It started for my husband, Tom, and I some 35 plus years ago on a short visit to Seagrove Beach, Florida to search out the fledging town of Seaside, Florida. As very young designers from Miami, we had an interest in the possibilities the area could afford our craft and life together. We visited with Robert Davis and listened to his exhortations of what the dream was to become. At the time, the dream begged disbelief because the “town” of Seaside and the surrounding areas seemed to us city-slickers as nothing more than a series of dirt roads. But there was something romantic about those dirt roads that all led to the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the snow-white sand of the beach. It’s little wonder that we couldn’t shake the idea of the New Town with the Old Ways, and within two years we returned to find out how this dirt road would shape our lives, forever.
The year was 1984. Tom was the town architect of Seaside. I was trying to keep possums from clawing their way through the shower wall (true story–but better told another time). We both worked out of the Tupelo Street pavilion, in what are now bathrooms. Tom with a drafting board and bumwad paper with his desk facing the Gulf. And I with the same setup but looking toward 30A. I would watch the same red pickup truck travel east along 30A early in the morning. When the truck traveled back west in the late afternoon, I’d yell over to Tom that it was quitting time for the day.
Eventually, Tom would design over 90 homes in Seaside. I ended up designing the interiors of many of those homes. Along the way, we ended up designing our own life along 30A: First in Seagrove, then a slightly larger home in Grayton Trail to accommodate an addition to the family–our son Matt–and then later a home on Little Redfish Lake, until we finally decamped to “the Bay House” where Tom and Matt’s water toys could be easily accessible in the backyard (aka the dock).
Along the way we realized that those early dirt roads were not just dirty, oyster shell roads. They connected us to other recent transplants and natives, and we realized that the area that’s become known as “30A” was special not just because of its serene, natural beauty, but because the diversity of its residents: From the visionaries to the bullheaded, from “lifers” to newbies, you never knew who you were talking to and could safely assume that everyone was related. Because, in a way, we all were. In the early 1980s, those who were discovering Seaside were building a community together. Friendships formed. Bonds tightened. A community-wide family was created.
Provenance is defined as “the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature.” 30A and the communities that dot the scenic road, and those who have built their lives on that road, are the valued work of art. This blog is the gradual recounting of how the art of 30A came to be. It’s just one version of history; no doubt there are countless others. But in this blog, I hope to offer my observations on how my coastal home along 30A represents the lifestyle and attitude found only along 30A.
For while the dirt roads have long since been paved, the dirt road dream still lives on.
Jamie and Tom Christ