Southern Shores dedicates flat top at 13 Skyline Road

Published 5:24 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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The Town of Southern Shores held a dedication ceremony Saturday, April 27, 2024 for the remodeled flat top cottage at 213 Skyline Road.

The town purchased the 1500 square foot house from the Outer Banks Community Foundation almost a year ago, and since then has been busy converting the house from an office to a cozy and livable home.

Police Chief David Kole completed the majority of the construction, which included a remodeled bathroom, new flooring throughout, and new ceiling fans with lights in place of the fluorescents.

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At the brief ceremony, historian Tama Creef shared about the legacy of artist and developer Frank Stick, who acquired the 26,000 acres of Southern Shores land in 1947, and is well known for the flat top cottages he built throughout the area.

“He knew this place was something special,” Creef said.

Stick designed his homes to fit in with nature. It doesn’t need to blend in or disappear, Creef said, but it should fit in. He was careful with the selection of his sites and the materials he used.

Stick used local materials to build homes “for the everyman.” With limited availability to metal and wood after World War II and a desire to make homes affordable, Stick used cinder blocks (“lots and lots of cinder blocks” said Creef) to build the iconic flat top cottages mirrored after structures he’d seen in Florida.

The traditional flat top – which technically isn’t flat; it has a slight pitch to let water flow down – is paneled with juniper, cedar and pine inside, giving it that distinctive fresh scent that many equate with the beach itself.

“When you walk into a Frank Stick flat top, it’s like you’re getting a hug,” she added.

The flat top at 13 Skyline was built in 1953 by Charles Hopkins, who sold the house 15 years later to JE Sparks. Sparks sold it to John and Norman Tietjen in 1971, who enjoyed the property for 36 years before gifting it to the Outer Banks Community Foundation.

At a time when most of the flat tops were being torn down and replaced with larger beach homes, the Tietjen family wanted to ensure that their gift would preserve the legacy of Frank Stick and the flat top style.

Of the 100 or so flat tops that used to dot the landscape of Southern Shores, only about 25 are still standing.

When the Community Foundation outgrew the space and moved operations to Manteo, they approached the Town of Southern Shores with an opportunity not only to purchase the property, but also to preserve its history.

“The town’s purchase of the property showed its commitment to the preservation of flat top homes and ensured that this flat top would remain,” said town manager Cliff Ogburn. Though he wasn’t certain who would move into the completed house, Ogburn said the town had originally planned for a police officer to live there temporarily while seeking permanent housing.

“It’s another first for the Town of Southern Shores,” said Mayor Elizabeth Morey in her address to the crowd. “We’re just really excited about having it and about expanding our presence in town and about preserving the history.”

After the ceremonial handing over of the keys by OBCF’s secretary Packy Regan to Morey, town officials cut the ribbon in front of the flat top, then moved into the house for cake.