Giving communities the opportunity to share their stories with one another and with visitors is one of Core Sound's greatest honors. Through programs, events and the upstair gallery exhibits, family ties and common bonds are renewed and strengthened.
Kib Guthrie's Store - Promise Land
These community ties that sustain these small fishing villages hold many common bonds and shared experiences to this day. Isolation has been both their protector and their burden. Limited communication and the lack of transportation has been an historic challenge that was first overcome by mailboats and freight boats, transporting goods and services such as waterfowl and salt fish to markets up north and merchandise from mail order houses into these communities. The mailboats brought not only the mail, but preachers, doctors and traveling salesmen, teachers for local schools and a new way of life for families that before this time had relied on their own hands and minds, and the resources around them, to survive.
Atlantic Harbor - ca 1950s (Jerry Schumacher photo)
Boats were vital to these communities before roads and bridges connected them in the mid-1900s. This need created a strong boatbuilding tradition that continues to this day. Places like Harkers Island and Marshallberg became known across the region for the boats they produced. For generations, boats built without plans but with innate skills and understanding of the waterways have sustained families of boat builders. The boats also supported what had once been a vital part of the subsistence living of these communities, commercial fishing. This industry became the economic backbone of the entire county with its foundation deeply embedded in Down East’s boatbuilding expertise.
Mr. Julian Guthrie's HiTide Boatworks would eventually become Jarrett Bay Boatworks
Change has been a constant force shaping the landscape and strengthening the people’s determination to maintain their way of life. Through their survival of hurricanes, the coming of bridges and roads, World War II and the growth of tourism have all brought both opportunity and challenge to what had been a simple way of life dependent on the water. Still today, this rich maritime heritage of these salty people remains strong and true and worthy of documentation and celebration.
Sea Level Oyster Factory
Today bridges and ferries connect these communities across pristine salt marsh and creeks, sounds and rivers and bring with it new opportunities and challenges. Visitors come from across the country and beyond to see what North Carolina’s coast used to be. Relatively untouched by development until recent years, these traditions of boat building, decoy carving and commercial fishing continue today as a viable part of the economy and culture. The Center works to support and promote these traditions through events, publications and promotional efforts.
Stacy Guthrie - one of Harkers Island's first boatbuilders, storytellers and fishermen.
The goal of the Center’s programs offered on site and throughout the region are to share with visitors and new residents a cultural heritage that links the past to the present and, most importantly, provides a foundation for future generations. The Center preserves and celebrates the living cultural traditions of the coastal communities such as decoy carving, boat building and commercial fishing through storytelling, oral histories, support to local writers and journalists, painters, musicians and nature photographers.
Decoy carver and Stacy native, Roy Willis, tells about his hunting days to Atlantic Elementary School students.
Since its inception, the Center has served as a gathering place of community engagement for the Down East communities. Through special events and programs, museum staff and volunteers have worked to bring together the diverse groups that comprise our communities, ensuring that local leaders, residents, businesses, agencies, and organizations are informed and have a comfortable place to fully explore, discuss and consider the issues at hand. The success of this work is evident in the February 2005 decision by the Board of Directors of the Center to add “Heritage Center” to the name of the facility.
The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center's new logo reflects the stories of Down East with the beloved Cape Lookout Lighthouse, a hand-built Core Sound workboat, a beautiful windswept oak, the all-important Barden's Inlet (our access to the ocean) and a redhead decoy resting proudly at the center.
The CSWM&HC has been acknowledged at the local, state and regional levels for its “grassroots” community work and its innate understanding of the interrelationship with the “people and the place.” This institution is truly of the people in its approach to all aspects of museum development, and especially so in its exhibit development. This cross-discipline approach to programming and exhibit development gives a unique interpretation to this region’s living traditions, its evolving culture, a threatened environment and a challenging economy. This holistic examination will allow this museum-experience to be not only “about the past,” but even more importantly, “about today and the future” as the local people, newcomers and visitors alike share in their commitment to the past and their concerns for the future. The goal of this exhibition is to establish a long-deserved tribute to this culture -- an interpretation of this place and a celebration of the people -- that rekindles and renews the people’s tie to their past and commitment to their future. Our goal is not to be just a story told, but a story that continues to live among the people here in the Core Sound region of eastern NC.
One of Carteret County's original ideas - branding local seafood; a way of keeping generations of commercial fishermen to continue the tradition.
Connecting the past with the future continues to be one of the Heritage Center's primary goals. Working with community members to keep traditional artists, commercial fishermen, boatbuilders, loca businesses and communiites growing and propering through heritage planning, the coming of the National Scenic Byway and building a foundation for sustainable community development will be our greatest challenge and our most important legacy. Living traditions grounded in our natural and culture resources has been the mainstay of Down East Carteret County, and fishing communities everywhere, for generations. We are committed to making sure that the next generation inherits the same "sense of place" that the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center and all the communities it represents love so deeply.
Core Sound Crabpot Trees bring heritage and holiday spirit together at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center every day of the year, and especially at Christmas.