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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
How to recycle a beach cabana.
       In his last outing Uncle Jack reminisced about the origins of Yellowhouse Gallery upon the occasion of its demolition on June 5 after nearly 40 years of commerce on the Beach Road in Nags Head. He mentioned that the cottage which held the art gallery was built in 1935 by the Culpepper family who also owned and operated the Old Nagsheader Hotel across the street. (Under different ownership the hotel burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in 1978).
       He also mentioned that the 30' x 30' flat-topped frame building at the back of the lot which became Uncle Jack's Yellowhouse Annex framing shop had an interesting history in its own right which he will expound upon for all who remember the building or are simply interested in Nags Head history.
       He didn't know what to expect when he first opened the door and stepped in, flashlight in hand. He had peeked into a window at one point but the interior was so dark it was hard to tell what might be inside. As it happened the contents were so bizarre as to be baffling until he found out about what the building had been and where it had been located earlier on.
       The most prominent feature of the interior was a counter that closed off one corner and behind which were shelves loaded with glassware, dishes, silverware and all the other paraphernalia that one might find in a fast food restaurant in the days before polystyrene. The rest of the 900 square feet of space was jammed with an eclectic collection of discarded junk that reflected its history as the Old Nagsheader's storage locker over a long period.
       Further investigation revealed that the building had actually been built on the beach in front of the hotel many years earlier and had served as a kind of beach cabana where guests could get in out of the sun and enjoy a refreshing drink or sandwich. Like many another oceanfront building in Nags Head this one eventually had to be moved away from the encroaching sea and that is why it ended up where it did.
       Uncle Jack labored mightily to convert it into his framing shop over the next several years and he was making good progress until the early morning hours of December 24, 1985 when disaster struck. At about 1 a.m. he received a telephone call from someone at the fire department informing him that Yellowhouse Annex was burning and suggesting that he might want to get down there and check it out.
       Which he did toot sweet. The fire was pretty much out when he got there but what a stinking, smoldering soggy mess he found inside. His Christmas present from the fates for 1985---the inevitable result of running an electric heater all night off a lampcord extension cord which shorted out and set fire to a bin full of cardboard. Dumb dumb dumb.
       Next time: The fruits of folly.


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The demo people wasted no time, removing both buildings and the asphalt driveway and parking lot all in one day. Anybody want to buy a lot?

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The beach south of Jennette's Pier, Sunday afternoon, June 8. A spectacularly beautiful day. Looks like summer might be here to stay.

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Read all about Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage (still a couple of prime weeks available in August and September) by pasting this link into your browser: http://obxcola.com/details.asp?unit=UJ

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Yellowhouse Annex just before demolition on June 5. The shed on the right was acquired in the early 80's to store picture frame molding. At different times these buildings were home to legions of feral cats as well as fox families.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:34 PM

Comments [7]



Thursday, June 5, 2014
End of an Era
       It is with some sadness that Uncle Jack reports the demise of yet another historic Nags Head building. In this case it is the little cottage at the 11 milepost on the Beach Road that for the past 38 years has been known as Yellowhouse Gallery, a business with which he has had more than a passing acquaintance over the years. He and the first Mrs. U.J. bought the building in 1977 to house the art gallery they had operated at the First Colony Inn for six summers before that.
       After learning that they would have to vacate the First Colony premises they were driving up the beach road one morning scouting out potential new locations when they noticed a For Sale sign on a building near the 11 milepost which they were sure had not been there the day before. They called the number on the sign which turned out to be that of one Terry McGovern, Realtor, whose office was then located in a house across from the remains of the old Coast Guard station on the Beach Road. His secretary told us that he had just gone up the road to put a For Sale sign on the house we were looking at but she would send him back to us as soon as he returned.
       He drove up a few minutes later, apologizing that the building was such a new listing that he had not yet received a set of keys from the owner. He then produced a pry bar and forced open a back window to gain admittance to what proved to be a three-bedroom, one- bath cottage of considerable charm that looked like it might, with a lot of work, serve admirably as an art gallery. After deciding they could afford to buy it they followed Mr. McGovern back to his office, made a down payment, signed a dozen forms and took possession of a building that would keep Uncle Jack busy for the next 30 years. It was also probably one of the fastest real estate transactions ever recorded on the Outer Banks.
       They learned later that the cottage had been built in 1935 by the Culpepper family who also owned and operated the Old Nagsheader Hotel across the street at that time, making them two of the oldest buildings on the Beach Road. The hotel burned in a spectacular fire later in 1978, nearly taking Yellowhouse with it as flaming embers flew across the road and landed on the shingle roof. Nags Head firemen continually doused the roof, prolonging the life of the building by another 36 years.
              Buying the building was just the beginning of a decades long process of converting an old cottage into a functioning retail space, a work-in-progress that continued nearly to demolition day. One of the first tasks was to remove a small concrete block building in back of the cottage that had once housed a laundry for the Old Nagsheader. Uncle Jack hired a burly young man named Tim Sullivan who then lived at Snug Harbor, a rooming house next door, to do the deed. In a remarkable display of strength and smarts Tim knocked the building down with little more than a sledgehammer and pry bar for tools and cleared the space for a parking lot in just a few days. Uncle Jack then turned his attention to the small frame building at the back of the lot which would become his framing shop. More about that in his next blog entry.





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Asbestos shingles removed prior to demolition. Now required by law to prevent mesothelioma which has killed many workers and made many lawyers rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

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Yellowhouse almost bit the dust in the fall of 1978 when the Old Nagsheader burned. Firemen kept the roof wetted down until the fire was over.

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The old building has endured many a snowstorm and hurricane in its 79 years. Termites were gaining on it though and its days were numbered.

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The wrecker's tools are much more efficient than termites obviously.

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The Yellowhouse Annex framing shop had an interesting life of its own which Uncle Jack will expound upon next time.

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In the meantime several of the condemned houses on Seagull Drive seem to be getting a new life. Building permits are posted and porta-potties are in place. Amazing.

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O'Neal's Sea Harvest restaurant in the Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park. Featuring the best fried seafood since Basil and Beulah Daniels closed their cafe on the causeway many years ago.

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Uncle Jack's house is still available for rental Labor Day Week. Senior citizen and pooch friendly. For more info google Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage or contact Cola Vaughan Realty.

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:43 PM

Comments [6]




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Except for short hiatus in Baltimore Uncle Jack has lived in Nags Head for over 45 years. He was a columnist for the Outer Banks Current and its successor, the Outer Banks Sentinel, for 20 years. A collection of his columns is available from Amazon Kindle under the title Uncle Jack's Outer Banks. He and Mrs. Uncle Jack, aka Sue, live in South Nags Head whence he observes and sometimes comments on the passing parade.
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