Southern Shores, NC holds the very few flat-roofed block cottages that are still standing today. Frank stick, an artist, architect, and visionary developer combined an informal island feel home (known to the residents of the Florida Keys) with a formal 20th century architecture to create the first “flat-top” cottage at 60 Ocean Boulevard in Southern Shores. During that time lumber, the traditional building material, was not available due to the war and was only issued to the government. Stick cleverly weighed his options and decided, for his construction, to use the most available natural resource around, sand. The house had a flat topped roof with an extended over hanging to help decrease the sun's powerful heat by casting shade over the exterior stone walls. While louvered doors, and windows allowed breezes to pass through creating a cool living area. The floor plan came from America's foremost architect Frank Wright, along with the siting. There was also exposed soffits, wooden storm shutters, juniper walls, cabinets, and doors included in the materials. And, sometimes the center of the ceiling was raised. This style of house was already adapted in the Florida Keys, and they were designed to withstand severe storms and the tropical climate. Which made them very functional for the Outer Banks barrier island though they were not very fashionable.
Like the baby boomers of the 60's and 70's, Stick's homes took off until Southern Shores eventually had a community of flat-roofed cottages. Stick ended up building a second one for his friend after he finished the home of 60 Ocean Blvd. And soon enough an Oceanfront colony grew around them. Flat tops became the capital architectural style in Southern Shores.
There are still a few of the original flat roofed cottages here on the Outer Banks today (less than half remain), but who is to say for how long. For owners are finding themselves debating on whether to renovate their older style home or to remodel for a more modern feel. Southern Shores Realty has multiple “flat tops” in the rental program; some still in their genuine state while the others have already been remodeled with additions for the larger, more modern family. The plumbing and drain lines were buried in the sand before the foundation was poured making the decision even more difficult for flat top owners who wanted to remodel. I would love to see more original flat-tops on the Outer Banks kept in Stick's style though the ones that have already been remodeled are just as interesting! I believe I can speak for most locals when I say that, because they give the Outer Banks a unique feel, something different among the several vacation homes in the area, we're glad that a few still remain.