The Historic Port of Washington Project

Published 5:34 pm Saturday, August 23, 2014



By Ray Midgett


An up-coming exhibition at the Beaufort County Arts Council’s gallery at the Turnage Theater will celebrate a vital and import part of the area’s history. Washington, from the late 1700s to the mid 1920s, was one of the largest ports in North Carolina. Yet today, there is little visible evidence remaining of the town as a center of commerce and transportation. During that time period, the waterfront was lined with businesses and facilities that included grain and lumber mills, a cooperage, an oyster cannery, freight and passenger terminals, as well as some of the largest ship building yards in North Carolina. On a daily basis, the port witnessed the arrival and departure of many vessels including steamships, sailing schooners, paddle wheelers, riverboats, and fishing vessels.

From Oct. 23 through Nov. 14, 2014, the Historic Port of Washington Project Exhibition will bring this era to life. The centerpiece will be a mural, depicting the waterfront in its heyday, created be maritime artist Douglas Alvord in collaboration with lifetime resident, artist as well as respected maritime and local historian

Whiting Toler. Many others are contributing to this effort by sharing their collection of artifacts, archival photographs, paintings and drawings. A special feature of the exhibit will be “Did You Know?” a fascinating showcase of little known local facts including some little known mysteries about Washington.

This Friday, Aug. 29, the public is invited during ArtWalk to stop by at 144 W. Main St. to visit with the artist and others to preview the mural as a “work in progress.” During the next two months, Mr. Alvord will be completing the mural painting and will designate special hours when the studio will be open for viewing of the work.

The Historic Port of Washington Project has a long-term goal of continually expanding the information and awareness of this important part of our history – A Legacy for Generations. The exhibition in October will coincide with the annual conference of the North Carolina Maritime History Council that will be held in Washington from Oct. 23 through Oct. 25, 2014.