Step Back Into Outer Banks History

Take Some Time to Explore These Historic Homes during Your Outer Banks Getaway

The Outer Banks is one of the most beautiful places on earth. So it’s no surprise that so many people have flocked here over the years to build their dream homes. Most of the structures they built are gone now, but a few of them still stand and are open to visitors. Here’s a look at some of the best-known examples.
outer banks historic home


This incomparable estate takes a daring approach to design with its copper roofing and exquisite yellow exterior. Step through the magnificent mahogany front door and you’ll find yourself immersed in the luxury and grandeur of a bygone era. Railroad tycoon Edward Collings Knight built Whalehead as a winter retreat for himself and his wife Marie Louise in the mid-1920s. The home is a monument to their sense of beauty and their considerable wealth.

Whalehead and its original owners share a colorful and fascinating history. Mrs. Knight and her husband were both avid hunters. But local hunting clubs of the time barred females from joining. So the couple decided to build their own hunting lodge, one that would put all others to shame. And thus Whalehead was born. Construction took three years and was completed in 1925. After the Knights passed away, the property passed from one owner to another until 1992, when Currituck County bought the location for $2.2 million. The county funded an extensive renovation process that restored the estate to its former glory.

Getting married? Whalehead is a favorite place for couples to tie the knot. The estate is also available for use as a corporate retreat center or conference location. You’re welcome to visit the home for yourself and marvel at its tasteful opulence. You can find more information about Whalehead, including tour schedules and prices.

Island Farm

Experience the Outer Banks’s fascinating past from an ordinary person’s perspective by visiting this authentic working farm. History buffs can explore the site and get a sense for daily life during the 1850s. The grounds contain restored versions of the blacksmith shop, chicken coops, smokehouse, woodshed, corn crib, dairy barns, and cookhouse. You’ll even find an outhouse!

The centerpiece of the farm is the family home itself, which experts have meticulously restored to its original condition. The structure showcases much of the furniture that was used in the residence more than 150 years ago.

There’s enough to see and do at Island Farm to keep you and your family busy for several hours or even an entire day. Find out more.

The Unpainted Aristocracy of Nags Head

Designers have a favorite saying: “form follows function.” This is certainly true when it comes to the row of unpainted homes that line the beachfront across from Jockey’s Ridge State Park. These stark wooden structures, collectively known as the “Unpainted Aristocracy,” span a period of history going back well over 100 years. They’re renowned for their ability to withstand the salt air and ocean storms that have reduced other houses in the area to toothpicks. That’s because they were constructed more for utility than aesthetics.

That’s not to say that the Unpainted Aristocracy is wanting for beauty, however. To the contrary; these homes have a minimalist appeal that draws accolades from architects around the world. Each was designed with oversized doors and windows to take advantage of what locals call “nature’s air conditioning,” the constant cooling breezes coming off the ocean. Furnishings are spartan and rooms are long and narrow. Massive wraparound porches enable residents to spend their days out of the sun. These homes are not so much about their builder’s status as their common sense. Perhaps that’s why they enjoy such a marvelous reputation among those who know and love them. Take some time to see the Unpainted Aristocracy for yourself when you’re in the area.

With all this talk about historic Outer Banks homes, we almost forgot to mention the comfort and privacy you’ll enjoy when you stay in one of our deluxe vacation properties. Browse our selection here!


Cola Vaughan Realty
PO Box 1375 • Nags Head, NC 27959
Phone: 252.573.2811
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