Sunday, June 20, 2010

Authentic. Practical. Beautiful.

I got my love of Western living and Americana from my mom's family, but it's my husbands family, and my married name Charlton, that has taught me the beauty in quality and lasting value...

The best example of this?

The Pilot House in Ocean Park. This charming beach home has been in the Charlton family for 115 years. Yes, I said 115 years! This past weekend I had the opportunity to delve into the details of the homes ownership with Scott's dad John, and his aunt Betty and Uncle Joe.

Judge Loyal B. Stearns from Portland had the home built. An old framed photo in the beach house says the home was "built by famous Will Munsell and S.A. (Art) Mathews-1895 finished".

Ocean Park is located on the Long Beach Peninsula, 12 miles north of Illwaco, WA. When we drive we head to Astoria, OR. and cross the bridge into Washington. For years the family wondered why Judge Stearns built a beach house north in Washinton when Seaside and Gearhart are so much closer. However in the early 1900's there were few roads over the coast range to the beach. The easiest way to escape the city and get to the sea was to board the T.J. Potter River boat in Portland and follow the Columbia to it's mouth, and land on the peninsula. The Stearns family would take the river boat, then unloaded their carriage, the horses, the footmen, and head to their ocean front home.

Loyal Stearns was married to Mary Frances Hoyt Carr. Her first husband, Carr had died at a young age and left her with a young daughter named Ethel Stearns. Ethel was adopted by Loyal, and the family enjoyed their life in Portland and their home at the beach.

The next generation to inherit the house was Ethel. She married a man named Spaulding and had two children with him, Mary Helen and Frances. According to aunt Betty, Ethel Stearns Spaulding was a bit spoiled and when her marriage didn't work she promptly took her two girls and moved in with her father and mother. The girls called Judge Stearns Daddy Stearns and lived a nice life with footmen, nannies, and frequent trips to Ocean Park. Aunt Betty has colorful stories about Ethel, "Gaga", her grandmother.

Frances Spaulding married David Charlton. David and Frances took over the care of the Pilot House and Mary Helen and her husband, Harry Clair, bought a different family house around the corner. This little corner of Ocean Park has homes owned by generations of cousins and friends descending from the first Stearns house.

David and Frances Charlton had 4 children. Aunt Betty, Uncle Richard, Scott's dad John, and a baby sister named Phyllis. Phyllis passed last spring at age 66. She had spent 45 years in a wheel chair due to a car accident that happened when she was 21 on her way to the beach house.

The Pilot house is loved and used by John and his new wife Miki, and his children, Stephen, Jennifer Chamberlin, and Scott. The next generation of children will decide who takes over the care, maintenance and history preservation of this very special house. Authentic, practical and beautiful...sums up the Pilot House to me.

1 comment:

  1. Phyllis was a friend of mine in Portland --we both worked at Olds & King. I remember the accident and what I remember about her the most was her courage. I was at here wedding -- not a dry eye! -- and i continued to see her over the years. I've moved to Sisters, so I was out of touch when she died. She had real Cowgirl Spirit! She'ss be missed.

    Jill Stanford