Visit Island Farm, a living history site that tells the story of the everyday Outer Bankers that lived on Roanoke Island in the 1850s. Here, an island family experienced the impacts of the Civil War, performed harrowing rescues as members of the US Life-Saving Service, and assisted the Wright Brothers in their dream of achieving powered flight, all while feeding chickens, fishing the sounds, and growing corn for grinding at the windmill.
Hours and Admission Info
Hours of Operation
Closed For Season – We will Reopen March 25th, 2023.
Children ages 3 and under can enter for free. Admission fee includes NC sales tax.
Admission tickets available for purchase at the Farm. Online sales not available at this time.
Group rates are available.
70% of admission fee is deductible as a charitable contribution.
Visit the Farm!
On any given day at Island Farm, our staff is telling the real story of the hardscrabble life of Roanoke Islanders who first settled here – after the Lost Colony, and before the Civil War and the Wright Brothers’ first flight.
You’ll find unique programs every day, live demonstrations including blacksmithing, traditional agricultural, food preparation, hearth cooking, weaving and spinning wool, feeding the animals, and so much more! This is hands-on history – don’t miss it!
History of Island Farm
1757The earliest known citation of the Etheridge family on Roanoke Island. In 1757, a fourteen-year tenancy agreement is made between William Cathcart of Northhampton County, North Carolina, and “Adam Everage [sic.], Currituck County… Planter” for 1500 acres. This property stretched from Dough’s Creek (formerly known as Gibson’s Creek), westward to the Croatan Sound. Years later, in an 1852 interview with Adam Etheridge, III a government surveyor discovers that “Adam Everage” is indeed the grandfather of Adam III.
1783 – 1787
The beginning of deeded and official land ownership by the Etheridge family on Roanoke Island. During this time, Jesse Etheridge and his brothers (Tart and Adam II) acquired land that formed the basis of what is now known as the Etheridge Homeplace (or as we now call it, Island Farm). The brothers acquired waterfront access to the east, greatly increasing the viability and opportunity for their farm through fishing and livestock transport. This map delineates Etheridge ownership in the 1820s.
Adam Etheridge III purchases a fifty-acre tract on Bodie Island for fishing and livestock grazing.
Adam Etheridge III appears in Roanoke Island’s 1850 census as a 75-year old farmer, tilling ten acres of his 450-acre property. Twenty acres of this land is deeded to his son, Adam Etheridge IV.
Adam Etheridge IV is able to raise enough crops on 15 acres to feed his family, his slaves, and his livestock. He harvests Irish potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes, and corn, using horse and oxen power. His farm eventually included an additional 400 untilled acres on Roanoke Island plus 176 acres on Bodie Island – where his livestock foraged.
During this timeframe, Adam Etheridge IV marries Fannie Baum and builds the present Etheridge farmhouse. The farmhouse is now restored and standing on Island Farm today.
Richard Etheridge, son of John B. Etheridge and brother of Adam Etheridge IV, becomes the keeper of the first all African-American life-saving station.
The first flight takes place in Kill Devil Hills with Wilbur and Orville Wright. Adam Etheridge VI is there to witness the event.
Adam Etheridge VI lives at the Etheridge Homeplace. Crissy Bowser, pictured here, works for Augustus Etheridge as a cook from 1900-1910. After that, she lives quietly on the Etheridge farm until her death years later. She was believed to be nearly 100 years old, and is reportedly buried at the foot of a large oak tree, adjacent to the present-day Island Farm.
Photographs of the Etheridge Homeplace site from this time period show a number of outbuildings and structures on site; according to family members, these included a mule barn, a small dairy house, a privy, a smokehouse, a packhouse, and fencing.
This aerial photo shows the Etheridge Homeplace site, surrounded by agriculture. The allee of cedars lining the drive from the highway to the house can be seen here. Cedar trees were transplanted by Augustus Holly Etheridge to the homeplace; the trees were noticed throughout the community.
Etheridge Homeplace is sold to a developer who planned to build a large condominium project. This is the first time that the homeplace was owned by someone other than an Etheridge in more than a century.
Etheridge descendants convince the developer, who now owns the homeplace, to sell the historic farmhouse and surrounding ½ acre to them.
A period-appropriate windmill is delivered to Island Farm. It had been meticulously crafted in the late 1970s by a mill enthusiast in Nags Head. At least two windmills are documented on Roanoke Island in the 19th century. Known as a postmill for the huge central post on which the mill rotates to face the wind, one windmill was located on or near the Etheridge farm.
Roxie Christine Etheridge, one of the last Etheridges to be raised at the homeplace, dies in March. In accordance with her wishes, OBC purchases her property adjacent to Island Farm. On it stands a massive live oak tree, a tree that stood when the first colonists arrived on the island in 1587.
Events & Programs
With a party of 15 paying guests or more, your group may qualify for our special rate of $8 per person (this rate includes sales tax). To qualify, for this rate, arrangements must be made at least 2 weeks in advance. Prior to your group’s visit, each person in the group must sign a liability statement.
*Group rates apply only to nonprofit groups, professionally guided tours, and school field trips/groups.
Student Field Trips
Island Farm welcomes large school groups. We have special programs tailored to school groups and their needs; programs are professionally developed and align with North Carolina state standards for education.
How to Find Us
Island Farm is located at 1140 N Us Hwy 64 on Roanoke Island, just north of the town of Manteo.
Give our Visitors Center a call with any questions you might have!
More questions? Contact the Island Farm Site Manager anytime!