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One of the most memorable things about Bald Head Island is our treasured Old Baldy. North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse can be found on the island with 108 steps to the top. Once to the top of the lighthouse, you can get stunning panoramic views that you won’t get anywhere else. While the view will be incredible, there is much more to love about Old Baldy. This historical landmark was built in 1817 and has many, many years of exciting stories surrounding it. Here are some of the highlights of our favorite lighthouse’s history.
We celebrated Old Baldy’s 200th birthday in 2017 with a big celebration on the island. Congress approved a budget of just $15,000 to have the lighthouse built in 1816 but it was recently renovated to repair its lanthorn room and stucco for an amount of $300,000. Old Baldy was first illuminated in 1817 and marked the Cape Fear Rover entrance for maritime sailors. The lighthouse was originally completely white but when it was deactivated in 1935, it was abandoned. As large pieces of stucco fell off, someone would come in and patch it with new stucco. Today, Old Baldy has many different patches of stucco making it resemble a patchwork quilt.
Near the base of Old Baldy you’ll find the Smith Museum. Here, you will learn about what life was like for the mid-1800s keepers as well as local facts and legends of Bald Head Island. Artifacts are on display and there is a small gift shop with some proceeds set aside for Old Baldy maintenance and long-term preservation work.
On June 8th and 9th, Bald Head Island celebrates Old Baldy by showcasing the culture, history, cuisine, and arts of North Carolina. The annual Treasures Weekend will include a barbecue dinner by Chef Matthew Register, three award-winning distillers, North Carolina art and specialty foods, craft beer, and more! A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Old Baldy Foundation.
North Carolina is rich with fascinating history and Bald Head Island is no exception. When planning your Bald Head Island vacation, be sure to add a tour or climb of Old Baldy to your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed!
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