Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site in Rodanthe was the topic of the Radio Hatteras interview show, “To the Point,” on Sunday, Aug.2.
The guests for the interview were John Griffin and Warren Wrenn, president and secretary respectively of the non-profit Chicamacomico Historical Association, owner of the station, who talk about restoration work on the site.
Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the most complete complexes of U.S. Life-Saving Station buildings in the United States that is open to the public, and it’s one of Hatteras Island’s premiere visitor attractions.
It is especially fitting to focus on Chicamacomico station during this month of August. Aug. 4 marks the 225th anniversary of the United States Coast Guard. On Aug. 4, 1790, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service was established as one of the five federal services that would eventually make up the Coast Guard.
One of those services, the U.S. Life-Saving Service, played an important role in the history of the Outer Banks. Its men and women saved thousands of survivors of shipwrecks in the dangerous water of the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
In 1915, the Life-Saving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service were combined to form today’s U.S. Coast Guard, which continues saving lives of those in peril at sea along our coast.
August also marks the anniversary of what remains the most decorated rescue in the history of the lifesaving services. On Aug. 16, 1918, the surfmen of the Chicamacomico Station rescued 43 of the 52 people from the fiery wreck of the British tanker Mirlo after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat.
During the radio interview, Griffin and Wrenn discuss the history and heritage of the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station and describe the buildings on the site that are open to the public. They include the original 1874 station that was later used as a boathouse, the 1911 station, and five outbuildings.
The Coast Guard de-activated the station in 1954, and Chicamacomico Historical Association acquired it in 1978 to preserve it and to interpret to the public the history and heritage of the Rodanthe Station, the U.S. Life-Saving Service, and its successor, the Coast Guard.
The passage of time, the barrier island environment, and storms — including hurricanes Irene in 2011 and Arthur in 2014 — have taken their toll on the station buildings. No major restoration work has been done on the station for 30 years.
The Historical Association has recently received two grants for restoration projects on the buildings — $20,000 from Outer Banks Community Foundation and $65,000 from the Dare County Visitors Bureau. The Community Foundation grant was matched by private donations and has paid for new shingle siding on the 1911 station. The Visitors Bureau grant will allow the board to rebuild the station’s windows and exterior doors and repaint it.
In the interview, Griffin and Wrenn discuss the intricacies of restoration work on an historic property and how the work will be done at Chicamacomico.
And, finally, Wrenn recounts the story of the famed Mirlo rescue, and he and Griffin share details of a planned 100th anniversary commemoration in August 2016.
Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site is open to the public from April until Thanksgiving from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The charge for touring is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $6 for children from ages 4-17. Children under 4 are free. All fees support the non-profit association’s preservation work.
The Historical Association is also conducting a membership drive to support its work.
More information on membership, visiting, and the history of Chicamacomico can be found on the website, www.chicamacomico.net.
“To the Point,” which is hosted by Island Free Press editor Irene Nolan, airs on the island’s community radio station, FM 101.5 and FM 99.9, at 5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month. It is repeated on the second and fourth Sunday. Those who don’t live on Hatteras can listen to the show on Sundays through live streaming at www.radiohatteras.org.
Scroll down and click on the “To the Point” logo to listen to the audio of the interview.
MORE ABOUT RADIO HATTERAS
Radio Hatteras is our community, non-profit radio station and depends on grants, memberships, and underwriting.
It broadcasts around the clock with news — including such things as surfing and fishing reports — community announcements, music, and special programs. The station is also now streamed live. To listen, go to www.radiohatteras.org.
Our community radio station also needs your support, and you can give that by purchasing a membership or by underwriting the station if you are a business or another community non-profit.
Radio Hatteras memberships are $50 for a family, $25 for an individual and $10 for a student. Mail memberships and other contributions to Radio Hatteras, P.O. Box 339, Frisco, NC 27936.
E-mail [email protected] or call (252) 995-6000 for information about underwriting opportunities.