Since the early 1800′s Nags Head has remained one of the most popular vacation destinations with a wealth of activities nearby to please a variety of tastes. Tales of plunderers that lured ships ashore in stormy weather may be the possible origin of the town’s name. Early 18th century ”Bankers,” developed their own unique method as land-based pirates. Horses with lanterns tied to their necks were walked up and down the beach at night. Merchant ships would mistakenly think the lights were of other ships closer to shore, causing them to change course and run aground, where the Bankers were waiting to pillage their cargoes.
Modern visitors have found Nags Head to be the ideal vacation spot, but they are simply carrying on a tradition that began over 175 years ago when a North Carolina plantation owner first set foot at Nags Head and discovered the charms of the area. In those days, planters from inland counties longed to escape the long, hot and humid summer, which they believed fostered malaria and other diseases. In the 1830′s, the first of these genteel plantation owners came to Nags Head and purchased 200 acres of land where he built the very first beach cottage.
Within 20 years, Nags Head had become a thriving resort settlement, with two dozen vacation homes from Sound to sea, transforming the beachfront and in turn defining what would become known as the Nags Head style of architecture. These first homes have stood sentry against the changing tides of the Atlantic Ocean for more than 175 years. Known officially as the Nags Head Beach Cottage Row Historic District, this collection of historic structures are enjoyed year after year by owners and visitors alike.