Community History

The Arboretum is a residential enclave within the Town of Caswell Beach, North Carolina. Consisting of some fifty acres, it is bounded on three sides by the Oak Island Golf Club course and on the fourth by marsh and Piney Point Creek. A south-facing beach on the Atlantic Ocean is approximately a half mile away. Amenities include two tennis courts, a large clubhouse, and an indoor swimming pool and spa.

In the late 1980s, developers acquired this property and divided it into 103 lots averaging one-third acre. The developers envisioned a community in which trees and wet lands would be treasured and preserved. The removal of trees was restricted to those necessary to construct roads and houses. The resulting community was indeed an “arboretum.” The most common trees are native pines and live oaks, but many other species abound. Replete with wild fowl, such as ibises, egrets, and herons, the tidal marsh is home to shrimp and oysters and is a nursery for a variety of fish. It is not uncommon to see hawks, cormorants, otters, porpoises, and alligators. Backyard and feeder birds abound, including cardinals, finches, wrens, redwing blackbirds, blue birds, blue jays, and wonderfully melodious mockingbirds. Boating, fishing, kayaking, crabbing are added opportunities in the marshlands.

When this unique property, located within easy walking distance of the Caswell Beach strand, was opened for purchase in June 1988, sales were brisk. Over $1,000,000 in lots were sold in the first three hours; prices ranged from $29,000 to $79,000. In a few months, some 90 lots were sold for either building or investment. By 1992 twenty-six houses had been completed, and by 2008 there were eighty-two homeowners.

The Arboretum Homeowners Association assumed custody of the recreational amenities in November 1990; and, over time the property owners themselves became responsible for the day-to-day operation of the community, excepting the sewer system which the Arboretum and Ocean Greens (a sister community) acquired in 1996. A commercial sewer plant professional and a local accountant were hired to manage Caswell Sewer System affairs. Otherwise, with but few exceptions, the Arboretum community has functioned successfully with an elected board and numerous volunteer committees.

Arboretum homeowners take great pride in beautifying their properties by adding grass, flowers and shrubs. Also, the association has actively sought to have social events such as dinners, parties, and game nights as a means of generating community solidarity. Various interest groups have provided both entertainment and educational opportunities (e.g. bridge lessons, opera sessions, book clubs, water aerobics). Considering the variety of people and experiences they represent, the Arboretum is a very fine place to live if beauty, friendly neighbors, and a quiet life are criteria for happiness.

Authors: Sarah & Max Williams (with the help of back issues of the Community Newsletter)