The Windemere Cottage from Dare County GIS files.

The Windemere Cottage from Dare County GIS files.

The Nags Head Historic District has some of the most historic homes on the Outer Banks. Back in the 1920s Jossphus Daniels, the editor of the Raleigh News and Observer coined the phrase Unpainted Aristocracy to describe the people and homes that had sprung up along the Nags Head beach.

The name stuck and so the homes are still named.

Constructed of wood with cedar shakes and roofs, it takes some extra care to watch over them.

Unfortunately one of them caught fire Friday. Luckily the Nags Head Fire Department got there very quickly. Hopefully the damage can be repaired.

The damaged home was the Windemere House. Built in the 1930s by S.J. Twine, it has many of the features of the historic district homes. And many of those homes were built by Twine.

S.J. Twine and the Historic District

S.J. Twine was an interesting character. He passed away in 1973 at the age of 99. And he was building homes almost until the day he died.

Twine’s homes are characterized by wide wraparound porches that faced south and east. With the porches configured that way, people could sit outside and enjoy the evening when the dominant winds would blow from the south.

His homes were designed to be lifted off their pilings and moved, so that as the ocean encroached, the house could retreat.

Although much of his business was on the Outer Banks—mostly Nags Head—he lived in Elizabeth City his whole life.

Interestingly, according to people who worked with him, he used a plumb line to make sure his homes were level. That’s almost unheard of in construction, with most framers and contractors using levels to make sure things are plumb.

There’s a surprising history waiting to be explored on the Outer Banks. Be sure to include a tour of the Nags Head Historic District when staying in a Brindley Beach vacation rental.