Fort Caswell Guests
Can I see what rooms are available or make a reservation online?
Not at this time. Fort Caswell is unique from most lodging businesses in that it has 28 different lodging buildings within 7 different lodging categories. There is quite simply no electronic system capable of understanding the subtle complexities of guests needs in relation to the number and type of housing spaces we have available. We feel an experienced reservations specialist is still the best option for assisting you in finding the ideal space from our available options, and that's why we ask that you call to inquire and make reservations. Our reservations staff is available weekdays from 8am - 5pm at (910) 278-9501.
What different types of lodging spaces do you offer and what do you call them?
Fort Caswell categorizes many of its lodging spaces to make it easier to understand what you will be getting with a particular building or room that you reserve. There are three buildings that stand apart in their own categories, Smith Conference Center, Lantana Lodge, and Oceana Motel.
The Smith Conference Center offers modern hotel accommodations, with window unit A/C control and a mini fridge in the rooms.
Lantana Lodge is Fort Caswell's premier adult lodging space located in the renovated oldest wooden structure on campus. Interiors have a premium finish with high ceilings and tall windows. Unlike the conference center, there is a semi- commercial grade kitchen and dining area for guests to use in the preparation of their own meals. This is an ideal lodge for retreats of a group of adults.
Oceana Motel offers ground-level access and gorgeous views of the boat basin from private screened-in porches. In addition to standard motel rooms, a connecting kitchen is available between rooms for an additional fee.
Every other building on Campus falls into one of the following categories:
Hotel - standard hotel rooms typically with two double (also know as full) beds. No kitchen included.
Cottage - Mixed double bed rooms with bunk beds. Includes a kitchen for the preparation of your own meals.
Residence - Mixed double bed rooms with primarily bunk beds. No kitchen. Ideal value for youth groups seeking private space.
Barracks - All bunk beds in open floor plan, separated into 4 sections. No kitchen. Best value for youth groups.
What do the inside of your buildings look like?
We understand why you would want to see what the inside of your building looks like before arrival, beyond a general floor plan. At this time, however, we do not offer images of the interiors of most of our buildings. This is due to the number and variety of buildings we would have to cover .Our facilities staff works hard year-round to maintain the beauty and function of every lodging area, and we think you'll agree after your visit.
Fort Caswell is continually reviewing our content policies for this website, and we may include photos of building interiors at some point in the future.
What bed sizes do you offer?
In space that is typically used for youth groups or field trips, we have mostly bunk beds with double (or full) beds for adult chaperones. These spaces include the Barracks, Residences, and Cottages. The Oceana Motel, most beds in Lantana Lodge, most beds in the Smith Conference Center, and most beds in our Hotels are double beds. Driftwood #5, Oleander #5, and Palmetto #5 all feature Queen beds. For details on your specific room, contact our reservations staff in the main office. Our reservations staff is available weekdays from 8am - 5pm at (910) 278-9501.
If my group cancels or several are unable to come, can I get a refund?
You may receive a refund for non-Caswell sponsored events prior to 60 days before the date of the event. After that, all money on deposit is forfeited. If you are attending a Fort Caswell sponsored event, you are eligible to receive a refund prior to 30 days before the date of the event. Fort Caswell's staff endeavors to make our refund policy very clear from the beginning of your experience with us, please ensure that you plan accordingly when making arrangements to reserve rooms with us.
I would like to have linens included with my beds in a Cottage, Residence, or Barracks space. What is involved in making that happen?
Linens are included with all Hotels, the Motel, Lantana Lodge, and the Conference Center, but are not included in buildings that have primarily bunk space. Linen service may be added to these spaces at a fee of $5 per person, per night. Linens ordered in this way are delivered folded, and not made on the bed.
I noticed that our meal time is a 30 minute window. Why is it just 30 minutes?
Fort Caswell serves food cafeteria and buffet style, and there are health code restrictions on how long food can be served in this format. These considerations, as well as considerations to guests who may be assigned a meal time immediately before or after your group, has led us to adopting a policy of 30 minute windows for meal times. Please ensure that everyone in your group is aware of your meal time so that no one misses out on their meal.
If we want to eat meals at Fort Caswell, how big does our group need to be.
If your group is the only group on campus requesting meals, your group must have at least 25 people. Groups smaller than that who would like to eat meals here may request them, but may not be able to receive meal service here unless another group requests it as well and the two (or more) groups combine to make up at least 25 people.
General Public Visitation
Is Fort Caswell open to the general public?
Unfortunately, we are not able to be open to the general public at all times. Please call ahead to see if we are allowing public drive-throughs of campus and/or grounds passes for a particular date & time that you'd like to visit, before you show up at our gate. This ensures you don't drive all the way out here and leave disappointed!
Our phone number is (910) 278-9501 and we're open weekdays from 8am to 5pm.
This is a significant piece of US History and natural beauty, shouldn't it always be open to the public?
The site of Fort Caswell was purchased in 1949 by the Baptist State Convention of NC and is privately held.
We certainly understand and treasure the significance that this place has culturally and historically, and we do not take it for granted. We also endeavor to share it with the general public whenever possible.
Initially, Fort Caswell was acquired primarily to provide a retreat and conference facility by the coast for youth retreats of North Carolina Baptist Churches. Since its founding, Caswell has opened its doors to all ages, other Christian denominations, para-church ministries, primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, and other non-profit organizations – making it possible for many more to come and enjoy a team-building or community-building experience here.
Our primary obligation is to meet the safety and comfort needs of our retreat and conference guests, many of whom have come to Caswell for a break from the noise, pressures and stresses of everyday life.
In keeping with this obligation, we must act with an abundance of caution for the safety of our guests, especially our teenaged and younger visitors, which means that we can not responsibly provide unrestricted access to the general public when groups of them are here. We have a security gate checkpoint which is where all visitors must stop and receive clearance from security personnel before entering the campus. We hope that everyone will understand that this is done for the safety of our guests, especially our young guests, and not in an effort to restrict access to any person or group of people.
The good news is that the general public is welcome to visit on dates and at times when we do not have many guests on campus. This is why we encourage visitors to call ahead before arriving at our gate for a visit.
On days when you are allowing general public visitation, how does that work? What can we do?
If you call-ahead and learn that we are allowing visitors for drive-throughs and/or grounds passes, simply drive to our gate and the security guard will give you further instruction.
Drive-throughs are 100% free when available. You will be asked to take a dash tag with you and to take no more than 15 minutes to drive around campus, without exiting your vehicle.
Those wishing to exit their vehicles may purchase a grounds pass at our main office (open M-F from 8-5 and Saturday from 8-12) at a cost of $5 per person. This pass allows you to explore the grounds, read historic markers, and even take a complete self-guided tour.
I've come before and been turned away. Are you only open a couple times a year?
Contrary to what you may have heard, we are actually open to the public more often than not. One reason some guests may assume we are rarely open is that our retreat guests often book visits during the same times of year and calendar dates that public vacationers tend to be in town. Summer weekdays, for instance, it is not possible for us to safely allow public visitation due to how busy we are with retreat guests, but the summer is also when tourist traffic in the area is at its height. We hope that you understand that restricted access to our campus comes out of a desire to provide security and a peaceful environment for our guests, not out of a desire to keep people out.
Why does a religious organization own it? Wouldn't it have been better for the property and public if the government had kept it?
Respectfully, we don't believe the property would be in better shape without us. For more on why, please allow us to share a bit of Fort Caswell's modern history.
Right up front, we feel it's important to acknowledge that we understand that church, and specifically the Baptist Church, isn't everyone's preference for the basis of their worldview, while something like US History probably has a broader public appeal. Please allow us to, in humility, to share why we feel that we have been, and will continue to be, great stewards of this incredible place.
At the time of sale in 1949, the property had been on the market for four years with no takers, (including the state, who was content with Fort Macon, acknowledging the lack of any historic battle here). The buildings around campus, over 50 in all, had fallen into disrepair, and the US military was anxious to offload it to anyone who would take-on the responsibility.
What would have happened if NC Baptist hadn't stepped in after WWII and bought it? You can probably guess. Between WWI and WWII, it was sold to private developers who briefly operated it as a resort, modifying historic structures and using it exclusively to turn a profit. It was then sold to the Navy for WWII, and if not for NC Baptists, there almost certainly would have been another private developer who made the purchase with little to no interest in the history of the structures, or the significance of the land to wildlife. It is very likely that a developer would have built a significant number of new structures on-site, while destroying or heavily modifying the existing structures and wildlife habitat. We've seen it happen all too often across the Carolina coast, but thankfully, that isn't the story we're left with today.
Fort Caswell is very pleased to have been able to adapt almost every historic U.S. Army Coast Artillery building, and preserved it to today. Each year, skilled tradesmen on our staff and NC Baptist volunteers work constantly to keep these structures in excellent condition against the never-ending ravages of time and weather. The external appearance of these buildings has been left as close to their original appearance as is possible, and many original fixtures and furnishings are preserved and maintained with care. The extent of our work in restoring and maintaining the 50+ historic structures dating back to 1898 is such that in 2013, Fort Caswell was added to The National Register of Historic Places upon nomination by the State Historic Preservations Officer of NC.
Also worth mentioning is our ongoing commitment to the preservation of wildlife habitat across both the historically developed portions of campus, and the substantial undeveloped estuary and maritime forest land under our care. The National Wildlife Federation has certified us as an Official Wildlife Habitat, “under careful planning and maintenance,” something that we intend to maintain indefinitely, as we greatly value the significance of this land to local wildlife.
And, again, we want to emphasize that we've done all of this while still remaining open to the public as much as possible, something we're committing to as long as possible. We think that's a pretty cool thing, and we hope you do too.