The Whalehead Club

          The grounds of the Whalehead Club are gorgeous. Lush green grass lined with evergreens envelope the Club. The Whalehead Club's location on the Currituck Sound and its beautiful foot bridges and trails create a setting of stunning and tranquil beauty. Presently, the Whalehead Club is being totally renovated to restore it to its original condition. Tours are still available by "Bankers" (those who are native to the Outer Banks). Their knowledge about the history of Hunt Clubs along the Outer Banks is fascinating. The Whalehead Club, being one of the only original Hunt Clubs to be preserved, is a spectacle not easily forgotten. I hope to add a gallery to this section once rennovations are complete.

The
Photo by Backus Aerial


          "Currituck, an Indian name for "Land of the Wild Goose," first became known as the duck hunting capitol of the east Coast in the late 1800s. Wealthy travelers who ventured to the isolated North Carolina Outer Banks discovered large numbers of ducks and geese that wintered on the lush marshes of the Currituck Sound. As news of Currituck's waterfowl population began to spread, sportsmen from all over the United States began converging on the Currituck Sound.

          The construction of the Whalehead Club, originally named Corolla Island, began in 1922 and was completed in 1925 at a cost of $383,000. The materials were shipped by barge from Norfolk, Virginia. It was the first home on the Outer Banks to have a basement, elevator and swimming pool. The mansion has five chimneys, numerous bedrooms and a spectacular library and dining room. Other notable features include cork floors, corduroy walls, copper shingles on the roof and pink tiles on the walls of the kitchen.

Edward Collings Knight, Jr.    Edward Collings Knight, Jr.

          Edward Collings Knight, Jr., an executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad and American Sugar Refinery was one of the wealthiest visitors to the Outer Banks. His wife, Marie Louise LeBel, joined her husband in building this mansion, since she was an avid huntswoman.

The Original Whalehead Club Boat House    The Original Whalehead Boathouse

          The Whalehead Club, original boat house and pedestrian foot bridge are all listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

          The Whalehead Club and adjoining 40 acres of land, including the boat house and pedestrian foot bridge, were purchased by Currituck County in October, 1992. The acquisition of the historic landmark is being financed by proceeds from the Occupancy Tax, which is levied on Outer Banks rental cottages and mainland campgrounds.

          According to local legend, Marie Louise LeBel used "friendly persuasion" to convince her husband to purchase the Lighthouse Club and construct the most opulent hunt club ever built on the Currituck Sound.

          The numbered and signed Tiffany lighting fixtures hung gracefully from the ceilings of the dining roon, where the Knight's entertained in lavish style. The custom made dining room table and chairs were decorated with a waterlily design that was carved into the wood. The door handles and hinges on the windows and doors are molded to look like waterlily buds.

          Once restored, the Whalehead Club will be the home of the Currituck Wildlife Museum. The museum will showcase the wildlife heritage of the Currituck Sound, northeastern North Carolina and the Back Bay area of southeastern Virginia.

          The history of water fowl hunting and artistry of the decoy makers will also be highlighted in the museum. The centerpiece of the museum will be a prestigious collection of duck decoys that has already been acquired by the Currituck Wildlife Guild. The Collection is featured in the book "Waterfowl Heritage: North Carolina Decoys and Gunning Lore" by William Neal Conoley, the former owner of the collection."



Credits:

Whalehead Preservation Trust
Box 307
Corolla, NC 27927
Phone: (252) 453-9040


Top Map of the Outer Banks by Ann Sader


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