The Truth About the Art Retreat on Agate Beach

Ernest Bloch overlooking Agate Beach from the home north of Newport.

Ever since arriving at George Fox University to teach art seven years ago the art department every fall has had a wonderful retreat of sixty of us on the Oregon Coast at a place called “Sea Krest.”  Agate Beach just north of the city of Newport has been a place of refreshment and reflection for us every year.

Sea Krest has always struck me as a unique place with lots of character and charm.  Beautiful wood walls, a lovely large fireplace, interesting hinges and hardware on the doors and cabinets, and panoramic views of the ocean have always lent to the feeling of coming up for air that the location has provided.  I have learned as of late what or whose legacy that “feeling” may also be about.

As of the last four years or so, it has come to our attention that Salem First Baptist that owns the property is going to sell it (though it’s not currently on the market).  Every year with sadness we say goodbye to the Sea Krest wondering if this time will be our last there.

Last week I was at the Newport Visual Art Center talking with Sally Houck the director there about my upcoming exhibit in June with them.  I mentioned how every year the art department comes out and stays at a retreat center on Agate Beach.  She said “The one run by the Salem First Baptist? That’s the Bloch House!   He’s a famous composer that lived there from 1941 until his death in 1959 (his wife would live there till 1963 when it was sold to the church).”

Art Students doing a little Yoga in the morning at Sea Krest or what use to be Ernest Bloch's home.

It seems the Bloch Foundation for the past years has been trying to raise funds to purchase the estate so they can get the house historical status and make it into a possible visitor/retreat/cultural center.  Suddenly it made sense why every year the church told us that it may be sold in the next year.  They are waiting for the foundation to raise the funds.

Although originally from Europe, and having lived in New York, some of Ernest Bloch’s most famous pieces were written during the years he lived in this home.

So…. “Thank you Ernest Bloch for letting us have a retreat in your house! It has been wonderful and quite a place of refreshment for all of us and our art endeavors. In an odd way I think your legacy in the arts may continue in ways that you may not imagine as you have created a place that is an inspirational refuge and influence for many artists to come.”

Pretty wonderful views from the back of the home to the beach that have been an inspiration to many a student. Here they do fish prints and it appears Rachel is singing.

For more information about Ernest Bloch, here is a link to the foundation’s website:

As well as a link to an Oregon Art Beat that featured his story:

About abiggerworldyet

Visual Artist Brother Sojourner College Professor Christ follower
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4 Responses to The Truth About the Art Retreat on Agate Beach

  1. As the grandson of the composer it warms my heart to see your comments regarding the former Bloch House. Am forwarding this to the Ernest Bloch Foundation Board of Directors. We have formed a group in Lincoln County “Ernest Bloch Legacy Foundation Institute Committee” to locally help keep the potential acquisition alive.

  2. Sorry, hit the send button too fast:
    Ernest Bloch, II

  3. Frank Geltner says:

    Thanks for the great story. Just for the record, it is the Salem First Baptist Church, not the Southern Baptist Church. They call their retreat center, Sea Krest. They have had the house for sale, but it is not for sale at this time. The Newport Art Center you refer to is the Newport Visual Arts Center, as opposed to the Newport Performing Arts Center where the Bloch Memorial is located. Thanks for calling attention to our efforts to find support for creating a national historic site in honor of Ernest Bloch.

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