Skip to comments.Fire destroys Lost Colony buildings [and costumes] Roanoke Island, NC
Posted on 09/11/2007 9:15:26 PM PDT by Joya
At 12:35 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, a Villa Dunes resident spotted a fire across the sound on Roanoke Island and called 911. Part of The Lost Colonys Waterside Theatre was in flames. All fire departments north of Oregon Inlet responded.
Fire crews worked swiftly and efficiently to control the blaze and take necessary precautions to save the nearby mens dressing room structure. Despite of the efforts, the maintenance shed, thought to be at or near the source of the fire, was completely destroyed.
Charred pieces of framing in a flimsy skeleton, pointing irregularly toward the star-lighted sky, appear to be all that remains of what was the Irene Rains Costume Shop. All of the show costumes, the historic costumes, fabrics, shoes and hats are traditionally stored in the costume shop. All are lost except the court costumes which are at the dry cleaners, and a few already delivered to the NC Museum of History for the Lost Colony exhibition scheduled to open in October.
All of the colonist and Indian costumes were destroyed, as well as the vintage costumes made by Irene Rains in the 1940s and 1950s and Fred Voelpels in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s.
No other structures appear to be damaged. The Nags Head resident who reported the fire saved the theatre.
Sixty years ago, in June 1947, a late afternoon fire destroyed two-thirds of the Waterside Theatre and most of the sets and props. The costumes in the 1947 disaster escaped the flames, however, because of costumer Irene Rains quick action in removing them from the dressing rooms and casting the items on the shore. There was no possibility of saving anything from the current disaster. From the point of arrival of the firemen, it was impossible to enter the building. The flames were already topping the trees.
Once again, The Lost Colony and its supporters must suffer the loss of their history and re-build. Community support is critical and a fund will be established for the replacement of the costumes.
The loss of the buildings is estimated at about $1 million, said Charles Sellars, the chief of facilities maintenance for the National Park Service Outer Banks Group.
I’m kind of curious... is this a “conservative” or “political” issue? Do we care about this theater burning? Should we?
Very sad. I take it this was some kind of regular show that was put on?
it’s in the culture/society section. the mere existence of that section of FR should answer your question.
I think its a cultural issue. I’m glad my family saw the play when we did. Its a facinating story of the early settling of our country.
Thank you Joya for posting this, I had only seen early reports of this.
Yes, it’s a play production in Outer Banks, NC.
‘About 10,000 people have been members of the production’s cast and crew since the play began in 1937. It was written by Paul Green, the 1927 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
‘The production tells the story of the unsolved disappearance of 117 men, women and children who traveled from England and settled on Roanoke Island in 1587. The colonists were gone when their governor returned from a trip to England in 1590.
‘... destroyed the buildings and between 700 and 1,000 costumes, plus garments made in the earliest years of the production. Add in shoes, hats, gloves, jewelry and other costume items, and the loss could total 60,000 items, Curnutte said.
‘Among them: a sword used by Andy Griffith when he was a young actor in the show.
‘Some costumes were spared because they were at the dry cleaners, while others — including the Queen Elizabeth I dress worn last season by actress Lynn Redgrave — were at museums, said Tony Award winner William Ivey Long, the play’s production designer.’
FR and FReepers are far more than a political board. We're a community. When things started FR was mostly computer geeks gathering online - Prodigy IIRC - to discuss everything from soup to nuts...or in the case of leftists...Nutz, LOL! I'm glad this thread was posted.
The oldest outdoor drama in the nation? The history of the first English colony in the New World? Started such men as Andy Griffith on their paths? Yeah, you should probably care just a bit. Every time I see it it gets better. I try to see it at least once every 2-3 years
Truly very sad. This is an enduring historical masterpiece of a program. Saw it when I was just a little girl, when some of those ‘vintage costumes’ we fairly new. It was a memorable evening, riveting performance. Greatly influenced my love of American history.
What a shame. I always wanted to go there.
It is a regular show. Has been for years running during summer tourist season. Andy Griffith used to play part in the show and still helps kick-off each new season. He lives within 2 miles of the theater.
Link is The Lost Colony play production website.
Must be a big east coast thing because I’ve never heard of this show, or the theater (always a Midwesterner never go east).
I’m glad some of you have enlightened me to it.
Indeed, it has been a regular show for over half a century, about the lost colony at Roanoke...
Here’s a snip, explaining the great tale of that word:
He arrived on August 18, 1590—his grand daughter’s third birthday—and found the Cittie of Raleigh deserted, plundered, and surrounded “with a high pallisado of great trees, with cortynes and flankers, very fort-like”. On one of the palisades, he found the single word “CROATOAN” carved into the surface, and the letters “CRO” carved into a nearby tree.
White knew the carvings were “to signifie the place, where I should find the planters seated, according to a secret token agreed upon betweene them and me at my last departure from them...for at my coming away, they were prepared to remove 50 miles into the maine”. He had also instructed the colonists that, should they be forced to leave the island under duress, they should carve a Maltese cross above their destination. White found no such sign, and he had every hope that he would locate the colony and his family at Croatoan, the home of Chief Manteo’s people south of Roanoke on present-day Hatteras Island.
Before he could make further exploration, however, a great hurricane arose, damaging his ships and forcing him back to England. Despite repeated attempts, he was never again able to raise the funding and resources to make the trip to America again. Raleigh had given up hope of settlement, and White died many years later on one of Raleigh’s estates, ignorant to the fate of his family and the colony.
The 117 pioneers of Roanoke Island had vanished into the great wilderness.
And another snip:
The image is one of the most haunting in American folklore: Eleanor Dare cradling her infant daughter as they struggle through a vast wilderness, seemingly forgotten by her father who brought them to an unfamiliar land, then left them to fend for themselves.
In the four centuries since their disappearance, Eleanor and Virginia Dare have become true American heroines, players in an epic unsolved mystery that still challenges historians and archaeologists as one of America’s oldest. In 1587, over 100 men, women and children journeyed from Britain to Roanoke Island on North Carolina’s coast and established the first English settlement in America. Within three years, they had vanished with scarcely a trace. England’s initial attempt at colonization of the New World was a disaster, and one of America’s most enduing legends was born.
The lie of the land of modern Roanoke Island appears much as it did at the time of the colonists’ arrival. The low, narrow island lies between the treacherous Outer Banks and the mainland. Although it is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, it is a verdant oasis compared to the harsh winds and pounding surf of the barrier islands. Instead, Roanoke is characterized by thick marshlands and stands of live oaks teeming with wildlife—a much more hospitable site for settlement.
Governor John White was away in England for three years because he could not get a new expedition outfitted as a result of the fighting against the Spanish Armada.
I never understood why he left the colonists so soon after arriving. Presumably they were all killed by Croatoan or other tribes.
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