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Six Historic Inns of the Oregon Coast With a Strong Time Travel Vibe

Published 01/02/23 at 11:09 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Six Historic Inns of the Oregon Coast With a Strong Time Travel Vibe

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(Oregon Coast) – Time travel is possible on the Oregon coast. Well, not the kind found in LOST, Time Tunnel or Star Trek IV (and who has a Klingon vessel lying around anyway?) However, some places to stay the night out here do indeed feel like you're stepping back into another temporal existence. There are even fervent followers of such places, traveling the country looking for the old Americana of the “motor lodge” and its powerful nostalgia. (Above: Whistling Winds Motel in Lincoln City, photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

The story of how actual lodgings on the Oregon coast came to be, including that evolution from motor lodge to hotels, motels and vacation rentals, is an interesting one. With these spots along the northern half of the coast, you can actually live it, with some going back 100 years or more.

Clementine's Bed and Breakfast – Astoria. What would you expect to find in what is not only the oldest town on the Oregon coast but also the oldest settlement west of the Rockies? You'd find some of the oldest buildings in the entire state. The Historic Moose Lodge Vacation Rentals has a handful of ultra-charming homes and / or living spaces that are ancient. One hails from 1852.

Four vacation rentals are all actually inside one big mansion, painstakingly restored within and making for a heady mix of the modern and old-timey. Hardwood floors along with its architectural lines echo the past, but the cheerful décor and skylights bring on the modern age. It's even pet friendly. In turn, all this is under the umbrella of the 1888-built Clementine's Bed and Breakfast, making for two amazing Victorian mansions side by side. 847 Exchange Street. Astoria, Oregon. 503-325-2005. Website.

Gilbert Inn, Seaside. As the 19th century was just winding down and it was climbing out of the Victorian era, Oregon was still largely “pioneer” in vibe, with not a lot of classy diggs much less large tracts of civilization. The little town that would be Seaside was just getting started in the early 1880s when a French immigrant named Alexandre Gilbert built a little cabin here, and thus became one of Seaside's founding fathers.

In fact, the Gilbert District bears his name.

He kept adding to the construct into 1892, when it became the Victorian mansion we now know as the Gilbert Inn. More was added on over the century, it served different purposes over the decades until finally becoming an inn by the 1990s, when more rooms were added on above.

To this day, much of the wood in this Oregon coast elder remains, along with other remnants of the area's past. The foundation is still mostly comprised of river rock from the Columbia River. 341 Beach Drive. Seaside, Oregon. (503) 738-4142. Gilbert Inn website.

Inn at Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach. Here you have an example of the real sea change that came over the Oregon coast in the 1920s as its lodging scene shifted from tents and primitive cabins to buildings that were known as motor lodges. Later, that label was turned into “motel.”

Inn at Haystack Rock in the '80s

The Inn at Haystack, along with its next-door companion the Blue Gull Inn, were built around the '30s with that shift in mind. Instead of little cabins that you parked your car next to (known as motor camps), now you had rooms you parked in front of – like a hotel but all with a parking space. Motor lodges like this one took over for several until motels and hotels became more prevalent, in the meantime upgrading the motor lodges as things progressed.

Old photos show the place through the '70s with that signature gravel or pavement between buildings, with parking always in mind. In this century, that was replaced with elegant courtyards full of color and a fountain or two. 487 S. Hemlock. Cannon Beach, Oregon. 800-559-0893. Inn at Haystack Rock website here.

Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection: Ocean Front Cabins in 2004

Ocean Front Cabins, Oceanside. There's heaps o' history here: indeed if these 100-year-old walls could talk.

The building has been there since the '20s, right about the time the little village was founded in 1922 by the Rosenberg brothers, who were also known for blasting the hole through Maxwell Point. The outside still looks like an old beach cabin, emanating an old Oregon coast vibe that is full of charm and maybe intrigue. The place screams the past, especially with lots of the antique-ish trimmings and lines on the inside of each room.

From each of those you get expansive views of the ocean and serious front seats to famed Three Arch Rocks. 1610 Pacific Avenue NW, Oceanside. (503) 842-6081. Ocean Front Cabins Website.

Whistling Winds Motel, Lincoln City. Another remnant of the old motor lodge aesthetic of the Oregon coast, Whistling Winds was born in the '20s as a set of cottages. Not all is the same wood or materials as before, but the inexpensive little charmer is covered in beautiful polished wood that gives it a true time travel vibe. The name comes from the small tower at the top where coastal winds would make quite a noise before it was sealed up.

Motor lodges like this one have quite the following with some travelers, who go out of their way at times to visit these quaint living examples. 866-384-9346 3264 NW Jetty Ave, Lincoln City, Oregon.

Ester Lee in the '60s (courtesy photo)

Ester Lee Motel, Lincoln City. These days, it's a well known historic inn – even legendary. Parts of it are now 100 years old, as the building actually began as a small cabin overlooking the surf back in the '20s. Over time, different owners added more, and some buildings next door were bought up and added to the oceanfront complex. It was an Ester and Lee Inman who first purchased the cabin and then added more on: hence the name Ester Lee.

Its original use was an apartment complex, and as more was added it slowly became a full-on lodging.

Owner Mark Baete told Oregon Coast Beach Connection when he did some remodeling on one section, he discovered a host of ancient wiring from decades ago that was primitive to say the least. 3803 S.W. Hwy. 101, Lincoln City, Oregon. 541-996-3606.

Agate Beach Motel, Newport. Another one of those famed elderly motor lodges, the inn shares a name with another historic hotel that was once there over 100 years ago, back when Agate Beach was actually its own separate community with a post office. Agate Beach Motel was built in the '40s, a ways after the original nearby hotel burned down. This was also about the time famed composer Ernest Bloch lived in the neighborhood, however. 175 NW Gilbert Way. Newport, Oregon. 541-265-8746.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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