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Hampstead, North Carolina: Emmett Sniff's Concrete Sculptures

Emmett Sniff was a plasterer who also made large concrete creations. This group includes a big open book, a cannon, and a replica of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.

Custom Built Homes of the Carolinas

22019 US-17, Hampstead, NC
Custom Built Homes of the Carolinas. From Hampstead drive north in US-17 for seven miles. Turn left when you see the blue "Custom Built Homes" sign, then make the first right past the white fence. Drive past the homes on the right, then park and walk to the lighthouse and book.
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Book and lighthouse.

Emmett Sniff's Concrete Sculptures

Scattered up and down US 17 in Hampstead are lighthouses, a few trees, and giant toadstools, among other things, all made of concrete and all built by Emmett Sniff. Emmett was a plasterer and owned the Sniff Plastering Company. The concrete statuary seems to have been something of a hobby and a side gig.

I'm not sure when he started building his concrete creations, but the largest collection of them includes a giant open book (concrete, of course) on a stump with the inscription, "Built by Emmett M. Sniff 2003-2004 at age 70 with the help of the Lord and my grandson Calvin J. Sniff age 16 Amen."

That group of statues includes a replica of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, a toadstool (complete with a toad perched on top), an anchor, a rowboat, and a cannon. It's on land formerly owned by Emmett that's now part of Custom Built Homes of the Carolinas.

Down the road a little is my own personal favorite, what looks like a huge, partially toppled dead tree, supporting a sign for the nearby Blake's Chapel Advent Christian Church, something I'd driven by numerous times without realizing it wasn't a real tree until I learned about Emmett's works. Emmett was a member of Blake's Chapel, and it's where his memorial service was held after his death in 2017.

Blake's Chapel sign.

On down Route 17 there's another lighthouse that rises up seemingly for no reason. It used to seem even more random when there was just a paved vacant lot behind it, but there's currently a business called P&L Palms occupying the space.

Further down 17 is another seemingly dead tree (compete with a concrete squirrel and concrete birds nest) holding the sign for a shopping plaza called Oak Tree Center. It's on land once owned by Emmett where he'd planned on building his own shopping center. When other developers bought the land, they kept Emmett's tree and used it to advertise their place.

There's yet another dead tree (reportedly 80 feet tall!) and a toadstool on private property where Emmett built a home that he ultimately never lived in.

[Dean Jeffrey, 12/10/2019]

Nearby Offbeat Places

SharkShark, Hampstead, NC - < 1 mi.
Souvenir Shop GatorSouvenir Shop Gator, Surf City, NC - 4 mi.
Missiles and More MuseumMissiles and More Museum, Topsail Beach, NC - 5 mi.
In the region:
World's Largest Frying Pan, Rose Hill, NC - 35 mi.

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