The shore of present-day Croatan was roamed by Indians. When Sir Walter Raleigh sponsored the first English settlement in the New World in 1584, the settlers who landed on Roanoke Island named their new home Fort Raleigh. The first English baby born in America was named Virginia Dare. The ships sailed to England for supplies and, in 1590, upon their return, they found Fort Raleigh empty with only one clue: on a tree was carved the word “Croatan”, the name of a tribe on Hatteras Island.
The records in the Old Princess Anne Courthouse, however, go back to 1774 when the land was owned by a few men. Later a company in Missouri bought the land. By 1898, a religious group bought 196 acres for $13,500. And created “Chautauqua-By-The-Sea.” The plans were grandiose. They called for a convention center, a large hotel, and a center for training ministers of the
gospel. Nothing came of the plan. More owners came and went until 1946 when a Richmond-based corporation called Seaside Homes, Inc. bought two large tracts of the property and announced another grandiose plan. Seaside proposed to build 13 hotels, 23 apartment buildings, and an extensive residential area. It paid $93,500 for the property. The next year, the corporation moved its base to Virginia Beach and changed its charter to read Croatan Corporation. Disagreements and complications led the company into bankruptcy. In July, 1949, an auction was held at the Virginia Beach Community Center. The amount of the sale is uncertain, as a scandal broke out with a conviction of an attorney who embezzled some $135,000. One of the largest purchasers at that time was George T. McLean. Croatan was slow to grow for a period of time, however, Croatan is now a fantastic location for families to enjoy all that Croatan Beach has to offer.