The Island Inn Park Project
How can I help? On our support page, there are a variety of options for donation opportunities including a one-time donation for $1,000 that will make you an Island Inn Legacy Member. As a Legacy Member, your name will be listed on a commemorative plaque to be installed at the Island Inn when projects allows.
The Odd Fellows Lodge is in the process of being lifted! This is the next step in the Ocracoke Preservation Society’s restoration of the historic structure.
The structure was slowly lifted to 5 feet the week of April 26, 2021. The contractors will leave it at this height for now so that work can be done underneath. After this has been completed, the workers will return and begin the process of raising it to 14 feet in preparation for the pilings. It is a slow, tedious process, especially with a building built in 1901. After the pilings go in, the building will be lowered to approximately 5 feet above the ground again. Then the restoration process will begin on the building.
Part of Ocracoke Preservation Society’s mission statement is: Encouraging, assisting, advising, and participating in the identification, preservation, and restoration of significant structures, buildings, districts, objects of local interest, historic charm, distinctive character and natural endowments of Ocracoke Island. This is why we are so dedicated to this project. We felt that this structure was an important part of the island history is so many ways.
Here is a timeline that illustrates these criteria:
- 1900/1901 Mr. Charlie Scarborough built the original structure (what is standing now) as a meeting house for Ocracoke Lodge #194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows for Michael Lawrence Piland. A two-story wood frame Greek Revival building was built.
- The one-acre tract of land was purchased “for use as a Lodge room or such other purpose as they may deem proper” from James and Zilphia Howard.
- After Mr. Piland’s death in 1920, the lodge continued until around 1925 when is was disbanded due to inactivity by the members. The structure was sold to islander Benjamin O’Neal as a private residence for his family of wife and five children. Benjamin O’Neal was a direct descendent of Francis O’Neele who was believed to be the first “O’Neal” on Ocracoke Island in 1785.
- Benjamin O’Neal contracted Charlie Scarborough to move the building about 600 feet to its present location
- In 1940, another island native, Stanley Wahab bought the building for $700 from the O’Neal’s when they moved to Morehead City.
- Soon Stanley Wahab opened the first of what would be many businesses in the building, the Wahab Coffee Shop. It soon became an island gathering place.
- During WWII, the upper floor, which was already functioning as a boarding house, was rented by the US Navy for the Navy Officer’s Club and was called the “Crow’s Nest”.
- After the war, Wahab turned the building into the Silver Lake Inn. In 1948, part of the decommissioned Navy barracks was moved to the property and attached to the southwest side and used as a dance hall called the “Beachcomber’s Club”.
- In 1950, he added a wing on the other side of the building for more guest rooms and a dining room. Liz Styron and Muzel Bryant were the first cooks.
- In 1957, Bill and Ruth Cochran were hired to manage the Silver Lake for Stanley. Wilbur Gaskill was hired to work in the kitchen along with Gaynelle Tillet and Geneva Odom as waitresses, and Lizzie Scarborough as housekeeper.
- Doward Brugh purchased the property in 1960 and renamed it “The Island Inn”. He owned it only for a few years and then Pennsylvania natives George and Emilie Wilkes were the next owners. They ran the inn from 1965 to 1970, then sold it to Bill and Helen Styron.
- JoKo (Joe Koch) a popular artist who frequented the island and owned property here was hired to decorate the dining room in a nautical style. The walls looked like the inside of a sailing ship with nets and buoys hanging alongside painting of Blackbeard and beach scenes.
- In 1978, native Larry Williams and his partner Foy Shaw, bought the Island Inn. They proceeded to modernize the inn including redecorating the dining room and installing an aviary with a parrot, parakeets and a peacock on the porch. Alan and Liz Piper managed the restaurant from 1978-79. When they left, native Chester Lynn was hired to manage it. In 1986, Chester leased the restaurant and called it the “Dew Drop Inn”. By 1988 Larry and Foy had expanded to luxury suites and a swimming pool across the street.
- In 1990-1991 two couples, Buffy and Ann Warner and Bob and Cee Touhey leased the Island Inn. A year later the Warner’s pulled out to start the pub. Sally Newell, Cee’s sister-in-law managed the inn and restaurant.
- By 2010, personal, financial and banking issued sent the Island Inn into foreclosure and Thomas Storrs, an extended family member, purchased the inn, but by 2015, it was on the market again.
- In 2018, OPS purchased the Island Inn and property with the help of Hyde County and the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board.
The rest of the story will now continue to be a part of Ocracoke history.
But…and there is always a “But”, we can’t do it without your help!
Enclosed in this newsletter is a brochure with even more information about the Island Inn Park, as it will be known now. More history, a good ghost story and links to interviews and photos about the project.
So how can you help?
Make a donation, big or small, every dollar counts!
As a special offer, it you donate $1,000 to the project you will become an Island Inn Legacy Member and your name will be on a plaque along with others who have generously donated to this project. It will hang in the newly renovated Odd Fellows Lodge as a dedication to your belief and support of this restoration. You will also receive a limited edition print of the Island Inn by artist Ed Starnes.
As always, a huge thanks to everyone for their help with this project!
Ocracoke Preservation Society Receives $15,000 Grant
The Odd Fellows Lodge Stabilization Project
Ocracoke, North Carolina, October 10, 2018 – Ocracoke Preservation Society received a $15,000 grant on September 11, 2018. The grant was endowed by The Outer Banks Community Foundation for the purpose of the Stabilization of the Odd Fellow Lodge. The grant will be paid from the Diane and Nelson Henderson Endowment Fund, the Shirley and David Doran Memorial Fund, and the Community Fund.
The goal of the project is to provide the necessary stabilization of the Odd Fellow Lodge structure. Money will be allocated to The Island Inn Committee of Ocracoke Preservation Society Executive Board, which will pursue the stabilization effort. The project will be headed by The Island Inn Committee. The Island Inn Committee consists of Ken DeBarth, president of OPS as chairman; Otis Hurd, retired accountant, treasurer of OPS as treasurer; Andrea Powers, administrator of OPS as secretary; Bill Cole, community volunteer; Ed Norvell, attorney and island property owner with significant non-profit and land trust experience; Tom Pahl, local contractor and county commissioner; and Bill Rich, Hyde County businessman, land owner and recently retired Hyde County Manager as members.
Ocracoke Preservation Society along with the Island Inn Committee would like to thank the Outer Banks Community Foundation, the board of directors and executive director for awarding this grant is support of our project. “We are glad to become stewards of this historic property,” said Ken DeBarth, OPS President. “We have a lot of work to do. We need to find funds to do all the things we plan. We are looking for grants and other sources. This is a several year project but we are excited to take it on.”
Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum and Gift Shop is dedicated to encouraging, assisting, advising and participating in the identification, preservation, and restoration of significant structures, buildings, districts, objects of local interest, historic charm, distinctive character and natural endowments of Ocracoke Island. Some of the projects OPS has initiated and continues to support in addition to the Odd Fellows Lodge Project are: Save An Old House Fund, The Historic District, Save An Old Boat Fund, Land Trust Fund and Collections Management including artifacts, documents, photographs and ephemera, the preservation, archival and digitization manage of such. Ocracoke Preservation Society was formed in 1983 with the intent to preserve the unique island culture and history for the enjoyment and education of the community and its visitors.
OPS COMPLETES PURCHASE OF THE ISLAND INN
The Ocracoke Preservation Society assumed ownership of the historic Island Inn property in early May. After several months of study and negotiations, OPS was able to purchase the deteriorating structure and its surrounding lots.
Over one year ago local businessman John Giagu conceived a complex plan for a village entity to acquire and preserve the property on the corner of Route 12 and Lighthouse Road. He consulted with local realtors and recruited Hyde County Commissioner Tom Pahl, Hyde County Manager Bill Rich, and part-time resident Ed Norvell (a Salisbury attorney specializing in non-profit arts and preservation) to develop a workable plan to save the property from commercial development. These men, working together, formed the “Island Inn Preservation Committee”.
The Island Inn Preservation Committee presented their plan to the Executive Committee of OPS in December and OPS began considering the opportunities and responsibilities in the plan.
At its March meeting the OPS Executive Committee agreed to purchase the Inn.
The Island Inn property includes the buildings and land on the east side of Lighthouse Road and the land across Lighthouse Road including the pool, the condo septic system, and parking area for the Island Inn Condos (but not including the condo building). At closing the pool, the condo septic system and parking areas were sold to the Condo Owners’ Association and the northern lot (between the pool and the brush line) was sold to Hyde County. The county will build a new EMS station on their lot.
The down payment for the purchase was funded by the sale of these two parcels. The remainder of the purchase is owner financed by the seller, Lighthouse Road Investors Group, LLC, with a balloon payment in 5 years.
Half of the monthly mortgage payments will be covered by a grant from the Occupancy Tax Board and half from the Tourism Development Authority tax board.
Much of the old hotel and restaurant areas of the Island Inn have fallen into disrepair and are beyond saving. These sections will be demolished.
The center section of the building is the old Odd Fellows Lodge, originally built in 1901. It will be restored to its historic condition and used as a visitors’ center and upstairs office space. The grounds around the restored lodge will be green space with some off road parking along Odd Fellow’s Lane.
OPS also plans to construct public restrooms on the lot, providing a sorely needed service for visitors to the island.
“We are glad to become stewards of this historic property,” said Ken DeBarth, OPS President. “We have a lot of work to do. We need to find funds to do all the things we plan. We are looking for grants and other sources. This is a several year project, and we are excited to take it on.”
For more information contact:
Ken DeBarth, OPS President, firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-475-0869
or Andrea Powers, OPS Administrator, email@example.com, 252-928-7375