Calabash was part of a 48,000-acre grant made in 1691 to Landgrave Thomas Smith. Prior to 1750, The Boundary House was built as a place of rendezvous for travelers. The Altson family owned most of present-day Calabash at Little River Neck during the late 1700s.
The area became known as Pea Landing in the late 1800s due to the cultivation of peanuts nearby that were shipped from here to Wilmington.
Somewhere around 1890, Samuel Thomas bought Hickory Hall Plantation. His descendants still live in Calabash to this day.
In the late 1940s Calabash became known for its seafood restaurants and, subsequently, as the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Calabash was incorporated in 1973.
According to the local folk lore, sometime in the 1930s fishermen brought in their catch and were met by the locals to make their purchases. Calabash quickly gained a reputation for its high quality of fresh fish and shrimp.
The fishing crews were fed beneath the oak trees, and when the local residents became aware of the delicious aroma of fresh fish cooking in the big pots they were prompted to buy any leftover cooked seafood.
Clinton Morse, a local businessman, invented “Calabash style” seafood when he began to serve up deep-fried seafood that had been dipped in a light seasoned batter, cooked to a golden brown and served very hot.
These open-air picnics were the beginning of the many original family seafood restaurants that are now run by descendants of the founders.
The rumor is that Jimmy Durante’s signature sign-off, “Good-night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are,” was aimed at the owner of a particular restaurant here after he visited and partook of these local culinary specialties.
Sitting on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway, Calabash still retains much of its original small town fishing-village atmosphere. The restaurants are numerous, and deep-sea fishing boats are docked in town waiting to take visitors for the adventure of their lives.
There are many golf courses nearby and there are many small boutiques and art shops as well as one very large store full of souvenirs, Christmas decorations and much more. With 1,794 year-round residents, Calabash is abutted on the west by the town of Carolina Shores, a residential retirement community with a shopping center with a chain grocery store located on U.S. 17 South.
With its its location at the North Carolina/South Carolina border Calabash is only a short drive from all the shopping, dining and entertainment of Myrtle Beach, SC .