From Seabeck's tiny downtown, the Olympic range seems to be right in your lap and Hood Canal literally laps at your feet. And housing can top $1 million if it's on the waterfront and has a view.

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A single city block is more than enough to hold all of downtown Seabeck. In fact, one side of one city block would be plenty of space.

Here’s the lineup: espresso shop, pizza place, general store, cafe, antique store. That’s pretty much it.

These few shops — the tiny heart of Seabeck — are physically unimposing but geographically blessed. They sit like improbable operagoers, Front Row, Orchestra, at a magnificent daily drama of water and mountains.

From this spot, the Olympic range seems to be right in your lap, Hood Canal literally lapping at your feet. On a clear day, with snow on the mountaintops and sunlight hitting it all just so, only the seriously romance-challenged could take in the sight and not be moved.

And yet, here in the Splash Zone of one of Kitsap County’s prettiest water shows, there are only three old, seen-better-days buildings. For now, at least.

Back a century or so ago, Seabeck had its hustle on. It was founded as a lumber town in the 1850s, and for the next three decades it could really crank out the goods. A feisty millworker population kept business hopping for two hotels, four saloons and two general stores.

In 1886, a fire destroyed most of the town, supposedly burning so hot that it baked apples still hanging in the trees.

Seabeck’s glory days may be over, but its glory remains. And as in many beautiful little places, the most glorious bits are steadily being claimed. Along Seabeck’s shorelines, luxury homes are rising like a tide.

Local waterfront properties slide easily into the $1 million-plus range; view homes with acreage also can approach seven figures. But the area isn’t all affluence.

Tattered-looking mobiles are seen with surprising frequency, and manufactured homes are sprinkled in among more upscale neighbors.

Prices run the gamut. Manufactured houses tend to fall in the low-to-mid-$200,000 range, while a stick-built, three-bedroom home might cost anywhere from the high $200s to the high $600s, depending on lot size, square footage, the year it was built and whether or not there’s a view.

Inventory in the central Seabeck area was recently at about 20 homes, with a median listing price in the mid-$500,000 range. Due to the county’s growth-management measures, it’s rare to see homes on less than an acre here — most properties run between one and 5 acres, and that spaciousness is notable.

“A newcomer’s first impression would probably be ‘sparse,’ ” says Gary Johnson, who moved to Seabeck from Silverdale in 1996.

The 2000 census found the population of Seabeck was 3,412, and recent estimates put it at about 5,000. While housing here is far from dense, for longer-term residents the growth has been startling.

“Those that have lived here a while,” says Johnson, “can really see the change.”

Seabeck is about a 15-minute drive from Bremerton, but the area feels surprisingly remote. One of the biggest local draws, the Seabeck Christian Conference Center, attracts visitors for just that reason: It offers a serene setting with close-in access.

That sense of isolation has kept the community close-knit. Longtime locals like to hang out at the general store and often stick around after closing time to sit by the woodstove and play cards. They’re also on hand when hard times hit.

“When people get in trouble here, they look to their neighbors,” says Johnson. “That’s who’s your first responder.”

Newer residents are a more mixed bag. While some throttle down easily and welcome the slower pace, others spend only weekends here and tend not to mingle.

These days, typical home shoppers include a mix of retirees, second-home buyers and workers who commute to Silverdale and Bremerton, including government and shipyard employees as well as a fair number of the local physicians.

Overall, the balance seems to be gradually shifting from old to new. Seabeck’s worn and weather-beaten marina closed a few years ago, but rumor has it that a new one is in the works — including plans for 200 slips and space to accommodate boats up to the 50-foot range. Proposed plans also call for breakwaters to be added and pedestrian access improved.

All of which suggests that some new glory days could be coming for the formerly scruffy old mill town.