A Look Back in Time: Historic Nags Head Vacation Homes
The Outer Banks of North Carolina has been a place for families to escape everyday life and relax on the beach since the 1800s. By the early 1900s, the Outer Banks began to truly develop as a tourism hot spot with the addition of a new paved road running from Kitty Hawk to Nags Head and bridges connecting the beach with the mainland. Prior to the construction of these bridges, visitors would travel by boat from Roanoke Island into Nags Head when they came for vacation. Around this time, more hotels and private family vacation homes began to pop up. Many of these original homes can still be found along the coast — and you can stay in one for your next beach vacation!
Photo Courtesy of Doug Peltz
Village Realty is proud to manage several historic homes in Nags Head, each home offering a unique vacation experience that will help you step back in time to when life was much simpler. Many of our historic homes are part of what is known as “Old Cottage Row” in Nags Head, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places for over 40 years. The first of the homes were built in the 1800s; many were built from wood washed up on the shore from shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina. You can’t miss these oceanfront cottages while driving down the beach road, boasting wide wraparound porches, cedar shingles, gable roofs and propped shutters. Thanks to the dedication and preservation efforts of the families who own the cottages, these homes have withstood the test of time and weather but still stand strong on our shores.
Looking around inside these homes offers a peek into what life was like in the early 1900s. The Fred Wood Cottage (JR0639) was built in 1936 by Fred Wood Senior, who was the president of a lumber company in Edenton. Fred also used his skills to build wooden surfboards for his children to play with in the surf; one of the boards is now displayed on the wall in the dining room! Staying in this home for your vacation offers a glimpse of what it was like when the Wood family would disappear to the Outer Banks for the summer many years ago. In a time where there was no air conditioning, the Wood family added a cabinet in between the kitchen and dining room that can be opened to allow the ocean breezes to circulate through the home. Your family will enjoy spending time relaxing and taking a break from the sun on the wide, covered porches that encircle the house. This beautiful historic home will help you step back in time, relax and reflect. I had the pleasure of meeting Fred Jr. and when I asked about his favorite memory of his summers spent in the home, he got the biggest smile and recalled a time when he and his friends paddled out to a sandbar in a canoe and were flipped over by a huge wave.
Built during The Great Depression, the Fourth Estate Cottage (JR19) originally belonged to a group of newspapermen from all over North Carolina. About.com states “The fourth estate is a term that positions the press (newspapers) as a fourth branch of government and one that is important to a functioning democracy.” One member, Daniel Victor Meekins of Manteo, founded The Coastland Times, the paper of record in Dare and surrounding counties. This home has survived many weather events, including the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 and Hurricane Isabel of 2003. Thanks to the families that have owned the home, you can still enjoy the unique contents and artifacts that have remained with the cottage. This oceanfront cottage has been welcoming guests with its cozy cottage feel since 1935 and still has the Old Nags Head charm. The current owners are hopeful that their home creates a memorable experience for all guests: “May your time spent here with your family and friends and the lasting memories that you take away from this place help to form some of the best chapters in your story.”
Although some of these homes are still owned by relatives of the original owners, others have just taken on the experience of owning a historic home. The owners of Ridge Retreat II (JR1517) recall that when they purchased the home in 2017 it still had no heat, air conditioning, or even an indoor shower. The cottage has since undergone a renovated kitchen, the addition of two indoor showers as well as updated electrical wiring and heating/cooling systems. Other than these updates, this 5-bedroom cottage is all original and still holds that old charm! This home located in the heart of Nags Head, right across the street from Jockey’s Ridge, offers plenty of outdoor spaces for your family to enjoy the ocean breeze and to make unforgettable memories.
Our other pet-friendly historic home, It’s Beach Time (JR41), has all the upgrades you need while still holding onto the old historic charm of days gone. Relax in a rocking chair on the wide decks or walk down to the beach on your own private walkway. There is plenty of room for everyone in this home, including a bonus room and separate private bungalow at the front of the property with a king bed and full bath. The cottage is within walking distance to Blue Moon Beach Grill and plenty of other shops and family-friendly activities.
No matter which home suits you and your family’s needs, booking a historic home is guaranteed to take you back in time to when Nags Head first emerged as a summer vacation destination. Each of these homes offers a unique experience and a different way to enjoy the beautiful Outer Banks. Whether it’s an oceanfront oasis or a sound front hide-a-way, a stay in one of our historic homes will be unforgettable. View our collection of Historic Homes and book yours today!