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Column: House names? The Moor the Mariner
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OPINION

Column: House names? The Moor the Mariner

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Tammy Wilson

What’s more enchanting than a house with a name?

I’m talking an official one painted on a swinging shingle out front such as “Wind Knoll” or “Cedar Run” or “Boone Farm.”

Virginia has some great backroads with real estate reeking of old money. Particularly around Charlottesville you’ll find a string of fine old homes with names like Spring Hill, High Meadows, Sunny Bank, Seven Oaks or Mount Fair. Such places beg to be backdrops for Victorian novels or miniseries.

On frequent trips through Central Virginia years ago, I remember being amused by two properties along Route 24. One was a lowly cabin tucked in the woods near a creek. Its rustic shingle proclaimed the name “Fish Stix.” The other was a clapboard farmhouse with a white shingle that read: “Coffey Grounds.”

Beach house names take the cake. On a recent visit to Oak Island, I started taking notes after I saw the house across the street named Afternoon Delight.

Of course there were the traditional monikers: Outrigger, Jolly Roger, Ocean Queen and Summer Breeze. But I was digging for something with more spark.

Beach Buoy was pretty good. Vitamin Sea made me chuckle.

Here’s what I found: Dune Nuthin, Carolina Gulls, Latitude Adjustment, Not Stressed, Just Beachy and Shore Nuff. Then there was Beachaholic and the more descriptive, Captain Jim’s Seafood Shack.

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I imagine that Captain Jim is a good fisherman or cook; maybe both.

Down the street was a house called Lilly Pad, no doubt owned by the Lilly family or a lady named Lilly.

I wrote more cottage names on the back of a receipt: Sandpiper, Salt Life, Shore Blessed, Wavewatcher, Pilot House and Sundancer.

One cottage was named simply Salt, and it wasn’t even a saltbox style. No idea if there was a Pepper in the neighborhood.

One 1950s model was named Hazel, a nod to the infamous hurricane that wrecked the Carolina coast in 1954. That storm swept away all but five buildings on what is now Oak Island. One of the survivors was the house next to our rental, named Skunk Hollow, 1948. I have no idea why it was called Skunk Hollow, but whoever owns it is pretty proud of the fact that their bungalow was catastrophe proof.

When it comes to beach cottage names, I’m partial to puns.

I’ve read that humorist David Sedaris calls his N.C. beach place Sea Section, though it would make more sense if he were an obstetrician.

I understand that a group of lawyers owns a place called Legal Pad.

An internet search turned up several more yuck-it-up names: Sea Gar, Sandy Feat, The Best Little Shorehouse, The Sand Hassle, Seabatical and Seas the Day.

My personal favorite from Oak Island: Moor the Mariner.

Tammy Wilson is a writer who lives near Newton. Contact her at tamra@tamrawilson.com.

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