Barrier Islands Center Fundraisers Exceed Goal

Historic Almshouse is headquarters for Barrier Islands Center in Machipongo.

Historic Almshouse is headquarters for Barrier Islands Center in Machipongo.

February 28, 2013

The Barrier Islands Center in Machipongo has surpassed its fundraising goal of $2.6 million.

Additionally, the annual BIC Oyster Roast held February 23 was a sell-out, and contributed to the general operating fund, educational outreach, and free admission.

The Barrier Islands Center was founded in 1996. Visitors can learn about how people once lived on the Eastern Shore and on the barrier islands that protect it.

The islands’ rich history includes hunting and fishing lodges that attracted presidents, and battles in the Civil War.

The museum preserves century-old photos and artifacts that depict the hard life of islanders and watermen who lived on the Eastern Shore in the 19th century.

The non-profit organization raised $2.9 million in two years, and is the first of 10 organizations to complete a $500,000 challenge grant.

The money will go for the center’s educational programs, community outreach and operating expenses, as well as capital funds for completion of renovations to the historic property.


The $500,000 matching grant was provided by Jane Batten and is administered through the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve received through this capital campaign,” said Laura Vaughan, executive director of the Barrier Islands Center.

The endowment fund supports the Center’s educational programs and the collection and interpretation of artifacts.

It also ensures that the Barrier Islands Center will continue to serve the Eastern Shore community as a gathering place for local residents of all ages together through special events, educational classes and engaging exhibits.

Located in Machipongo, the Barrier Islands Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The center is housed at the Almshouse Farm and comprises three noteworthy buildings, the oldest of which, known as the Quarter Kitchen, dates to 1725.

An Almshouse from the 1890s and an African-American Almshouse built in 1910 showcase architecture and construction techniques from those eras.

Eighteen acres of farmland that surround the center is leased to a local farmer who grows wheat and soybeans using no-till farming practices to protect the land.

The center  is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Tuesday through Saturday  all year, and admission is free.

For more information, visit or call (757) 678-5550.



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