One spring day in 1971, Gualala native Don Halloway directed my gaze from the window of his small cabin through beautiful redwoods and down to the sparkling ocean. He was referring to 28 acres between Gualala and Anchor Bay, soon to be known as Saint Orres, and for sale for, what was then, a princely sum. Ignorance being the better part of valor and with a certain innocence of financial matters three old friends originally from Mill Valley, Eric Black, Robert Anderson, and Richey Wasserman, formed a partnership and the purchase was made. Homes were sold, debts were called in, families were moved into the existing funky cabins, and a dream was begun. Originally called the Seaside Hotel and built in 1929 by Sid Johnson, the hotel had a general store where the dining room is now located. There were gas pumps in front, as the original highway passed just a few feet to the west of the hotel. Upstairs were 10 rooms, mostly used by loggers in the summer, and fisherman in the winter months. The dining room was in the present day lobby, with the kitchen in the back. Five small cabins were scattered around a meadow behind the hotel. Framed conventionally with redwood 2x4s, siding and t&g interior paneling, the partners partially dismantled then rebuilt the structure. A century-old mill in Philo was carefully taken apart for the 10”x10” timber framework, some of which were 44 feet long, then hauled to the coast on an old logging truck. After five years of hard labor, artful scrounging, and desperate fundraising, the restaurant opened in January, 1977. And so began the story of St. Orres Inn. Many local artists and crafters assisted in giving Saint Orres its quality and unusual hand-built appearance. Prior to his career as an architect Michel Wike did much of the early landscaping. Famous carver and painter Tom Rude lent his hand. Ed Hurley created lamps and other lighting fixtures. Donna Bishop and Anne Kessler sewed quilts for the beds in the hotel rooms and cabins. Annapolis resident Doug Simmonds assisted the late Samm Hawley in the design and execution of all the leaded glass windows. Heidi Endemann has contributed her incredible prints and exotic paintings from the beginning. These contributions transformed a stunning but empty structure into a vibrant work of art. As early history, the property was homesteaded in the 1830’s by George St. Ores whose family had immigrated from Russia via Canada. He built and designed many of the “dog hole schooner” loading apparatus along the coast, including Bourn’s landing just to the south. In 1888 his son William built the short lived “trapeze” cable apparatus, used for loading split redwood and tanbark, located at Arena Cove. For a bit of St. Ores family history one can visit the Anchor bay cemetery and view the large family plot. Over the years, St. Orres Inn partners have come and gone. Only one, Eric Black, master woodworker and Saint Orres designer, has remained from the beginning. The son of an eminent San Francisco architect, Eric drew inspiration from the Russian stave church design of the inn. His experience building upscale homes in Marin County using the octagon form strongly influences his designs. As an apprentice carpenter in the 1960’s, Eric worked on Frank Lloyd Wright’s last municipal design, the Marin Civic Center. Currently under construction and nearing completion is an architecturally compatible complex of administrative and support structures behind the inn proper. Eric hopes to begin work soon on a gift store/welcome center/tea room alongside the inn. More than any other, this new design will optimize the flagrant beauty and timeless construction techniques of one-thousand-year-old stave churches located in Russia and Scandinavia. Slated to be built with sustainably harvested old-growth fir logs, the new building will be constructed to last at least as long as it took to grow its timbers, between 400 and 600 years. One cannot discuss Saint Orres without mentioning Rosemary. Rosemary Campiformio is not only Saint Orres’ public persona, but overall manager and executive chef. Her inspired menu and consistent top quality food service is unsurpassed on the coast. Beginning work at Saint Orres in 1975 , Rosemary was the tax consultant and controller, eventually taking on virtually every aspect of the inn and restaurant operation, in addition to becoming a full partner in the business. After more then thirty years of continuous, top quality service to the local community, and the world at large, Saint Orres remains an example of the best of both the old and the new, whether it be cuisine, lodging, or architecture, and surpassing innovation in all three.