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What’s the history of the Southport Shell Museum?

Ben Steelman
Shell Museum

The Shell Museum building on Nash Street in Southport. (Photo courtesy of Andreas Laudy)

It’s apparently quite a tale. The little gray building, shaped like an old-fashioned general store, sits on East Nash Street in Southport, just across from the old jail (now the headquarters of the Southport Historical Society). Photos of the quaint structure pop up on the Internet.

According to Jim McKee of the Brunswick Town-Fort Anderson State Historic Site, it only operated sporadically in the late 1970s and early ’80s – owned by an elderly lady who meant it as a memorial to her late husband, a World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy. (He would mail home seashells from ports of call around the South Pacific.)

According to Southport native Brooks Preik, the little building was once George Autry’s shoe repair shop – a landmark for Southport kids, since Autry also sold candy as a sideline. Originally located near the old Southport High School (the one that burned down), the building was moved to its present location some years ago.

Apparently, it housed a small grocery for a while, as well as Southport’s first kindergarten, and for a time in the 1960s and ’70s it housed a coin laundry. Then it stood idle for some years.

McKee – who repaired the porch on the structure some years back – said the owner opened it only when she felt like it. It was generally open to the public during Southport’s Fourth of July festival. Other times, visitors were generally out of luck. The lady who ran the museum died some years ago.

Word has it, the property was recently sold, and the new owners are planning renovations.

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One Response to “ What’s the history of the Southport Shell Museum?”

  1. On December 18, 2011 at 8:15 pm Susan Lambeth wrote:

    As one of the owners of what was the Shell Museum I’m learning a lot! My husband and I bought this poor little neglected building in April. The property is on the Register of Historic Properties and we were able to see what was “good” in the store. We have also fallen in love with the property, the location and Southport. We have named it CandyStoreHouse and renovation as a vacation and special occasion rental home is underway. I maintain a blog and post videos at http://www.candystorehouse.com!

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