Beautiful weather awaited the runners for Marathon Weekend. This little video sums it up!
The race finished in Manteo meandering through Marshes Light – what a great place to call home!
Outer Banks to Roanoke Island, Southern Shores to Marshes Light: exploring life on a barrier island. A guide to fun, family, home, real estate, restaurants, surf, sun and more.
Beautiful weather awaited the runners for Marathon Weekend. This little video sums it up!
The race finished in Manteo meandering through Marshes Light – what a great place to call home!
It’s been a gradual change of seasons with lots of things going on on the Outer Banks. I’ve participated in the Outer Banks Triathlon as a member of a relay team – I did the bike portion: 13.1 miles starting at the Dare County Regional Airport over the old Manns Harbor Bridge and back. The ride out was smooth and the views were spectacular, but when I made the turn at Mashoes Road, I hit a wall of wind and it took everything in me to get back across the bridge.
This weekend marked the First Annual Bluegrass Festival at Festival Park in Manteo. This was a sell-out event. Unfortunately I didn’t get to go, but it’s on my calendar for next year. Check out some great photos on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OBXBluegrassFestival?fref=ts.
Today marked the 6th Annual Duck Jazz Festival, featuring The Rippingtons with Russ Freeman, Paula Atherton, THE FUZZ BAND, and Emme St. James and Her Jazz Gentlemen.
Today also marked the final day of the 20th Annual Outer Banks Home Builders Parade of Homes. The homes were selected featuring new designs and many incorporate new technologies, best building practices and ‘green’ features.
There is a plethora of events and activities coming up. My favorite resource for all things is http://www.outerbanks.org/outerbanks-events/.
My favorites include:
It’s a beautiful time of the year to visit the Outer Banks!
Yet tucked away from the hustle bustle, is a lovely three bedroom condominium at Marshes Light. Spacious, this lovely top floor home overlooks the Marina to the south and views of Shallowbag Bay and Roanoke Sound to the southeast. Close enough to stroll to restaurants, theater and shopping, the sound-side boardwalk hugs the shoreline while providing a comfortable and picturesque walkway.
Perhaps the thing that speaks volumes, though, is the craftsmanship and quality of materials. You’ll notice the solid construction, the Hardi-Plank siding, the Andersen windows, the 10 1/2 ceiling heights, thoughtful use of space, transom windows above interior doors and in the kitchen, stainless appliances, granite countertops and natural maple cabinetry.
The recent TowneBank Red Nose Wine Festival has put Marshes Light on the map! To arrange for a tour, please contact Lee Whitley at 252-475-9863 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Price: $425,000.
The inaugural TowneBank Red Nose Wine Festival last Thursday launched a new event as part of the Christmas in July fundraising benefit for the Outer Banks Relief Foundation. Thankfully the rain held off, and cloudy conditions kept things cool and comfortable.
As people milled about in a “Charleston” like setting, music played in the background. The performers included Mojo Collins, Laura Martier, Joe Mapp & The Coordinates, Ruth Wyand, and The Jazzmen. North Carolina wines were featured with Biltmore, Cauble Creek Vineyard, Childress Vineyards, Old North State Winery, Sanctuary Vineyards and Vineyards on the Scuppernong. Additional wines from around the world were provided by Mutual Distributing Company and The Wine Specialist of Kitty Hawk.
There was delicious food from Black Pelican, Café Lachine, Ocean Boulevard and Ortegaz. And, making it a full-on and fun afternoon, there were little shops set up along the Boulevard – Jewelry by Gail, The Cottage Shop and Mothervine Nutraceuticals. Wine, music and shopping? Oh my!
The final word isn’t in on how much was raised for the Relief Foundation, but many of the people involved expressed their enthusiasm with the event. Said Luanne Hege (who had the original vision to make the Wine Festival a reality):
“Our event this past Thursday surpassed our wildest dreams; the weather, which had been flukey at best, settled down, the heat wave broke, and the thunderstorms stayed away. The remarkable (thank you, Roland!) Mike Fitzwater and his group (Special Events) did an outstanding job. The attendance, while under the optimistic 2000 that we kept thinking we’d have, was a very respectable 1390, with all cabanas and reserved tables sold out. (Indeed three of our cabana purchasers have already “signed up” for next year!) Our site, the Marshes Light complex in Manteo, right on Shallowbag Bay, was a terrific venue, right on the water, provided a perfect canvas for our layout.”
It could not have been possible without the help of our volunteers!
Palmetto Cheese Spread, “The Pimento Cheese with Soul” by Pawleys Island Specialty Foods. Delicious, try with thin little Pretzel Crisps (by Snack Factory). Both available at Harris Teeter.
Movie from Red Box: “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” with Jason Segal, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon. A heartwarming film about a couple of misfit brothers who come to each other’s aid –http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1588334/#.
First Annual Red Nose Wine Festival at Marshes Light took place on Thursday afternoon, July 12. The place was transformed into a classy venue for wine tastings, live music, food, shopping and great fellowship all to benefit the Outer Banks Relief Foundation. Had fun helping Christine, The Wine Specialist, at the tastings tent. Stay tuned for more photos.
From the Dare County Library: The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Fisher and Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. I couldn’t put it down – great summertime read for the beach or the pool.
2nd Saturdays at RIFP
Storytelling with Elizabeth II Captain Robbie
June 9th from 2-3 p.m. Small Auditorium
Captain Putnam will play video clips of the Elizabeth II under construction and under sail including a clip of its launching on November 22nd, 1983. He will also share stories about working on the ship, for the past 19 years, and sailing her to other ports as an outreach program. Free.
UNC Pembroke- Stuart Little Children’s Show
June 12th, 13th and 14th at 10:30 a.m., Indoor Theatre
Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he’s shy and thoughtful, he’s also a true lover of adventure which is reflected in this production.
Tickets are $5 for all 6 years old and older. 5 and under-free.
UNC Pembroke – I Love you, You’re Perfect…Now Change!
June 12th, 13th, and 14th at 7 p.m., Indoor Theatre
This production takes on the comedy and tragedy of relationships with a simplicity and truthfulness that will leave you rolling in the aisles with laughter and quietly wiping tears from your eyes. Filled with the music and style from the 1980’s the audience will be inspired to explore the meaning of love and relationships. Tickets are $10 adults and 6-12 years old – $5. 5 and under are free.
A Soldier’s Life – Summer Kids Program
June 14th from 9-11 a.m., Visitors Center
Learn about the soldiers who came to Roanoke Island by exploring the Settlement Site. Participate in a military drill and make a buckler shield to take home. Ages 7 to 13 $20. Pre-register at (252)475-1500.
75th Anniversary Season – THE LOST COLONY at Waterside Theater
Over 400 years ago, 117 men, women and children sailed from Plymouth, England in an attempt to settle on Roanoke Island; they vanished just two years later. The only clue left behind was the word “CROATOAN” carved into a post. The Lost Colony is their story.
Tickets available at http://thelostcolony.org/tickets/.
Year-long highlights include beautiful winter-time Camellias, spring bulbs, colorful summer landscapes from hydrangeas to crepe myrtles, autumn hues of ornamental grasses and salvia, as well as seasonal events like an Easter Eggstravaganza, Harvest Hayday and WinterLights. The Gardens are founded and supported by The Garden Club of North Carolina.
The Gardens are located at 1411 National Park Drive Manteo, NC 27954 GPS: 35 56.2N 75 42.7w
There’s so much to do on the Outer Banks as the weather warms.
The fish are biting, the beach is
welcoming, kites are flying, local businesses are reopening for the season, and two of my favorite events are back: FIRST FRIDAYS and SATURDAY FARM MARKETS in downtown Manteo.
Held on the first Friday of every month on the Manteo Waterfront. 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Historic Inn Tour from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. (tour maps at Dare County Arts Council), Live music from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. (Blue grass to Jazz to Classic Rock ‘n Roll), Boutiques and Restaurants open late, Enjoy family friendly activities, Famous rock climbing wall, historical interpreters in period costumes and more. Queen Elizabeth Ave., Manteo, NC 27954 Phone: 252-473-2133.
Happy Spring from Marshes Light!
Two new homes have sprouted up at Marshes Light. Traditional Manteo styled, one with a pop of bright blue.
Home site #13 reduced: $150,000.
April is a happening month along the Outer Banks! Check out these great events and click here for more information:
This little fella is a Killdeer, a type of plover or shore bird. They make their nests in the darndest places, like in the middle of a field or on a gravel rooftop, but wherever it is, the nest blends well into the background.
I have been watching him/her all week. I had originally assumed he was a she, but just a short while ago, another Killdeer showed up and this one followed her, jumped on top and mated. It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to tell them to get a room! He hopped off and came back to the nest. The males and females look a lot alike and take turns sitting on the nest.
I startled him and he jumped up and scurried away from the nest. There are four eggs and they are gray with black specks, blending in with mud and gravel. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby chicks hatch and will try to get a photo to share. It takes 24 to 28 days of incubating for the chicks to hatch.
According to www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/killdeer/id, the Killdeer is one of the least water-associated of all shorebirds.
You can hear the Killdeer whistle here: http://www.birdjam.com/birdsong.php?id=18.
In between work and hosting my niece and her active two year old last week, I volunteered at the Outer Banks Wedding Show on Saturday at the beautiful Sanderling Inn in Duck. It was fun greeting the brides, grooms, friends and family and seeing all the incredible tablescapes and exhibits on display.
There are lots of places to get married on the Outer Banks; here are just a few:
The Wedding Show was sponsored by OBXBrides.com and featured over 60 vendors. From cakes and flowers, to music and photography, everything to make a special day perfect was on display.
A few of my favorite people were there too:
These folks know how to throw a wedding! For more information visit obxbrides.com.
I just listed a lovely sound-front condominium at Marshes Light, took this photo today from the covered deck.
The Marshes Light boardwalk is one of very few waterfront boardwalks on the Outer Banks. This wooden walkway is roughly 2 miles in length and stretches from the marina at Marshes Light through to downtown Manteo. I love this little corner of heaven:
Along the boardwalk in Manteo is one of my favorite eateries, Poor Richard’s. Great sandwiches, soups and specials in a cozy and casual atmosphere. Eat inside or out on the porch overlooking the marina and Festival Park.
I’ve been a patron of the Dare County Library for many years. Back in the early days when there was just the one branch in Manteo, I looked forward to the bookmobile which came twice a month to the local fire department (close enough for me to run over for a few minutes). I would find books on the New York Times Best Seller List (from the Sunday newspaper) and place my requests and eagerly wait for the books to come in.
Over the past several years, I have been frequenting the Library in Manteo. I’ve checked out numerous books on tapes (great for long road trips), books on self-help, business development, personal wealth, cookbooks, gardening, fiction and nonfiction. I am currently working my way through NPR’s list of the ten best novels for 2011. In case you missed it, click here.
I’m nose deep in The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I agree with Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City, who said:
“Not being a huge fan of the national pastime, I found it easy to resist the urge to pick up this novel, but once I did I gave myself over completely, and scarecely paused for meals. Like all successful works of literature, The Art of Fielding is an autonomous universe, much like the one we inhabit, although somehow more vivid.”
I love books, whether paperback or hardback, stories to read and mysteries to unravel, recipes to make your mouth water, photos to inspire and best of all, pages to turn.
For more information on the Dare County Library, click here.
Renaissance Construction recently broke ground for the construction of a three bedroom home in Marshes Light on home site 7. This marks the fourth home in downtown Manteo’s newest neighborhood. Renaissance Construction is owned by Steve Daniels who is the Marshes Light preferred builder.
“I employ the best local craftsmen and personally oversee to be sure each home is well built in a timely and efficient manner.”
There are only a handful of home sites available at Marshes Light, and one or two will boast panoramic views of the Sound. Marshes Light is a unique location connected by a boardwalk to shops, restaurants, theater and Festival Park in downtown Manteo.
There are many natural and beautiful places to explore along the Outer Banks. Certainly one of the most beautiful is on Roanoke Island, The Elizabethan Gardens.
“ Built as a living memorial to Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colonists, The Gardens include a collection of Renaissance statues and Elizabethan-style buildings that let you imagine you are back in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Spring-time tulips lead to an ever changing palette of year-round color from hydrangeas, native plants, perennials and camellias. Enjoy the colorful crepe myrtles in the Sunken Garden or the view from a sound-side 16th-century style gazebo.”
Upcoming events at the Elizabethan Gardens:
Coldest Day of the Year Plant Sale
Saturday, January 21, 10 a.m. -2 p.m.
Yard sale with books, household items, clothing, damage gift shop items, tools and more. Members receive an additional 10% off all purchases. After the sale enjoy a walk in the Gardens.
State of the Non-Profit Dinner
Wednesday, February 8, 6 – 9 p.m.
The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. The cost is $25. per person for Members/Friends and $30. per person for Non-Members. Please RSVP by Wednesday, February 1, 2012, call Nancy Harvey 252-473-1554 or email email@example.com.
Camellia Watercolor Workshop with Linda Miller
February 14, 17, and 16, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
The Gardens have over 300 Japanese camellias in the collection, represented by over 125 cultivars. Learn basic drawing skills, observation, and watercolor techniques to create a botanical painting. Each student will work at their own pace while Linda Miller consults with each student individually. Beginner to advanced welcome. Materials list provided. 3 day class for Members/Friends $135. 3 day class for Non-Members $145. Call 252-473.3234 or email for reservations firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the architect’s rendering of Marshes Light in Manteo, NC. Retail shops and restaurants along the water, homes and condominiums nearby, and a bustling marina. This new community is located within walking distance on a soundside boardwalk to historic Manteo with a variety of dining, shopping and cultural activities.
“Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it. There’s, um, shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried. There’s pineapple shrimp and lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich… That’s, that’s about it.”
The second annual Shrimp CookOff will be held on Sunday, November 6, at Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar on the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk – from 12:00 noon until 3:00pm. This casual, fun competition was a huge success in 2010 and raised almost $5,000 to benefit the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research.
There will be nine competing chefs from around the Outer Banks, cooking fresh, local shrimp in their favorite style of preparation. A DJ will be keeping up with announcements and door prizes and a silent auction will also be held on the second floor of Ocean Boulevard, with a People’s Choice Ballot. The bar will be open serving Beer & Wine specials along with your favorite beverage. The cost per person is $20 at the door, and tickets can be bought in advance at Ocean Boulevard, or at Outer Banks Veterinarian.
October 22 – Autumn Finale with Brent Heath
12noon-2p.m. Workshop for Adults Autumn Finale with Fall Flowering Bulbs – We’ll guide you through the process of adding interesting, new colors to your garden that will change it from a ‘waning garden’ to a colorful, end of the season gala. For more information contact email@example.com.
October 29 – Harvest Hay Day
Fun, food and festivities; stuff a scarecrow and learn at our discovery stations. Hot cider, pumpkin pie and bonfires are sure to warm your heart. We will also crown Miss Mum and The Chrysanthemum King this year (For children 6 and under.)
October 29 – Harvest Hoedown ~ Diamonds and Denim
Evening Adult Fund Raising Event for the Elizabethan Gardens. Wear your blue jeans with your diamonds and have a good old fashion hoedown with dancing, food and seasonal harvest fun like hay rides and dancing. Enjoy the harvest moon as well as a silent and live auction. Ticket Price $50 per person. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
AT THE AQUARIUM ON ROANOKE ISLAND
October 27 – Trick or Treat Under the Sea
Popular event! 6 – 8:30 p.m. Ghosts and strange aquatic creatures will greet children as they enjoy this “spooktacular” event. Hosting the event is Count Sharkula who always scares up lots of ghoulish fun. Crazy costume contests, creepy crafts, spine-tingling scream contests and yummy munchies are just a few of the things to howl about. Tickets are limited. (252) 473-3494 or www.ncaquariums.com.
November 4 – First Friday
Manteo Waterfront. 4– 8 p.m. Historic Inn Tour from 4 – 6 p.m. (tour maps at Dare County Arts Council), Live music from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. (Blue grass to Jazz to Classic Rock ‘n Roll), Boutiques and Restaurants open late, Enjoy family friendly activities, Famous rock climbing wall, Historical interpreters in period costumes and more.
November 4 – 29 Art, Automata and Christmas Clocks by Michael Davis
Art Gallery at Roanoke Island Festival Park. (252) 475-1500 or www.roanokeisland.com.
November 4 – 30 Nancy Pederson: A Fiber Exhibit (Vault Gallery)
Dare County Arts Council. Opening Reception Friday, 6 pm – 8pm. For more information, please call (252) 473-5558; www.darearts.org.
November 5 – South Arts Film Festival – Ahead of Time
7 p.m. Indoor Theatre at Roanoke Island Festival Park. The event is sponsored by the Dare County Arts Council. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at http://darearts.org/film-media. For more information call 252-473-5558 or visit www.darearts.org.
November 12 -Outer Banks Jewelry Expo
Art Gallery at Roanoke Island Festival Park. Local and regional designers showcase a wide variety of their jewelry and metal work in this expo. Demonstrations included. (252) 475-1500 or www.roanokeisland.com.
November 12 – Outer Banks 8K, Buccaneer 5K & Fun Run
The Outer Banks 8K is an out-and-back course which will start in Kill Devil Hills at the First Flight High School track (in front of the grandstand), continue through Nags Head Woods Maritime Forest and finish at the track. The course is partly on a dirt road and is walker-friendly.
Buccaneer 5K & Fun Run presented by Kelly Hospitality Group
An out-and-back course (part of the Outer Banks 8K course), which begins at First Flight High School (FFHS) track in Kill Devil Hills, enters and returns along Old Nags Head Woods Road, and finishes at FFHS.
November 13 – Outer Banks Marathon and Half Marathon
The marathon starts in Kitty Hawk, the half marathon will begin in Nags Head, near the largest sand dune on the East Coast at Jockey’s Ridge State Park and both cross the beautiful Washington-Baum Bridge and finish on Roanoke Island.
www.obxmarathon.com or register online at http://www.active.com/marathon/to-nags-head-nc/outer-banks-marathon-half-marathon-8k-5k-and-fun-run-2011.
November 24 – Annual Outer Banks Gobbler 5K and Little Giblet Fun Run
8 a.m. Run, walk, stroll through the picturesque Village of Nags Head and enjoy views of the Roanoke Sound! Post Race Feast! Pumpkin Cheesecake to the Overall Finisher who gets bragging rights at the 2011 Outer Banks Gobbler! Presented by the Outer Banks Running Club. Register at http://www.fsseries.com/index.php?action=event&event_id=163.
November 19 – 14th Annual Manteo Rotary Rockfish Rodeo
Outdoor Pavilion at Roanoke Island Festival Park. A fishing tournament sponsored by the Manteo Rotary. (252) 473-6644 or www.rockfishrodeo.com.
For more fishing information, check out http://www.outerbanksfishing.com.
About a month ago, the Town of Manteo provided a dump truck load of fossil/spent oyster shells to Marshes Light. This past Saturday (October 15) a group of volunteers bagged the shells for placement along the marsh to help stabilize an eroding expanse of coastal marsh – one of the last of its kind in Town limits. The bagged shells will be used much like rip rap or wood and vinyl bulkheads; however, this method utilizes natural materials.
The volunteer effort was part of an overall project aimed at creating a “living shoreline” to protect a Juncus marsh that is part of the Marshes Light Development in downtown historic Manteo. The “living shoreline” stabilization will allow the marsh to regenerate along its eroding fringe and return valuable oyster shells to our waters. These shells will also provide a great home to numerous marine creatures.
Thriving coastal marshes are vital to the overall health of our estuary, effectively filtering nutrients, fine sediments and toxins from overland runoff. These critical habitats also support fisheries and protected resources by improving water quality and buffering shorelines.
It was an interesting process and hard, dirty work. We used UV resistant netting material (used and recommended in the aquaculture industry) which was stretched over a piece of PVC pipe that was about 36” long and 8” in diameter. Wearing thick gloves, we placed the shells into the pipe with bag stretched and when full, the pipe was pulled out of the bag and the bag tied. Each bag was estimated to weigh about 30-35 pounds!
Once the necessary permits are in place, the next step will be to load the bags onto a barge and haul them over to the marsh. The Town also plans to install native marsh plants along the landward side of the stabilized shoreline next spring.
This project is an on-going and volunteer collaborative effort between Marshes Light new home community, the Town of Manteo, Quible & Associates, P.C., and our many friends! Check back in early next spring for information about volunteering for more projects along the Manteo waterfront.
There were over 850 cyclists registered for the 2011 Cycle North Carolina “Mountains to Coast” October 1 to October 8; and they arrived in Manteo yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful, sunny day for their ride from Plymouth, 80 miles inland.
Working with Cycle NC event organizers, the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, College of the Albemarle, Town of Manteo, and the Marshes Light community, we gave them a warm and exciting welcome. Shuttle service provided transportation to area hotels and restaurants. A good number of cyclists camped on COA property and walked over to Manteo on the sound-side boardwalk, a short walk to First Friday with live music, food, wine, and other festivities.
They leave Manteo on Saturday and ride to Corolla, 61 miles, along the Beach Road for the last leg of the trip.
For more information about Cycle North Carolina and future rides, click here.
The Outer Banks has been a mecca for physical activity ever since the surfboard was first introduced to the natives. Over the years, due to the demand in current trends of recreation, tennis courts, golf courses, health clubs and bike paths have added to the Outer Banks environment.
With a mild Fall and Spring season and a beautiful coastal setting, the Outer Banks is the perfect destination to host a variety of events and competitions. Coming up this Fall (with links for more information) are:
I first met Mayo in the fall of 1980 – he was with my father-in-law, H. Wayne Whitley, Jr., of Rocky Mount, on the Outer Banks duck hunting. Several years later, Mayo and his company, Boddie-Noell Enterprises, purchased the company I work for Kitty Hawk Land Company (the original developers of Southern Shores). That’s been over 25 years ago.
Mayo is also one of our property owners at Marshes Light. He and his wife, Jean, enjoy their condo here and you can often seem they scooting around town in their little yellow electric car with Maggie, their yellow lab, in the back.
Mayo’s strong sense of stewardship and preservation are evident in everything he does, from Rose Hill to Hardee’s and real estate developments including The Currituck Club, Marshes Light, Viniterra and Arlington Place. Please watch this recent episode of “Tarheel Traveler” from WRAL in Raleigh: Tarheel Traveler. (sorry about the ad, it’s not long.)
This article first appeared in My Outer Banks Home in 2007 by Angel Ellis Khoury
Marshes Light Expands Manteo Horizon
Since 1982, when townspeople adopted the motto “Come Sit on Our Front Porch; Let Us Tell You of the Dreams We Keep” as part of an ambitious revitalization for Manteo, this Roanoke Island town has seen its dreams come true. The view from the porch has been transformed.
A once deserted downtown is now filled with shops and restaurants, with residences located above. Historic homes have been renovated, and picket fences have returned to nearly every yard. New public spaces are filled with activity—boat docks, boardwalks, and a waterfront park with benches set beneath live oaks—in place of rotten pilings and dilapidated, abandoned buildings.
Across the creek, a barren spoil island is now home to Roanoke Island Festival Park and the representative 16th century ship Elizabeth II, built and berthed in Manteo, but able to sail to coastal ports, as North Carolina’s only moveable historic attraction. A new state maritime museum at the old boathouse brings families together to build a boat in a day, and youngsters learn to sail, with wet-sponge fights part of the lesson plan. On summer evenings, dance, music, and drama play out on a pavilion lawn with Roanoke Sound as part of the stage set.
It took a full 20 years to complete the 11 major components that brought $20 million in public and private investments to Manteo. Between 1980 and 2006, the tax base increased a whopping 5,581 percent, from $11.2 million to $625.2 million. How does a town manage that kind of growth while preserving a sense of place? How can it make 5,000 visitors a day feel welcome while still making its 1,000 residents feel at home?
Professional planners claim that an involved citizenry is why Manteo’s plan has succeeded, where so many others fail. This renaissance of a once dying town is the result of a public/private planning initiative that drew on the expertise of NC State University School of Design, Professor Randolph T. Hester, and planner James Rouse’s American City Corporation. But more importantly, it drew on the dreams and imagination of town residents, who attended design charettes, were interviewed by students on their front porches, or who completed surveys asking what they would like their town to become.
Twenty years later, deserted streets were no longer the problem. In 2002, residents complained they couldn’t find a place to park, traffic on the main highway was backed up to the bridge on busy summer days, and gated communities elsewhere on the island seemed to fly in the face of townspeople’s motto, envisioning porch-lined streets and a public waterfront that functions as the town’s giant front porch.
As it had done in the past, town commissioners reached out to the School of Design for help. Once more, residents and business owners filled out surveys, attended meetings, and worked with students and professors to create a plan for the next 20 years. As they dreamed of the future, citizens recognized it was time to preserve important elements of the past.
Townspeople were especially concerned about plans to sell a large tract of land bordering Shallowbag Bay that had been in the same family since the 1860s. Would there be wall-to-wall condos? Would a gated community sit condescendingly across the street from some of the oldest houses in the town? Would the new development, nearly the same size as the historic downtown, overshadow a townscape that had changed little in 100 years?
The entire town breathed a collective sigh of relief when a group of local residents bought the property, and did the unthinkable. They asked townspeople to help plan the new development.
The site became a School of Design project, but planning didn’t stop there. How would the development relate to the historic downtown? To the proposed new campus of College of the Albemarle? To the everyday town center on the main highway? Were there opportunities for street connectivity to address traffic concerns? A new master plan for the entire town, with a major development designed within the heart of town, was adopted in 2005 as another example of public/private partnerships and citizen input.
Once plans were in place, the owners sold their interest to Kitty Hawk Land Company, with more than 50 years’ experience developing properties on the Outer Banks and beyond. In the summer of 2006, construction began on what is being marketed as Marshes Light, named for the screwpile lighthouse that lies just off the point. With a mixture of single- and multi-family homes, shops, and a waterfront inn, the new neighborhood is designed to be seamless with the historic waterfront.
Residents and guests at Marshes Light will be able to walk along the new boardwalk bordered by boat slips and a public park, then continue along the existing boardwalk. There, the Maritime Museum’s collection of traditional workboats forms the core of its “floating museum.” Residents can look out their windows and see which weather flag is flying atop the historic US Weather Bureau storm-warning tower. Standing watch over the sound is the reconstruction of the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, part of the museum complex, and the Elizabeth II rides at anchor across the creek. Shops, restaurants, galleries, and marina slips will flank the boardwalk in both the old and new parts of town.
While you could walk from Marshes Light to Roanoke Island Festival Park in just five minutes, a slower pace is more inviting. On the way to a summer performance at the park’s outdoor pavilion, you can stop for various necessities, from a picnic basket to a bottle of wine to a take-out dinner. You can even buy a vintage tablecloth on which to spread your feast as you watch the evening’s performance of music, dance, or drama, with Roanoke Sound as the backdrop.
Across the street from Marshes Light is the new campus of the College of the Albemarle’s School of Professional Crafts. Just beyond is the everyday town center, where banks, grocery stores, dry cleaners, and other services are conveniently located.
A 10-minute drive takes you to the North Carolina Aquarium, Elizabethan Gardens, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and Waterside Theatre, where Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Green’s outdoor drama The Lost Colony has been performed for the past 70 years.
It’s easy to understand why Manteo was chosen as a 2007 recipient of the Preserve America Presidential Award, recognizing the town’s “preservation of cultural and natural heritage assets, and the integration of these assets into contemporary community life, using innovative approaches to showcasing its historic resources,” according to the award criteria.
Marshes Light exemplifies the spirit of that effort. Not only does Marshes Light look across to some of the oldest houses in the town, one of its most historic homes is incorporated into the new neighborhood. Undergoing a meticulous restoration is the home of William T. Brinkley, who operated a herring and shad fishery beginning in the 1860s, and whose descendants later turned to dairy farming, delivering bottled milk up and down the Outer Banks. Parts of the house date to the 1820s, while the house as it stands today dates to the 1880s or 90s, according to architectural historian Peter Sandbeck. It was Brinkley who encouraged his sister and brother-in-law, Rosa and John Evans, to come to Manteo in 1873 to help build up a town around the new county seat established three years earlier.
Mirroring the old part of town, the new neighborhood will include shops and restaurants, with residences above. Along Fernando Street, the dividing line between past and present, new single-family homes are a reflection of the vernacular style found just across the street. The master plan calls for higher density residences to be sited around the marina basin, providing a gradual increase in scale. The condominiums, townhouses, and flats provide expansive views across Roanoke Sound to Outer Banks beaches, just 10 minutes away.
Perhaps the most beautiful location within the 14-acre site is the point that overlooks the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse and the Elizabeth II. There, the Inn at Marshes Light will bring overnight guests to patronize the town’s shops and restaurants.
Today, the town’s motto is “Preserve. Prosper.” Even as brand-new homes stand up against the skyline, the simple, fine lines of the old Brinkley house are being slowly revealed. The Elizabeth II recalls the audacious determination of those who crossed an ocean in search of a new life on Roanoke Island nearly 425 years ago. The beam of the lighthouse reassures, even as the storm-tower lights warn of a change in the weather. Children jump off the docks, as they always have. There are no gates to divide townspeople from one another—only a few more porches, overlooking a few new streets, where people can sit, and tell of the dreams they keep.