Seabeck, Washington, on the Hood Canal, is the perfect home for those who crave serenity and don’t need bright lights, the bustle of city life, or the ability to call out for pizza delivery at 1 a.m. An unincorporated city, it’s a quiet, restful, residential community with a population of just over 1,000.
The median sales price for homes in Seabeck, WA, as of late 2015 was $290,750. This is an increase of 8.5% over sales prices in late 2014.
Only 84 homes were listed for sale and were offered at prices starting at about $100,000 and going to nearly $700,000. The majority of offerings were in the $200,000 to $400,000 range. 98.6% of the homes in Seabeck are owner-occupied and there are only a handful of rental properties available.
Seabeck history – the rise and fall of an industrial city
Before 1857, the land that Seabeck occupies was virtually untouched. It was a land of trees, water, and wildlife.
By 1877, Seabeck was much larger than Seattle and was known as “The Liveliest Town of Puget Sound.” Its population of 400 people supported four saloons, two hotels, and two stores. Founders had built a church, a little red school house and a five-acre cemetery.
When Marshall Blinn sailed into Hood Canal in 1856 he was searching for the perfect spot in which to build a lumber mill for San Francisco’s Washington Mill Company, in which he was a partner.
When he and his crew of loggers came across a deep water harbor with an endless supply of gigantic trees growing all the way to water’s edge, he knew they’d found the perfect spot. Here they could harvest the trees, cut the lumber, and ship it out to supply the growing needs of the gold rush cities in California.
Blinn and his crew unloaded their cargo and set about building a mill town. He named it Seabeck, possibly after his hometown of Seabec, Maine.
As the demand for northwest lumber increased, a second mill was added and Seabeck lumber was soon being shipped around the world. In order to have enough vessels to meet the demand, the company built their own shipyard, where they constructed more than two dozen ships, including the Olympus. The Olympus was the largest single-decked sailing ship ever built.
As the mills grew, the number of workers grew, and the company built housing for families, as well as a company store to supply their needs. Next they needed a school, and before long they needed a cemetery as well. To meet the resident’s need for recreation, the company built a baseball field where they played against teams from other mill towns. In spite of Blinn’s desire
to keep the town alcohol-free, by 1877 the town had four saloons. It also had a church and two hotels.
The town was prospering and growing and all was going well until August 12, 1886. On that date, the steamer Retriever sent a spark onto a pile of lumber. By the time the fire was out, the pier and the mills were gone. Legend has it that the fire was so hot that it cooked the apples on the trees in the orchard.
Within a month the town had become a near ghost town, as residents scattered to other mill towns in search of work. It remained so for nearly 30 years.
A new dream – a new beginning
In 1914, Laurence Coleman and his brother George purchased the town and the surrounding land and began restoring the old buildings. Here Colman and his partner, Arn Allen, were to realize the dream of providing a facility for YMCA and YWCA groups to hold summer conferences.
Arn Allen was the General Secretary of the Seattle YMCA, and he assumed responsibility for the administration and operation of the grounds as part of his YMCA responsibilities. He served for 29 years and his influence on the mission and character of Seabeck are still felt today.
Laurence Coleman’s son, Ken Coleman, also played a significant role in shaping Seabeck. In 1936 he incorporated the conference grounds as a private non-profit corporation and deeded it 90 acres. Those 90 acres now make up the Seabeck Christian Conference Center. He continued guiding the operation and supporting its mission of serving the people of the Northwest for the next 45 years.
Today, the Conference Center is still serving non-profit organizations, not just from the Northwest, but from across the country. And today, Seabeck still imparts a strong sense of the past.
Although there are a few modern structures, the city still looks much the same as it did a hundred years ago. The Meeting House, which was built in 1857, was once the mess hall and community center for the mill. Today it is an auditorium.
The bell that calls guests to meetings and services is the same bell that once called the mill hands to meals. Guests at the conference center are housed in lodgings built by early pioneers.
Available for use only by 501(3)c non-profit Corporations, the Seabeck Conference Center provides the perfect escape from the hectic pace of daily life for groups of up to 250. Walkways meander past fruit orchards and manicured lawns and wooded trails invite quiet meditation. A Cathedral in the Woods is a true step back in time, with its rustic timber seating.
Life in Seabeck, Washington in 2015
Today, Seabeck is a residential community, separated from the hustle and bustle by about 8 to 10 miles of highway – the distance to Silverdale to the north and Bremerton to the south.
In the summertime, the city is alive with visitors to the Convention Center, the hiking trails, Scenic Beach State Park, and Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve.
The city is a destination vacation for those who wish to experience nature and the slow pace of a small town. The newly rebuilt marina offers boat slips for residents who wish to sail the waters of Hood Canal, and the Willcox House Country Inn offers lodging for those who wish to stay a while.
The Wilcox House Country Inn, situated in a lush forest setting on the shores of Hood canal, holds the distinction of being named one of the Top Twelve Inns in North America by Country Inns Magazine.
This 1930’s mansion has been updated for modern convenience, so each of the five guest rooms has a private bath. Guests enjoy not only spectacular views of the mountains and water, but occasional sightings of deer, bald eagles, great blue herons, king fishers, otters, and sea-lions. With cozy seating indoors and out, a pool room, movie room, and a library stocked with hundreds of titles, this is a place to relax, unwind, and forget the stresses of daily life.
A variety of vacation rentals are also available for multi-night visits, from studios and apartments to cottages and even a home that sleeps ten.
Shopping in Seabeck, Washington
Major shopping is 8 to 10 miles away in Silverdale or Bremerton, but visitors might be surprised at just what IS available in Seabeck.
The Seabeck General Store carries all the grocery necessities, beer and wine, local honey, video rentals, a few automotive supplies, some fishing tackle, and tourist items such as t-shirts and hats. Recently it’s been joined by another grocery, the Lone Rock Mercantile. The Mercantile, which opened in 2014, offers a vast array of natural foods and locally produced products including organic vegetables, raw milk, jams and jellies, wines, hand-made soaps, and even local fresh-baked breads – along with livestock feed.
Seabeck is also home to a small boutique shop, and antiques shop, a pizza place, a coffee shop, and a café that is open for lunch. And while there are no doctors or dentists in town, they do
have a masseuse. Medical care is available 18 minutes away in Silverdale, which is home to Harrison Hospital, the Doctor’s Clinic, and Group Health.
The Arkless Contemporary Art Gallery offers special monthly events and showcases the work of both local and national artists.
While there are no restaurants open for dinner in Seabeck, residents report that a four mile drive will take you to Smoke and Robinsons, which serves “very good” old school BBQ.
While Seabeck did once have its own elementary school, it was closed at the end of the 2006-2007 school year. Children are bussed to Silverdale or Bremerton.
The nearest college is Olympic College in Bremerton and there are 6 other colleges/universities within 30 miles.
Interesting statistics about Seabeck:
· At $31,987 the estimated per capita income in 2013 is well above State average
· The percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher is above average
· The percentage who are unemployed is well below State average
· The median home value is above state average
· At less than 2%, the percentage of renter occupied homes is well below average
· The median age is above average
· The number of years of residence is well above state average
Is Seabeck for you?
Do you yearn for “country quiet” and simple living, but want the option of taking a twenty minute drive to the bustling city? Can you work from home; or are you willing to commute to work that twenty minutes each day?
If so, get in touch. I’d be pleased to help you explore the homes available in Seabeck and to help you find one that just fits your lifestyle and your budget. Meanwhile, for a preview of homes available today, click here to go to the Seabeck search page. (Link to Seabeck search)