A winter retreat

The Knights come to Corolla

Edward Collings Knight Jr. and his wife Marie Louise shared a passion for hunting waterfowl. But in those days, Mrs. Knight wasn’t welcomed in the all-male hunt clubs. Mr. Knight’s answer was to build a 21,000-square-foot “mansion by the sea” just for his bride.

Mrs. Knight’s Steinway piano is still stands in the Whalehead today, as do the Tiffany glass sconces, corduroy walls, cork flooring, Otis elevator and a basement – all firsts on the Outer Banks. The Club’s sprawling, meticulously maintained grounds are perfect for family photographs, and also a popular site for weddings, reunions and community events and more.

Edward Collings Knight, Jr. was a wealthy industrialist who loved nature and considered himself a conservationist. He had a passion for hunting waterfowl, too.

Discovering this hidden gem in the Outer Banks, Mr. Knight purchased the former Lighthouse Hunt Club along with four and a half miles of land on the Currituck Sound.

Their vision included five stories and 21,000 square-feet of Art Nouveau luxury filled with modern conveniences such as electricity, running hot and cold water, indoor bathrooms and even a refrigerator.

Completed in 1925, the Knights renamed the property “Corolla Island.”

Years ahead of its time

“Corolla Island” was years ahead of its architectural time. Combining Pennsylvania farmhouse, French-Canadian country and Arts and Crafts styles, the retreat boasted five chimneys, a copper-shingled roof, humidity-resistant cork floors and 18-inch thick walls reinforced by steel beams.

To provide electricity and water for the home, a 2,200-gallon pumping system was installed in the boathouse and fed to the house through underground lines.

Today, the home stands as one of the nation’s most important examples of Art Nouveau ornamentation, with its curved rooflines, paint color choices, ornamental chimneys, Tiffany lighting and distinctive porches and friezes.

New owners renamed the property The Whalehead Club in 1939. In 1992, Currituck County purchased the property to ensure public Sound access. Restoration began in 1999. By 2002, the property had been restored to a near-identical state as it existed in the 1920s.

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