Newport may be a small community, but it is rich in heritage and history.
The Newport Historical Museum at 220 Chatham St., also known as The Teacherage, is dedicated to preserving the town’s past and promoting its future. It is also the home of the Newport Consolidated School Alumni Association Inc.
It is run by volunteers, like Robert “Bobby” Quinn, who enjoys spending his time at the museum.
“I try to be a part of the community spirit that we carry on and keep people informed on what the Newport school was all about,” he said. “It’s a fun job when you’re volunteering.”
Mr. Quinn attended Newport Consolidated School and was a member of the class of 1963, the second to last graduating class at the school before it merged with Morehead City High School. His mother also worked there.
“My mother taught school for 43 years at Newport school. It was the love of her life, in terms of teaching.”
The Teacherage is also a part of Newport’s unique heritage. It was built in 1926 to house unmarried female teachers who taught at NCS.
“Even when I was in high school it still housed teachers, husband and wife teams,” Mr. Quinn said.
The idea for a museum dedicated to Newport and the school started during the class of 1939’s 50th reunion. The idea was to hold a schoolwide reunion.
A reunion was held in June 1991 for all students and teachers who attended NCS from its opening day in the fall of 1922 to its closing in 1964.
Because the structure known as NCS was demolished in 1968 to make room for expansion of the local elementary school, the focus for the reunion was the gymnasium, located next to Newport Elementary School, and The Teacherage.
The nonprofit NCS Alumni Association Inc. was created in 1992.
A second reunion was held in 1995, and additional reunions are held every five years.
The NCS Alumni Association Inc. moved to The Teacherage in July 2009. Then in 2013, the organization filed documents to begin operation as the Newport Historical Museum.
The museum collects and preserves historical items and information regarding Newport and the surrounding communities.
Inside The Teacherage, visitors can find information on the school, including class yearbooks, trophies and pictures of sports teams. In other rooms, they can learn about Newport’s military history.
“There (were) a lot of military people here before (Marine Corps Air Station) Cherry Point grew,” Mr. Quinn said.
It also contains information on the town’s fire and police departments, as well as some former mayors.
“We’ve had a lot of progressive leadership over the years,” Mr. Quinn said. “Daryl Garner was one of the main progressive leaders that stands out in my mind.”
Visitors can also learn about the annual Newport Pig Cookin’, which is held in April each year. The event raises money for different charities throughout the county, and this year’s event helped the organization reached the $1 million donation mark.
As well as maintaining the special exhibits within the museum, the association:
• Awards a minimum of three $500 scholarships for higher education.
• Supports Newport Elementary and Newport Middle schools with special projects.
• Publishes a quarterly newsletter with historical subjects and current museum news.
• Maintains a list of NCS students and teachers for purpose of assisting with class reunions.
• Provides scholarships for Newport Heritage events and the Battle of Newport Barracks Civil War Memorial Park.
• Works on community service projects. The association recently received $400 from a Walmart community grant to clean up Cedar Grove Cemetery after damage from Hurricane Florence. The storm knocked down trees, which resulted in damage to the plots of Newport’s early doctors, Edgar L. Perkins and his son, Longinus “Lonny” Perkins, their wives and their children.
Continuing projects include the alumni military service book, named brick walkway, maintaining museum exhibits, collecting and displaying NCS memorabilia, special tours of the museum, Civil War Memorial Park and Newport Heritage Days.
Those who wish to support the museum can also become members. Membership comes at different levels. Individual is $20 per person per year, an organization is $50 per year, a business is $100 per year and lifetime membership is $275 per person.
Mr. Quinn said volunteering at the museum has been gratifying.
“I’ve learned a lot about Newport that I didn’t know,” he said. “I got a lot of that through Jack Dudley’s book (Newport The Town With Old Fashioned Courtesy, which can be found at the museum). So much as a kid that I didn’t take the time to learn, I’m much richer for knowing.”
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.