Cape Lookout National Seashore Historic Resource Study By



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Research Needs




Topical Research

The new interpretive directions outlined above suggest additional research and/or studies on the following specific topics:


African-American history on Core Banks and adjacent mainland areas. This would include bringing together scattered details on black history from the earlier studies on Portsmouth, especially, and extending them into later periods and into other areas through both primary research and targeted use of recent secondary scholarly materials. Scholars David Cecelski and Barbara Garrity-Blake have done groundbreaking work in this area which suggests many other possibilities for documentation and analysis. Our Chapter 5 suggests many points of entry.
Women’s History on Core Banks. Similarly, bringing together scattered pieces into a narrative (augmented by additional primary research) about women’s lives in, around, and on the Banks, and broadening and extending that narrative with reference to the socially and culturally shaping influence of gender on both women and men. Within existing CALO studies, this area is even more deficient than is the limited attention to race.
Cape Lookout National Seashore Administrative History. A competent Administrative History linking the NPS site’s development to its pre-park history would be very helpful in developing interpretive materials pertaining directly to social, cultural, and environmental issues that have engaged park managers and citizens since the 1960s. Such a history ought in particular to explore in detail the complex relationship that CALO has had to its surrounding communities.
Class as a Constiuitive Factor in the History of the Outer Banks. Dominant popular narratives and discourses (elements of which are by no means absent in existing CALO interpretive materials) for the most part fail to engage the whole matter of class, even when class differences inhere in the materials under discussion (e.g., slavery, sport hunting, tourism, the fishing industry, trade and shipping) and are engaged seriously by recent historical studies.

Updating Existing Documents and Completing Draft or Partial Studies

Two existing studies need to be updated and/or completed:

(1) Tommy Jones, Historic Resource Study of Washington Roberts House: partial draft completed 2003.

(2) Barbara Garrity-Blake and James Sabella, Ethnohistorical Overview and Assessment Study of Cape Lookout National Seashore Including a Case Study of Harkers Island: Draft report of Phase I (Harkers Island) completed December 2007. If the other projected portion (Wades Shore / West Shackleford Banks) was completed earlier, it has not come to our attention.



Updating or Adding National Register Nominations

While we do not anticipate major new National Register work lying ahead, we do have some modest recommendations:


(1) Setzer-Dawsey House: On 1 May 2007, Tommy Jones reported in a memo that “On 25 April 2007, Mike McGee, CALO chief of maintenance, escorted me to Cape Lookout village to re-evaluate the architectural integrity of the Setzer-Dawsey House. When the Cape Lookout Village historic district was listed in the National Register in 2000, the house and two adjacent outbuildings were judged non-contributing. At the request of the NC SHPO the house was re-evaluated as were the two adjacent outbuildings. Based upon this evaluation, the house and one of the outbuildings should be considered contributing buildings in the district.” Jones’s fairly detailed memo, illustrated with eight photographs, provides an excellent beginning for an amendment to the Cape Lookout Village Historic District National Register nomination.

(2) Cape Lookout Light Station: This National Register nomination was prepared in 1972. Its four pages were intended to cover the lighthouse, keeper’s dwelling, generator house, coal and wood shed, and oil house. Areas of significance indicated omit Architecture and Engineering. The technical description is very scant for the lighthouse and keeper’s dwelling; it consists of two paragraphs for the former, one for the latter, and none on the other structures. Comment on the site of the first lighthouse is conjectural only. Since Jones’s HSR on the Keeper’s Dwelling (2003) and Opperman’s on the lighthouse (2008) are now available, a much more thorough NR could be prepared. Slightly more detailed information on these structures is available in the Cape Lookout Village Historic District nomination.

(3) Portsmouth Village: As this is arguably the most significant historic site within CALO’s boundaries, we concur with the recommendations in the Wiss, Janey, Elstner Associates Portsmouth Village Cultural Landscape Report, that the Portsmouth Village National Register nomination be updated to expand and define the period of significance to encompass 1753-1971; to elaborate significance under Criteria A, C, and D in the additional areas of community and maritime history, vernacular architecture, and archaeological potential; and to expand the boundary to include the Middle Community and Sheep Island, possibly based on archaeological investigations. Additionally, we suggest that the park consult with Mr. Philip Horne McGuinn at East Carolina University to determine whether the archaeological findings he uncovered at Shell Castle might merit expansion of the Portsmouth Historic District’s boundaries to include the remains of Shell Castle as well. Despite the fact that Shell Castle is outside the park boundaries, its importance to understanding the history of Portsmouth cannot be overstated. Finally, if the site does not merit National Historic Landmark status, it might qualify to be raised to “national” rather than statewide significance, possibly making the structures eligible for grant support to aid in stabilization and preservation.

(4) Cape Lookout Village: We concur with the recommendations in the John Milner Associates Cape Lookout Village Cultural Landscape Report (2005), Four-1 through Four-8, that the Cape Lookout Village National Register nomination could use revision to include other themes of significance (e.g., military history, for the World War II period), and to extend the historical period of significance (Four-2 through Four-5; cf. CLV NR nomination form, p. 4). The CLR urged consideration of 1812 as a beginning date for the period of significance, rather than 1857 (Four-6). The CLR also urged archeological investigation (Four-5), which seems justified. All of these CLR recommendations are congruent with our treatment of the Outer Banks as a complex and dynamic region interacting (from at least the late seventeenth century onward) with an Atlantic world, rather than as an isolated set of “barrier islands.”

We do not agree with the CLR’s observation, however, that “recreational activities” should not be included as “a significant theme in the history of Cape Lookout Village” (Four-6) because year-round residence was not normal since World War II and recreational activity was “less connected to the aspecific geographic features that made Cape Lookout an important locus for maritime safety and commercial fishing.” We think this final assertion, in particular, warrants more careful analysis.

Additional Studies Needed

(1) We concur with the Wiss Janney (2007) recommendation in their Portsmouth Village Cultural Landscape Report, 9, that HSRs be prepared for historic buildings in the village; that a systematic archeological investigation (to encompass McGuinn’s findings at Shell Castle as well, if possible) be undertaken; and that oral history interviews be done with descendents and longtime residents of area.





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