The Regional Review

Volume VI - Nos. 1 & 2

January-February, 1941

Fort Raleigh Becomes National Area

The site of the first English settlement in the New World - the Fort Raleigh section of Roanoke Island - now has been acquired by the National Park Service for permanent preservation. The place where America's first English child, Virginia Dare, was born 354 years ago will become Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

Federal acceptance of title to the land which was donated by the North Carolina Historical Commission became effective simultaneously with the signing of an agreement with the Roanoke Island Historical Association, Inc., which provides for continuation of annual performances of the famous Paul Green pageant-drama, "The Lost Colony". This symphonic play, reenacting notable episodes from the tragic chronicle of the third expedition sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to implant English civilization in North America, is presented in an open-air theater within the original settlement area.

In addition to continuation of the drama-pageant of Paul Green, cooperative arrangements made by the Department of the Interior and the Roanoke historical group provides for uninterrupted operation of the Fort Raleigh Museum. The museum collection, which is housed in a building near the fort site, contains valuable books, maps, charts, and objects associated with the period of the first colony.

Inclusion of the northern extremity of Roanoke Island in the national park and monument chain will permit federal preservation of an area which is considered to rank second only to James town, the site of the first permanent settlement, in its historical significance.

Roanoke Island is flanked by Croatan and Roanoke Sounds at the junction of Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds between the North Carolina mainland and the long chain of barrier islands which include world-famous Cape Hatteras, Manteo, the principal town, is reached over state highway No. 34 via the three-mile Wright Memorial Bridge at Currituck Sound.

The new national historic site will be a component of the proposed Cape Hatteras Seashore National Recreational Area, which embraces more than 100 miles of the barrier reef chain. It is a few miles from Kill Devil Hill National Memorial, site of the Wright Brothers' epochal first flight with a heavier-than-air machine.

As a national historic site, the Fort Raleigh area will be placed in the category of Hopewell Village in Pennsylvania, Salem Wharf and Custom House in Massachusetts, the Old Philadelphia Custom House, the Vanderbilt Mansion on the Hudson River, the Federal Hall Memorial (Subtreasury) in New York City, and Manassas National Battlefield Park and Jamestown Island in Virginia.

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Date: 04-Jul-2002