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The Flat Tops Of Southern Shores

An Art & Architecture Exhibition Featuring The Iconic Outer Banks Cottages 

In November, our Courtroom Gallery will celebrate the history of flat top cottages on the Outer Banks along with the legacy of this indigenous architecture with a special exhibit titled The Flat Tops Of Southern Shores.


The exhibit will showcase measured drawings and floor plans of the original flat tops along with interpretive media by local and regional artists that feature these historical homes. Today, the 31 remaining original flat tops are an architectural reminder of a quieter and simpler time on the Outer Banks. Their distinctive design represents a unique modernist solution to specific design conditions. This exhibit will tell the story of flat top architecture and denote the significance of these small homes in our community's history. 

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Show Dates + Flat Top History

The Flat Tops Of Southern Shores will be on display in the Courtroom Gallery November 3 through December 16, 2023.


There will be an opening reception on Friday, November 3 from 6pm to 8pm, where visitors can meet architects Chris Nason and Steven Reiss, who have been working on this project, along with some of the artists who have flat top pieces in the exhibit. The opening reception is during downtown Manteo's First Friday festivities, and is free and open to the public.


After World War II, artist, entrepreneur and visionary Frank Stick dreamed of creating a new community on the Outer Banks. He desired to build waterfront beach homes that were inexpensive to build and maintain. He started by building himself a house using an architectural design created to withstand the Outer Banks' extreme weather. The design featured a flat top roof, beach sand-and-mortar building blocks, extended overhangs, simple lines, and a whitewashed exterior with splashes of color. The flat tops played a vital part in addressing a housing demand by offering affordable homes in a small beach town. Together with his son David, Frank Stick turned Southern Shores into one of the early thriving communities on the Outer Banks.

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