Early History and the Restoration of Island Farm

Island Farm

outer banks vacation

  • 1140 N US Highway 64 Manteo, North Carolina 27954

While on your Outer Banks vacation, don't miss the historic Island Farm in Manteo. This property, which is open for tours from April through the end of November, offers exhibits that every member of the family will enjoy. Step back in time and learn what life was like for the Etheridge family in the 1800s.

Originial Land Aquistion and Home Construction

In 1783, Jesse Etheridge obtained a 150-acre tract of land from Joseph Mann. In 1787, Jesse purchased another 150 acres; however, Adam Dough Etheridge, Jesse Etheridge's grandson, is the one who constructed the house that is the main attraction of the Island Farm today. Because Etheridge used pit-sawn timbers to frame the two-story dwelling, historians date the construction of the main house between 1845 and 1850.

Early Farm Life

In 1850, documents show that Adam D. Etheridge harvested crops such as corn, peas, Irish potatoes, and sweet potatoes from fifteen acres of his 420-acre farm. At that time, the family owned two horses and one ox. Ten years later two cows, 35 pigs, 12 sheep, and 40 cows joined the farm, some of which likely scoured the farm's woodlands, or the Etheridge's Bodie Island property, for forage. The Etheridges also owned five slaves.

Acquisition and Restoration of Island Farm

In the 1980s, descendants of the Etheridge family, Lee Zenovah Salet, Lou Salet Glad, and Natalie Salet Peterson, donated the original farmhouse and one-half acre of land to Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc. (OBC). Allen and Lorna Daniels also donated property and offered additional farm property at under market value. OBC added the Island Farm project to its nonprofit work in 1998.

Main House

The restoration of the main house began in 2000. The restoration team removed the existing Victorian-style additions and replaced missing components that were relevant to the mid-1850s period. Builders reconstructed the porches and "porch chambers," rooms at the north ends of both porches that provided sleeping space for family or travelers. Masons also rebuilt the two fireplaces and chimneys with new, handmade bricks.


None of the farm's original outbuildings remain standing; however, with the help of historic deeds, photographs, and regional examples, builders recreated structures such as a corncrib, kitchen, dairy, privy, smokehouse, blacksmith shop, slave house, and outhouse. They also moved a restored livestock barn from Franklin County, North Carolina to this site.

Tours and Exhibits

With the help of archaeologists, historians, architectural historians, and period furnishings experts, the Island Farm opened for public tours in 2010. Visitors can experience the farm's buildings, livestock, garden, and even the family graveyard where Mr. Etheridge and many of his descendants were buried. Exhibits in the Island Farm Visitor Center provide historical context with information on island culture, fishing, farming, boatbuilding, windmills, slavery, and the Freedmen's Colony. From April to November, costumed staff members demonstrate day-to-day operations of the farm, such as

  • woodworking;
  • cooking;
  • chair caning;
  • plowing;
  • garden planting, tending, and harvesting;
  • blacksmithing; and
  • wool spinning.


  • ox-drawn wagon rides
  • children's 19th-century toys and games

Island Farm's seasonal, weather-dependent demonstrations and activities vary from day to day. Visit their website for more information. Looking for the perfect rental for you Outer Banks vacation? Call Elan Vacations today at 866-760-ELAN (3526).

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