Mattie Midgette in 1941. behind a counter
                       in her historic circa 1914 grocery 



  Mattie Midgettes Historic Site up for Sale as Cultural Heritage Center


Centennial Celebration of the Wright Brothers, December 2003.

After a quarter century of challenging and rewarding stewardship of the site, the owners are now offering the property for sale as a preservation opportunity for a buyer or buyers to rehabilitate. More than a thousand people visited the museum during the Centennial Celebration of the Wright Brothers 1903 flight at "Kill Devil Hill", learning about Mattie's parents' connection to Frank Stick and the Wright Brothers Monument. Over the years since, thousands more 

have visited the Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum 

to see the old store and the sea side artifacts collected 

locally by Mattie's daughter Nellie Myrtle Pridgen, 

a legendary beachcomber, and a fascinating 

inspirational local icon.


Speaking about this historic site at the time of its listing in the  National Register of Historic Places in 2004, Outer Banks 

historian David Stick said: "Let’s put it this way, I would say next to Jockey’s Ridge and the Wright Brothers Memorial, 

it is the most historically significant place on the northern Outer Banks. It is an integral part of the Nags Head Cottage Row Historic District." 


 


Mattie Midgettes Historic Site up for Sale as Cultural Heritage Center

It is rare when a compelling historic site like Mattie Midgette’s Store & House come on the market. It is even rarer when that property represents such a singular slice of an area's past, traditions, and customs. Once the heart of the community and a thriving grocery, seasonal tourist home, and commercial fishing operation, the property embodies the Outer Banks of a century ago. The old grocery now serves as home to the Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum, an internationally recognized collection of seaside artifacts collected by Mattie’s eccentric daughter Nellie, who became a local legend as a fierce protector of the beach, an early environmentalist, and a relentless beachcomber with a voracious appetite for knowledge. Beachcombing expert Richard LaMotte, who has visited the museum several times, said “ Inside a weary 1920s bungalow patiently sits the most extraordinary and diverse collection of seaside relics ever amassed by a beachcomber.  (From “The Lure of Sea Glass”)


Mattie’s two-story c.1914 store has ~ 1,710 sq ft and is now in use as a residence and home to the Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum. The two-story c.1890 ~ 1,667 sq ft Midgette House is in a dilapidated condition but is suitable for a complete renovation. The recently discovered history of the structure brings a broader scope to the site’s importance and value to local architectural and cultural history.

That history includes Kill Devil Hill (and Hills), Frank Stick, Nags Head Woods, KDH Lifesaving Station and the Wright Brothers Monument.


The Store, which is in good condition, consists  of an 18 x 35’ room on the north side of the building with 3 more rooms in the one story, 12’ x 30’ addition. There is a half bath, laundry room, pantry and stair well at the rear of the first floor. The upstairs is 40 ’x 18’, with a bathroom with shower and claw foot tub, two bedrooms, and an 18’ x 11’ living room at the front with a 14’ x 18’ covered outdoor deck overlooking the Beach Road with the ocean and NRHP Cottage Row across the street. All interior walls and ceilings are clad with original beadboard paneling. The second floor has the original wood floors, while the first floor was replaced after the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962.


The House behind the Store is in need of a complete restoration. It consists of a of a traditional, 14 x 35’ two story farmhouse style building with a steep gable roof, and a rear, two story extension, with a breezeway, kitchen, dining room, and a half bath. The second floor has two bedrooms and a 32 x 18’ dormitory or studio room. Located in a C 2,  mixed residential and commercial district, it is compatible with developing the site as an historic preservation project.


Situated next to undeveloped lots in the heart of the Cottage Row Historic District, the site, its two structures, and the Beachcomber Museum are well suited to anchoring a much-needed Cultural Heritage Attraction. Buyers would be eligible to apply for NC SHPO

Tax Credits for a Certified Restoration. Mattie Midgette's Store is the oldest and most historically important commercial structure on the northern Outer Banks. We recently discovered the Twiford ~ Midgette House is the sole surviving home from the once thriving Nags Head Woods community of the local "Banker" families.


The site’s tangible and intangible assets in a way that encourages a deeper appreciation of the importance of 
historic places and an earnest commitment to preserving them for future generations. The newly restored site would become a “must see” attraction where locals and visitors can “Step Back in Time” and experience a bygone era.


Like the Little Corolla Keeper's Cottage at the Currituck Lighthouse, or the Ocracoke Island Preservation Society’s Odd Fellow's Lodge reclamation/preservation project, these irreplaceable relics from our collective past need to be preserved. By making the site a full time, income producing Heritage attraction, the resource will evolve and thrive. It will help the site realize its full potential for serving as an educational, research, and community resource. It could serve as a “Satellite” site that would be used in conjunction with the Soundside Event Site, Dowdy Park, or the First Colony Inn.


After a quarter century of the challenging and rewarding stewardship of the site, the owners are now offering the property for sale
as a preservation opportunity for a buyer or buyers to rehabilitate. Over a thousand people visited the museum during the Centennial Celebration of the Wright Brothers 1903 flight at "Kill Devil Hill", learning about Mattie's parents' connection to Frank Stick and the
Wright Brothers Monument. Over the years since, thousands more have visited the Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum to see the 

old store and the sea side artifacts collected locally by Mattie's daughter Nellie Myrtle Pridgen, a legendary beachcomber.


In December 2016, the Beachcomber Museum received 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." The museum shares that honor locally with the 

Chicamacomico Lifesaving StationIsland Farm, and the Jarvisburg School.


This is an opportunity for all of Dare County and anyone who loves the Outer Banks to make history with history. You can write the next chapter in the rich and storied legacy of this legendary landmark. Bring your energy, your creativity, and your imagination, the opportunity to create a new legacy at this singular historic property is awaiting your passion!! Visit the Preservation North Carolina website to view the listing HERE.


Read the amendment below about the discovery of the origins of the historic Twiford ~ Midgette house 
and the interesting history of the family that built it in the woods of Old Nags Head...




                                                                Mattie Midgette's Store & House                    (Photo by Celia Pearson)

Built on a 100’x100’ lot the Midgettes owned near the Croatan Sound at the northern edge of the Nags Head soundside resort in 1914, the “Jot it Down” style grocery served as the hub of the community year round through the following 6 decades of steady growth and development that swept over the Outer Banks.

The circa 1890 House was built in Nags Head Woods 
by Mattie's parents, Willie and Nellie Twiford, and 
moved to  the original sound-side location of 
Mattie's Store between 1930 and 1932. 

                                                  
The Midgette's Soundside location is at the top arrow, 
the present location is at the bottom.(see photo at right.)



The store was built on the Midgette's soundside parcel 
in 1914. The House was moved from Nags Head Woods 
to the site in 1930-32. 





Original soundide location of Midgette'e Store & House as seen in this in 1932 USACE aerial photograph.


Beachcomber Museum Open House 



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." The museum share that honor with the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, Island Farm, and the Jarvisburg School.









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




Closeup of Midgette's Store and House on the soundide

This three full page article, "Lady of the Sand"
appeared in Norfolk Virginian Pilot, 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 1926.
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"s Store circa 1972

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

 
 


Aerial view of Old Nags Head:


Here is a brief drone video of the area that gives                                                                                                                 a really great view of the Cottage Row Historic District.