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20 Feb 2014
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History & Culture

Before the beachfront in Nags Head, NC was lined with multi-story mansions designed for large vacationing families and groups, the oceanfront used to be packed full of small beach shacks that were often times constructed out of nothing more than wood scraps.

In the days before in-ground heated pools, spacious outdoor hot tubs, and private beach accesses, these old homes were nothing more than small, single-story homes that had living space no greater than 1,000 square feet.


The first small cottages constructed on the beachfront were built in the mid 1800s, and not too many of the original homes from that time period still stand in what is now considered the Nags Head Beach Cottage Row Historic District. The ones that are still standing, have survived through countless tropical storms including the 1962 Ash Wednesday Storm - one of the worst nor'easters in recent memory.

These homes that were constructed over 100 years ago, now have many of the modern conveniences of their newer counterparts, however many of the homes still don't have a heating or air conditioning unit. This makes for the homes almost unbearable to live in during winter months, but there are plenty of cool breezes coming from the Atlantic Ocean to keep you comfortable during the sizzling summer days.

Cottage Row is located around milepost 12 across from the Kitty Hawk Kites flagship store and Jockey's Ridge. The line of homes was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Photo: Old Nags Head, Beach Side, ca. 1900. David Stick Collection