Discover a land of wild wonder
Wild horses on remote beaches aren’t the only cultural treasures you’ll find in Corolla on the Currituck Outer Banks. In the heart of Corolla, you’ll also find Historic Corolla Park. With it’s wide open green spaces and awe-inspiring views, Historic Corolla Park is home to three unique landmarks — Whalehead, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse — with the quaint shops and attractions of Historic Corolla Village just a short jaunt away.
Here are a few other wonders to take in while visiting Corolla:
Whalehead in Historic Corolla
Whalehead in Historic Corolla is a 1920s era Art Nouveau architectural masterpiece and the centerpiece of what has now come to be called Historic Corolla Park. Whalehead’s intriguing past is steeped in the 1920s lifestyle of its patriarch and matriarch, Edward Collins Knight Jr. and his wife, Marie Louise Lebel Bonat Knight. The Knights shared a passion for waterfowl hunting, so when Mrs. Knight was not allowed membership into the all-male hunt clubs, her husband had the majestic 21,000-square-foot “mansion by the sea” constructed for his bride. Tours and exhibits are offered daily.
The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education
The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education houses models of hunting and fishing boats, a duck blind, a million-dollar decoy collection and a wellrounded bounty of exhibits on both the natural and wildlife history of the area. Offering free educational
programs to visitors, the center sits between the Atlantic ocean and the Currituck Sound, on the edge of the waters that helped put the Outer Banks on the map for waterfowl hunting at the turn of the 20th century.
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse
This red-brick lighthouse towers above the northern Outer Banks landscape of Historic Corolla Park. Visitors can climb the winding staircase, 220 steps in all, to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of Currituck Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Outer Banks. Inside the lighthouse, at the base and on the first two landings, there are museum-quality lighthouse exhibits. On the way up or down, stop to learn about the history of coastal lighthouses, the Fresnel lens, shipwrecks and the lighthouse keepers. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is known as a first order lighthouse, which means it has the largest of seven Fresnel lens sizes. With a 20-second flash cycle (on for 3 seconds, off for 17 seconds), the light can be seen for 18 nautical miles. The distinctive sequence enables the lighthouse not only to warn mariners but also to help identify their locations. Like the other lighthouses on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, this one still serves as an aid to navigation. The beacon comes on automatically every evening at dusk and ceases at dawn. To distinguish the Currituck Beach Lighthouse from other regional lighthouses, its exterior was left unpainted and gives today’s visitor a sense of the multitude of bricks used to form the structure.
Nestled Away Next To Historic Corolla Park you’ll find a place unlike any other; Historic Corolla Village is a pedestrian experience with many significant landmarks within walking distance of one another. Walk down the narrow roads and pause to listen, read the signage about the buildings or go inside. Coming to these landmarks helps visitors connect to the original and current inhabitants. While the Village, as locals call it, has food and shopping, it’s far from a shopping center. All the shop owners know and easily share their unique stories. What they sell gives you a sense of place as well as community and reflects a simpler time.
Stately live oak trees line narrow streets and unpaved roads where homes dating from the late 19th to early 20th century are now shops and businesses supplying everything from books to barbecue to the latest fashion.
Wild Horse Museum and Store
Corolla Village is home to the Corolla Wild Horse Museum and Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a non-profit organization that raises funds to protect Currituck’s wild Spanish mustangs. The museum offers fun and educational activities for children during the summer months. There is no admission fee and only nominal fees for children’s programs.
Corolla’s two-room historic schoolhouse, built in the late 1800s to serve the children of lighthouse keepers and surfmen, reopened in 2012 as the first charter school on the Outer Banks, and serves 16 children in grades K-6.