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North Oregon Coast: Gearhart Ocean Inn

As proud owners of boutique inns on the North Oregon Coast my wife, Tracy Hooper, and I have spent a lot of time driving back and forth from Portland to the beach.  To help enrich the room books for our guests, I researched and wrote the following history about the property, The Gearhart Ocean Inn, which has its own special charm.  (A special thanks to Lexy Tappert for her contacting her father to gather his photos and recollections of the Inn, when it was owned and operated by the Engbergs.)


The History of the Gearhart Ocean Inn

The roots of the Gearhart Ocean Inn are embedded in the foundation of the town of Gearhart Park. One of the earliest landowners in the newly incorporated town was John Tyberg. A carpenter by trade, Tyberg and his wife, Caroline, emigrated from Sweden in 1891. Tyberg built a home in Gearhart and started a family.  The family sadly watched as the two great hotels in town burn to the ground.  (John Tyberg was one of the first citizens of Gearhart 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 completed their work, they named it the Tyberg’s Motel & Apartments.

There are several good stories about the Motel & Apartments; however, the juiciest tale is pure local legend.  The story goes that the Tyberg brothers built the Motel completely from driftwood they had collected on the beaches of Gearhart.  The legend sounds far-fetched except for several facts about the area: first, the 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.

planks brighton

The old story has persisted, and so did the driftwood siding, at least until 2013.  The current owners have recently replaced all of the siding, windows, doors and roof tiles. The work took the better part of two years, but the owners kept the distinctive design elements of the original exterior.

IMG_0006 Northside Motel


Southside Apartments


Anna & Edwin Engberg, the couple on the right

Edwin & Anna Engberg were the Managers and Proprietors of the Tyberg’s Motel & Apartments from 1958 to 1967.  They set the standards for spotless housekeeping, gracious hospitality, Cape Cod paint colors, and simple zero-scape gardening.


The Engberg’s granddaughter, Lexy Tappert, with parasol outside #7

Then in the 1980’s Roy & Mary Cole changed the name of the Motel and Apartments to the quainter Gearhart Ocean Inn and it has remained the same since that time.  The Inn has always been considered an attractive and reasonably priced alternative 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 week-end visitors who are Gearhart residents. They offer their homes to larger families for the weekend.  The homeowners escape to the Inn for relaxation, a cozy bed and some restorative sleep.

IMG_0005The Backyard of the Inn

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, 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 recently 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!

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