March 10, 2016
Window restoration underway at
Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station

A 105-year-old building on North Carolina’s stormy Hatteras Island is going to see some wear and tear. The hurricanes and nor’easters of the past decade have not been kind to  the 1911 Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station.

With every stiff wind, the windows of the historic old station would rattle, and it seemed that fortune rather than caulk was keeping the antique glass panes within the window frames.

 So, it was very good news for the Chicamacomico Historical Association when the Dare County Board of Commissioners approved a $65,000 grant from the Dare County Tourism Board to renovate and restore the station’s windows.

 “The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station has played a starring role in Dare County’s history and has been a popular tourist destination since it was saved from demolition and opened to the public more than three decades ago,” said Association President John Griffin. “We are greatly indebted to the county commissioners and tourism board for the recent grant and all the other support they have provided to the station over the years.”

"Chicamacomico tells an essential story of the Outer Banks, the heroic accomplishments of the life-saving station and the determination of the human spirit,” said Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.
 “The Dare County Tourism Board,[which operates the Visitors Bureau,  is proud to be a grant contributor and assist this important attraction’s refurbishment as we prepare for the 100th year commemoration of the famous Mirlo Rescue," Nettles said. “Chicamacomico has served our area for generations. We look forward to those yet to come.

General contractor Ocean Builders of Nags Head, with the assistance of Double Hung Restoration of Greensboro, N.C., and Moss Designs, a painting contractor from Manteo, is doing the restoration work.

Double Hung specializes in the restoration of historic windows and doors. Among its previous work has been the Virginia Supreme Court and U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals buidlings in Richmond, Va., and the Oak Island Life-Saving Station near Wilmington.

 A local property owner has donated a rental house for Double Hung’s crew to use when it’s in Rodanthe, a generosity that will save the historical association a considerable sum, Griffin said.

The windows have now been removed from Chicamacomico and replaced with plywood, and Double Hung has taken the windows to the company’s shop in Greensboro, where their historic parts and glazing will be used in the restoration. The restored windows should be reinstalled at Chicamacomico not later than Memorial Day but possibly by early April.

“Definitely, we’re very honored to be able to work on the building, given its history and importance,” said Pete Kauffman, who along with Tommy Twiddy, owns Ocean Builders. “ We take a lot of pride in what we’re doing … being very careful to keep the building as original as we can,” he said.

Kauffman said he hopes Ocean Builders’ involvement with Chicamacomico does not end with the window project. “We do like to adopt projects like this … because we have a sense of involvement in the community.”

The Chicamacomico Life Saving Station is a historic site and museum in Rodanthe, N.C. operated by the Chicamacomico Historical Association Inc., a private non-profit group formed for the purpose of preserving the memory of the U.S. Life Saving Service and its life saving stations on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
The Chicamacomico site offers visitors access to two historic structures -- the 1874 Chicamacomico Life Saving Station and the 1911 building that replaced it --and their associated out-buildings. The station was taken out of service by the Coast Guard in 1954.
For information about visiting the station, go to

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