Camille Lawrence's work in saving the First Colony Inn, seen above, serves as a blueprint for our preservation efforts.
The First Colony Inn
To the best of our knowledge, the last effort to move and preserve an historically significant building in Nags Head for public use occurred in 1988, when Camille Lawrence moved the First Colony Inn off the oceanfront to a 4.4 acre lot between the highways at mile post 16. Since that time, the historic landscapes of the northern Outer Banks have been diminished by the loss of the Carolinian Hotel, the Baum St. Claire Coast Guard Station, and the Croatan Inn, to name a few.
The potential loss of these structures created some public outcry from their communities, but they were eventually torn down to make way for additional large rental cottages and a high density condo on the oceanfront. Once gone, such iconic sites cannot be replaced. Both towns have also seen the loss of smaller oceanfront cottages that contributed value to the character, history, and charm that made them a desirable destination for visitors, many of whom are drawn to those unique aspects of our area.
Preserve and Prosper
Awareness has been growing among responsible destination stewards that insuring cultural and environmental sustainability and promoting heritage tourism is not only a responsible approach, but also a long-term economic strategy that creates destination diversity and economic vitality in resort communities.
The east deck, a favorite spot to watch the sunrise.
As defined by The National Trust for Historic Preservation, “Cultural heritage tourism is traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes cultural, historic, and natural resources. The story of the authentic contributions previous generations have made to the history and culture of where you live is the one that will interest visitors, because that is what distinguishes your area from every other place on earth. It is this authenticity that adds real value and appeal. Your area is unique, and its special charm is what will draw visitors."
The repurposing of Mattie Midgette’s historic grocery into what is now known as the Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum, follows what has become a popular and successful strategy within the cultural heritage preservation movement: the creative reuse of historic properties as productive, private, for profit enterprises that ensure their long term viability and well being.
With this proven principal in mind, it is our belief that by moving Mattie Midgette’s store and house to a location that better serves the value of these core Outer Banks historic assets, we can provide a much needed historic cultural attraction for the millions of visitors that come to the Outer Banks annually.
Nags Head Hammocks