If I Lived Here: The view’s great but nobody stays very long

Last month while visiting California, I had the opportunity to see the now retired lighthouse at Port Reyes National Seashore. While the lighthouse isn’t the subject of today’s post, please take a moment to visit the Port Reyes National Seashore website and learn more about its fascinating history. I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say manning the light house was a miserable, solitary affair; the treacherous shore is littered with shipwrecks, so I’d imagine the gig was fairly stressful. Think of the sorry men who took on the job as the air traffic controllers of their day – except they were also responsible for some lighthouse repairs and basically everything else, so they were exhausted all the time. (Would you like an aisle or window seat?). As you might suspect, bad things happened, and the ghost stories practically write themselves itself. Definitely put it on your list, as it was yet another tourist activity I thoroughly enjoyed. How I miss being a kid who felt above everything.

But what intrigued me more than Point Reyes National Seashore lighthouse was the rather suburban looking, sixties-era olive green home located near the beginning of the long, winding path to the light house. Perched atop a steep hill with spectacular views of the Pacific, the house illustrates the way common sense repairs extend a building’s life. Not replacing things all the time is good for the pocket book and the environment.* Plus I dig sixties looking olive and kelly green things: stoves, upholstery and apparently houses. Curious about what it’s like to live there, I e-mailed the National Park Service to request an interview and within days heard back from PORE Park Ranger Loretta Farley.  Here’s her reply:

DO NOT REPLY to this email, rather be sure to reply to PORE_Webmaster@nps.gov.

Dear Tate,

The 4 apartment complex near the Point Reyes Lighthouse was built by the Coast Guard in 1964 to a national plan they used at the time.  It is currently used primarily for temporary employees/seasonals due to its remote location; most of them turnover every 6 months or so.  We have staff who lived 8 years at the Chimney Rock house available?    If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us again at PORE_Webmaster@nps.gov or check our website at www.nps.gov/pore.

Thank you for your interest in Point Reyes National Seashore.


Loretta Farley

PORE Park Ranger

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

Pretty cool huh? Very professional and awesome. What do you think?  I’d be very interested in hearing more about what it’s like to live in that type of environment, but as you know I’m very disciplined about adhering to design topics, so I wanted to run it by you first.

* Granted Home Depot may not do so well.

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4 Responses to “If I Lived Here: The view’s great but nobody stays very long”

  1. I LOVE the posts you’ve been writing about SF and the Bay Area. I’m particularly fond of this one, though, since my husband and I were married on Tomales Bay and have many fond memories of trips we made to explore the area in and around the Point Reyes National Seashore – there are tons of nice hikes in the area, each with incredible views. If you ever go back and are looking for a place to stay (and to EAT) – I recommend Manka’s Inverness Lodge. A few local spots not to be missed are a) Cowgirl Creamery, b) Hog Island Oyster, c) The Old Western Saloon (in Point Reyes Station)… and so many more.

  2. Do the story, Tate. Design will work its way in there somewhere. It is always lurking. You could be uncovering a fascinating story. Your readers are intelligent and have range.

    PS I read SC every day and should comment more, but I’m lazy.

  3. Thanks Aimee and Laura. I forgot to mention in my post, there are cows in the pasture near the ocean, and from time to time, they stroll down to the beach to hang out for awhile. It’s an odd sight for a guy raised in Illinois. When I asked my friend why she supposed they did that, she said, why wouldn’t they want to relax on the beach? Touche.

  4. Long-time Bay area resident here. See that very long, straight coastline in the last picture? That’s because it’s the San Andreas fault as it meets the ocean. I worry about these ocean-side residences, not only sitting on the faultline, but subject to the storms that regularly undercut the cliffs. Ocean/land interface is inherently unstable. See the recent stories about problems with the apartments in Pacifica tumbling into the ocean. You’d think the Park Service would know this. Spectacular nevertheless!