When you arrive in Historic Southport, North Carolina you are greeted, Southern style, by natural beauty centuries in the making, warm, gracious locals, and a rich and vibrant history. Historic Southport’s roots date back to the 1520’s when French and Spanish explorers (now known as tourists) first arrived. What they discovered was a place of awe inspiring natural beauty that still thrives in Southport today.
The Southport Visitors Center, located next to the library on Moore Street, provides a myriad of helpful information; maps for self guided tours, including all the historical sites, a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and brochures for nearly everything Southport has to offer.
One of the many wonderful ways to experience Southport is on a self-guided walking tour. This is a perfect way to spend a relaxing day, strolling under the towering live oaks from one fascinating landmark to another. A walking tour also grants you the opportunity to take a “historical timeout” and grab lunch overlooking the water or peruse one of the many shops in town.
Of the numerous historical sites and markers in Southport, a few stand out as “must see” venues for the historically interested to get a true feel for the history of this area. Keziah Memorial Park, named after local newspaperman Bill Keziah, is home to the Indian Trail Tree, which has been estimated to be over 800 years old. The tree has an extraordinarily unique shape and was bent as a young sapling by the Cape Fear Indians as a trail marker.
Just over a block away you will find the T.M. Thompson House, circa 1868, which was the home of legendary river pilot and blockade-runner Captain Thomas Mann Thompson. This magnificent home is the only house in Southport with a Widow’s Walk and a cupola, not to mention some spectacular views of the water.
The Walker-Pyke House is the oldest standing house in the city of Southport and was constructed around 1800. The first floor of the house is thought to have been remodeled near 1889 when the house was purchased by J.A. Pullan and W.H. Pyke (undoubtedly some of the first real estate “flippers”).
The SS John D. Gill Memorial, located in Waterfront Park, pays tribute to the crew of the tanker John D. Gill, which was destroyed by a German torpedo attack on March 12, 1942. The park also provides panoramic views of the Bald Head Island and Oak Island Lighthouses. The Oak Island Lighthouse, built in 1958 is over 160 feet tall, flashes four times every ten seconds, is the brightest light in the United States (its parents are very proud) and has a range of over 24 miles.