Symbols of a less complex time on the Outer Banks, the Southern Shores flat tops are unique architectural wonders that have survived the test of time. First built in the late 1940s by Frank Stick, in partnership with his son, David, and others, the buildings are simple in design, feature local building materials and are remarkably well built.

On Saturday, Southern Shores Historic Flat Top Cottages is sponsoring a tour of 14 cottages. Beginning with a talk by Steve Gudas who formed the organization at 11:00 a.m. at the Pitt Center in Southern Shores, the tour times are 1:00-5:00 p.m.

The flat tops were conceived by Frank Stick as an inexpensive way to add value to property he was trying to sell in Southern Shores. To keep costs down, cement was created from Outer Banks sand–it’s common to see shells in the bricks–and juniper, a wood that was plentiful in northeastern North Carolina in the 1940s and 50s, was used.

At one time there were well over 100 flat tops in Southern Shores and the north end of Kitty Hawk. However, property values and the clear preference of visitors for more modern amenities have created pressures to construct larger, more modern homes and today there are far fewer of these gems left.

The tour starts at the Outer Banks Community Foundation flat top at 13 Skyline Road in Southern Shores. Tickets are $5.00.