Just three hours north of San Francisco, on a sunny stretch of coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, lie over 50 acres of amazing beauty—and more than a little magic— known as St. Orres. For the past 37 years this site has been a labor of love for co-owners, Rosemary Campiformio and Eric Black. With incredible dedication, skill and care, Eric designs and personally builds the unique structures that echo and honor the romantic Russian heritage of the Area. Rosemary has creatively collaborated with Eric for decades and is the Executive Chef of The Dining Room and Seaside Bar where you can sample her creation, North Coast Cuisine, that has won praise and accolades from guests and culinary professionals from around the world. Our goal has always been to respect the land, its shape and its history. Here, we have created a coastal sanctuary where revelry and romance, song and silence, silliness and serenity, feasting and fasting are equally welcome and appropriate. We invite you to explore these pages to get some sense of who we are and how very much we know you would enjoy a visit to or an evening or an event at St. Orres.
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 2×4s, siding and t&g interior paneling, the partners partially dismantled then rebuilt the original building. 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. Annapolis resident Doug Simmonds assisted the late Samm Hawley in the design and execution of all the leaded glass windows Donna Bishop and Anne Kessler sewed quilts for the beds in the hotel rooms and cabins. 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.
Beginning work at Saint Orres in 1975, now co-owner, Rosemary Campiformio, 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 nearly forty 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.