The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is known for its very special exhibits; however, one of them recently surprised me. For the first four months this year, it presented “The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment and Idealism.” It was surprising, since The Sea Ranch is not a place I’ve ever thought to be seen in a museum; but rather, it had to be experienced. And this is exactly what we’ve done many times, including just a few weeks ago. Just in case you missed the show at the SFMOMA, The Sea Ranch has a very interesting history.
The first people known to live in the territory where The Sea Ranch is today were the Pomo Indians, who gathered kelp and shells for food on the beaches. In the 19th century the area was mainly used for sheep farming. And then things changed in the 1960s. Architect Al Boeke envisioned the design of the community that would preserve the area’s natural beauty, which would span along 10 miles of the Sonoma County coastline. Online I learned that The Sea Ranch is noted for its distinctive architecture that blends with nature.
Currently there are about 1800 homes which serve as second homes with some 300 full-time residents. Years ago, we also owned our second home there, which was used for weekend rentals a majority of the time.
After we sold it, we started coming back, and had the opportunity to rent many different homes. Sometimes on our visits there, we would spend a few hours checking out the local open houses. This gave us an opportunity to see practically every type of the local design. From time to time we would see a home, which we envisioned living in. There was only one small problem – those were priced in the range of two million dollars. As we licked our lips, our friend and local real estate agent Cindy Kennedy, told us to stop driving ourselves crazy until we decide to move there. For us, it is not a realistic choice for our lifestyle, though many artists reside in the area.
The success of The Sea Ranch as a tourist destination is in a big part not only for the beauty of nature in the area; but also, that it borders with Gualala, an incorporated community in Mendocino County. The name of the place of today’s Gualala, which has a population of over 2000 people, comes from Pomos Indians, who had named the area Kha Wa La Lee, meaning “coming down water place”. When I mentioned to a friend that we are going to The Sea Ranch, he told me that he loves to come here to fish in the Gualala River. The trend to come to the area to hunt and fish and get away from the crowded cities started around 1861. By the end of 1800s Gualala had become a major commercial hub for the entire area with a dancing school, Brass Band and an Opera House. The economy of Gualala was supported by a lumber mill, which logged the redwood trees. But gradually it transitioned from a logging town to a tourist destination. Today Gualala has ten hotels, restaurants, two supermarkets, two gas stations, several art galleries, tourist stores and it serves the local center where visitors to The Sea Ranch and locals can fill all their living needs.
P.S. I wanted to share with you the beauty of the area in these four images. Two women with two dogs appeared in my book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” which you can buy on Amazon.com.
Enjoy and Share with a Friend!