People and Places with Pierce: Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

MANTEO, N.C. (WNCT) – “I think it’s a quaint little town,” said Meg Monteforte, who was visiting for the day from Jacksonville.

A quaint town with a bit of a surprise on the water.

“A lot of people are surprised,” said Barry Wickre, manager of the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum. “They don’t really realize that it is a lighthouse.”

“We were gonna check out just the waterfront and noticed that the building was sitting here and took a walk around the boardwalk to come see it,” said Monteforte.

“There was three original Roanoke Marshes lighthouses,” said Wickre. “It began in 1831. This lighthouse that we’re looking at today is a replica of the third lighthouse and it was in operation from 1877 to 1955. It was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1955. It was bought by a citizen in Edenton and put on a barge to transport to Edenton to be saved. Rough weather rocked the barge (and) the lighthouse fell off the barge and landed into the Croatan Sound. So that’s why we don’t have the original lighthouse today.”

After the original lighthouse fell victim to the Croatan Sound, it was all but forgotten about for several decades. That is, until Manteo’s centennial celebration came up in 1999. Ultimately, through delays, this lighthouse was opened up in 2004.”

“It kind of acts as a focus point for downtown Manteo.,” added Wickre. “We’ve actually incorporated into our town logo also, and it just brings more of the heritage back to the area.”

A heritage that was kept to as the lighthouse took shape.

“It’s built based on the original plans so the exterior is an exact replica of the lighthouse,” said Wickre. “It took about a year to get the building built because we had to have the windows special made, the cupola special made and we were able to borrow the lens that’s in the lighthouse.”

“I think it’s really cute,” exclaimed Monteforte. “I think that this is a great place to come and visit.”

What was once a not so appealing water treatment plant, now the centerpiece for a town that acts as a gateway to the Outer Banks.


Pierce is always looking for interesting and unique people and places to visit. If you have an idea, send him an email or a message on Facebook or Twitter.


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