Wrightsville Beach museum working to save historic cottage

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It was one of six cottages to survive the great fire of Wrightsville Beach in 1934.

But for the Ewing-Bordeaux Cottage at 405 N. Lumina Ave., the hourglass has turned, and if enough money isn’t raised by February 2018, another historic cottage will be lost to development in Wrightsville Beach.

The Wrightsville Beach Museum of History told the town’s Historic Landmark Commission that it would cost between $20,000 and $35,000 to move the building, which was recently purchased by Chris and Debbie Strickland.

The Stricklands are donating the house on the condition it be moved. Debbie Strickland told the commission that their family wanted the location, but that the house, first built in 1922, was too small for their families needs.

“Our goal was to build a house,” she said. “We cherish the past, but we wanted to build a new home our family.”

But while they could wait for one year from the Feb. 7 application date, Strickland said the house would have to be leveled if the funds couldn’t be raised by then.

“If we can save the house, we really want to,” said Strickland, pledging to work with fundraising. “I’ll give every ounce of my time and effort.”

Because the house is formally registered with North Carolina as a landmark, there is a one-year moratorium before the home can be demolished. It is one of 21 properties in the town designated a historical landmark.

The museum’s director, Madeline Flagler, told the commission that fundraising efforts were well underway, adding that two grants have already been found for the project.

Tina Williamson, the museum board’s executive director, told the commission that one expense of the move would be setting a new foundation for the building, with fundraisers seeking out prospective construction professionals for donations to help keep those costs low.

The museum would use the house as an area to expand its exhibits and educational spaces. Part of the cottage would be used to house the Watermen Hall of Fame, which includes a series of awards the museum issues each year acknowledging coastal sports, recreation and businesses, including surfing, fishing, boating and sailing.

Under the town’s historic building relocation program, the town wouldn’t fund any of the move, but it would provide water and sewer services, in addition to donating a lot at the town’s “historic square” on West Salisbury Street, where the museum, the Wrightsville Beach Visitors Center and the North Carolina Coastal Federation are currently located.

Flagler said the new cottage would fit along along nicely with a proposed multi-use trail for nearby Wrightsville Beach Park, which is still in the development stages and not yet funded.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “We see this as the future for the historic square.”

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