Wrightsville Beach Museum introduces guided walking tours

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Staff Report

As visitors come into town, the Wrightsville Beach Museum is initiating a guided walking tour of historic sites, the museum’s director said.
“We have had for about a year walking tours with different routes available in a printed sheet at the museum. We had requests for guided tours and have spent several months creating and tweaking  guided tours of Harbor Island,” said Madeline Flagler, director of the Wrightsville Beach Museum. “These routes are not as long as some others, are more shaded and have some great history that many people do not know:  The Island Beach Hotel, The Pink House, The International Nickel Company, The Margarita House.”
The tours include the Shore Acres/Harbor Island Walking Tour, which is a guided walking tour of the historic Shore Acres neighborhood on Harbor Island, Wrightsville Beach, one of the oldest coastal neighborhoods in North Carolina, Flagler said. With tours exploring both the northern and southern ends of old Harbor Island, these family-friendly tours showcase both the history and the beauty of this one-of-a-kind community with architecture spanning nearly 100 years and as varied and dynamic as the surrounding environment. This enjoyable and educational walk charts the growth of Harbor Island from its early days as a marsh island known simply as The Hammocks, through the development of Shore Acres, and into the modern era.
The Harbor Island tour is available in several forms, Flagler said. The full Combined Tour of both the North and South areas together takes around an hour and a half. It explores the entirety of the original Shore Acores development from 1926. It also covers the old Hammocks and causeway areas, some of the earliest developed. Shore Acres boasts some of the oldest and most diverse architecture on the North Carloina coust. The full tour offers a complete history of the island as well as an in-depth look at the area’s architecture. With a total walking distance of close to three miles, the full tour is not recommended for those with limited mobility. While there are some areas with good sidewalks, shade, and occasional seating, this is not true of the whole routee. The full tour is a must see for anyone interested in the coastal history of North Carolina in a totally unique and beautiful neighborhood.
The South Harbor Island Tour explores Live Oak Drive and South Harbor Island, Flagler said.
“This delightful 45-minute tour, mostly shaded by the massive live oaks for with the road is named, is one of the most relaxing and beautiful walks in the area,” she said. “The benches and parks scattered throughout the tour route makes it enjoyable for even those with some mobility limitations. The tour route is flat with good sidewalks and there are parks with benches at around ten minute intervals.”
This segment focuses on the homes in the neighborhood, most of which are the original buildings on their lots, as well as the early history of Harbor Island, Flagler said. Starting at Auditorium Circle, the site of some of the first and most important buildings in Harbor Island history, this is an ideal tour for a family with children and seniors.
The North Harbor Island Tour is a 45-minute tour goes along North Channel Drive and through North Harbor Island. Though developed at the same time by the same group as the South end, the northern extension of the Shore Acres community centered on North Chanel Drive offers a different yet equally engaging tour. This tour looks at the sites of some of the most important non-residential buildings in Harbor Island’s history, including: the Pink House, Carolina Nickel Company, and the Harbor Island Casino as well as current ones such as Wrightsville Beach Elementary School.
The tour charts the growth and development of a living beach community and the challenges of preservation within this unique coastal community,” said Flagler. “This delightful semi-shaded walk along North Channel Drive is better for those who can walk and stand for at least 45 minutes. This tour is ideal for anyone who is interested in historic preservation, local history , and the development of the built landscape of a living coastal community.”
The tours will be priced $12 dollars for adults, $8 for children 5 to 18 and free for children under 4.

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