Southern Shores is the first community you come across when you head north on Route 12 after crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge. The town is located south of Duck NC and north of Kitty Hawk NC. It was the first sound to sea community on the Outer Banks, and the brainchild of Frank Stick. Frank Stick, noted wildlife painter, environmentalist, and developer, came to the Outer Banks in 1947 with two partners from Elizabeth City to form the Kitty Hawk Land Company. Stick recognized both the need to preserve the area's natural beauty and the great potential in developing this area. These seemingly incongruous dynamics have resulted in what we now find.
Stick purchased the 2,600 acres, about 4 square miles, along what is now Route 12 for $30,000. It is now valued at $430 million. Over the next eight years, Stick went about developing “Southern Shores”, as he so named the area to appeal to northerners, adding in the now infamous "flat top" house design, two marinas, and a golf course (Duck Woods Country Club). In addition, he weaved in canals, water paths for wildlife, soundside picnic and wading beach areas, bike paths as well as dogwoods, pines and other hardwoods to complement the beautiful beaches with beach access every 600 feet. In developing the town, Frank Stick sought to keep the commercialization out while maintaining a residential feel.
Southern Shores picked up where Frank Stick left off. If you go to the town's website, its tag line is "A Town of Volunteers". It was incorporated as a town in 1979. Today, there are approximately 2,600 year round residences which grow in the summer to about 10,000. The people of the town, recognizing the need to preserve Frank Stick's vision, have formed several community groups, such as the Southern Shores Civic Association and the Chicahauk Homeowners Association for the sole purpose of maintaining the recreation areas of the town. By joining the Civic Association for a nominal fee, residents gain access to the two marinas, two beach access areas, as well as the recreation area that includes basketball and soccer fields. If you rent a property here, you will also gain access to this if the homeowner is part of the civic association.
It was actually the first town we stayed when we first started going to the Outer Banks in 1991. The natural beauty of the area, where the houses were interspersed to compliment nature versus the other way around, made us realize the Outer Banks was an altogether different beach experience than what we had been used to at the Jersey Shore. Here we had found the quiet and solitude in tune with nature that makes the Outer Banks truly different and relaxing. Today you will find the big beautiful houses in the town that are so prevalent on the Outer Banks, with a few of the original flat top houses still present along Route 12. One thing that has not changed, however, is the town’s commitment to its original roots of interspersing development not at the expense of the land's natural beauty, but in harmony with it.