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While Fort Caswell dates from 1825, Caswell Beach was incorporated as a town in 1975; both were named for Richard Caswell, 1st & 5th Governor of North Carolina.

Since 1949, Fort Caswell has housed the North Carolina Baptist Assembly, a religious retreat and conference center and in 2013, the fort was designated a National Historic District. Thirteen of the 18 holes of the Oak Island Golf Club, which was established in 1962, are located within town boundaries.

Beginning in the late 1990s, the town set in motion an intensive beach restoration and preservation effort which resulted in its receiving a national award in 2002 for Best Restored Beach.

Two years later, in 2004, after extensive negotiations with the National Park Service, the town acquired the Oak Island Lighthouse.

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