There’s more to Wrightsville Beach than meets the eye. The island town known for its crystal blue waters and spacious beach also has a captivating history that helped transform it into the beloved destination it is today. Experience a piece of beach history with a trip to Wrightsville Beach Historic Square, where you’ll find new happenings at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, from a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition and the unveiling of the newly outfitted Ewing-Bordeaux Cottage. Admission to the museum is free and does not require tickets, and the museum has put enhanced safety measures in place for visitors including social distancing. 

Island History 

Experience the charm of days gone by and dive into island history. Explore the recently renovated Ewing-Bordeaux Cottage, new to the museum’s campus, to experience one of the last surviving examples of original Wrightsville Beach architecture. Built in 1924, the historic cottage was moved about a mile across the Causeway Bridge from its former location on Lumina Avenue to its new home in Wrightsville Beach Historic Square – check out the moving video here. The cottage will house exciting new exhibits opening in January and February that will focus on boating, deep-sea fishing and more, in addition to a surfboard exhibit featuring a Yancy Spencer surfboard from the 1970s. 

Ewing-Bordeaux Cottage Rendering

The addition of the cottage doubles the museum’s footprint and will serve as the permanent home of the Waterman Hall of Fame, which celebrates the island’s water sports heritage and coastal professions important to the beach community, as well as the Lumina Room, which features a war panel display and history of the 1940s Lumina pavilion.  

 

Take to the Water 

Visit the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History to experience a truly unique historical and cultural presentation. Discover the water like never before with the new Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition, “Water/Ways,” which explores water and its relationship to communities not just on the coast but across the mountains, desert and beyond, as well as water’s impact on culture, agriculture, politics and economic planning. “Water/Ways” is part of the Smithsonian’s Think Water Initiative to raise awareness of water as a critical resource for life through exhibitions, educational resources and public programs.  

 

The museum has been selected as one of only six sites in North Carolina to host the exhibit, which can be found on display in the Ewing-Bordeaux Cottage from Dec. 4, 2020 to Jan. 18, 2021. It has developed “Cape Fear Stories,” an art exhibit highlighting coastal birds such as herons, gulls, ospreys and more, as an extension of the Smithsonian exhibit. Featuring 40 local artists, the pieces include work across various mediums and will be sold as part of the museum’s fundraising efforts.  

Seasonal Festivities 

Stop by the museum’s gift shop to pick up a stocking stuffer for a special someone. You’ll find an expanded selection in the Myers Cottage from apparel and jewelry to books and novelties. You can also visit the gift shop online.   

Wrightsville Beach Museum of History Gift Shop Bag, holding a book and other gifts from the gift shop.

Perfect for the little ones, the museum has transformed its traditional in-person children’s programming into Kids Club Kits to enjoy at home. Each kit includes at least five activities or lessons with fun themes like A Mermaid’s Tea Party, Ahoy There! with Pirate Pete and Explore the Beach. There are also seasonal activity boxes available for the fall and upcoming holidays. You can order the boxes for pickup at the museum or free local delivery on the museum’s website. 

Find additional affordable activities, lodging options, bites on a budget and more in our quick trip guide to Wrightsville Beach.