On the northern Outer Banks the Village of Corolla is a wonderfully maintained and restored slice of early 20th century architecture. Not the grand colonnades and stone edifices of a city, rather, the homes and businesses of village life of the era.
The grand stuff is at the Whalehead Club on the southern end of town. Part of Currituck County Heritage Park, it is a magnificent example of Art Noveau architecture. Built in the 1920s by Edward Collings Knight, and his wife, Marie Louise, a couple who could accurately be described as very wealthy and somewhat eccentric, the Whalehead Club was originally intended as a vacation getaway and hunting lodge.
After the Knights passed away the Club was purchased by a variety of owners until Currituck County bought the property about 20 years ago and brought the building back to its original grandeur.
Combining history and perfect restoration with an exquisite natural setting makes the Holliday Illumination held every year there spectacular.
It’s a combination of everything that creates the spectacular effect. Currituck County Heritage Park includes Currituck Beach Lighthouse and when the switch gets thrown, everything lights up . . . the Whalehead Club, the Lighthouse, and the huge red cedar that sits in the middle of the grounds.
It all starts at 5:00 p.m. on Friday night. There’s Christmas Carols, John Grattan, who lives in Corolla will be the soloist and there is, of course, hot chocolate. About the time it starts to get cold, everyone is invited inside the Whalehead Club for more music and a chance a to tour the house in its Christmas glory.
For visitors who have never seen the interior of the Whalehead Club, it’s amazing. Meticulously restored to its original look, there are small touches everywhere that recreate the feeling of wealth and privilege the Knights–the first owners–enjoyed.
Holiday music will be played on the original Steinway piano that sat in the living room when the Knights were in residence; decorations will be a 1920s motif and vocals will be provided by the Currituck County Chorus, and perhaps even more exciting, students from the Water’s Edge Village School will be singing.
The Water’s Edge is a charter school that opened its doors for the first time this year. Giving elementary aged students a chance for a quality education without taking an hour and a half bus trip every day to the mainland, the school is an important part of the Corolla community.
Corolla Village today is a unique cluster of shops housed in the restored homes of the town. An easy walk from the end of town, where the Corolla Chapel stands, to the grounds of Heritage Park, an afternoon trip to the village before the Holiday Illumination may be a great way to get in the holiday spirit.