“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
History isn’t just words on the page of a textbook. It comes alive in North Carolina. And now, you can spend the night in a piece of history.
Originally built in 1947 by the U.S. Navy, this stunning home was first used for Operation Bumblebee. There were eight original missile towers. Only two are available to for vacationers to rent. And this is one of them.
The operation began in secret, but the U.S. Navy eventually gave the public the inside scoop. They sent out a press release to inform residents about the amazing rocket tests. They had already been testing and developing supersonic guided missiles for months.
The supersonic flights we have today were made possible through the controlled ramjet engine. These engines were tested and checked at the Operation Bumblebee towers.
One day in 1998, a Southern entrepreneur was cruising down Topsail Island’s South Shore Drive with his real estate agent. They were looking for the perfect piece of oceanfront real estate. The agent casually pointed out Tower Four, which had been on the market for a while. John West dismissed the idea quickly because it would take so much work, but the seed was planted.
Through the following weeks, John West couldn’t shake the thought. Turning Tower Four as a vacation rental would take an incredible amount of work. The lot was overgrown with shrubs and vines. The pillars and ceilings of the tower were still standing strong. Hurricane Hazel had destroyed so much of Topsail Island in 1954, but the tower remained, unfazed by 100+ mph winds.
Best of all, the location was fantastic. Oceanfront. Near the Surf City Swing Bridge. Breathtaking views. Close to Surf City and Hampstead. Wilmington was just a short drive away. It had it all. Except walls of course. But those could be built.
The history buff with a strong work ethic couldn’t ignore the captivating historical significance of the missile tower. This was just the sort of project to merge his passion for history with his love for Topsail Island.
A local guy, John West had moved inland for his career, but he couldn’t get the sound of the ocean out of his mind.
“You get Topsail in your bloodstream and it’s hard to get out. It’s just the best place to be,” John West explained. “It was the childhood family memories of Topsail Island that brought me back.”
John West set to work and quickly discovered the many challenges that would come with the investment. Turning a neglected piece of history into a relaxing vacation home was no easy task. Especially with the task of preserving the remaining elements and the look of the missile tower that once was.
The walls were long gone, but the corner pillars and ceilings were solid. Imagine installing light fixtures and such into a rock. A very tall, very solid rock. A rock full of rebar and chunks of granite.
“From day one, it was a difficult process. Projects like these always takes more time than planned and things come up that you never would anticipate,” he recalled.
But it was all worth it.
Among the pastel, siding covered beach retreats, Tower Four is easy to spot.
Deep brick red colored stucco.
Swaying palm trees.
Crisp, white trim that highlights the elevation and shape of the missile tower pillars.
And tall. It is so tall!
The integrity of the original silhouette was maintained handsomely, even through the incredible transformation.
The side entrance deposits you into a dining room. There are chairs and a table and everything, I promise….
But you won’t see them!
Because the jaw dropping view of the Atlantic Ocean will overwhelm all your senses.
Floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows span across all three walls. The sound of crashing waves and the soul-quenching hum of the ocean plays in the room like sweet background music.
Enormous decks create a space to breath in the salty ocean air. A private beach entrance will lead you directly onto the sand. And at the end of a surf, tan, and sandcastle filled day, you can rinse the sea and sand away in a private, outdoor bathroom, complete with a bathtub and shower.
Sharing the dining room views, the living room and kitchen are equipped with everything you need to make yourself at home for a week. Near the kitchen is a vertical, spiral staircase, made of wood and iron.
Just like the original missile tower, the footprint of this dream vacation rental near Wilmington is vertical. That doesn’t leave space for traditional staircases, and the creativity John West employed to that challenge makes for a one-of-a-kind experience.
If the spiral stairs are too much for you to navigate, there is a second, wider entrance through a traditional staircase from the deck outside.
At the top of stairs is the master bedroom with all the amenities one would expect from a vacation home, like a king size bed, Jacuzzi tub and towel warmers. The ocean will beckon you through the glass doors and onto the deck.
The history buffs in the group will want to scale right up the captain’s ladder that’s perched near the window in the master bedroom. It leads to an enticing little cupola at the top of the tower. On the floor is an original brass stamp that reads, “1947 – Tower Four.”
Glass panes embedded in the ceiling for stargazing create an unforgettable space.
From an old missile tower without walls, Tower Four has been transformed to a delightful three bedroom, three bathroom, oceanfront vacation home.
Beach lovers, surfers, paddle boarders, and those who love an ocean sunrise will argue that the location is the most exciting feature, while those with a passion for antiquity will argue the structure itself is the most exciting aspect.
If you think every home I walk into is ready for pictures, you are wroooooong. Of course, by the time I have worked my magic (by magic, I mean hard work and carefully crafted skills and talent) they all look photo ready.
But if you want your home to have more visits, your pictures need to be amazing. The photos you post of your home online are the first piece of marketing. The photos will either catch the eye of a potential buyer or they will keep on scrolling.
Basically, you want your house to look like a staged home, void of your personality and mark. It should be neutral and generic in decor so the photographs highlight the tall ceilings, hard wood floors, and beautiful chandeliers. Not the espresso machine in the kitchen or the goofy family photo on the fridge.
The little preparations can go a long way. Some people think I can just fix their house blemishes with Photoshop, but that’s not how it works. I can’t create photos that don’t represent the reality of the house. It’s unethical.
I’m happy to change out the sky to give the outside a cheerful appearance. You can’t control the weather after all. But if your banister is broken, I’m not photo shopping it fixed. So before I arrive, go through this list. It takes a little time but I promise you, the photos will be worth it.
Are you getting ready to sell your home or know someone who is? Email me today to schedule real estate photos for your property.
Chandeliers are the jewelry of your house.
They can complete your interior or ruin it. The lighting also sets the tone of your design.
The current trendy tone is shabby chic and rustic farmish. The chandeliers that have come with that style have been fun and definitely upped the lighting game. But some trends are their way out and I have to say… hip, hip, hooray!
Sputnik was super cool when it orbited the earth in 98 minutes. And that’s about how long this trend will last as well.
I admit there is something super fun about a sputnik chandelier. It’s a timeless piece for a child’s room. But this trend is definitely a passing trend. Not timeless. This guy is going to fade soon, and is even already on its way out.
Replacing your everyday glassware with mason jars? YES.
Putting flowers in mason jars? YES.
Putting twinkle lights & candles in mason jars? YES.
Pouring an entire bottle of wine into a large mason jar? I mean….
Mason jars are awesome. Put all the things inside mason jars. But YES people, it is possible for mason jars to get cheesy. Flip them upside down and stick a light bulb in them and BOOM – it’s ridiculous.
If you jumped on this train, I’m sorry for the snark. This trend is fun! I bet this looks really neat in a super farm/country style home. But it is super trendy and I highly doubt we’ll see many more of these in production. This style is O-U-T. Just like your mom’s kitchen full of chickens and cows in the 90s.
They were a fun change for sure. But I guarantee these lights were just a trend and are on their way out, to be replaced with retro bulbs and new, clean shapes.
It hurts my heart to say that these ugly lights are timeless. I wish so badly they were a passing trend. Named for the obvious shape, they are just not cute. But they are cheap, so contractors will continue to shove them into every room until kingdom come, like it or not.
Hello you classic beauty! Thank goodness these glistening traditional light fixtures are coming back! They never really left, as they are completely TIMELESS. I think we’ll be seeing more of the classic chandelier in 2018 and beyond.
Changing up light fixtures to fit the trends is fun! But it’s also exhausting and expensive. For those of you with the skill and budget to toss up new lights according whatever the five minute fad is – well, I just hate you. Purely out of jealousy of course.
But for those of us with budget and lack of electrician skills, changing up lighting is a huge chore. So, the classic crystal chandeliers will be a welcome, upgraded, trend.
…Continued from Part One by Kim Barry
This is the point at which I want to interrupt my story to explain what I wish I had done prior to the storm in preparation. Because I think it could be helpful to some people.
First of all…..fun fact….tropical storms wreck havoc on anything below sea level.
Houstonians just learned this (many of whom didn’t have flood insurance); New Orleans learned it when the levees broke, and I learned it when my neighborhood got washed out. It *almost* doesn’t matter how far away from the ocean you live when a tropical storm hits you, if your home/town is below sea level. The rain doesn’t stop, rivers overflow, and before you know it the streets are underwater. So, if you live in a low-lying area and a tropical storm is threatening, just pack up your stuff and be safe.
Given the current damage wreaked by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the approach of Hurricane Irma from the Atlantic Ocean, and the peak hurricane season, it occurred to my friend Rachel that a blog post on this topic might be timely and helpful for others in creating their storm prep plans.
But first, my Hurricane Sandy story:
My house was located in Highlands, New Jersey, a tiny shore town in Monmouth County not far from where the Lower New York Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.
When listing a home for sale one of the last things most people want to do is spend money on the home they are selling. However, that is in fact the BEST thing you could do in order to sell your home for top dollar. The majority of people looking at purchasing a home today do not want a “fixer upper”. In fact, most people are looking for move-in ready. Therefore, in order for your home to sell quickly and for top listing price you must invest in the home. So you may be asking yourself, how do I make my home a showstopper without spending a fortune? Well, here are a few simple steps and before and after pics of how I re-designed this home for less than $500.
When walking into this home you are immediately greeted by the large open floor plan and staircase that opens up to the second story landing. So in order to show off actually how large the room is I opened up the floor plan even more by rearranging the living room furniture. There’s a common belief that rooms will feel larger and be easier to use if all the furniture is pushed against the walls, but that isn’t the case. Instead, furnish your space by floating furniture away from walls.