Umfleet begins stint at Historic Bath

Published 6:50 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

BATH — A longtime volunteer has assumed leadership of Beaufort County’s Historic Bath Site.

Chris Umfleet, an Air Force veteran and former school teacher, began his stint as site manager June 15. Previously, he taught history at Chocowinity Middle School, served as director of economic development for the Town of Windsor and worked in the private banking industry. He majored in religion and minored in history at East Carolina University.

But his heart has long been in Bath.

“I’ve been volunteering here for about 20 years, off and on,” Umfleet noted. “And for 23 years I’ve been a living history historian; I’ve volunteered at most of the historic sites across the state.”

Even before he visited Bath, Umfleet was drawn to North Carolina’s oldest town.

“I’ve loved Bath since I was in fourth grade,” he recalled, adding that for a school project he wrote to chambers of commerce across the state asking for local information. Beaufort County was one of only two that responded.

“I was entranced by a photo they sent of Bonner’s Point,” he said.

Now, he is settling into his new job as overseer of the historic site that welcomes visitors from around the world each year.

“I basically coordinate anything and everything the site does,” Umfleet said. “My main purpose is to make sure programs are planned covering the 300-year history of Bath.”

He cherishes his memories of volunteering with Historic Bath in the past, especially working alongside the late Leigh Swain and the late Bea Latham, formerly Bath’s site director and assistant director, respectively.

Nowadays, he is the one whose shoulders bear the responsibilities of the site, which has five full-time employees, two part-time staff members and, he said, “a small army of volunteers.” But he loves every minute of it.

“Bath is such a special place,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like work to me.”

Umfleet is formulating long-term plans to expand Historic Bath’s outreach in the community. Among those plans are the implementation of more public programs, including his own live cooking demonstrations in the Bonner House kitchen.

But he added the staff can’t do it alone.

“We’re looking for more volunteers, we’re looking for kid and teen volunteers,” he said. “We’re looking for people to do demonstrations, and we’re willing to teach.”

Historic Bath Site is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 252-923-3971.