ORIENTAL, N.C. (WNCT) – “We’re a town of a thousand people and 3000 sailboats,” said Sarah Goodnight, volunteer at Oriental’s History Museum.
There’s no denying that Oriental is a beautiful place.
“With the sailing, it became a big retirement community,” added Goodnight. “It’s the water here that draws people to retire and the small community.”
But for every beauty shot, there’s another that’s been forgotten. A new exhibit at Oriental’s History Museum is bringing them back to light.
“We had 25 people in the town respond to this call to participate in the Forgotten Landmarks exhibit,” said Goodnight. “You’ll see abandoned houses, you’ll see restored houses. You’ll see stories about boats and barns as well as people.”
Every piece in the exhibit has its own story to tell, and there’s one woman who seems to know all of them. Oriental’s own living treasure: Miss Fay.
“I’m 93 years old and I was born and raised in Oriental,” said Fay Midyette Bond, also known as Oriental’s Living Treasure.
“She was born in the Tumble Inn, which was built by Faye Bond’s great uncle in 1900,” added Goodnight. “It was mostly destroyed in 1933 in a hurricane.”
“We have so many pictures of buildings that were here years ago,” said Bond.
But it’s the stories tied to those buildings that live on thanks to this exhibit.
“Breeze Inn was a hotel right on the river,” said Bond. “It was badly damaged in the ’33 storm. Bill McCabe and his cousin came back to Oriental and fixed it up enough that they could open up a little dance hall. I recon that’s how I learned how to dance.”
“They’re an important connection to our history and our culture,” said Goodnight. “It’s not only a nostalgic trip but it should also be a reminder of how important it is to preserve the man-made and natural landscapes.”
A reminder that the present can sometimes be a window to the past.
“We’ve changed a lot, but it’s just a wonderful place to visit and a wonderful place to live,” added Bond.
Proof enough that sometimes a snapshot speaks louder than words.