“OFI’s multi-faceted approach to the preservation of special places like the Community Square serves as a sustainable model for other rural communities, where the potential is great but the funding is limited. We’re honored to provide quick financial assistance for the purchase and revitalization of this beloved community hub and excited to see its transformation.”
Reggie Hall, Director
The Conservation Fund
Land Conservation Loan Program
Part 3 features island native John Ivey Wells and Vince Rockel, 40+ year island home owner.
Part 2 features Kris Cahoon Noble, Assistant Hyde County Manager and Economic Development Director.
The Community Square was listed for public sale in 2009. OFI’s primary concern was losing the Square, the heart of the island’s maritime heritage and businesses, to private development. OFI’s intent is to take this valuable island asset, restore and preserve it, and direct a significant portion of rental income into a Community Fund and Grants Program to benefit our community.
In November 2013 the Ocracoke Foundation [OFI] was able to access two interim loans for the $1.6M purchase of the Square. The Conservation Fund and Keith and Isabelle McDermott , of London, UK and Ocracoke, each made interest-only loans of $800,000.
In December 2017 the $800,000 loan from The Conservation Fund was repaid with a new loan of $600,000 from TowneBank, and $200,000 from 200+ individual donations and other sources. In May 2020 the Ocracoke Foundation received a gift of $800,000 from the McDermott’s. This donation transformed their loan, made in November 2013 to help purchase the Community Square, to a gift to benefit our community. The McDermott’s extraordinary generosity reduced debt from $1.6M to $600,000. Further efforts have reduced debt to $400,000.
This iconic maritime heritage site would not be in community ownership without the vision, generosity and commitment of the McDermott’s, The Conservation Fund, TowneBank and individual donors, and significant support for improvements from Golden-LEAF and Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board.
The impact of Tropical Storm Hermine in September 2016, followed by the then-record-setting flood waters of Hurricane Matthew one month later, make it clear that the 5 National Register Historic structures and 2 docks required repairs, flood mitigation, and restoration work. A century of storms had taken its toll on structures 80-120 years old. In September 2019 a 7.5-feet surge from Hurricane Dorian inundated Ocracoke, causing extensive damage throughout the island. Many of the Community Square buildings received varying amounts of flood damage. Significant repairs, improvements and restoration have been completed, and continue...
Restoration & Endowment Campaign
SAVING THE SOUL OF OCRACOKE
“It’s a preservation victory when heritage and water quality both stand to benefit from a real estate deal.”
Catherine Kozak, Coastal Review Online, Nov. 2013
Stories From The Square
In the first of a series of "Stories From The Square," Part 1 features beloved islanders Trudy Austin, Melissa Garrish Sharber, and Mandy Garrish Jones.