Windmill Point set to go out in a blaze of glory

By on March 1, 2011

Decrepit and unwanted after more than 30 years as a fixture on the Nags Head soundfront, the old Windmill Point restaurant will be put to one last use when it is burned down for fire training, probably at the end of this week.

The live training for area fire services is scheduled for Saturday at 8 a.m., weather permitting.

Once the proud repository of artifacts from the S.S. United States, which set trans-Atlantic speed records, Windmill Point had fallen into disrepair since the property was bought by the Town of Nags Head and the Dare County Tourism Board.

Bringing it up to snuff for leasing was too expensive — one estimate put it at $300,000 — and there was no buyer willing to move it.

The tourism board was able to squeeze $6,150 out of the building by auctioning off restaurant equipment, scrap metal and light fixtures, said Lee Nettles, managing director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.

It was originally built in the late 1970s as a store aimed at recapturing the era of windmills, which were used on the Outer Banks to mill grain. The idea did not catch on, but the building and a historically accurate windmill behind it became Outer Banks icons.

Dr. Sarah Forbes bought the property and turned it into a restaurant. Windmill Point Restaurant and the S.S. United States Lounge shut down in 2007. The ocean liner’s artifacts were eventually donated to the Mariners Museum and Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

Last summer, the windmill was moved to Island Farm, a restored 19th century farmstead. Plans are to restore the windmill and make it part of the Roanoke Island attraction.

The tourism board wants to build a multi-purpose center on the 17-acre site and has considered the possibility of a hotel there.

This week, the building stood gutted and its windows had been removed.

“The restaurant, along with its recently relocated windmill, has, for many years, been a unique part of many Outer Banks vacations,” Nags Head Town Manager Cliff Ogburn said in a statement.

“We hate to see it demolished, but the required repairs just didn’t make it financially viable to maintain the building. Thankfully, we are able to use the property as a valuable training exercise for Outer Banks public safety personnel.”

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