Seaside resident opens his home with true Southern hospitality By Pratt Farmer
Strolling through the town of Seaside, you have more than likely taken a moment to rest in Ruskin Place, a quiet park surrounded by galleries, boutiques and private residences. The stucco, steel and concrete structure buildings face inward to the park, which has matured into a wonderful presentation of indigenous species of flora and fauna. One such home, built by Glenn Seawell around 1990, has become infamous due to his warmth, bubbling personality and gracious hosting. Designed by Seaside’s then town architect, Charles Warren, Seawell’s three-story home is striking inside and out.
Taking a cue from European architecture, Warren designed the home to house commercial tenants on the ground floor, with owner’s quarters above. So, for the past 25 years, the ground floor tenancy has been home to Newbill Collection by the Sea, a treasure-trove of original paintings, folk art, photography, fine crafts and more.
Seawell named his residence “Home Alone,” but he hardly ever is. Being one of maybe 25 full-time residents in Seaside, Seawell is often asked to host a gathering because his rooftop space is so unique. The New York-based architect designed three homes in Seaside and all have Warren’s signature design element of outside stairs leading to the roof. With access to the stairs from the second floor, Warren designed Seawell’s roof terrace to span the length and width of the home, providing for three unique spaces in which one can get lost taking in a sunrise on the eastern side, having a casual dinner under a tin roof in the middle or enjoying a glass of cabernet just in time to watch the sun set across the waters to the west.
While standing on the eastern side of the terrace, curved steps greet you in a welcoming fashion, leading up to the dining space. Seawell decorated the gazebo-like dining area, which is under roof, to be akin to what one might expect in Tuscany or Santorini. “The opening from the welcome steps is smaller than the opening leading to the western part of the space. This was deigned to create an intimate space with a constant breeze in the dining area,” Seawell explains. And it does.
From the dining patio, rectangular steps drop you down to a larger space that is perfect for an afternoon nap. The four chaise lounges are seldom unoccupied by Seawell and friends. When asked about his most memorable rooftop event, Seawell fondly recounts during Seaside’s first Seeing Red Wine Festival his hosting Robert Mondavi and his wife, Margrit. “It was then that Mondavi proclaimed to me that drinking red wine would extend one’s life. When it comes to wine, red is all you will find in my house today,” says Seawell.
Inside, the home has two bedrooms and two baths on the third floor. They are spacious with large windows to promote sunlight and air flow throughout the home. The second floor has a gourmet kitchen, dining nook and living room. With 14-foot ceilings, the space is open and airy. But it’s the balcony out front where Seawell spends much of his time. With double doors on either end of the room leading out, the space is shaded by the trees of Ruskin Place. The café table resplendent with a small vase of red flowers is where
Seawell takes his morning coffee, reads the paper or meditates. He’s also known for playing Chris Botti for all in Ruskin Place to hear, testing the quality of pitch and tone coming from his Bose speakers. “I enjoy people watching and what better place than my balcony,” he says.
So, the next time you take a stroll through Ruskin Place, hear trumpet player, Chris Botti, and look up at the balcony above Newbill Collection, say hi to Glenn Seawell.