The Outer Banks is rich in history, from the early explorers who first set foot on its shores 400 years ago to the groundbreaking first flight that launched modern aviation. Every community has a story and a resonant heritage, and as a result, the Outer Banks is home to a number of locally and nationally renowned museums honoring the area's unique stories, culture and landmarks.
No trip to Ocracoke Island can be complete without a visit to the Preservation Society’s Museum and Gift Shop. The building that houses the Museum, along with the Society and its collections are a testimony to the island’s rich historical heritage.
The foursquare with a deep hip roof and deep-hipped porch is believed to have been built in the late 1800s by David Williams who served in the Coast Guard. It was moved to its present location near the current Coast Guard station and restored by Ocracoke Preservation Society in 1989.
The Museum Gift Shop is a popular place to find that special keepsake of your visit to the island, with an assortment of momentoes - including locally crafted Christmas ornaments - along with music, postcards, photographs, cookbooks and other books of local and regional interest.
Housed upstairs in the Museum is OPS’s unique research library - a growing number of historical, genealogical and photographic collections and other resources relevant to Ocracoke history. Here you can find just about anything you want to know about the island’s lighthouse, it’s British Cemetery, wild ponies, hurricanes and WWII Naval Base - and even how to square dance Ocracoke style. For locals and other descendants of the island’s original settlers there’s lots of resources for tracking down your ancestry.
Throughout the summer, the Museum hosts weekly porch talks on local history on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. and Backyard Kids Talks, usually on Wednesdays. It also hosts exhibits by local artists. Research materials can be viewed by prior appointment. And you can shop online for many Gift Store items.