Pushing past the romantic: preservation and interpretation at historic lighthouses in North Carolina

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Alicia Thomas (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
William Moore

Abstract: This thesis examines four historical lighthouses in North Carolina that are operated as historic sites. These four lighthouses are Bald Head, Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Bodie Island. Bald Head is owned by a non-profit organization, while Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Bodie Island are all owned by the National Park Service as part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Each of these lighthouses has undergone some amount of preservation, is open to visitors in some context, and offers some form of educational interpretation. These historic lighthouses have made decent attempts at offering interpretation to their visitors but each of the sites could improve. One of the main problems historic lighthouses face is that lighthouses have been heavily romanticized over time. Interpreters often get caught up in this romanticized history and neglect to acknowledge their complex history. By excluding these important components historic lighthouses today perpetuate the idea of these structures as romantic places. These four lighthouses need to be more inclusive in their interpretation. Part of the reason that these sites have insufficient interpretation is because they were all preserved for unclear reasons. The reasons why historic sites are preserved should be a starting point for the interpretation of the site. In order to understand what is currently going on at historic lighthouses today and what should be included in their interpretation it is necessary to know the administrative and technological history of lighthouses, the specific history of these four sites, the history of preservation and lighthouse preservation in the United States, and how each of these sites has been preserved.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Historic buildings--Conservation and restoration--United States, Lighthouses--Conservation and restoration--North Carolina, Lighthouses--North Carolina--History
Lighthouses -- North Carolina -- History
Historic buildings -- Conservation and restoration -- United States
Lighthouses -- Conservation and restoration -- North Carolina

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