There are many names for the cottage, as almost anyone who has ever been to Nags Head, NC, knows. Some call it Stinson’s Ranch; others call it the House on the Water. Tourists refer to it as “that old place on the sound” and locals refer to it as “the 100-year-old house”. Strangers often would come up on the deck, introduce themselves and say “I’ve been walking by this place for years and years, and always wondered what it looked like on the inside.” The Stinsons always welcomed these admirers into the cottage. Once a person crossed the threshold, they were no longer a stranger, but were a friend of the cottage. Somehow, everyone felt at home there.
In 1903, a simple cottage was built in the Albemarle sound in the beautiful setting of Nags Head along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. In 1963 the proprietors of this secondary home getaway aptly named their cottage the Stinson Ranch. This quaint southern cottage was elevated in the water, withstanding the test of time, with testimony of a battery of hurricanes and tornado activity.
In the beautiful summer month of August 2011, everything changed. The unrelentless wind and storm from a category one hurricane named Irene, annihilated this beautiful setting of many memories, and forever changed the landscape of a tranquil community. But this is more than a story of a devastated dwelling and a heart-broken family.
(This is something I never ever thought I would personally be part of. Heck, my wife and I are from Oakville Ontario Canada; a far cry from the beautiful setting of one of America’s most vacationed areas of stunning sunsets and Atlantic Ocean memories.)
This was something beyond the Stinson’s Ranch even being recognized by the National Historic Registry. This was far beyond beautiful property; far beyond a beautiful neighborhood, and far beyond beautiful warm hearted neighbors. This was about to become something that opened my heart to understand why novels and movies are made. There had to be something about this entire story that changed my life.
This is a love story.
This is about a man who adores a woman whom he is proud to call his wife, and a woman who is very proud to be married to a fine man. Billy and Sandra Stinson are the owners of the Stinson Ranch, and they love children, people and the Lord. That is probably why they gravitated to choose their careers as school teachers. Billy and Sandra are the teachers we all know and love. They are the teachers who have influenced your life, changed your life and perhaps maybe even saved your life.
Billy and Sandra Stinson love and adore their two beautiful daughters Erin and Amanda; and the Stinson daughters have followed their parents footsteps to also love people and life and the Lord. It is the love of this family that made the Stinson Ranch the quintessential cocoon; the refuge; and the idyllic sanctuary that makes you want to read about.
This story provides hope, faith and an abundant dose of charity. I hope you allow this story of highs and lows, ebbs and flows, mountains and valleys to touch your heart like it has mine.
May this become one of them.
by Scott Gibbons