Historic Southport, North Carolina

A Self-Guided Tour of 28 historic locations in Southport, NC

Historic Southport, North Carolina

Southport, North Carolina 28461, United States

Created By: Southport Historical Society

Tour Information

Welcome to Southport, NC

You are invited to tour through Southport and enjoy our historical heritage. The Southport Historical Society and the City of Southport Tourism are proud to provide this guide for our visitors.

The city overlooks the Cape Fear River as it flows to the Atlantic Ocean. Southport has long been known for its refreshing breezes and a relaxed way of life. Our signature live oak trees and historical structures further enhance the charm of the city, which was established in 1792.

The earliest French and Spanish explorers visited this area in 1524 and 1526. The English arrived and settled along the river in the mid 1600's. Fort Johnston was established as a British fort in 1745

Originally named Smithville, after Benjamin Smith, a Continental general during the Revolution, who later became the governor of North Carolina, Smithville was changed to the name of Southport in 1887.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Fort Johnston was established as a British fort in 1745, as the first commissioned fort in North Carolina. Some of the old fort tapia walls, made of burnt oyster shells, sand, lime, and water, are visible at low tide. Fort Johnston was t... Read more
The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport is located at 204 East Moore Street. The museum  is part of the Fort Johnston complex. It preserves the rich maritime heritage of Southport and the area around the Lower Cape Fear River.... Read more
The Chapel of the Cross located on East Moore Street, was built in the mid 1800s. It was developed for the Chapel of the Cross congregation in 1843. One of the oldest churches in the city, it was named after St. Philip's Church in Old Br... Read more
The Old Brunswick County Courtjhouse/ Southport City Hall was built in the mid 1850s.  The present structure is probably the second building on the site. Southport, then Smithville, was the county seat of Brunswick County until 1978, when... Read more
Masonic Hall, built in the mid 1860s, is located on East Nash Street. Pythagoras #249 Lodge was rebuilt after the Civil War. In addition to being a meeting place for the Masons, it also served as an academy and as the Army Navy Club dur... Read more
 Located at 319 North Atlantic Avenue, the A. E.Stevens House was built in 1894.  Mr.Stevens built this three ­story house, on the corner of Brown and Potts Street, for his bride-to-be. The engagement ended when she said "No", and she m... Read more
The Cemetery was established in 1880 when the trustees of an African American Methodist Church purcashed a two acre tract of land for the sole purpose of making it a grave yard. An additional acre was added later. The John N. Smith cemete... Read more
This site of the St. James A.M.E.Zion Church is the oldest church serving Southport's African American community. St. James A.M.E.Z. congregation bought land for its first house of worship in 1866, on the northeast corner of of Rhett and... Read more
The Hubbard House was built in the 1850's at 216 North Atlantic Avenue. This house was one of the wings of the Fort Johnston hospital and illustrates how buildings in South­port were often moved and served new purposes.  Uniquely, thi... Read more
The Trinity United Methodist Church was bulit in 1890 on East Nash Street.  This building replaced the original 1814 structure. The earlier structure was used as a hospital and to house Union troops during the Civil War.  It was moved ... Read more
The Old Brunswick County Jail and Museum, built in 1904, is located at the corner of East Nash and Rhett Streets.  Built in 1904, it served as the county jail and sheriffs headquarters until 1978 when the entire county govemmental comp... Read more
The Old Smithville Burying Ground takes its name from the original 1792 town plan.  This four and one-half acre plot was set aside for burials. It is generally thought that burials were taking place here even before the area was designa... Read more
Kingley Park offers panoramic views of the Cape Fear River, plus historical markers describing the Ship Quarantine Station and Southport's fishing history. The Quarantine Station was located on the river to the north. After the Civil War, t... Read more
Fort Johnston Hospital circa1852 (413 East Bay Street):  The structure was moved from Fort Johnston in 1889. The first floor had a doctor's oftice and a steward's office. There was a twelve bed sick ward upstairs.The building was later d... Read more
Located at 313 East Bay Street, the house was built for Dr. Lorenzo Frink, the great grandfather of actor, Joseph Cotton.  Frink built his house around 1890 after fire and storms damaged his former house on this lot.  Dr. Frink was a loca... Read more
Located aat 301 East Bat Street, the Brunswick Inn was built in 18S9. This one time resort hotel was even larger in its prime.  In 1910, an annex was moved to 113 South Davis Street and is now a private home. The Inn's thirty rooms re... Read more
The Community Building at 223 East Bay Street was originally the site of a USO building, which was dedicated in1942 and used for movies, dances, indoor games and other activities for the military personnel stationed in the area. The USO la... Read more
Citizens and visitors today enjoy the swings and benches in Waterfront Park and fishing from city pier. Several historical markers are found in the park.  On October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel, with winds over 120 miles per hour, destroye... Read more
The Pilot'sTower located on West Bay Street was built in 1940.  This tower replaced an old wooden tower.  The Cape Fear Pilot's Association is headquartered in the tower.  From here pilots are dispatched to aid incoming and outgoing shi... Read more
Captain Thomas Mann Thompson was a successful Civil War blockade runner and riverpilot. He survived the war to enjoy living in Southport. His house, located at 216 West Bay Street, was built in1869, was the first to have both a cupola and... Read more
Cape Fear Indians are said to have bent the live oak tree when it was a sapling as a sign or trail marker. The tree is estimated to be several hundreds of years old and was once featured in "Ripiey's Believe it or Not" weekly news paper art... Read more
Located at 119 North Lord Street, the house was built in the 1890s for Captain Adkins and his wife Charlotte.  The Adkin's were the maternal grandparents of Robert C. Ruark. Ruark, a well known author and joumalisl, spent many of his ch... Read more
The Northrup House at 229 North Caswell Avenue was built in 1910. The house is popularly called The Crimes of the Heart house since 1986 when a movie by that name was filmed here. Starring in the film were Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and ... Read more
Two of Southport's largest African American churches are located on this street. Mount Carmel A.M.E. church stands on the northwest corner of Lord and St. George Streets. Two blocks further north is First Baptist Church, at the Southwest Co... Read more
These houses were built in the mid 1800s to early 1900s by moderate income owners.  The house at 114 West West Street was built in 1839 and was owned by Jacob Brinkman, who was the first lighthouse keeper of the first Oak Island range ligh... Read more
The Gallery is in the heart of the art scene in historic Southport.  With over one hundred artists displaying their paintings and pottery, the Gallery is a rewarding and wonderful place to visit.  The building was constructed in 1904 as ... Read more
The church, which is located at 206 North Howe Street was built in 1871. The frame of the 1871 wooden church lies beneath a modern brick veneer.  Much of the interior wood work dates from the last quarter of the 19th century. The chape... Read more


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