The Whalehead Club is a large private residence built as a winter retreat by millionaire Edward Collings Knight, Jr., in the early 1920s. Today the restored house and grounds, on a spit of land along the edge of the town of Corolla in Currituck County, NC, at the north end of the Outer Banks, is part of the Currituck Heritage Park. This also includes the relocated Currituck Lighthouse and historic Corolla Village. The arched footbridge is a small architectural treasure. Those who want a full history of the area can purchase The Whalehead Club, Reflections of Currituck Heritage, by Susan Joy Davis.
The park is open year-round without charge and is always a pleasant place to visit and explore. Partly because it does not offer public swimming and is on the sound side, it tends to be uncrowded. It offers pleasant views, short walks, and picnicking, house tours and, in season, the opportunity to climb the lighthouse to admire the view. It also is a good place for birding as shore and wading birds are attracted to its ponds. Visitors, however, should be aware that the houses around the lighthouse and in the village are private residences and should be treated with respect. And the schoolhouse is a functioning grade school, so do not disturb classes.
The house tour does require a small charge but is well worth it if you enjoy seeing dead people’s furniture. It is furnished as it would have been in the late 1920s, when it was a winter retreat and hunting lodge for the original owners.
We almost always spend an afternoon at the park when we are on the Outer Banks, and, regardless of the time of year, it always is a rewarding stop. We have had close encounters with a variety of wildlife including river otters, turtles, spring goslings, and on one notable visit, a glossy ibis that posed on the handrail of a footbridge. A modern building provides a store for books and other souvenirs, a theater showing informative films, and public bathrooms.