The Old Baldy Foundation was thrilled to debut a new exhibit located inside the oil house adjacent to the Old Baldy Lighthouse for 2020! Due to COVID-19, this exhibit has sat vacant as business operations were halted. As Old Baldy and the Smith Island Museum of History have reopened according to North Carolina phase 2.5 regulations, our new exhibit is open to the public to view!
Follow the pathways along the Old Baldy campus to find the oil house which neighbors the lighthouse. The federal government built the oil house to store kerosene when lighthouse fuel changed from the noncombustible whale oil to the highly explosive kerosene. The exact date of when this structure was built is unknown. Our educated guess is that it was built after 1879, as at that time, funds were allocated to the United States Lighthouse Service to build oil houses. When Old Baldy was deactivated in 1935, the Coast Guard repurposed this structure as a radio house in WWII. This was the last time this structure has an official use, except when they were repurposed in the 1970s as a restroom for lighthouse visitors.
This structure has served to meet human needs since it was constructed. Recently it has served only has a storage unit for the Old Baldy Foundation, and we are thrilled to repurpose it to serve the public. This historic building will now house an exhibit that details how power came to Bald Head Island.
The exhibit will highlight three integral sources of power that have shaped Bald Head Island as we know it today, which are:
The Power of Sail
The Power of Light
The Power of Community
The story of Bald Head would be incomplete without addressing the evolution of energy on our island. The Old Baldy Foundation history staff worked diligently to research and prepare for this exhibit. We welcome the opportunity to share this with our community as operations have resumed at the lighthouse and museum.