In the 1960s Dr. Costlow served as two-time mayor of Beaufort. He was involved in forming the Beaufort Historic Association and helped establish the Beaufort plaque to designate homes over 100 years old.
Costlow's contributions to the Beaufort Maritime Museum were tireless and sure. As early as 1970 he witnessed a still small Hampton Marine Museum's move from Morehead City to Turner Street in Beaufort—Costlow was made chairman of the museum advisory board.
In 1975, Costlow focused on the establishment of a non-profit entity to serve as the support group for the museum. The Friends of the Museum was soon recognized by the state, with Dr. Costlow as its first president.
John and Ginny Costlow purchased the 18th century Ward-Hancock House in 1993. The house, moved to 3rd Street in the 1940s to save it from destruction, got its name from the fact that Thomas Ward gave the house to his granddaugher Martha Gibbs Ward after her marriage to Robert Hancock in 1854.
The Costlow's Ward-Hancock project evolved into a unique museum of early construction. Recognizing its importance, the Beaufort Women's Club raised funds to purchase the house and, in turn, donated it to the museum's Gallants Channel Site.
In December of 2008, John and Ginny Costlow were the first couple to be awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine the highest civilian honor that can be granted in North Carolina.
On March 4, 2010, less than a year after John Costlow’s death, the Ward-Hancock was moved to the museum’s Gallants Channel Site. This was actually a “Coming Home” for the Ward-Hancock House—a move back near its original location in the Town Creek/Gallants Channel area of West Beaufort Road.
The community of Beaufort is fortunate and grateful to have had the Costlows’ outstanding leadership. Their immeasurable efforts have gone far to preserve the past for the benefit of future generations.