An opportunity to preserve local history

Published 8:29 pm Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Historic Port of Washington project is one that has been a labor of love for a small group of locals, dedicated to preserving the rich culture and history of the area.

The focal point of that culture and history is obviously the Pamlico River and the long maritime history that helped shape the region and its people.

Local residents Douglas Alvord and Ray Midgette, among others, have attempted to garner interest and support for the project, with limited response. Alvord started the project last year and showcased his Historic Port of Washington mural, depicting Washington’s shipping and shipbuilding industries circa 1880 to 1920, in October of last year.

In April of this year, the Historic Port of Washington team opened its doors on Market Street, showcasing various exhibits, including the mural and a diorama, depicting the evolution of sharpie boats on the Pamlico River.

Alvord, Midgette and the team have laid the groundwork for this project to take off. But the group needs more support from the community in order to fund and continue documenting the culture and history of the area.

Currently, the project needs leadership. With Alvord working on a sculpture that will be set at Cape Hatteras, a task that has garnered overwhelming support from those who live in the coastal village, Alvord has limited time and funds to continue the local project. Alvord has poured much of his personal finances into the local project already.

Midgette is also committed to an array of projects and commitments, but still serves as the chairman of the project’s committee. Both men are still involved and would like to see the community come together and make the project possible.

In addition, the team needs a dedicated group of volunteers, who have experience in business, education or history. It also needs someone who has experience in fundraising or someone who would head a fundraising campaign to raise money to continue the project. Someone with experience in grant writing would be a great asset to the team, as well.

Washington is a special place, full of history and culture — a place that was recently named No. 5 in Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town in America. Tourism is a vital piece of the local economy, and if the town had additional landmarks to draw in out-of-towners, tourism dollars would flow into the area.

The project’s team would eventually like to see Washington have a museum that included not only the maritime history, but the area’s railroading, Civil War, agricultural and other aspects of its history.

And most importantly, documenting the history of the area would be an asset to generations to come — a way for future residents and sons and daughters of Beaufort County to know their heritage.

The groundwork that has been laid for this project is an opportunity for Washingtonians and others in the area to preserve local history and facilitate a sense of pride in the area that shapes its way of life and its people.