North Oregon Coast: Gearhart Ocean Inn
As a proud owner of boutique inns on the North Oregon Coast, Tracy Hooper has spent a lot of time driving back and forth from Portland to the beach. To help enrich the room books for our guests, she asked me to research and write a history of the property in Gearhart. Anyone who has stayed at The Gearhart Ocean Inn knows of its charm. It is superlative when other cities are too hot, too cold, too windy or too wet. The Coast has its own unique micro-climate which surprises everyone. The town of Gearhart is a jewel the keeps its facets gleaming nearly all year round.
(A special thanks and shout out to Lexy Tappert for contacting her father. He gathered his photos and recollections of the Inn from when his wife’s parents, the Engbergs, owned and operated the Inn.)
Lexy and her mother, Lois Blackburn, at the Inn
History of the Gearhart Ocean Inn
The roots of the Gearhart Ocean Inn are embedded in the foundation of the original town of Gearhart Park. One of the earliest landowners in the newly incorporated Oregon coastal town was John Tyberg. A carpenter by trade, John Tyberg and his wife, Caroline, emigrated from Sweden in 1891. Tyberg built a home in Gearhart Park and started a family.
The family sadly watched as the two great hotels in town, Gearhart By The Sea and the Gearhart Hotel, burned to the ground. (John Tyberg was inspired to be one of the first citizens of Gearhart Park to sign up as a volunteer fireman.) The Tybergs raised two sons in Gearhart, William and Harold.
During World War II the Tyberg brothers started constructing a building with rooms for rent on North Cottage Avenue near Pacific Way. When William and Harold Tyberg completed their work in the mid-1940’s, they named the property the Tyberg’s Motel & Apartments.
There are several good stories about the construction of the Motel & Apartments; however, the juiciest tale is pure local legend. The story goes that the Tyberg brothers built the buildings completely from driftwood they had collected on the beaches of Gearhart. The legend sounds far-fetched except for several facts about the area: first, in those years, wood-carting freighters and barges from Portland were often sailing past the Oregon beaches on their way to California; second, good timber sometimes washed off the boats as storms unlashed the wood from their decks; and third, if the wood were cured long enough and dry when nailed, it could produce solid, non-warped planks for a building.
The old story has persisted, and so had the driftwood siding, at least until 2013. That year the current owners replaced all of the siding, windows, decks, doors and roof tiles. The work took the better part of two years to complete, but the craftsmen kept the distinctive design elements of the original exterior.
Gert Goralski (left), Edwin & Anna Engberg (middle), with Frank Goralski (right)
Edwin & Anna Engberg were the Managers and Proprietors of the Tyberg’s Motel & Apartments for the decade from 1958 to 1967. They set the standards for the motel and apartments: spotless housekeeping, gracious hospitality, Cape Cod paint colors, and simple zero-scape gardening.
Northside Motel with garage doors open
The Engberg’s granddaughter, Lexy Blackburn Tappert, with parasol outside Room #7
Then in the 1980’s Roy & Mary Cole bought the property and changed the name of the Motel and Apartments to the quainter Gearhart Ocean Inn. It has remained the same ever since. The Inn has always been considered an attractive and reasonably priced alternative rental location to pricier ocean-front lodging in town.
Many local Gearhart homeowners offer frequent recommendations to their out-of-town relatives and guests to stay at the Inn. We also have many weekend visitors who are Gearhart residents. They offer their homes to larger families with children for long weekends. The homeowners escape to the Inn for quiet relaxation, a cozy bed and some restorative sleep.
The backyard has expanded in size and planting over the years. It now includes badminton net and rackets, an open pit fireplace, comfortable Adirondack lawn chairs, picnic tables with umbrellas, beautifully manicured gardens, and an EVO propane grill.
Longtime Cannon Beach hotelier, Claudia Toutain-Dorbec, who owned the Inn with her late-husband, Stephen Tuckman, says that it was one of her favorite places on the North Oregon Coast, “I loved everything about it: the rooms, the backyard, the flowers, but most especially the guests.”
The Gearhart Ocean Inn has changed hands (and exterior paint colors) a few times over the years, but it has stayed true to its roots. The current owners, Tracy & Henry Hooper, have refurbished the rooms, including new linens, carpeting, wall paper, kitchens and kitchenettes, appliances, bathrooms, and bedding, and they continue to work on the landscaping, signage and appearance to maintain the high standards of the Old Oregon Coast, so desired by our loyal guests.
Welcome to our Inn!