. “We have tried to keep the motor lodge feel that was so popular in those days. Some people travel in search of original motor lodges. We had a group about two years ago that came strictly because it was a motor lodge.”

Fast forward again to 1989: Kelley and her husband were living in Bend. She snagged the place in a rather amusing way. Her husband had loaned money to the owners at the time for major repairs. Kelley said they made one payment and all of a sudden told them: “keys are on the counter.”

“We became instant motel owners and thus our journey began,” she said. “It was a two-year plan to get the place rentable; the problem was we lived in Bend, Oregon about four hours away. We had two children ages 6 and 8 going to grade school, so I was only able to travel over on the weekends but Pat kept a crew going most of the two years.”

She personally wanted to sell the motel: it was in horrible condition, she said. It was her husband that had the vision, and kept telling her the place “had good bones” and was confident it could be refurbished.

Finally, in 1991 the first guest came through the door, and their lack of hospitality experience resulted in their reservation system being merely a pad of paper.

“Bank accounts, room decorations, kitchen supplies, housekeeping supplies - it was so overwhelming,” she said.

Back then, the Internet didn't even exist. So all the Kelleys did was take out a classified ad in the Bend newspaper – and that's still there to this day, she says.

“Operating a business that is out of town certainly has its challenges,” she said. “We always worried about how things were being operated but we managed to get pretty lucky with managers. Housekeepers come and go but looking back we have been really lucky there too.”

These days, it's all Internet-based now, and their ratings on things like TripAdvisor are through the roof.

Still, being on the Oregon coast has its challenges.

“The salt air is constantly wearing on the buildings,” Kelley said. “It's a real special amazing property that is an honor to own.”

No two rooms are alike at Agate Beach Motel, and each has a mix of wood, tile and stone. Some parts have that old Oregon motor lodge feel where the wood evokes that timber and log vibe that was once the rage in these parts. Some rooms are pet friendly and some are pet-free – for those with allergies to the wee beasties. The custom, handmade coffee tables in each rooms are a nice touch, and every unit comes with a different seating arrangement and décor. Kitchens or kitchenettes come with the rooms as well as cozy electric fireplaces.

The highlight is, of course, the epic view. The whole side of Yaquina Head is staring you in the face. It's more than a little mesmerizing to watch the surfers ride the waves in the distance, or get lost in the big breakers smacking the headland and the beach.

There's a sizable grassy area in front of this old Oregon coast landmark that's filled with chairs to take it all in. This also comes with a portable barbecue. 175 NW Gilbert Way. Newport, Oregon. 541-265-8746. www.agatebeachmotel.com.

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