Portsmouth Island is a special place, rich with a history that its community is proud of preserving. In 1992, seven people born in the now-abandoned island community at the northern-most point of the shore began hosting a celebratory homecoming honoring their roots. As Katy Clune explains in this lovely story for Our State: "As the web of direct descendants grows more complex each year, the stark beauty of the island pulls in new “family” as well."
The homecoming is the pride of Portsmouth, which is an area owned by the National Park Service. For one day every two years, shuttered historic buildings like the original post office, the one-room schoolhouse, and many family homes open for tours to commemorate the island's story.
I used to live on nearby Ocracoke Island, one of the only access points to Portsmouth, where a slow pace of life invites you to appreciate all the surrounding nature. This assignment gave me the opportunity to visit Portsmouth for the first time and dig deeper into the history of the NC coast. One of the most anticipated moments of the day was when the church, built in 1914, opened for the first time in two years for the baptism of two babies, the newest generation with island roots. And of course, I couldn't pass up the potluck supper. As expected, the fig cake stole the show.