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One of the True, Rare Historic Motor Lodges Left on Oregon Coast

Published 05/17/22 at 5:45 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

One of the Rare, True Historic Motor Lodges Left on Oregon Coast

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(Newport, Oregon) – At Newport's Agate Beach, where agate were once indeed king, there's sizable history of the community that begins without Newport. For a time, it was its own unincorporated town on the central Oregon coast, coming complete with a post office.

There's a lot that happened there, including a rather famous place called the Agate Beach Inn, a Bavarian-style hotel that burned down in 1948. But in the meantime, in 1940, it saw another step in the evolution of Oregon coast places to stay, a newfangled thing called a motor lodge was placed on the cliff above what was then still an agate hotspot. Whether it was called the Agate Beach Motor Lodge or the Deluxe Cottages is not entirely clear, but a little bit into the second half of the century it became the Agate Beach Motel.

Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection

The '30s was about the time lodgings on the Oregon coast started shifting from tents on the beach to little cottages, and then to the motor lodge. This was the precursor to the motel, where all the rooms (often referred to as cottages for a time) were in one long building, and you parked out front.

There are still fans of this vintage style of lodging, and there's a whole market of people that seek them out. That vibe of the old Oregon coast in the '60s and '70s is coveted, and the Agate Beach Motel manages to hold on to this historical atmosphere, even with the new paint and chic gadgets of the new millennium.

There are one or two rare references to Deluxe Cottages in Agate Beach in old newspaper ads dating back to 1948. Another article in 1976 shows it has become Agate Beach Motel by this time, and talks of it being $14 per night. Old times, indeed.

At one point early in the inn's life, Swiss composer Ernest Bloch stayed there, presumably just before he acquired his own home in the central Oregon coast beachfront. There are monuments around town to him, and his old home still stands not far away from the motel.

Owner Wendy Kelley knows this appetite for the historic well. She's had the place in since 1989 and has kept up the vibe. You can see it in the moulding and the wood that run throughout the place.

“We have tried to keep the motor lodge feel that was so popular in those days,” she said. “Some people travel in search of original motor lodges. We had a group awhile back that came strictly because it was a motor lodge.”

Over that time, plenty of guests have come in saying they've been here before, and there are some interesting tales – some that could get a chuckle if they were revealed.

“We have multiple guests that have gotten engaged here over 40 even 50 years ago,” Kelley said. “Lots of campfire stories, however, some aren't appropriate for print.”

How Kelley and her husband acquired the place over 30 years ago is also a funky little tale. They were living in Bend, as they still do. Her husband had loaned the owners money to make some huge repairs on the building. After making only one payment to the Kelleys, out of the blue the owners 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.”

At the time, she said the motel was in horrible condition and she wanted to sell it. Yet it was her husband Pat who was inspired by the old motor lodge, insisting the place had “good bones.”

The rest is history, in more than one sense.

Now, the Agate Beach Motel hosts of the coolest webcams on the net, pointed to Agate Beach. And there's a new addition in the last year: a firepit on the front deck overlooking the ocean. Yet another reason to linger on these outdoor platforms as the sun goes down over the famous Yaquina Head Lighthouse. 175 NW Gilbert Way. Newport, Oregon. 541-265-8746.

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