Looking up the narrow spiral stairwell inside the Wright Brothers Memorial. Photo, K. Wilkins, North Beach Sun.
As a symbol of the Outer Banks goes, the Wright Brothers Memorial is pretty impressive. Perched on top of a 90’ stabilized sand dune, it is a fitting tribute to what Orville and Wilbur achieved on December 17, 1903.
A little piece knowledge about the monument that seems to have been forgotten over time—it was the original visitor’s center. In 1933 when it was dedicated people coming to see where the Wright Brothers flew had to climb the hill to get souvenirs or additional information.
That worked fine during a time when the only way on to the Outer Banks was a wooden bridge connecting Point Harbor and Kitty Hawk. But as roads improved and more people started coming to visit the the Memorial, it was apparent that as beautiful as the architecture was, as a visitor’s center it was inadequate.
In 1957 the current Visitor’s Center was completed.
The Memorial remained open to the public for a number of years after the Visitor’s Center opened. However, maintenance and safety issues forced its eventual closure.
This summer the Park Service will open the doors daily so people can see what’s inside, although the incredibly narrow stairs leading to the observation deck will not be part of the tour.
Too bad too, because the view from the top is absolutely amazing.
Nonetheless, it will be really neat to see what’s inside.