Share the feeling of history

by Shannon Rae Gentry
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Staff photo by Allison Potter 

Volunteer Phyllis Millard stands in front of a photo, top left, of herself in 1931 at Pomander Walk in Wrightsville Beach that hangs on the wall at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 5 p.m. the board of directors of the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History will hold its annual meeting to recap 2012 and discuss the upcoming year, specifically increasing its membership and volunteer bases. 

Combined with the unseasonably warm weather and its location on the John Nesbitt Loop, executive director Madeline Flagler said weekends are increasingly the busiest days.  

“It seems like a lot of places, especially museums, will have weekday volunteers, but not on weekends,” Flagler said. “And the interesting thing about that is that a lot of times weekends are the busiest, particularly in the winter time.”

While some may admire the goldfish in the pond as their children play in the Simmons Sea Skiff boat anchored by the museum’s side, Flagler said volunteers serve a large purpose in many small ways.

“Our volunteers give general information,” she said. “One of the main responsibilities is greeting people at the desk and walking them through the exhibits.”

The unassuming reception desk supports a guest book where visitors check in and are then introduced to the museum by one or more volunteers, who answer questions about Wrightsville Beach.

“It makes the experience for the visitor a lot more enhanced,” Flagler said. “It really doesn’t matter whether you are from this area or a transplant, just being enthusiastic about the museum and being welcoming to visitors are the two main components.”

Phyllis Millard has been volunteering with the museum for more than a year, but grew up in the Wrightsville Beach area and remembers when her father worked for the Tide Water Power Company, featured in the museum.

“I talk about things that I remember that others may not,” she said. “When people come in to look at the different things from different eras, I can talk to them about what it was like here when I was younger, and guests appreciate that. It makes it feel more real to them … they want to know the feeling of a person that lived out here at that time.”

While the Wrightsville Beach Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., along with occasional special events, volunteers are needed on Saturdays from noon to 2:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. 

For more information, call Madeline Flagler at 910-256-2569 or visit


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