Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum

Welcome to the 

 Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum 

 Located in Historic 

 Mattie Midgette's Store 
 On North Carolina's Outer Banks 
 In the Heart of Old Nags Head 

Update 12-20-2017...

The Museum is closed:

Currently, we are doing the preliminary work needed to move the museum back from
the ocean and opening full time as a museum, heritage center, and native plant gardens.
This winter we are going to continue archiving the collection as we pack it in boxes in
advance of the move. This will result in a searchable, online data base so people all over
the world can see the contents of the collection for research or personal enjoyment.

Our goal is to be moved to our new location by June of 2018. We will post periodic
updates to this website and FaceBook as they become available!

Here is some background on our efforts:

11-15-2017 Article from the Virginian Pilot Here...

Visit our website for the move Here...

 Aerial drone footage of museum and new location HERE

Dorothy Hope, Chaz Winkler, & Button Daniels
"Old School Outer Banks"

This aerial view shows the present location of the museum and the new location to the south and west.


 Speaking about this historic site 

 at the time of its listing in the 

 National Register of Historic Places, 

 Outer Banks historian David Stick said: 

 "Let’s put it this way, I would say next to Jockey’s Ridge 

 and the Wright Brothers Memorial, it is the most

historically significant place on the northern Outer Banks" 



                           Mattie Midgette's Store 

Sea glass and beachcombing expert Richard LaMotte's  new book, The Lure of Sea Glass, is a sequel to his classic, Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems, which was published in 2004.  That book, which  has become the definitive book on the subject, helped spark the increasingly popular pastime of collecting treasures from the sea.

The Nellie Myrtle Collection was highlighted
in sea glass and beachcombing Guru Richard LaMotte's 2015 book, "The Lure of Sea Glass". 

LaMotte writes...

"In old Nags Head, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is an important piece of history that could soon be lost to the fury of an Atlantic hurricane.

Inside a weary 1920s bungalow patiently sits the most extraordinary and diverse collection of seaside relics ever amassed by a beachcomber. 

Known today as the Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum, this classic coastal cottage was once   a local Nags Head grocery store and home to Nellie Myrtle Pridgen.

Nellie was a woman with one primary passion since the 1920s; she walked the beaches almost daily in search of treasure, not gold or silver but virtually any items lost to the sea. "

"Her gatherings from the shore are a time capsule of goods from the first half of our 20th century.           She spent the majority of her life methodically accumulating and researching over 50 years of      American history, along with a few objects that pre-dated her by several hundred years.                          Most of the collection is neatly archived in boxes or cases, on shelves or in piles. 

This is not a hoarder’s mess, Nellie was well read and understood history quite well, but the          collection seems to have outgrown the modest cottage. Glass bottles and sea glass make                         up a noteworthy part of the menagerie.

Exquisite shells like a rare Argonaut, tin soldiers and toys, as well as a plethora of fulgurites                    left behind by lightning strikes in the sand. 

One remarkable find is the top section of a stoneware jug, featuring a bearded man’s face,  a rare piece    of German Bellarmine vessel likely from the 1600's." 

More on Richard LaMotte's 

"The Lure Of Sea Glass" >>> HERE...


For the latest information from the

Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum,

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Old Nags Head oceanfront, MP 13, January , 2015, with exposed sand fence

placed on the new beach after the 2011 Beach Fill project in Nags Head.


"I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull's way and the whale's way 

Where the wind's like a whetted knife."

From ~ Sea Fever ~ By John Masefield 

"For most of her 74 years, Nellie Myrtle – as everyone called her – walked at dusk and dawn, day in and day out, along the oceanfront, the sound side and the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge, scouting for beach glass, bottles, old dolls, anything interesting that the sea tossed aside or the sands gave up. By the time she  died in 1992, she had amassed jar after jar of sea glass, sorted by color; seashells of every distinction; colorful plastic toys that fill a big basket; bottles of every color and size, some containing messages; and numerous nautical artifacts."

 Catherine Kozak ~ The Virginian Pilot ~ Norfolk Virginia 



A stunning 12"  antique Japanese fishing net float hangs

from the ceiling in circa 1914  Mattie Midgette's Store



Nellie Myrtle, circa 1943 



Here is a water color of Jockeys Ridge by  the  Rev. Frank Dinwiddie, longtime Pastor of the  Old Nags Head Baptist Church.  More...



A portion of a giant Fulgurite Nellie Myrtle 

found on nearby Jockeys Ridge.  More...

 The Nellie Myrtle Collection 


Beach glass from the Collection:

A large piece of cobalt bonfire glass, a variety of blue beach glass, one stunning lavender chunk

and background cameos by green make this sunset array by Dorothy Hope a classic!







 Scenes from 

The Nellie Myrtle Beachcomber Collection

Mattie Midgette's Store ~ Old Nags Head 



  Jars of sea glass including rare lavender glass in the Ball jar in the center. 





 Old, blob top soda bottles.




Sunrise in the museum








  Below, the morning sun lights up some of the shelves in the museum. 



                      Red Cedar heart wood in an old candy jar.












"Old School Outer Banks"






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