In January 2018 Wrightsville Beach Museum moved a 1924 cottage, one of the last surviving examples of original Wrightsville Beach architecture, to the last Town spot designated for saving a historic home. This expansion of our campus allows us to better preserve and tell the story of Wrightsville Beach and provide us vital space to continue to grow our programming and outreach, connecting our history to our community and visitors. The restoration was completed as we began the March 2020 closing due to COVID 19 pandemic. We will reopen the museum when we can, following state and local directives.
We could not have moved and restored this wonderful building without the support of this community. Thank you!
You have helped us move. Now experience what this space is allowing us to do! Join now to support us in this new phase of the museum by becoming a member or donate to help us grow our exhibits.
In the almost 22 years of the museum’s existence, we had never had a capital campaign. When the museum began, we had a donation of stock and a couple of $10,000 contributions all of which made the existence of the museum possible. Currently we receive an occasional small grant, but we run on 5 annual fundraisers and annual memberships and donations. We receive no town or county funding. The museum saw that to continue its work and to grow into its potential as a thriving community resource, expansion was necessary.
In 2013 the board and staff took a breath after a time of working to launch and establish this small museum. We had created this wonderful museum but needed to grow. We had a strategic planning meeting and really looked at the museum’s potential. At this time the museum’s board made it clear that they had no interest in being a dusty, stagnant, static entity. They committed to telling the story of Wrightsville Beach by bringing the narrative to life in a way that is vibrant, engaging and exciting and committed to extending the museum’s reach to an ever-wider range of ages and demographics.
We created a plan for the future and now have several well-established fundraisers and a wide range of outreach programs from talks at Brightmore, to monthly free children’s programs. We have under our umbrella Camp Chris Stone and have created the museum’s Waterman Hall of Fame. We began to address the limitations of our 2000 square feet of the interior museum and porches. In the past two years we created self-guided walking tours of the historic district and The Loop, a Town Scavenger Hunt, a Loop Through History signage program, and a guided walking tour of Harbor Island.
Dr Betty Bordeaux, an avid preservationist and friend of the museum had intended for the museum to have her cottage at 405 N. Lumina Avenue, but events led to its sale and the expectation that it would be a tear-down. In January 2017 we received the unexpected but exciting news that the 1924 Bordeaux Cottage would NOT be torn down, but donated to the museum. We would have to find the funds to move and restore it. We had a relatively short time to plan and implement a capital campaign while running our active museum, but we were in many ways VERY prepared to fully embrace the opportunities that this new space would give us. We had spent a great deal of time over the previous 3 or 4 years envisioning what we wanted the museum to do and be. We felt very ready for all the potential that this expansion of the museum campus would offer.
When the Capital Campaign was completed in December of 2019 we had set in motion our dreams and created within the Bordeaux Cottage these areas:
The Waterman Room celebrates all the activities we enjoy in and on the water – both as recreation and as professions. This room will have open space that can hold a variety of types of movable exhibit panels so the room may be opened up to be used for showing movies and holding talks.
The Lumina Room will have our outstanding new Lumina exhibit and a trolley exhibit. Our first moveable exhibit will be on the neighboring African-American beaches of Seabreeze, Shell Island and Atlantic Beach. Here we will have rotating exhibits that link our past to our present. This room provides the space for us to host the Smithsonian travelling exhibit “Water/Ways” at the museum December 4, 2020 through January 18, 2021. We are one of only six sites selected in North Carolina to host this outstanding exhibit.
The Chris Stone Exploration Corner is for more hands-on activities. This window-lined room will be where we hold programs and workshops for children and adults.
The ground floor of the cottage, previously used for parking, is used for storage, display, classes and demonstrations. Here we have:
The Clubhouse – Much of our programming for this area will need to be modified into some virtual offerings due to COVID health precautions, but our long-term plan is to use it for new and exciting programming on site. Living history in traditional museums means dressing in period clothing and demonstrating heritage arts. In this ground-level space we will bring this idea into the present. We will have current professionals and artisans demonstrating their skills and knowledge: a boatbuilder fitting planks over the ribs of a boat, a fisherman weaving a shrimp or fish net, a shaper making a surfboard. One program we are planning is How Did You Do That? on heritage maritime traditions that are directly linked to local coastal life and history.
Investigation Classroom – This will be an area for more traditional classroom work, as well research and hands-on activities. Exhibit panels in the classroom will complement the planned programming by featuring skills and traditions of our local maritime heritage.
Outboard Motor Exhibit – The museum has several vintage outboard motors in storage that would make a very interesting display now that we will have space for them.
Wash-off area and cubbies – for use during Camp Chris Stone and other outdoor exploration activities such as Elementary Explorations and Kids Club.
Storage area – to store equipment and supplies as needed.
We want our little corner of Wrightsville Beach to hum with activity. We want to engage all ages in learning about subjects such as fishing, boat building, maritime culture and local history. Please be our ambassadors in the community by sharing this vision and excitement of the museum’s growth.
We are still in need of funding for the exhibit panels and display cases for the Bordeaux Cottage. Donate to help us better tell the Wrightsville Beach story and that of its great maritime heritage.
Or mail a check to:
Wrightsville Beach Museum
P.O. Box 584
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
Wrightsville Beach Museum of History
303 West Salisbury Street
PO Box 584
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480