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The Iconic Seaside Beach Pavilions

By Emme Martin | Photography by Jeremy Harwell

The salty air thickens at the top of the steps, and the view ahead seizes all attention. As calmness builds, you may wish to stay at the top and gaze into the emerald abyss of the Gulf of Mexico. Or perhaps anticipation wins, and childlike energy rushes you to the bottom. Each sandy wooden step brings you closer to your final destination—soft waves and serenity at last.

The Natchez Street Beach Pavilion exudes romance as the wave-shaped platforms lead lovers to the Gulf. Jersey Devil architects, led by Steve Badanes and James Adamson, designed and built it from 1992 to 1993 using all-natural materials crafted by woodworker Jimmy Dulock to resemble a series of waves. Jersey Devil worked with contractor Michael Warner to bring it all to life.

Upon packing up to go home, your fellow beachgoers shift their view back to the southern steps. A bittersweetness comes over you as you turn away from the sea, weary but satisfied from a day in the sun. That simple wooden structure patiently waits for you above the dunes, offering a clear direction home. The walk up those same sandy steps is slow but invigorating. As you reach the top of the stairs, one last glimpse into the Gulf marks the end of a lovely day spent with family and friends.

New York-based architect Michael McDonough designed the West Ruskin Street Pavilion to reflect notable Southern elements such as quilting, lumber yards, and the American flag. The pavilion holds sophisticated structural components and architectural illusions, which McDonough hopes visitors will ponder as they pass by.

The Seaside pavilions mark the beginning and the end of some of life’s sweetest moments. The captivating trademark structures are conveniently nestled at the end of each main neighborhood street, a nod to Seaside founders Robert and Daryl Davis’s vision for a New Urbanism walkable community. The easy navigation and unique designs assemble these pavilions as idyllic gathering places and gateways for generations to enjoy. Each of the distinctive structures depicts its respective architect’s style and understanding of complex simplicity—encapsulating the very essence of Seaside, Florida.

The prolific architect and visionary Roger Ferri designed the Odessa Street Pavilion. Ferri is remembered by many for his theories on the integration of nature and architecture. The Odessa Street Pavilion reflects the innovative romanticism Ferri’s works embody.

Photographer Jeremy Harwell turns his lens away from the Gulf as he elegantly captures the nine Seaside pavilions on a clear day.

Perhaps the most recognizable landmark in Seaside is the Coleman Pavilion, designed by David Coleman from 1991 to 1996. The iconic pavilion marks the main entrance to the beach among the town's shops and restaurants. The striking design earned Coleman numerous accolades and praise, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award for Washington Architecture and the AIA Northwest & Pacific Honor Award.
The captivating trademark structures are conveniently nestled at the end of each main neighborhood street, a nod to Seaside founders Robert and Daryl Davis’s vision for a New Urbanism walkable community.
The Tupelo Street Gazebo, designed by Tom Christ in 1984, held many of Seaside’s first public meetings and continues to be a spot for neighborhood gatherings today. Some might also recognize the gazebo as the structure Truman frantically circled when his panic struck in The Truman Show.

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See more of the pavilions and the story of Seaside, Florida, in The Idea Boutique’s upcoming coffee-table book created for The Seaside Style®, or learn more at SeasideFL.com. View Jeremy Harwell’s beautiful work at HarwellPhotography.com or on Instagram @harwellphoto.

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