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Flat Top Cottages


The Flat Top Cottages of the Outer Banks represent a unique modernist solution to specific design conditions.  They remain a distinctive design within our current architectural landscape. Over the past couple of years, we have documented over thirty homes of which one has been demolished. We have provided pro-bono documentation services at no cost to the property owners and made them available for the owner to use as part of a submission to the town of Southern Shores for historic designation. We have also worked with the Southern Shores Flat Top Association and reached out to the Dare County Arts Council for possible artistic collaborations. Our efforts have been recognized by the American Institute for Architects (AIA) with a 2016 award for community service and The Friends of the Outer Banks History Center Volunteer of the Year award in 2022. It is estimated that 2-3 cottages are lost per year due to development or disrepair. Through outreach, we hope to encourage owners of the remaining Flat Tops to become a part of the town of Southern Shores' historic preservation efforts. We may not be able to protect all the remaining Flat Tops but for those who demolish their cottages, this archive is an enduring record of their presence. Finally, we want to inspire a revival of this Outer Banks modernist style in the form of new home designs.



•Documentation of historic Flat Top structures in Southern Shores and the Outer Banks that were designed or inspired by Frank Stick.

•Research historical archives for information relating to Flat Top cottages.

•Donation of all information to historical archives for public viewing and research.

•Raise awareness within the community of the historic nature of this unique architectural style.

Means of Documentation

•Contact and communicate with existing Flat Top owners

•Photograph the existing structures

•Take detailed architectural house measurements

•Preparation of scaled architectural drawings as well as 3D renderings.

•We believe that our project will assist in documenting and sharing critical knowledge about Flat Tops and their importance to the history of the Outer Banks. We are excited and honored about the opportunity to continue our partnership and shared Flat Top cottage advocacy with the Friends of the OBHC on this important publication. 



  • We extensively researched the town of Southern Shores and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources archives for information pertaining to these historic homes which included photographs, original architectural blueprints, and owner-provided documentation of many Flat Tops cottages in Southern Shores.

  • We envision this as an ongoing effort to document the unique stories of each structure and their significance to the history and growth of the entire Outer Banks. 


The Flat Top Book

The documentation of over thirty Flat Tops cottages combined with our ongoing research of the history of these structures has encouraged us to publish a book telling the story of this rare local vernacular architecture. Using our recent documentation efforts, we plan to describe how Frank and David Stick and their vision for Southern Shores became reality. We will describe the early efforts by Frank Stick and the following critical work by his son David to organize Southern Shores into one of the early thriving communities in the Outer Banks.

We intend to document the Flat Top cottages with a book that is heavy on photography and supported by an engaging narrative. Low to the ground, with simple lines and splashes of tropical color, the cottages have a strong mid-century modern connection. In addition to original photography, we would tap period images-hopefully including personal photos from legacy families. Stories will be woven throughout the book, complementing the images and bringing the history of the Flat Top to life.  



Our Friends and Sponsors

Thank you for all the help and support.


All documents have or will be donated to the following parties for preservation and public viewing:

  • NC Department of Natural & Cultural Resources (Outer Banks History Center).

  • Town of Southern Shores Historical Commission

  • NC Modernist Houses Online Archive

  • Library of Congress as part of the Historical American Building Survey

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