The Seaside Zen Cottage is one of the oldest beach homes on the Kona Coast. Sometime in the early 1900's Dr. Phillips purchased a "surplus" teacher's cottage in Hilo. He had the house dismantled, put on a truck and reassembled on his beachfront lot in Kona. Whether this occurred in the 1920's, '30s or '40s is unknown. Marjorie and Robbie Robertson started renting Dr. Phillips' oceanfront vacation rental in the very early 1940s it was one of the few homes on the Government Road (as Alii Drive was then known). The 7 mile long single lane unpaved road from Kailua to Keauhou was little traveled and sparsely populated.
Dr. Phillips undoubtedly paid very little for his ½ acre beachfront lot. His recycled house probably cost less than $500. It had no insulation, no heating, no cooling, and no electrical systems. Water for the bathrooms was supplied by a brackish well. Rainwater was funneled off the roof into a 5,000 gallon redwood tank. The inlet to the tank had a fine mesh screen to keep out the insects, rodents and birds. There was no hot water. Light was provided by Coleman lanterns or kerosene lamps. Blocks of ice purchased at Akona Store in Kailua were placed in an icebox to cool perishables. Fortuitously, the Cottage was made of termite resistant cedar, enabling it to survive for more than 100 years.
Marjorie and Robbie Robertson purchased the Seaside Zen Cottage in 1951. Since then The Cottage has been wired for electricity and solar panels have been added. There is a County water and "wastewater" system. There are modern appliances and conveniences like wireless internet and cable TV, but we have strived to keep the Seaside Zen Cottage reminiscent of the time when it was known as "The Phillips Place." Emily Jagoda, a brilliant architect who studied in Japan re-imagined the stuffy Hilo teacher's cottage, opened it up to the ocean and mountain breezes and created its Zen like atmosphere.