Maybe it starts with a question: What is it like to live in Cannon Beach?
Or maybe the question is: What’s inside that house?
Whatever spurs the interest, the Cannon Beach Cottage & Garden Tour answers both questions and many more for the hundreds of participants who tour the village’s homes and yards every year.
When the tour started 15 years ago, it lasted one afternoon and drew 30 visitors. Now, the activities begin Friday night with a concert and end Sunday afternoon with a garden tea. More than 700 people participated last year.
This year’s tour on Saturday, Sept. 8, includes 10 homes in midtown and the Presidential area, all within walking distance.
“All of them offer something different,” said Liz Johnson, outreach coordinator for the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum, which sponsors the tour. “People will get a taste of what it’s like to live in Cannon Beach. The houses range from small cottages — the smallest is 432 square feet — to dream homes.”
Although the homes on the tour are kept secret until the tour day, Johnson did reveal one home, which, she said, has had a “lot of love put into it.”
Homeowners Karen and Krista Tye agree. Although their home on Hemlock Street and Elliot Way started out as a small cottage built by local lumberyard owner Harvey Willis, it became an adult foster home for several years. It was enlarged to include four bedrooms and four bathrooms — all on one level. Eventually it became a single-family home again.
“So many people have stopped and had parents live here and tell us wonderful stories,” Karen said. “The house is just full of good juju.”
“There was a lot of joy as an adult foster home,” Krista said. “Over the past years, we have had five people stop by and become very emotional with joy because their (relatives) lived here.”
“The (home) should be called ‘love,’” Karen added.
Before its foster care days, the home was purchased in 1963 by Marie Marshall, a Cannon Beach postmaster for 25 years. She lived in the cottage until her death in 1993.
‘A lot of light’
Karen and daughter Krista bought the home in 2014. “This house has a lot of light,” Krista said.
They put their own touches on the home by removing a wall between the kitchen and living room, creating open shelving in the kitchen, enlarging the bookshelves that flank the fireplace and adding a deck and fence outside. However, they kept the chicken “condo” in the yard that the previous owner built, and they tend two chickens.
A giant hedge surrounding the house keeps the home and yard peaceful even though the home sits on a busy street. A “Buddha garden” in front of the house invites relaxing moments of meditation.
Many visitors arrive at the house unexpectedly, the women said. Marshall’s grandson once walked through the home, recalling the time he spent as a child there.
“There’s an archway in the hedge on Elliot, and two little girls came peeking through,” Karen recalled. “They asked, ‘Is this where the fairies live?’”
They don’t mind being surrounded by visiting beachgoers.
“There’s a lot of parking around our house, and we love it, because people work so hard to come to the beach for a day,” Krista said. “To hear those happy voices when they get out of the car and they’re unloading sand pails and dogs and coolers, and they’re so excited about going to the beach — it’s absolute joy.”
“I think it’s really important that we share this town,” Krista added. “We’re very lucky to live here, and I think it’s important to remember that we get it all the time, and these people get it for one day.”
Although their home will be on the tour, the women won’t be there. Instead, they will be looking at the other tour homes. But Karen admitted she will be curious about what visitors will say about their home.
“I wish I could be a spot on the wall,” she said.