“Leave A Note.”
Those simple words written on the outside of a mailbox launched an 11-year love story at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. As a result, the love story is simply known today as The Wrightsville Beach Mailbox.
In 2003, Bernie and Sidney Nykanen placed a mailbox and a bench at their favorite spot on the north end of the beach. Supplying pens and small notebooks inside the mailbox they left instructions to “leave a note.” For the next 11 years, the Nykanens faithfully maintained the mailbox as a labor of love. In that time the mailbox served as a repository for love notes, marriage proposals, notes of joy, notes of sadness, notes to lost loves – in all the meditations left by strangers filled over 200 journals.
Wrightsville Beach Mailbox Becomes History
The notebooks became such an important part of the beach that when the Nykanens decided it was time to pass the torch and stop maintaining the box, the volumes of notes and the notorious mailbox were sent to the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.
Madeline Flagler, from the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, enjoys speaking with visitors coming to see the notebooks. Many share their memories with her. One guest told how she’d written a note each summer she visited Wrightsville Beach as a child. There are also stories of UNC Wilmington students leaving notes as part of a college tradition. And naturally, there are stories of the many love letters left over the years.
As Flagler says, “the mailbox on the beach became a piece of current history and symbolic of the spirit of Wrightsville Beach.”
Though the Nykanens no longer maintain their mailbox on the beach, beachgoers can still leave a note. Today, there are two mailboxes on the north end of Wrightsville Beach. Student ambassadors from UNC Wilmington are preserving and maintaining the tradition and the love story of this cherished time capsule overlooking the Atlantic.
And yes, they still encourage everyone to “leave a note.”
303 W. Salisbury Street
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina