The Morattico Waterfront Museum honors life on the river in this place and those who lived it before us by preserving for public knowledge the cultural history and traditions of a watermen's village on the Rappahannock River, and by maintaining a center for community activities in the museum building.
The Morattico Waterfront Museum is situated in the heart of the watermen's village on the north shore of the Rappahannock River with commanding views of the river, Lancaster Creek, and Mulberry Bay. The village takes its name from the Moraughtacund Indians of the Algonquian Nation encountered in the area by Captain John Smith in 1608.
By 1889, construction of the Morattico Wharf at the south end of what is now Morattico Road brought steamboat commerce to an already thriving village center for agriculture, fishing, crabbing, and oystering. The wharf, one of the longest on the Rappahannock River, ceased operation with the end of steamboat trade shortly before the great storm of 1933.
In 2003 residents established the all-volunteer, non-profit museum to preserve the cultural history of the village and maintain a community center. It is housed in the 1901 Morattico General Store building, in continuous operation as a country store serving the community through a succession of nine owners until 2002. The building and property were a gift to the museum and community from the Weston F. Conley, Jr. family. Conley's parents operated the store from 1935 until 1953.
Establishment of the museum and community center has had a dramatic effect on the village, bringing together lifelong residents and new property owners in a common effort to preserve the unique identity of the village and its tradition of neighbor helping neighbor.
Thanks to committed members, and growing collection, the museum has an outdoor pavilion gifted by member Steve Sykes for community activities and fundraisers.
Artifacts, photos, and documents related to activities in a working watermen's settlement and the function of the general store are being preserved to honor the past and educate new generations.