In continuous use protecting Southport from 1749 to 2006, the Garrison now houses the Fort Johnston Museum, a home of remarkable local treasures. This week’s “Armchair History” took a look at these Garrison gems, with Southport Historical Society President Bob Surridge leading the way, ably assisted by Juli Ghiselin, Tommy Harrelson, and Alexander Patterson. 

What defines a “treasure?” We saw many fine examples: 

  • The Garrison itself, lovingly maintained when many buildings have fallen prey to neglect or replacement, now shines as a Visitor Center and Museum
  • The Southport Historical Society, drawing on the talents of civic-minded volunteers committed to honoring, celebrating, and building upon Southport’s history
  • The extraordinary Susie Carson Research Room, where a trove of records that could have been lost forever are faithfully catalogued and available online to researchers
  • The faithfully maintained storefront window of Fullwood Grocery store, a literal window into a time when Southport, tiny as it seems to us now, had multiple neighborhoods, each served by a grocer
  • The beautiful artwork of Southport’s Art Newton, compiled into a stunning book by Tommy Harrelson and Art’s daughter Juli, who was only an infant when she lost her talented father
  • Lew Hardee, Jr’s carefully crafted models of Southport points of interest, a miniature world of landmarks cradled within a landmark 
  • Our next generation, brilliantly represented by award-winning student cinematographer Alexander Patterson, sharing his research into the exploits of Civil War blockade runner Christopher Columbus Morse.
  • Soon-to-be revealed Southport Fourth of July photos from 1921, donated by a descendant of Arthur “Red” Ferguson who had been stationed at Ft. Caswell, offering a glimpse of life nearly a century ago.

Many more treasures live on within and outside the Garrison. Please consider supporting the Southport Historical Society ( and the Friends of the Library Southport & Oak Island ( if you treasure these wonderful presentations.