Grayton Revisited

The beach cottages in Grayton Beach, Florida, were deemed by the planners of Seaside as vernacular examples for architects to emulate. Along with the many other distinct styles found through out the different regions of the south; such as the “side loaded row houses” of Charleston, South Carolina, were the influence of early Seaside. The Grayton cottages however, were indigenous examples of the architecture for our design inspiration.  Indeed many of our early designs for our clients in Seaside were greatly influenced if not down right stolen for their simple forms and their humble materials. We admired the human scale and unpretentious quality of Grayton but most of all it was the authenticity of the beach town that we found most livable. This unexpected, eccentric, unplanned and eschewed quirkiness made Grayton Beach perfect for us as opposed to a “planned” community which was not the goal of Seaside.

Here are some of the houses of Grayton Beach as shown in these photos shared by Dawn Thornton, Amy Hughes and Sarah Kay Hughes. You can see more on the Facebook page of “Summer Memories of Grayton Beach in the 50’s and 60’s” here, 

These houses served as inspiration for our early Seaside house designs.


The Van Ness Butler House became a landmark for locals to describe their relative location point.
The Hughes family vacation cottages built in the 1930’s. The trek from Hartford, Alabama to resort along the Gulf coast was a long and difficult days travel for the family.

These houses are still much the same except for paint, mature vegetation and of course all of the necessary modern up grades.  Here are a few samples of the original cottages as they appear today. Please click on the highlighted text to view the VRBO site for further information.

“Presence” Cottage one of the early beach cottages belonging to the Lanier  family”
“Oar House” one of the many original beach cottages


Pearl Cottage
“Little PearlCottage” a true eclectic cottage
The Taylor families rental cottage the –“Cole Bin” –Original cottage style home in Grayton Beach. The ‘Cole Bin’ has been in our family since 1936, and has been our home away from home ever since. It belonged to my grandmother-Sallie Cole-from Opp, AL.
One of the many Hughes houses as a cute vacation rental
The Buzzett families rental cottage the”Smith House”–” The Smith House. Originally built as a 1-room cottage in 1925 by Tuff Smith, he used cypress boards that washed up on the shores of Grayton after the ship that was transporting the lumber caught fire and sank.
Robert and Daryl Davis in their Pontiac, Bonneville parked outside of the “Smith House”
New Butler
The Butler House now as a vacation rental

See more of the history of the Butler family and Grayton Beach’s origins here.  For more reminiscences of bygone days visit here.

The following house’s have particular historical importance:

The Dog Trot

The “Dog Trot” house plan is a open center hall or breezeway with rooms open on to the breezeway. The combination of this breezeway and open windows created air flow in the pre-aircondition era . This house in Grayton is a rare two story version of a dog trot. The house was moved a short distance to its present location in 1999 but originally the house was one story and raised to create living space above the open breezeway. The front upper floor was a porch and then converted to enclosed bedrooms.  (see Hibiscus House for more rental information and history)

Screenshot 2016-07-10 17.45.16

Dog trot
Now a part of Hibiscus House B & B in Grayton, named Bert’s Barn.
Slightly dilapidated the “old barn” is given a new home.


The “Washaway Hotel”


Washaway Hotel0ed7f341-0194-412f-88b4-8b1432828ab4.1.10
The “Washaway ” as locals are still likely to refer to the once only hotel located in early Grayton Beach, Florida.

The “Washaway Hotel” is only a few hundred feet from the Gulf of Mexico and has been raised up on pilings for the obvious reasons of encroaching storm waters.

Washaway Aqua
The green”Washaway” before it’s recent renovation.
Debra Larson Washaway
Debra Larson-Parson’s photo of the “Washaway” taken somewhere in the 60’s or 70’s, notice how much lower the house was to the ground.

Renamed as “‘A Grayton Tradition’ “The Washaway” is a historic beach house and a local treasure located in the heart of Grayton Beach. Built in the late 1800’s by Capt. Gray and later used as the Coast Guard Headquarters for a cavalry unit during WWII, this home survived a major hurricane in 1926 (but was almost washed away), as well as standing strong during Hurricane Eloise in the late 1970’s, and Hurricane Opal in the fall of 1995. ”

Washawy Breezeway1d7b1a5f-37c9-4336-aa9d-506442ed8b6d.1.10
The “Washaway” also boasts a open breezeway.
Washaway breezewayaedbebc3-bda9-46f2-ade1-bdadd4119dd4.1.10
The opposite end of the breezeway with the barn style in the closed position.
Washaway Stair
The center stair hallway door also opens on to the upper porch to pull any cooling breeze up throughout the house.
Washaway fireplace2a564d39-f445-4a70-9479-c1c447edf288.1.10
Original field stone fireplace was the only source of heat in the cold months.


There are several more houses I would like to explore further here and if I can I will include in my next post.





3 thoughts on “Grayton Revisited

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s