After last Saturday’s tour of Cannon Beach cottages, I spent most of Sunday feeling melancholic. Could it be that I would prefer if Ilwaco were more like Cannon Beach? Or that I realized that my fantasy of living in CB would never, ever come true because of its high prices? (Or was I melancholic because I was having a terrible time uploading my latest entries to this blog?!) When I first moved to Ilwaco, I used to attend more civic meetings and often heard the cry of citizens: “We don’t want another Cannon Beach!” While I am sure they were referring to high property taxes and unaffordable housing, I couldn’t help but wish that we had more of the charms of that Oregon town. Every bit of progress made here: the village-esque upgrades to the Port, and the Saturday market, for example, make us a little more charming, and that makes me happy. And Sheila reminded me that CB has strict CC&Rs and that our idiosyncratic house, with its multicoloured trim, might cause a fuss there. Also, would I really want to stand in line behind twenty tourists just to buy my groceries? There, now I feel better.
When we arrived at the tour’s ticket sales table, I was thrilled to see that one of my favourite cottages was featured on the tour this year. However, the tower, which has exerted a great pull on me every time I go to CB, was locked, and I did not see any way to storm it. I learned that the cottage is called “Bears” (built in 1924) and that the tower is a studio and laundry room.
The “Bears” unstormable tower flanked by two of the cottage’s windows
I’m a bit concerned that I have the order of our tour and thus the names of the cottage photos mixed up, but I believe the above interiors are from the McRae cottage (built in 1937) and the McLaughlin House (1926). I find the cupboards and shelves and windows speak strongly to me of home, history, and the pleasures of daily life in a cozy space.
Tablescapes also thrill me. Mine tends to be just drifts of paper…bills, seed packets, paper scraps with ideas, lists of books and movies to order from the library and Netflix, but every now and then it gets cleaned and polished and decorated with a vase of flowers and it can look like the ones above. Left, the Hutchins House, built in 1924, and right, in the Mason House, built in 1925.
roof top deck
The Hutchins House had the charming surprise (above) of a rooftop deck that was entered through a small window from each of two upstairs bedrooms.
Cottage windows (above, in the Mason House), with and without fabulous beach views, often have the small panes and warped glass of old times, reminding me of my grandmother’s house (and later, mine) in Seattle where the electrical lines and trees outside seemed to waver. I wish that when one had to replace a window with modern energy efficiency, the glass could be made with that old watery look.
A full view of the mantel in the Mason House and one of its beds, where I suddenly craved an enclosed and peaceful pale pink nap.
The large Ave Maria Retreat House (interior, below), now belonging to the Sisters of Saint Mary but built in 1928 with a widow’s walk and porthole windows, could make a girl want to join the convent. Its enormity was not the sort of space that usually appeals to me, but the rooms were magnificent. I loved the clever touch of old porthole windows echoed by portholes in the dining room cupboards. The widow’s walk was not on top of the house as I would have expected but was a narrow walkway outside a second story bedroom and afforded a great view of the beach.
portholes in the Ave Maria Retreat House
Below, the view from the Ave Marie Retreat House looked down into the yard of the Goodman House, which surprised me by being one of my favourite cottages. While I would have tried to grow more plants inside the windwall (closer view, right), it’s a great concept for providing some comfort on the west side of a beach house.
The Goodman house, built in 1928, entranced me despite its vast paces. Usually large houses fail to impress me but this one abounded with glorious spaces and colour and comfort.
(Above) The great west facing window, inside and out..and note the pop- out lower corner, which housed one of the world’s most charming sun rooms which ran about half the length of the north wall.
(Above) One end of the long sunroom, which is about all I could want out of life if it had a small kitchenette and bathroom attached.
(Above) A fireplace by Paul Bartels who is famous for his stonework in many of these old cottages, and a table where it would be a joy to dine.
Gardens did not abound around any of the cottages, although there were a few good landscaping touches:
A rustic bench by the backyard guesthouse of the Bears, and a cat bench at the Goodman Beach House
The Goodman house had an inviting gravel path to the beach through a northside garden (above left) and (right, from a deck of the most modernized of the cottages) this pretty amazing garden wound down a hill between two houses. We walked through there on our way back to downtown. The sign said it was private that that the public could pass through at their own risk.
We had parked well south of downtown (ah, another disadvantage to living there: the streets even off to the sides are crammed with overflow tourist cars like ours), but ate at Cranky Sue’s at the north end and walked back. The sun blasted all day and made it hard to take photos of CB’s good downtown gardens. There’s a rule that every business has to have one, so the town overflows with flowers. Two examples:
All Cannon Beach business are required to have landscaping.
When the next day I was bemoaning to a friend via email about the glories of CB, she wrote to me that when she and a friend had recently visited there, they drove around looking for just one run-down house and could not find one. She compared it to Disneyland where the streets are washed at night. Looking back, the only flaw I can remember seeing (other than the surprising lack of cottage gardens in the tour neighbourhood) are a few clumps of undeadheaded daisies and one, that’s ONE, dandelion in a the garden of a bar and grill. Oh dear, I am getting melancholic again. Would such perfection get tiresome?
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