Tourism authority OKs $1.3M for Historic Boat Museum


The late Travis Morris, shown in this file photo, was instrumental, along with Wilson Snowen, in coming up with the idea for a museum to house the collection of historic boats in Currituck County.


By Sandy Semans Ross

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

CURRITUCK — Currituck County’s Historic Boat and Building Advisory Board met last week to hear updates on how a dream that began more than 30 years ago to build an Historic Boat Museum is now well on its way to becoming a reality.

The collection of boats began decades ago when Wilson Snowden, a current member of the advisory committee, and the late Travis Morris began collecting vessels once used on Currituck Sound for a variety of purposes. As their efforts moved forward, additional boats — many restored — were placed in sheds and barns across the county in an effort to remove them from damaging elements. Snowden and Morris' dream was to one day have a museum where the maritime workhorses could be displayed and interpreted.

Michele Perry, Currituck County’s assistant engineer and project manager, told the advisory board last week that the Currituck County Tourism Authority has approved a $1.325 million budget amendment needed to pay for the design and construction costs of a Historic Boat Museum in Corolla. The added amount brings the total project cost to $4.2 million.

The reason for the increase is that bids came in higher than expected, said Perry, and about $600,000 of that amount will pay for exhibit costs. Those funds will be spent from the portion of the county's occupancy tax revenues designated for "tourism-related" expenses, not those designated for marketing and promotion.

The request for bids was sent out twice after only two bidders submitted proposals on the first round. According to Perry, if at least three bids aren’t received, state law requires a second call for proposals. Currituck made that second call for bidders, but only the first two bidders again submitted proposals.

Sussex Development of Virginia Beach was awarded the contract to build the museum and provide new restrooms to serve visitors to Historic Corolla Park and Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Construction of the building is slated to begin after Labor Day and expected to take about 14 months to complete.

The next step will be to design the exhibits and put that portion of the project out to bid. The focus of the displays will be the historic boats used for fishing, hunting and transportation on the Currituck Sound.

The diverse collection includes but isn’t limited to shad boats, tunnel boats and sail boats.