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Weekends: The Sea Ranch

Thoughts of summer vacations are welling up, and since ours are mostly shrouded in fog, the beaches don't quite have the frisson of East Hampton or Malibu. In the next few weeks, we're going to work our way down the local coast from The Sea Ranch to Monterey.

The Sea Ranch (and apparently not just "Sea Ranch") community was laid out by Lawrence Halprin, Charles Moore, William Turnbull and other Bay Area architects in the early 'sixties on a former sheep ranch along the rugged Sonoma coast. Moore's barn-like condos were among the first built "vernacular style" buildings, setting off a tsunami of vertical cedar siding and sharply angled roofs that would last through the eighties and wind up as far away as Maine. Amazingly, you can still rent Moore's own condo at Sea Ranch, unchanged in it's original sixties Pop decor, as well as architect Joe Esherick's modest cottage of the same vintage.


The word "iconic" gets thrown around a lot in architecture writing, but the original Sea Ranch condos are just that, and their profile against the coastal meadows and sky is one that's engraved on a lot of (older, maybe) architects minds. Despite the purple prose of most real estate ads, this time they really deserve to use the word iconic: the tower unit in Sea Ranch I is for sale for $775,000.

The Sea Ranch is being covered in McMansions as once-open meadows suddenly reveal that they actually have property lines. There's still great stuff to see, including Robert Venturi's Sea Ranch firehouse.

Also on the market, and it's own peninsula, the award-winning Milligan-Wool House from 1968 by McCue, Boone & Tomsick (now called MBT Architecture) for $2,650,000.
· Hamptons Ladder [Curbed]
· Moore 9 [Sea Ranch Escape]
· The Esherick House [Sea Ranch Escape]
· 128 Sea Walk Drive[The Sea Ranch]
· Milligan-Wool House [ Lynda O'Brien, The Sea Ranch]