A working committee to be known as Friends of Portsmouth Island was formed in late 1989 under the sponsorship of the Carteret County Historical Society. On February 23, 1990, the committee was comprised of Frances Eubanks, Chairperson, and members Dorothy Byrum Bedwell (retired schoolteacher and author of Portsmouth: Island With A Soul), Connie Mason (historical researcher, formerly with the Cape Lookout National Seashore, now with the N.C. Maritime Museum), Bob and Mary Simpson (well-known writers and preservers of history as owners and restorers of the vessel “Sylvia”, Hubert Pulley (constant visitor to Portsmouth since 1968, former Portsmouth lease holder, and pilot), Dave Murrell (former co-owner and restorer of Crew´s Inn, Ocracoke), and Kay Hewitt (Carteret County Historical Society). Joining the aforementioned persons in October 1990, still as a working committee, were Dot Salter Willis, Alton Ballance, Ann Ehringhaus and Murray Adams.
A tentative statement of purpose and short-term and long-term goals were established. The statement of purpose consisted of three areas:
- To promote and encourage the preservation of the historic structures, furnishings and sites of Portsmouth Island.
- To collect and preserve artifacts, photographs, documents and manuscripts of Portsmouth Island for deposit in the Carteret County Museum of History and Art.
- To foster and promote public knowledge of and interest in Portsmouth Island´s past, present and future.
The short-term goals consisted of increasing membership, conducting semi-annual meetings, and publishing a newsletter. Major long term goals included the sponsorship of bi-annual homecomings on the island and the acquisition of a field station through the historic leasing program.
Since 1991, FPI has manned booths at festivals in Carteret County and elsewhere to disseminate information about Portsmouth Island and to increase membership. Former residents were, and are, on hand at these events to answer questions. In mid-1991 FPI´s first newsletter, Doctor´s Creek Journal, was published and mailed to members.
The organization sponsored its first homecoming event on April 25, 1992. Seven people who were born on Portsmouth were present for this event: Levin Fulcher, Lucille Fulcher Armstrong, Willard Ira Babb, Clara Salter Gaskins, Dot Salter Willis, Marian Gray Babb, and Jessie Lee Babb Dominique. During the service, Cory Adam Noe was christened by the Rev. Pearl West. Homecomings were sponsored by FPI again in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
On March 15, 1994, Article of Incorporation and Bylaws for Friends of Portsmouth Island were filed with the Secretary of State of North Carolina with the following persons as directors: Frances A. Eubanks, President; Marjorie C. Spruill, Vice-President; Dorothy B. Bedwell, Treasurer; and J. Sue Ward, Secretary.
Application for determination as a non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) was filed April 3, 1996, and the organization was granted that status on August 13, 1996, effective as of its incorporation date of March 15, 1994.
Some of the projects which FPI has been involved in include the following:
- Clearing of the Straight Road in October 1995.
- Volunteers-in-park in Portsmouth Village in July 1995 and July 1996 and continuing through the present day.
- Worked with Cape Lookout National Seashore in the church restoration project by funding replacement of the windows and window frames.
- Scraped and painted the exterior of the schoolhouse in October 2000.
- Restored and furnished interior of Post Office/General Store.
- Currently working with the NPS to restore the Henry Pigott house.