For $1.5M, You Can Have An Island Of Your Own In North Carolina
Here’s something for sale you don’t see very often: Your very own island off the coast of North Carolina.
Davis Island and the 19th century mansion that’s on it can be yours for $1.5 million.
There’s an interesting story behind this island. For one, it wasn’t always an island.
Jeremy Markovich of Our State magazine joins WFAE "Morning Edition" host Lisa Worf to tell the story.
Lisa Worf: So when did Davis Island become an island then?
Jeremy Markovich: That's the funny thing, when the house was built, it was not an island. They built it on the tip of what was then called Davis Ridge with this land that came down from the town of Davis and Carteret County. Around the turn of the century, here was a big hurricane that came through and it was so powerful that it cut a channel in between Davis Ridge and what is now Davis Island. So, the house itself was not intended to be on an island, but that's how it ended up.
Worf: Who owns the island now?
Markovich: It's been passed around between a lot of different owners. And in the 1930s, a man named Robert Humber Jr. bought it. And Robert Humber Jr. Is from Greenville, North Carolina, and ended up being educated at Wake Forest and then went on to Oxford, became a Rhodes Scholar, practiced law in Europe and had to flee right before World War II. He came back to North Carolina and became a state senator. And he is actually one of the people who founded the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.
And along the way, he decided to buy this island that had been in his wife's family way back when. He bought it back. And since about the 1930s, it has been the Humber family vacation home and has been in that family since then and has been passed down through the generations and is now owned by Robert Humber's grandson, who is also named Robert Humber, but Robert Humber II.
So there's Robert Humber Jr. and Robert Humber II, who now owns the island.
Worf: So how does Robert Humber II use the island now?
Markovich: Well, for a while he actually lived there full time — for about seven years. And when he was a kid, he remembers going out there and vacationing and he thought, "You know, this would be great if I could just live out here someday." And he went off and joined the Navy. And after he retired, he got a job in eastern North Carolina and somebody said, "You know, that's not too far from that island. You could probably live there." He's like, "Yeah, I definitely could."
So he went out there and he lived there as a single guy for about seven years, and would travel of the state. And when he got back, he'd hop on a boat, go back over the island and live in the house.
Robert Humber II: I was pretty self-sufficient there for a number of years. I have my old vinyl, you know, so I would listen to my records. And I don't know, I just, I enjoyed being the boss of my life, I guess is the way you have to put it. I just did what I wanted to do.
Markovich: And he loved, loved, loved the solitude and being out there and being in this house — like he was just living his childhood dream.
Worf: But one day he got a visitor?
Markovich: He did. Now, again, this is an island that you can only reach by boat. So they don't get a whole lot of visitors out there. And he's hanging out in his house one day watching TV. He has satellite TV. He had power out there. So, gets a knock on the door, and it's these two women. And they were both from out of town, but have family nearby, and were always curious about this island. They'd seen it growing up. And just one day they decide, "You know, we should go over there. We should take a boat over there and just walk around." They didn't think anybody lived in the house. And they were gonna come in, but they said, "No, maybe just in case we knock on the door." And to their surprise, somebody shows up at the door. And it's Robert. And Robert starts talking to these women.
Robert Humber II: When I was in high school, if you really liked the girl, you were afraid to look at her. I would have thought she could read my mind. You know, you want to keep all that stuff private. So while I was talking to them, I was really just sneaking peeks over at Donna.
Donna Boone: Robert said he was looking at me and then I gave him my phone number.
Robert Humber II: I just thought she was really cute.
Donna Boone: There was an initial spark and my cousin kept saying, "He really liked you."
Markovich: Then they start writing letters to each other. Then they decide to meet and then they got married. So he married the woman who knocked on his door out of the blue one day on this island.
Worf: That's amazing. And she's all into island living, too?
Markovich: Yes. She loves it out there. She has family in a town nearby called Marshallberg. And so they decide that they really can't spend as much time out there as they want just because she has to look after her family. So they start treating it again like a vacation home. And it means a lot to the family to be able to go out there over and over again.
Worf: Why are they deciding to sell it now?
Markovich: Well, it's because there's a lot that goes into maintaining an island. Back when the island first became an island, it was about 110 acres. Now it's 40. And there's a lot of different reasons for that. I mean, there's erosion, there's the change in the sea levels and the tides and currents. And so the island is sort of shrinking and moving, and the water now comes up really, really close to this house. And the family knows that, you know, in order to to keep this island the way it is, to preserve it the way it is, it's going to take a lot of money. And that's money that they don't have.
Robert Humber II: I romanticized it as a kid. And then when I moved here and lived here, the realities of the maintenance and protecting your boat when a storm comes up. So it became more of a responsibility than the romantic getaway.
Markovich: And so they also realized they don't get to use it as much as they want to. So they're looking for somebody who will hopefully be able to restore it to what it once was and put some money into it and really take care of it.
And so, they're sad about it, but I think, you know, just from hearing from them, they really know that it's time to kind of move on, to look at the memories they've had and be happy about that and move on.
Markovich recently reported on Davis Island for Away Message, a podcast about North Carolina from Our State magazine. You can listen to more than 20 episodes from all over the state right now. Just search for “Away Message” wherever you get your podcasts.