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County backs museum’s expansion

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Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 10:24 am

BEAUFORT — The Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum have sold county leaders on their expansion plans for their property on Gallants Channel, which they hope will eventually be home to a newer, bigger Maritime Museum.

County commissioners enthusiastically endorsed the project Monday at their July meeting at courthouse square.

“This is right in the heart of my district in Beaufort. … I cannot think of anything better to do for Beaufort in the area (in question),” Commissioner Eddie Bo Wheatly said, calling the proposal “a big deal.”

“I really would like for us to get involved and see if we can make this thing happen,” he continued.

So far, the Friends have raised roughly $628,000 cash of the estimated $4.5 million needed for the second phase of the project, according to representative Ed Robbins.

“This is sort of a pipe dream now, because there’s no money in the state budget to move in that direction,” he said of the vision for the site, which includes development of all 31 acres there to include a new museum, lab facilities, walking trails and more.

The group plans to raise $1.5 million in private money this year, and $4.5 million overall in time to have the phase two structures on site as soon as 2019.

That second phase includes expanded waterfront facilities for the museum’s junior sailing program, an event and education center and a boating center.

The first phase, which included land acquisition and site preparation, was completed back in the late 90s and early 2000s in partnership with the state.

Commissioner Jonathan Robinson, then a state representative who was instrumental in helping secure funds, again lent his support this week.

“It was a grand day when we came to Beaufort and made that announcement, so I’m glad to have had a role in that and fond memories of those that worked along with me,” he said.

His commission counterparts joined him in agreeing to support fundraising efforts, including signing letters of endorsement for the project to bring in grants and connecting with state leaders.

“It truly is a gem among state properties,” Mr. Robinson said of Gallants Channel site.

The county did not agree to any funding for the effort, nor did the Friends publicly ask Monday night.

Maritime officials said they are hoping that by fundraising and completing the second phase with private dollars, they can advance a more-costly – potentially $60 to $80 million – museum facility from state resources.

“We’re going to demonstrate to the state, this year and next year, that we have local momentum behind us to do that and then we’re going to use this as a lever in the first available budget opportunity to get state money,” Mr. Robbins noted.

That facility would not replace the current Maritime Museum on Front Street in Beaufort, but compliment it.

“(It would be) large enough to really showcase the Queen Anne’s Revenge, to showcase the things that are really not displayed well now,” he said.

Most conservation efforts on the remains of what’s believed to be Blackbeard’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, is done out of East Carolina University in Greenville.

The QAR wreck was discovered in 1996 in Beaufort Inlet. Historians believe the ship grounded on a sandbar in 1718 and was abandoned by the crew.

“Possession is 9/10 of the law,” County Chairman Mark Mansfield joked Monday, “and being that Queen Anne’s Revenge was found here and Blackbeard is one of the most famous pirates, we deserve to have that center. ... It’d be nice to show it off.”

Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.

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  • DeadBolt posted at 10:40 am on Sat, Jul 22, 2017.

    DeadBolt Posts: 2664

    Tourist's need to understand that they are here for a few days, the locals had no need of them 20 yrs ago at all. (and given the fact that i have witnessed this unfold over 45 yrs , its turned out for the worse, IMO).


  • DeadBolt posted at 4:31 pm on Fri, Jul 21, 2017.

    DeadBolt Posts: 2664

    So much for the 'hog farm' i was planning for that spot. [sad]

  • Sailorbuoy posted at 8:29 am on Thu, Jul 20, 2017.

    Sailorbuoy Posts: 40

    Locals need to understand that the NC Maritime Museum and those "old pirate ship remains" bring
    a LOT of tourism dollars to the county.

  • Core Sounder posted at 1:32 pm on Wed, Jul 19, 2017.

    Core Sounder Posts: 418

    Can think of many needs in Carteret County that are much more important than building an 80 million dollar warehouse to store old pirate ship remains.

  • riches posted at 11:08 am on Wed, Jul 19, 2017.

    riches Posts: 5 Staff

    That's great!


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