A History of Manteo, North Carolina


Dare County Court House - Manteo, North Carolina - 2016

The names Wanchese and Manteo, towns on Roanoke Island, come from those two Indian Chiefs who befriended the colonists who were to become lost forever. Both were taken to England in 1584 and returned to Roanoke Island in 1585 with the Grenville and Lane Expedition. Manteo remained a staunch friend despite ill advised actions on the part of the English which included an attack on the Indians. Wanchese's regard deteriorated and it is believed that he became somewhat hostile and downright disenchanted.

Founded in 1870 and incorporated in 1899, Manteo has the feel of a much older town. Perhaps it is the prevalence of Elizabethan and Old World buildings that line the town's quiet streets. Or maybe it is the replica of a sixteenth century sailing vessel anchored in its harbor. Or it could be that the town's namesake is a 400 year-old Native American who assisted the original colonists way back when. Regardless, this town has a real sense of history that transcends its 100 year-old birth certificate.


Old Dare County Court House - Manteo, North Carolina

Manteo is indeed the cultural, commercial, and governmental center of Dare County. By no means a huge metropolis (population of 1,434 in 2010), it nonetheless is where all Dare County citizens eventually end up, either for entertainment or business or just plain visiting. The restored waterfront is a hub of retail activity, while across the harbor, the Roanoke Island Festival Park hosts dozens of cultural events and activities year-round. The nearby Lost Colony - the first outdoor drama in the U.S. - brings about 1,100 visitors each night through Manteo, filling restaurants and shops up until show time. The majestic Elizabethan Gardens are also on the island.


As the town of Roanoke Island, it was granted a U.S. Post Office on April 2, 1870, and its first Postmaster was J. Henry Leonhauser. The name was changed to Manteo on May 9, 1870, and its first Postmaster was again J. Henry Leonhauser. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception.


© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved