Historic Port of Washington reflects on successful year

Published 7:24 pm Friday, December 13, 2019

If not for its rich foundation of maritime commerce, Washington wouldn’t be the place it is today. Preserving and highlighting that history is one of the primary goals of the Historic Port of Washington.

Tuesday, HPOW members, officers and local history buffs of all persuasions gathered at the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center in Washington to hear about the nonprofit’s successes in 2019 and plans for the future.

“I think one of the things that has given us a lot of momentum is the fact that we were offered a space at the Washington Harbor District Market building on Main Street,” HPOW President Ray Midgett said.

The HPOW’s activities in the past year included:

  • A quarterly speaker series at the N.C. Estuarium focusing on the waterfront history of Washington.
  • New exhibits in the Harbor District Market, focusing on the story of agriculture and waterfront commerce in Washington.
  • Collaborating with the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum and a local filmmaker to help tell the story of the Underground Railroad.
  • Collecting new artifacts from Washington’s history for preservation and display.

Key partnerships in these efforts include the North Carolina Estuarium, Brown Library, the Washington Harbor District Market, the Washington Underground Railroad Museum and East Carolina University’s maritime studies program.

In addition to providing an update on the organization’s finances, Midgett also recognized Blount Rumley as the organization’s volunteer of the year. For his hard work promoting and helping the organization, Rumley received an original piece of art by Whiting Toler.

TOP VOLUNTEER: HPOW trustee Blount Rumley was named the organization’s volunteer of the year, receiving an original piece of artwork by Washington’s Whiting Toler as a gift for his efforts. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

Moving forward, the organization’s goals include:

  • Sharing the story of the Port of Washington and the Pamlico River as a center of commerce and transportation.
  • Establish a permanent riverfront site for a local history center.
  • Promoting Washington as a destination for heritage tourism.
  • Continually engaging the community to develop a variety of exhibits capturing and sharing our history.
  • Helping Washington move forward through knowledge of its past.

To learn more about the Historic Port of Washington project, how to support it and get involved, visit www.hpow.org.’

PIECES OF THE PAST: Among its other activities, the Historic Port of Washington works to preserve artifacts from Washington’s past. Pictured, from top to bottom, are assorted pieces of ammunition recovered from the wreck of Gunboat USS Picket, a roller stamp used to mark goods at the S.R. Fowle warehouse and an ocean fire helmet formerly worn by a member of the Washington Fire Department. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)