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Catalog of Paintings Over the Years...



Looking Back and a Special Tribute

Finding my "niche" began on this Orange Street porch. 
      Having dreamed of living on the coast and developing my painting skills, in 1998 I found a rental on Sunshine Court. As I acclimated and sought to find my way, I recall neighbor Jane Harvey saying, "Don't worry, you'll find your niche."
     Three years later, I fortuitously found a small cottage
in the historic district, and was soon inspired to paint neighboring homes. Yearning to know more, I searched family records and house histories; this helped me better capture the character and spirit of each dwelling.  

     While exploring other materials and sources, I found much I had not seen in the then few local publications. With no internet archive of the town, in 2006 I began the first two of many sites to follow - Beaufort North Carolina's Best and Beaufort North Carolina History, to share and help promote the town and its unique history.
     Diagnosed with MS in 2008,
in 2010 I moved to Radio Island where I share photos of my view, while continuing my research and writing about Beaufort. 
     I truly believe I was sent to Beaufort for a reason and am very grateful for the special "thank you" below. 
- Mary Warshaw 

A Special Tribute
 by Beaufort resident Liz Burke   
Beaufort-by-the-Sea magazine - October 2016
       I first became aware of Mary Warshaw several years ago. I had just retired to Beaufort and my uncle, Borden Mace, immediately came to visit me. The house I had rented on Ann Street sat directly across from the Mace house where "Uncle Bookie" and my mother had grown up. At age 93, Uncle Bookie knew he did not have much longer to live and he wanted to "breathe in" his beloved Beaufort one last time. But instead of dying that year, my uncle became completely energized by Beaufort as he began retracing his roots. This is where Mary Warshaw entered into our lives.
       Uncle Bookie and I discovered that Mary had painstakingly researched so much of the history of Beaufort. She had woven together a staggering compilation of history that covered three centuries! Through her study of deeds and family records, along with numerous other sources, Mary had also uncovered more accurate data on all our historic homes. Uncle Bookie was elated to discover stories about his ancestors that Mary had brought to life! 

         Mary's blogs and Facebook pages provide thousands of visitors and residents alike with valuable information about our unique and charming historic town. Beaufort and the state of North Carolina owe Mary Warshaw a debt of gratitude for her numerous contributions. Her copious amount of research has more accurately updated some existing history and solved many of the town's mysteries.

         In addition to Mary's dedication as a researcher and historian, her paintings of Beaufort have become legendary. In fact, she moved to Beaufort from Winston-Salem, NC, in 1998 to focus on her art, which soon went hand-in-hand with her research. Moving into the heart of the historic district in 2001, Mary became engulfed by inspiration and began painting the historic porches. Wanting to know more, in order to capture the spirit and intimacy of the porches, she began her Beaufort research. In 2009, the paintings were compiled into Mary's first book, Porchscapes, the Colors of Beaufort which features 50 paintings of Beaufort porches along with the histories of the homes. Mary's latest book, Historic Beaufort North Carolina, focuses on the town's 285 historic homes. Interestingly, Borden Mace, who was a former movie producer and publisher, became involved as a consultant and wrote the insightful introduction—"Fond Memories of Life in Beaufort." Unfortunately, he passed away before seeing a sample book.

         I had a chance to interview Mary, in order to give our residents a glimpse into her life and curious mind. But first I want to say "Thank you Mary Warshaw" on behalf of all of us in Beaufort. "Your paintings and research provide all of us with a wonderful look into our past and present."

Out of all the coastal towns in NC, why did you choose to settle in Beaufort?
     "Although I had never been to Beaufort, I was undeniably drawn to it being a quaint seaside village, instead of a typical beach-cottage town."

Have you met or heard from interesting people due to your posts and books?   
     "Probably the most surprising was a call. The caller began with 'I'm a Green' and proceeded to tell me he was a 7th great grandson of Farniford Green, who held the 1707 patent on 780 acres in 'Core Sound,' part of which would later become Beaufort. By the way, the caller, Alfred Grieshaber, lives in Eagle Point, Oregon and raises llamas.
     When writing Porchscapes, I connected with architectural historian Tony P. Wrenn, who did the 1970 survey of Beaufort; this study resulted in the town's nomination to the National Register. Tony ended up writing the beautiful introduction to the book. The most important thing I learned from Tony – 'History isn't history unless it's documented.'
     Years ago, I began an email exchange with historian Charles L. Paul, author of Colonial Beaufort. Charles has followed my work online and has been very supportive.
     I was also able to learn more about the Leecraft family when a great-great granddaughter of Benjamin Leecraft III contacted me. After inheriting a large amount of Leecraft memorabilia from her mother, Pat Fleury had to purchase extra shelving to organized and access it all."

After the success of your two books on Beaufort, do you have plans for another book and are you currently working on uncovering more of Beaufort's mysteries?
     "Due to my issues with MS and not knowing what's ahead for me, I think it is important to save more of my research. I’ve been compiling three other books—other important histories that need to be preserved. While working on these books, I continue to update existing histories, as I also discover more old accounts, letters and images that give more insight into Beaufort's past."

What are some of your significant discoveries or unsolved mysteries?
    “While helping to save the Duncan House a few years ago, I finally discovered when and by whom it was built—by James Davis circa 1815.
    The Hammock House is not Beaufort's oldest house. It was built in 1800 by Samuel Leffers and is not the "White House" built in the early 1700s. So…which is the oldest house in town? Of those that retain much of their original architectural integrity, I believe it's a toss up between the Peter Piver House circa 1770 at 131 Ann Street, and the Asa Canaday House circa 1770 at 704 Ann Street. But, more research needs to be done.
    The Benjamin Leecraft II homestead was located on the east side of the first block of Turner Street. Benjamin Leecraft II was evidently the "town banker." After his father deeded a plot of land in 1848, Benjamin Leecraft III built his home at 301 Ann. When Benjamin Leecraft II died in 1852, he left behind a massive estate. In addition to his property holdings, thousands of dollars in promissory notes remained for his heirs to collect when due. After inheriting lots from his father, Benjamin Leecraft II, William built the two adjacent Leecraft homes on Ann Street."
What motivates you to continue your historical research?
     "I have a genuine interest and it's addictive."

Who has inspired you the most in your life?
     "As far as the one who inspired and affected my work soon after moving to Beaufort, that person would be artist Emile Gruppé (1896‒1978) and his book Gruppé on Color. Oddly enough, I had bought the book twenty years earlier, but had never taken time to study it. I soon realized it had been waiting for me all along."

When were you diagnosed with MS?  How have you readjusted your research and writing and art in relation to your illness?
     "Diagnosed with MS in 2008, while I was finishing Porchscapes, painting gradually became more difficult for me. Acquiescing to various MS issues, especially impaired mobility and balance, I am still able to continue my research, writing, and other online work, all of which help keep my brain active. I'm just a little slower."