• From the President – April, 2021

    By: Elaine Henson

    Center Pier Part I

    On January 8,1954, the Center Pier Corporation applied to build a fishing pier in what was then Wilmington Beach.  At that time pier permits were submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers.

    The pier was to be built in the 1200 block of Lake Park Boulevard, South, between Tennessee Avenue and North Carolina Avenue.  It was to be 25 feet wide and 1,000 feet in length with 800 feet beyond the low tide mark.

    The Center Pier Corporation had four partners who were J.R. Bame, Cliff Lewis, C.W. “Pappy” Sneed and Merritt Foushee.  They hired Walter Winner to build the pier; he was assisted by Dub Hegler and others.

    On January 18, 1954, the Army Corps of Engineers informed the New Hanover County Commissioners about Center Pier’s application.  This was the second application to build a pier in Wilmington Beach in the last 3 months and the Engineers wanted the commissioners to rule on the second pier.

    The first Wilmington Beach pier application was from L.C. Kure and Glenn Tucker who filed it on October 30, 1953. Their pier, which had already begun construction, was 2 blocks south of the proposed Center Pier.

    Kure and Tucker’s pier was in the 1300 block of then South Lake Park Blvd. between North Carolina Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. The partners, doing business as Wilmington Beach Investment Corporation, had purchased the Breakers Hotel on the corner of Lake Park Boulevard, South and Ocean Blvd where the most southern building of Sea Colony is now.

    They also purchased all the available lots in Wilmington Beach, which at that time stretched from the ocean to the river. The plan was for Kure to run the hotel and Tucker would sell the real estate. Having owned the Kure Pier from 1923, when it was built until he sold it to his son-in-law in 1952.  L.C. Kure wanted to build another pier in front of the Breakers Hotel. This pier was called the Wilmington Beach Pier, the Breakers Pier and later nicknamed the Stub Pier.

    At the next New Hanover County Commissioners meeting on January 25, 1954, the pier issue was on their agenda.  The meeting was also attended by Wilmington Beach residents who were there to protest the Center Pier application.  The Commissioners decided to take no action in the matter after the County Attorney, Cicero P Yow, stated that the county had no legal right to object or act in the matter.  Also at that meeting, Glenn Tucker read a letter from himself and L.C. Kure stating that  the second pier “will really benefit all.” After which, Center Pier’s attorney, Addison Hewlett, expressed gratitude for their support. The Army Corps of Engineers approved Center Pier’s application and it was soon also under construction

    On May 13, 1954, a nor’easter with torrential rains and winds of 65 miles an hour, took off 150 feet from the Breaker’s Pier and a pile driving rig. Miraculously they were able to retrieve the rig with the efforts of brothers Hall and Robert Watters who flew over the ocean to locate it.  They signaled its position to Punky Kure, Bill Robertson and a diver in a 16 foot boat.  The diver was able to tie up the rig and it was pulled out of the ocean, dried out, cleaned up and continued driving pilings for the pier.  Both piers opened by summer.

    August 30th, brought Hurricane Carol with estimated 75 mile per hour winds at the area beaches.  Carol took 150 feet off the Breaker’s Pier, and also damaged the Kure Beach Pier and Fort Fisher Pier.

    On October 15th, Hurricane Hazel, the only Category Four hurricane to hit our beaches in all of the 20th Century and beyond, came in on a lunar high tide. Hazel destroyed the Breaker’s Pier, Center Pier, the Kure Beach Pier and Fort Fisher Pier. Of those four, Center Pier and the Kure Beach Pier were the only ones to rebuild.

    This photo shows the ruins of the Breakers Hotel and the pier built by Kure and Tucker. Hurricane Hazel marked the end of both.

    Next Month:  Center Pier – Part II

     

    From King’s Road to US 421 — Roads to Federal Point, NC

    by: Rebecca Taylor     – Part 1

    As we all know the development of Carolina Beach was largely dependent on Captain Harper’s Steamship line. From the mid-1700’s to the 1920s, the Cape Fear River served as the primary route from Wilmington to Southport.

    Beginning in the 1880’s, during summer months, he began dropping passengers off at Sugarloaf Dune (and later Doctor’s Point), where the three car Shoo-Fly train carried passengers from the riverbank to the oceanfront for fishing, surf bathing, and just enjoying  fresh breezes as a break from the downtown heat.

    But did you know that long before there was a Carolina Beach there was an inter-state highway that ran through Federal Point?

     

     

    The King’s Highway

    The King’s Highway, named after King Charles II, who asked the governors of his colonies to establish a line of communication between the colonies in 1660, very soon after being crowned.

    The entire length of The King’s Highway did not become a continuous wagon road until about 1735. Incorporating the Boston Post Road (opened in 1673), the route traveled over 1,300 miles, from Boston, Massachusetts to Charles Town, South Carolina.

    Along the route, there are numerous communities today with a King Street, King’s Road, or King Avenue, all remaining from the days when it was called the King’s Highway.

    From the Quaker communities around Edenton, the old highway followed what is now US Highway 17 to New Bern, North Carolina, an important seaport and the early colonial capital of North Carolina. From New Bern, the highway bypassed White Oak and Angola Swamps in a fairly direct line to Wilmington, North Carolina, at the Cape Fear River. As US Highway 17 does today, the old road continued on to Georgetown, and finally to Charles Town, the colonial capital of South Carolina, and the southern terminus of the King’s Highway.

    Big Sugar Loaf Ferry

    With a road running from Wilmington to Charlestown South Carolina, there needed to be a way to cross the Cape Fear River. In 1727 (Wilmington didn’t exist yet), the first authorized ferry in North Carolina was established from Brunswick Town on the western bank of the Cape Fear River and the “haulover” on the eastern bank. It was also known as the “Ferry at Big Sugar Loaf” and appears to have docked within what is now the Carolina Beach State Park.

    The colonial general court authorized Cornelius Harnett Sr.*, to keep a ferry “from a place on the West side of the River to a place called Haulover, and that he received a sum of five shillings for a man and a horse and half a Crown for each person.”

    The 1733,  Mosley map shows the ferry directly opposite Brunswick Town, on land owned by Col. Moore, at the foot of what was later named Telfair Creek, which runs into what is now Snow’s Cut.

    The ferry continued to run under a series of owners until at least 1775. However, by March of 1776, British warships had entered the Cape Fear and well armed troops were placed ashore. Those troops carried out sporadic raids on Brunswick Town and the surrounding countryside.

    The town was undefendable and abandoned for the more secure and prosperous Wilmington, where a ferry from Wilmington, across Eagles Island had been established in 1766.

    *Cornelius Harnett, Jr., a major force in the Patriot cause during the American Revolution, was just three years old when his family moved to Brunswick Town.  A member of the Sons of Liberty and the chairman of the North Carolina Committee of Safety, he was elected to the Continental Congress in May of 1777, and served three years before returning to Wilmington. Near the close of the War he was captured by the British in Onslow County and brought  to Wilmington. There he was imprisoned in an open blockhouse where his health declined rapidly. Although paroled from prison, he died soon afterwards. Harnett is interned in St. James Churchyard.