The Old House and the Sea

The history of Ilwaco, a small but active port on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, is built into an historic home that sits high on a hill. When the house was under construction in the early 1930s, a nearby Civil War-era fort was being decommissioned, and the staircase from the captain’s quarters was dismantled and rebuilt in the house. It’s just one detail in the house that is filled with character and history.

Ilwaco House Study
That charm is what caught Richard Ellis’s eye almost twenty years ago. He and his wife Marge Ellis were looking to move from Vancouver, Washington to the Washington coast when Richard stumbled upon this house. Staring up at the two-story home, Richard thought to himself, “I bet Marge would love this house.” He knocked on the door and asked if the owner would be willing to sell. As luck would have it, she would.

Ilwaco House Kitchen
Richard and Marge lived there for eighteen years and are now moving to eastern Washington to be closer to family. “We’re so torn,” said Marge. “We just love this house.” The house is as much a fixture in the charming coastal town as the port that draws tourists year-round. Originally owned and built by a local family that owned the whole block as well as the theater and gas station in Ilwaco, the house has been through only three owners in its almost century of life.

Ilwaco House Breakfast Nook

“Finding this much usable space and a well-maintained property in a home of this age, in this location, is a real challenge,” said Cascade Sotheby’s broker Heather DeFord. “It is one of the premiere homes in the area.” When the Ellises moved in, the bones of the house were there, Marge explained, but it did need updates. Richard and Marge were careful to preserve the integrity of the home and its craftsman style.

Ilwaco House Living Room
“I like traditional builds,” said Marge. “No matter how they build today…it just doesn’t have the bones that this does.” They started by chipping away at the paint that had sealed the original large picture windows shut, breathing new life into the home. They took the time to find the era-correct replacements for Art Deco style chandeliers and sconces that were found throughout the home.

Ilwaco House Dining Room
They did preserve the original maple hardwood flooring that was found throughout the first floor and the second-floor landing. Other details like glass doorknobs, ample built-ins, a gas fireplace and French doors that lead into the dining room enhance the historic charm. Seven years ago, they remodeled the kitchen. “We worked really hard to make sure the kitchen blended in with the house,” said Marge. Matching the dark DeWils cabinets to the wide wood trim found throughout the home made the modern kitchen blend seamlessly with the traditional style of the home. They added stainless steel appliances and granite counters as well as an island to the layout for an efficient cook’s dream. They also brought back the booth seating in a breakfast nook of the kitchen that was taken out at some point in an earlier remodel, restoring part of the home’s original history.

Ilwaco House Master Bedroom
The four-bedroom, three-bathroom home is primed for its next chapter. There is an unfinished basement that could be turned into another living space. The large, unfinished attic, which is lined with large wooden beams salvaged from shipwrecks in the area, could be turned into a master suite. Outside, a recently added Malarkey roof is constructed to withstand heavy coastal storms. Fruit trees dot the large yard, and there is a detached two-car garage with more storage space. Fresh landscaping and white exterior paint add to the 4,500-square-foot home’s curb appeal.

Ilwaco House Bonus Room
“Finding a home on the coast of this vintage and quality, and in such excellent condition, is no small feat,” said broker DeFord. “This home has been lovingly cared for and upgraded over the years, and is perfectly located to take advantage of all the recreational opportunities on the Long Beach Peninsula.” Ilwaco and Long Beach have recently seen a surge in tourism. Locally run small businesses draw families to the region. Ride along the dune trails, hike and search for sand dollars at Leadbetter Point State Park, stroll through the charming historic Oysterville neighborhood and pick up fresh seafood for dinner. In Ilwaco, the Saturday farmers’ market brings out the local vendors along the boardwalk.

Ilwaco House Aerial
From the high perch of the home, Richard and Marge can watch the bustling harbor, with fishing boats moving in and out daily. They also can imagine what Lewis and Clark saw on the last point of their journey, as Ilwaco is the farthest point West of the historic trail. “There’s a lot of history here,” said Marge. This home is listed for $585,000 with Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty. For more information, view the listing here or contact Heather DeFord at 360.608.4321.