Our History

History of the Atlantis Lodge

history of the atlantis lodge

The Atlantis was the inspiration of Ruth Bray (“Mabee”), and was jointly designed by Raleigh City Planner (and Atlantis owner) A.C. Hall, Jr., and renowned NC modernist architect Donald Stewart. The design synergy between these two best friends, from aesthetics to functionality, is palpable as you explore the property.

The Lodge sits amidst a maritime forest on three oceanfront acres purchased from the Roosevelt family in 1959. Construction began on the first 12 units in 1962, and the Atlantis’s first guest checked in at 8pm on May 29th, 1963. Whether it was the ocean views, lush vegetation and abundant wildlife, beautiful beach and dunes, or Mabee’s inimitable hospitality (complete with her “RELAX” license plate), the Atlantis was an instant hit – effectively going viral in a pre-internet world. Not only was the Atlantis cool, contemporary, oceanfront accommodation with Scandinavian furniture, wood paneling (yes!), colored-glass light fixtures, and panelfold doors, but it had kitchens and accepted pets – two extremely valuable amenities in any lodging establishment; even today.

But running the Lodge wasn’t enough for Mabee – she looked at the bigger picture and wanted to see Pine Knoll Shores (and Carteret County) tourism grow. So she became the President of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce. And since she had a home (a pretty big one at that), she offered space to those who didn’t – when Pine Knoll Shores incorporated in 1973, the Atlantis housed both the Police Station and Town Hall until they could establish homes of their own. Her ideas and generosity made a huge difference to a fledgling tourism industry.

The immediate success of the Lodge meant expansion, and by 1965, 16 new units plus the 3rd-floor Lounge were complete. Always looking for new ideas to bring in business and promote tourism in Carteret County, Mabee used the Lounge as a meeting facility to entice the Duke University Medical Symposium to the Atlantis, bringing as many as 70 Duke University doctors into Pine Knoll Shores for weeks at a time each year. Over the years, she won many awards for her local and state-wide tourism efforts, and was the first female recipient of the Charles J. Parker Award for excellence in North Carolina tourism.

The Atlantis kept growing, and a further 18 units (comprising the buildings closest to the ocean) were completed in 1972. The Atlantis had 46 rooms to rent out, and Mabee saw to it that they were filled – running the lodge single-handedly for 18 years, until she was ready to retire in 1980.

It just so happened that Mabee’s retirement coincided with A.C.’s retirement from his position as City Planner of Raleigh – so he and Dot (and their youngest son, Tod) moved to the Lodge to keep it going. The four rooms above the Office were repurposed as their bedrooms and living room, so the Atlantis became (and still is) a 42-unit property.

As is the case with many family businesses, when the time arrives, one of the kids seems best suited to take over the reins. In the summer of 2003, Donna, Dot & A.C.’s daughter, moved down from the Raleigh area with her dog Cody and soon became the General Manager of the Atlantis. It was (and still is) clear that Donna has the talent for continuing to make the Atlantis better each day, while maintaining its original feel. She and her 3 brothers hope to keep the Atlantis Lodge in the family and thriving for many years to come.

The Atlantis is, at its very core, a “beach lodge”. If you come expecting the Ritz or you don’t like getting sand between your toes, you might not be impressed. But just try a little experiment with us. Put down your phone, your tablet, and any other distractions, and walk slowly along the boardwalk towards the beach. You’re not in a rush here. Focus on the nature around you, listen to the birds, and feel the sun and the breeze. Sit on the beach deck… or sit on the sand… or sit in the edge of the ocean. Just breathe. Let go. Relax. We think you’ll agree there’s something very special about this place – something that makes the stress just fall away. And it brings people back time and time again. Come, let us show you.

View a Virtual Tour of the Atlantis Lodge.