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Three Highly Atmospheric, Historical Inns of North Oregon Coast

Published 10/18/21 at 4:56 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Highly Atmospheric, Historical Inns of North Oregon Coast

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(Seaside, Oregon) – Oregon's coastline has only been a major attraction for the last 40 years or so (with the last ten seeing the largest leap in popularity), but tourism really began in most places about 100 years ago. The vast majority of old buildings from those times are gone, for better or for worse, but it often leaves you without a clear visual sense of the region's history. (Above: Gilbert Inn in the '40s)

However, some such rarities remain, especially up on the north coast. Three examples really stand out: one in Cannon Beach and the other two in the area's oldest tourism spot, Seaside.

Inn at the Prom, Seaside. Even looking at the ornate iron works on this oceanfront beauty, you get a sense of an age gone by (although the fencing has been different over the decades and simply designed as retro). But the Inn at the Prom is the real deal, originally built as a mansion in the early 1900s.

Three Highly Atmospheric, Historical Inns of North Oregon Coast

The original Promenade was a wooden construct, and it's likely the building was already there when the Prom was built just before 1910. The mansion was definitely there in 1921 when the concrete Prom we now know was built.

Around the 1930s, the mansion was divided up into apartments. Sometime after that it became a hotel.

The second section of the Inn at the Prom – the set of buildings pointed eastward – were a part of the hotel built in the 1950s. By then, with Highway 101 completed in the ‘30s and World War II behind us, tourism on the Oregon coast was booming and lodgings in Seaside were filled to the brim in the summertime.

Now, the Inn at the Prom's latest incarnation is part beach cottage and part upscale hotel. The interiors are fully modern and so is the paint, but there's still major atmosphere here. 341 S Prom. Seaside, Oregon. 800-507-2714. Inn at the Prom Website Here.

Gilbert Inn, Seaside. The Gilbert Inn is just about as old as you can get on the Oregon coast, with most of the original materials still holding up this BnB after 150 years. It was created right alongside the city: built by one of the town's founders, French immigrant Alexandre Gilbert. A pioneer and a real estate tycoon in the Pacific Northwest, he helped shape regional history, in fact.

This one started back in 1885 as a two-room cabin. This was before Seaside even had its name.

Gilbert kept building on the structure as his own businesses grew, becoming the full-blown Queen Anne-style mansion we know today by 1892. Building materials came from the north Oregon coast, and there are still old growth beams in the basement and fir trees comprising many of the walls. The massive boulders pulled from the Columbia River still make up the foundation.

Stately Gilbert Inn has remained largely the same over the last 100-plus years, except for some additions to the building in the 1990s, which included five guest rooms above the original structure.

Meanwhile, on the inside, plenty of historical remnants of Gilbert and old Seaside remain, including a woven rug from Iran that he snagged around 1900. Needlepoint works by his wife Emma still remain in some spots. 341 Beach Drive. Seaside, Oregon. (503) 738-4142. Gilbert Inn website.

Inn at Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach. In Cannon Beach, the Inn at Haystack Rock is actually two old motor lodges practically next door to each other. In fact, until recent years the second building was called the Blue Gull Inn, but the two were united under one name a few years back.

Both hearken back to the really old days of Oregon coast, in and around the ‘40s. The smaller property – formerly Blue Gull Inn – was built in 1939, owner Taslema Sultana said. This was the age of transition between tents to buildings for most traveling folk, back when little, individual shacks were sprouting up to replace the tents people normally stayed in back until about 1930. Motor lodges quickly replaced those shacks: the precursor to actual motels. You had larger beach shacks now, with gravel parking lots where you parked your rig right in front of your room. From Rugged Tents to Real Rooms: Evolution of Oregon Coast Overnight Stays Part 1

Sultana said the smaller property is actually an historic site. Pics of both in and around the ‘80s show something ratty by today's standards, but they were beloved charmers back then.

“Major improvements / renovations were done in 1946, 1955, 2016 and 2019,” Sultana said.

Those gravel areas between the buildings were turned into the famed courtyards the Inn at Haystack Rock is known for, with the fountains and flowers causing a beautiful visual and olfactory ruckus.

The term “motor lodge” eventually was changed to “motel,” and by the ‘50s the crudeness of these properties was further refined throughout the decades. 487 S. Hemlock. Cannon Beach, Oregon. 800-559-0893. Inn at Haystack Rock website here.


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