By Elaine Henson
This month we are continuing to look at some of the empty lots on the boardwalk where the summer rides are located.
The lot between the Gazebo and the Marriott Hotel was the site of three Bame Hotel buildings built by James Rowan Bame and his wife, Mandy, from Barber, North Carolina.
The first Bame opened on the site in June, 1930. It was three stories with a white wooden exterior and contained “33 rooms with running water, tubs and showers” according to a 1930s brochure. Bame’s Hotel faced Cape Fear Boulevard near the wooden boardwalk and included a café with “Miss Mandy” in charge of the cooking. The rates were $1.50 to $2.50 per day or $10.00 to $15.00 a week based on the European Plan which did not include meals.
By 1935, “Mr. Jim” decided to enlarge and remodel his hotel with a brick exterior and including a large paneled dining room and a grill which faced the boardwalk. The 60 rooms had a single bed or double bed with or without a private bath.
But it was not to last. On the night of September 19, 1940, a fire began in the old pavilion and swept away two blocks of the boardwalk including the Bame Hotel reducing it to rubble. Mr. Jim and the other business owners vowed to rebuild in time for the summer of 1941 and they did. The fact that they were able to restore two entire blocks from ashes in just a few months earned Carolina Beach the nickname “The South’s Miracle Beach”.
The new brick three story Hotel Bame had 80 rooms, 65 with a private bath. The floors on the first level were tile with hardwoods on the second and third floors. Red leather chairs graced the spacious lobby.
The new Bame also had an elevator, sizable dining room facing Cape Fear Boulevard, another grill on the boardwalk and optional air conditioning window units in the rooms. It later included a pool room and a barber shop.
J.R. Bame died in 1959 with his son, George, continuing to manage the hotel until his death in 1968. The family leased it for a few years before selling it to investors from Myrtle Beach in the early 1970s, who tore it down and built a water slide in its place.