Edenton – Paradise Found

“No, I’m not from around here-- but I got here as fast as I could.”  That sign on the counter at Edenton’s little airport says it all.
Many Edenton residents admit to being transplants from elsewhere, and almost all of them have the same story: “We were just passing through, and fell in love with this beautiful town, its perfect setting, and its friendly people. We spent our second day here with a real estate agent.”
Life here centers around the water.
It’s easy to see why, too. Lovely cypress-studded Edenton bay, the Albemarle Sound, and numerous wild creeks and swamps provide fine wildlife watching and access to water sports of every description.
Many people live here for the long summer days, fishing, feasting on fresh-caught seafood, and teaching their children the ways of the bay. Most youngsters can’t wait to escape the confines of this tiny town for college and career, but say this is exactly where they want to return to start families of their own.
Fall colors can be quite a treat as well and the harbor is welcoming at any time of year.

Sometimes we get a bit of real winter, but not too much. An inch or two of snow will soon be followed by sunshine and warm breeze. Truly bad weather is unusual—but not impossible, as we learned in September of 2003 when Hurricane Isabel struck almost head-on, causing widespread damage. It was interesting to watch 6-foot waves crash against our windows. Natives say it was the first big storm in living memory. It took two years to put that behind us.  The next one of any size was in 2011.  We ran from that one but it was much less severe than predicted and we had very little damage.

Of course there are always surprises.
It’s a long way, more than an hour’s drive through cotton fields and swamps, to the nearest major airport, symphony orchestra, or professional ballet. It’s almost 45 minutes to the nearest Wal-Mart, and we’re surprised to find that we like it that way. Our lively little downtown has everything we need, and almost everything we want.  For everything else, there’s the Internet. The UPS man knows everybody in the county! We do have art galleries, antique shops, a coffee shop with live music, and the lumber yard’s only a block from home. There are maybe a dozen traffic lights in the whole county, and parking is never a problem.

Edenton is an old town, incorporated in 1715. Many buildings survive from the Colonial era, when there was a thriving seaport here.  Locals with a long memory claim that when John D. Rockefeller was planning his living-history museum, this was his first choice. Edenton, however, wasn’t for sale.  He had to go up the road to Williamsburg and start almost from scratch.  There are tours of historic homes every December, and every odd-numbered April, which draw tourists from all over. Several sailboat regattas and summer waterfront festivals attract an altogether different crowd.


Typical of small American towns everywhere, church and family provide the center for most

residents’ social lives. We found a warm welcome at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and many ways to become involved not only with our fellow parishioners, but to contribute to the needs of the wider world, as well. The parish is over 300 years old, but the current church building wasn’t completed until 1736. It still has the original pew boxes and Communion silver, but we’re delighted that the fine organ and the air conditioning are of more recent vintage.


The Edenton Chamber of Commerce has lifted an encomium from some travel magazine or other, proclaiming Edenton to be ‘The South’s Prettiest Small Town.”  From what we’ve seen, we think they may be right. Come visit, and draw your own conclusions.