The Building of Roche Harbor Resort by the Tarte Family: Neil Tarte in his own words.
Narration by Neil A. Tarte (1927-2014) to Mitzi Johnson.
|Roche Harbor Resort, San Juan Island, WA.|
Large photo dated 1956.
Originals from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
Mitzi had promised Neil's devoted wife, Margaret, who died in 2007, that she would help Neil write his memoir. The first edition was published in 2010. Their recorded conversations are so carefully transcribed that you sense Neil himself, is explaining this story to you.
Reuben and Clara Tarte, Neil's parents, came to the San Juan Islands in their yacht, CLAREU II, in the 1930s to find that there was no safe place to tie up a yacht––except to pilings. About 20 years later, when they purchased the 4,000 acres and 12 miles of coastline from the McMillin family, they could envision a boater's marina. None existed anywhere.
All that was left were several buildings from the Roche Harbor Lime and Cement Co (earlier, a Hudson's Bay outpost), workers' cottages, and the McMillin home, along with a crumbling Hotel de Haro.
It took all the muscle the family had with Reuben, Clara, and Neil, at the helm, to build this magnificent resort. Neil's family and close friends all played a part in turning this 'jewel in the rough' into a location where people would want to come and stay.
With determination, as they needed things, they would find a way to get them. They were able to restore the crumbling Hotel de Haro into 20 guest rooms (including President Theodore Roosevelt's room).
|Colors Ceremony, |
a tradition begun by Reuben Tarte (1927-2014)
It is performed at dusk every night during the summer,
and familiar to all Roche Harbor regulars.
Photo by Gordon Keith.
From the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
They developed the McMillin family home into a restaurant and bar, and added an outside deck and gazebo. They obtained a liquor license, turned Roche Harbor into a major port of entry for US Customs, and also added a 4,000-ft airstrip.
Today, one takes for granted this beautiful location, but the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating it are worth reading.
You'll feel like Neil is just telling you what happened."
Review courtesy of writer Suzy Mygatt Wakefield, April 2012.
Tarte, Neil. The Building of Roche Harbor Resort by the Tarte Family. Illumina Publishing 2010.
The Building of Resort book search
The four photographs with captions in this post are from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©.