The Beachcomber Museum in Nags Head.
The Mattie Midgette Store has been a part of Outer Banks life since 1932. It’s the Beachcomber Museum now, a somewhat ramshackle building on the Beach Road in Nags Head.
The appearance may be because of its age. Well over 100 years old, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
Although the building has historic value, it’s what is is side that sets the Beachcomber Museum apart. Nellie Myrtle Midgette, who owned the building until the until she passed away in 1996, collecting the odds and ends the ocean brought to the beach.
Those odds and ends are now housed inside the building, now owned by Dorothy Hope and Chaz Winkler.
It is a museum, but a museum like no other. It’s much like Nellie Myrtle Midgette’s beachcombing—interesting, eccentric and uncategorized. But it is fascinating.
The collection holds one of the largest collections of seagrass in the world. There are huge examples of fulgurite, the stone created when lightning strikes sand. It is a fascinating glimpse into the world in which Nellie Midgette lived and how she walked the beach.
In its current location, the Beachcomber Museum has a problem—parking is very limited. Four or maybe five cars can park on the property, and after that cars have to park along the Beach Road, a situation the town of Nags Head feels is a safety hazard.
As a consequence the museum typically opens at most 20 times a year. It will be open Fridays and Saturday until December 12, but that frequency is rare.
That may be changing, though.
The owners were able to purchase a two adjacent empty lots in an auction last month, and they are planning on moving the store. The lots are about 150 yards to the southwest. According to reports, even after moving the building they will probably be able to retain the National Historic Places designation.
With the property in hand the next hurdle is moving the structures…there’s a building in the back that also has historic value.
According to Chaz, that will cost somewhere north of $200,000. To fund the move, the couple has turned to Indiegogo, a crowdsourcing funding site.
No time table, but Chaz and Dorothy or optimistic.