MANTEO, N.C. — Fire devastated Outer Banks' history Tuesday.
Buildings that contained historic costumes used for the The Lost Colony play burned to the ground.
A few bright specks of cloth in a sea of dark ashes were what was left of the waterfront costume shop and most of the costumes for the Lost Colony Outdoor Drama.
“It's very sad,” former Lost Colony actor Brian Jones said.
The Lost Colony is a story of 120 people who set up the first English Settlement in 1587. They vanished by 1590.
Jones is also a local photographer, and he was snapping pictures to help preserve the terrible moment. He has much better memories of the place: he played Governor White in the show for four years.
“It's the reason I moved to the Outer Banks, and it's the reason that I got into theater, this show” Jones said.
Fire swept through the costume shop shortly after midnight. Someone spotted the flames from across the Roanoke Sound and called 911.
“We want to say thank you to whoever the anonymous caller was, because I think their quick reporting of the fire actually saved the rest of the theater,” said Carl Curnutte, executive director and producer.
The main stage, sets and props are untouched, but the attention focused on the losses made that small consolation.
Except for some costumes that were being dry-cleaned and others that had been sent to the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh for an exhibition, all the costumes were lost, including those for the characters of colonists and Native Americans.
The building that was destroyed was the Irene Rains Costume Shop, named for a woman who had saved costumes during a 1947 fire.
“The visual memory of our show has basically been lost. We've had costumes all the way back to 1937,” Curnutte said.
“Unfortunately, most of the collection is priceless. You can't even put a price tag on something like this,” Curnutte said.
It could take millions of dollars just to get some kind of replacement ready for next season.
“This is a very strong and vital show and it will go on, but you can't bring back that history… You know, you can build everything else back, but you can't bring back the history,” Jones said.
Rains and then Fred Voelpel had made the costumes from the 1940s through the early 1980s, the theater said in a statement.