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 this earlier this winter caused a delay in conducting the Archaeology
Reconnaissance Survey of the new site that was requested by the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office(SHPO). That survey is now scheduled for later this month.

We are also 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 has been received and been referred to Scott Power at the Eastern Region Office in Greenville for the next phase of the review process.

After that review is completed, we will begin developing a site plan to take to the Town
of Nags Head and begin the process of having it reviewed by staff prior to going before
the Board Of Commissioners for final approval. This process will take longer than we originally anticipated and consequently we will not be able to meet our original goal
of opening by Nellie Myrtle's 100th birthday on May 17, 2018.

Our plan now is to hold Open Houses on May 17-18-19, 2018, to Celebrate the Centennial     of Nellie Myrtle's birth on May 17, 1918, here at the current location and then conduct the archiving and packing of the collection prior to moving sometime in the late early Fall.

You can follow our progress on our Facebook Page!


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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