Island Inn to Host Open House

Jenny Scarborough

After extensive renovation, the historic Island Inn building will be blessed this weekend.

Owners Thomas and Mary-Chandler Storrs welcome Ocracokers and visitors at 5 p.m. Saturday evening, for a dedication of the building by longtime guest Jay Comisky, and again on Sunday morning, when their two youngest daughters will be baptized in the lobby.

The Island Inn in a 1950s postcard.
The Island Inn in a 1950s postcard.
photo from ECU archives

"As a Christian family, we wanted to dedicate the building to the Lord," said Mary-Chandler. The 1901 building has seen many uses over the years, at one time serving as Ocracoke's public school.

Damage during Hurricane Irene started the ball rolling on repairs. "We started to fix one thing, and found something else that needed to be fixed," said Mary-Chandler.

Matthew Parsons and Russ Touhey spent months digging under the building to stabilize the foundation. The inn's rooms and bathrooms were refreshed with paint, new furniture and linens. The lobby floors were stripped to reveal the original boards.

The digging turned up some interesting Ocracoke artifacts, including the initials "MW" carved into an old board. "That has to be Myra Wahab," said Cee Newell, Mary-Chandler and Russ' mother.  Myra was one-time owner Stanley Wahab's wife, she explained, imagining him carving his beloveds initials on a quiet day.

As a grand opening gift, Cee is giving her daughter and son-in-law a sign by artist Jeff Martin, crafted from an old boat transom.

The small event Saturday will be followed with an Episcopal service Sunday at 10 a.m., led by Reverend Thomas Wilson of All Saints Episcopal Church in Southern Shores.  Everyone is welcome to the service and the reception following the baptism of Rosemary and Josephine.

Catered by long time Island Inn employee Betsy Anna Midgette, the gathering will feature traditional Ocracoke fare, like fig cake, pecan pie, shrimp salad, fish cakes, sausage and crab balls, and ham biscuits. "All of the seafood came from the fish house, and the figs are from our tree out back," said Mary-Chandler.

The Island Inn will be open year-round once renovations are complete.  Reverend Wilson will continue to visit Ocracoke several times a month to hold Episcopal services in the lobby.

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