The future home of the Carmen Gray Coastal Heritage and Habitat Preserve.

We are moving the museum to property nearby to create the

Carmen Gray Coastal Heritage & Habitat Preserve

The Museum is closed:

Currently, we are doing the preliminary work needed to move the museum back from
the ocean and opening full time as a museum, heritage center, and native plant gardens.
The cold weather early last winter caused a delay in our conducting the Archaeology
Reconnaissance Survey of the new site that was requested by the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office(SHPO). The survey was completed in late March by Dr. Gordon Watts, president of the Institute of International Marine Research in Washington, NC.

We are proceeding with our application to the National Register of Historic Places to 
remain on the register during and after the move. Our request to the SHPO office in 
Raleigh was received in early April and we were referred to Scott Power, Regional Supervisor of the Eastern Region Office in Greenville, for the next phase of questions
in the review process. We have provided Scott with more information about the reason 
for the move, the general appropriateness of the new location, details about the 
advantages of the new site and the history of the structures being moved in the 
early 20th century.

After we receive notification of our plans being approved, we will begin developing a site plan to take to the Town of Nags Head where it will go through a review process before 
the Board of Commissioners vote on the plan.

You can follow our progress on our Facebook Page!


Project update 6-11-2018: 

As the process grinds forward with our request to move our National Register of Historic Places structures, we are preparing to archive the collection using a new software program designed to help small , grassroots organizations create complete collection management database systems without spending valuable resources on collection management database software. The completed database of Nellie's collection will allow researchers to access 
it from all over the globe.

We expect to be hearing back from the N C State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh soon about our request to remain on the National Register of Historic Places throughout   the move.

"Museum collections (objects, specimens, 
and archival and manuscripts collections) 
are important museum resources in their 
own right as well as being valuable for the information they provide about processes, events, and interactions among people and 
the environment. Natural and cultural objects and their associated records provide baseline data, serving as scientific and historical documentation of the museum’s resources 
and purpose. All museum records that are directly associated with museum objects are managed as museum property. These and 
other museum records are preserved as part 
of the archival and manuscript collection because they document and provide as information base for the understanding of 
the museum’s mission. Museum objects used 
in exhibits, furnished historic structures, 
and other interpretative programs help 
visitors gain better understand-ding of 
cultural and natural heritage of the region." 

Project update 5-5-2018: Archaeological Survey of new site completed!


Located in Historic Mattie Midgette's Store, Nags  Head's oldest and most historic commercial structure, the Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum is a private, grassroots preservation effort dedicated to preserving Outer Banks history and the rich legacy left behind by past generations  of Outer Bankers. We have been focused on preserving and sharing those resources that create a sense of place, rooted in the specifics of the local land, its people, and their stories, artifacts, and traditions. This has allowed thousands of locals and visitors alike to experience unique treasures from the past that recall a simpler time from a bygone era in
the very heart of Old Nags Head. 

The Carmen Gray Coastal Heritage and Habitat Preserve will also be dedicated to promoting and
sharing irreplaceable cultural and natural resources that are expressions of the essence and character of Old Nags Head. The CGCHHP will continue and expand on the work the Beachcomber Museum has done during the past 15 years of presenting real history in an authentic cultural setting. 

Mattie Midgette's Store ~ Beachcomber Museum
Looking out on the Preserve at sunset.

             Nellie Myrtle Pridgen circa 1942.

A site has been purchased nearby where the CGCHHP a full time museum, heritage center, and native plant  preserve are to be located, preserving local history, green space, and the story of one woman's inspiring life by the sea and the enduring legacy of prescience, patience, and persistence she left behind for us to consider.

This site is similar to the buildings original location on the soundside, and provides protection from threats inherent to its current location on a very low stretch of the Beach Road.
Mattie with her granddaughter and museum founder Carmen, circa 1955, in front of the grocery she opened on the soundside in 1914. 

Original soundide location of Midgette'e Store & House seen from aerial photographs taken in 1932.

In December of 2016, the Museum was awarded the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution's Historic Preservation Recognition Award. "The Award recognizes and honors individuals or groups that have done recent remarkable volunteer work at the community level." 

Nell's photo of helicopters flying over the crowd on
Kill Devil Hill at the  50th Anniversary Celebration in 1953.

This three full page article, "Lady of the Sand", appeared in the Virginian Pilot, Norfolk Virginia's newspaper, in August, 2013.

1993 article on Nellie Myrtle and the legacy she
left behind. Dorothy is seen at top pointing to
some of the treasures she had placed on the 
shelves of her mothers historic grocery.

Video of our Open House, Christmas ~ 2014

Visit the museum website Here...

Nellie Myrtle on the south side of the monument on
the top of Kill Devil Hill for the 50th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers historic 1903 flight. Her grandparents, Willie and Nellie Twiford, owned Kill Devil Hill, the sand dune the brothers flew from, before selling it to
Frank Stick, in 1928.
Mattie Midgette"s Store circa 1972

After State Highway 12 was constructed in 1932, the Midgette's moved their thriving grocery from the soundside location to the
Beach Road across from Cottage Row,
making it more accessible to the
growing community on the beach.

Mattie Midgette and her daughter Nellie Myrtle   on the soundside, circa 1953.

Mattie's Store & House were individually listed in the NRHP in December of 2004

Mattie with her granddaughter and museum founder Carmen, circa 1955, in front of the grocery she        opened on the soundside in 1914.  

Certificate of listing on the NRHP

Aerial view of the property:

Here is a brief drone video of the area and the property, seen as open space at the bottom right at the beginning and on the left after that. It really gives a great view of the Cottage Row Historic District.

Special thanks to Wilton Wescott for sharing this beautiful footage!

As you can see from the video, this property is an ideal site for our historic museum to anchor
a heritage & habitat refuge here on the beach. This location will facilitate the construction of
amenities required to open a full time museum, (parking, restrooms, handicapped entrance etc.),
as well as create opportunities for outdoor exhibits and educational programs that the present
location does not provide

Below are more photos of the property...

The pasture behind the Hollowell Hotel, located south of Midgette's store at the time of these 1942 photos.

View from northwest portion of lot looking at the southeast end of Jockey's Ridge seen at top of photo.

Panorama looking east from the property.

More photographs:

Click Thumbnails for larger view

Visit the museum website HERE!

For more information on this preservation effort, contact us at


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