Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum
From Dorothy Hope:
I live in Nags Head North Carolina with my partner Chaz Winkler, and we own and steward historic Mattie Midgette’s Store and the astounding collection of seaside relics her daughter, Nellie Myrtle Pridgen, amassed over a lifetime of beachcombing that is housed within. For the past 15 years we have opened Mattie’s Store intermittently, allowing thousands of visitors to view Nellie’s beachcombing collection, the best of which she had gradually spread over the shelves of her mother’s once thriving grocery. During that time the collection has become legendary. In 2015, internationally recognized author and sea glass expert Richard LaMotte wrote about the importance of Nell’s collection to the beachcombing community in his second book, “The Lure of Sea Glass”:
We are now planning to make the collection available as a full time museum by moving the buildings and their contents off the oceanfront to a larger site that will afford visitors the opportunity to view it on a regular basis. The new location will add a naturally landscaped setting to what is already a unique combination of a rare National Register Historic structure, re-purposed to house a now internationally acclaimed beachcomber’s collection.
To the best of our knowledge, the last effort to move and preserve an historically significant building in Nags Head occurred in 1988, when the circa 1932 First Colony Inn was moved off the oceanfront to protect it from storms and preserve green space.
Since that time, the historic landscapes of the northern Outer Banks have been diminished by the loss of historic structures including the Carolinian Hotel, the Baum St. Claire Coast Guard Station, and the Croatan Inn, to name a few.
Using the Inn’s inspiring story as a blueprint for successful historic preservation efforts, our goal is to create a full time, privately run attraction celebrating the intersection of heritage and habitat in the heart of the Nags Head Beach Cottage Row Historic District. With your help, It is our plan to feature Nellie’s internationally recognized collection, set in the context of her mother’s historic grocery, as an anchor around which other important Outer Banks history can be shared with locals and visitors alike far into the future. By relocating them to a site similar to that of their original location on the soundside, and removing them from threats inherent to its current location, they will be well suited to being shared with locals and visitors alike far into the future.
OUR GOAL: $235,000
This will allow us to pick up and move Mattie Midgette’s Store to property we own nearby. Julian and Stephen Bray have been working with us on this project and will be moving the buildings to the new site. After that, a foundation will be constructed of pilings and girders to accept the structures when they are lowered.
We will install parking, septic system, and a cistern for storm water management. Bathrooms, handicapped ramp, and access to the site from the road will also have to be constructed. The property will then be returned to its natural state as much as possible. All funds will be used to complete the move of the structures, prepare the site to open as a self sustaining conservation ~ preservation venture, and photograph and archive the entire collection so the inventory can be placed online at some point to assist students, scholars, and researchers, to name a few.
Other Ways to Help…
You can also get involved by spreading the word amongst your friends and family who might be interested in knowing about this important preservation effort! Let us know if you would like to walk the property, we look forward to showing you the potential we see in the new site!!
Thank you for your interest, let’s make some history together!!
Dorothy Hope & Chaz Winkler