South Walton's Unique Architecture

From history-laden, weathered clapboard cottages to luxurious Moroccan influenced villas, the 16 beach neighborhoods of South Walton offer distinctive design differences.

The beach has always inspired the types of structures built along her shores. In South Walton, the many and varied architectural styles along our 26 miles of white sand beaches create a mosaic of colors and feelings that all quietly say, “Here, you are home.”

South Walton settlers began arriving in the late 19th century, founding the towns of Grayton Beach and Santa Rosa. Sadly, there’s nothing left of Old Town Santa Rosa, but Grayton Beach boasts some of the oldest wooden beach cottages in the area, including the Washaway House, a late Victorian, two-story structure on pilings.

The beautiful old Wesley house at Eden Gardens State Park was built in 1897 of yellow heart pine forested locally. In 1963, New York writer and publisher Lois G. Maxon invested $1 million dollars to convert the Victorian style house into a Classic Revival home intended to reflect the romantic image of an antebellum mansion.

Fast forward to today and you’ll find South Walton boasts some of the most unique architecture on the gulf coast. For instance, Alys Beach hints of a Mediterranean influence of indoor-outdoor spaces, fountains, courtyards and dazzling white stucco walls and roofs. What’s more, these homes are more than just architecturally beautiful, they are energy efficient and meet Florida’s “green building” standards for reduced environmental impact.

Rosemary Beach, a blend of old Florida and Dutch West Indies architecture, is founded in the principles of New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Development introduced by Seaside in the mid-1980s. As the first New Urbanism community in the country, Seaside’s historic Florida architecture, pastel colors, tin roofs, and white picket fences set the standard of blending homes, businesses, and recreation in a residential setting, and recreated the idea of a walkable community.

WaterSound introduces styles from the northeast with a Cape Cod feel while WaterColor features homes, shops, and community buildings fashioned in the Florida Vernacular architectural style reflecting the historic design features of pastel colors, porches and multi-pitched roof lines. As part of the Florida Green Lodging Program, WaterColor has won awards for water conservation, energy efficiency, waste management and clean air practices.

Throughout the rest of South Walton a mixture of concrete and wooden beach houses, some dating back to the 1950s, sit peacefully alongside modern condominiums and Florida-style beach cottages. You will see a few high rises, but strict building codes introduced in the mid-1990s ban buildings more than four stories high, keeping that walkable neighborhood feeling just the way we like it.