Monday, July 18, 2016 7:30 pm
The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, July 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.
Zach Hanner is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Performance Studies. For the last 24 years, he has worked as an actor, writer and director on stage, in film, television and commercials in both the southeast region and the New York area.
Hanner is also a musician and former freelance contributor to the Wilmington Star-News and the Myrtle Beach Sun Times.
Currently, he serves as Artistic Director of TheatreNOW, a unique performance space in downtown Wilmington specializing in dinner theater.
He also serves as Executive Director of Superstar Academy, a nonprofit theater outreach program that provides acting opportunities for a variety of young people in the Wilmington area.
In 2006, Hanner was assigned a story for the Star-News about the Seabreeze community. Fascinated by the idea of an isolated African-American community thriving in the era of Jim Crow, he continued to ponder various ways to try and tell the story of this magical place and in 2014 began the research that would eventually become “Summers at Seabreeze,” a live-action documentary told through voices from history as well as from interview subjects who grew up in the heyday of the Seabreeze phenomenon.
The play, nominated for a Star-News award for “Best Original Production,” was a hit for TheatreNOW in the summer of 2015 and featured choreography from Kevin Lee-Y Greene and musical contributions from Grenoldo Frazier.
Sunday June 12,
Wow! We had at least 75 people attend the opening reception for the Swim Suit Exhibit.
Don’t forget that the exhibit will be open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm through Labor Day.
Bring your family, friends and summer company down to take a look.
We will vote at the July 18, Membership Meeting
President: Elaine Henson
Vice-President: Tony Phillips
Treasurer: Demetria Sapienza
Secretary: Nancy Gadzuk
Board of Directors: (2016-2018)
By Elaine Henson
As our summer Vintage Bathing Suit Exhibit continues this month, we are continuing to showcase Carolina Beach bathers. We hope you can come by our History Center and see our exhibit on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 – 4 pm.
It was a beautiful day at Carolina Beach in the 1950s when local girls, Mary Frances All (left) and Sylvia Fountain (right), posed for this post card. The girls are wearing suits with the “modesty panel” in the front like many of the suits in our exhibit.
They have chosen to take off the removable straps for a day of tanning without strap marks. Mary Frances shared with me that they were actually wearing each other’s suits that day. Most girls only had one suit each summer and tired of wearing the same one over and over so they often switched with a sister or friend.
Mary Frances All was a Winter Park girl but she and Sylvia were best friends graduating from New Hanover High School together in 1957. Mary Frances was crowned Teenage Azalea Princess at Wrightsville Beach’s Lumina Pavilion during the Azalea Festival in 1956. She now provides a scholarship for the festival princesses. Mary Frances lives in Stanly, North Carolina, and is the widow of the late Dr. James S. Forrester who also served in the North Carolina Senate. Her son, Dr. James Forrester, Jr. is a cardiologist practicing in Wilmington.
Sylvia Fountain was the daughter of Elmo and Plina Ritter Fountain. She was the granddaughter of W. G. Fountain who built the Fountain’s Rooms and Apartments in 1935 and the Royal Palm Hotel the following year in 1936. Both were in the first block of Harper Avenue. He also served three terms as a Carolina Beach Alderman from 1937 to 1945 and was mayor of Carolina Beach from 1945-47. In 1949 he founded the Bank of Carolina Beach and served as its first president. W. G. Fountain was one of the honorees inducted into the Carolina Beach Walk of Fame this past January, 2016.
Sylvia’s mother, Plina Ritter Fountain (1916-2013), is posing in the Carolina Beach moon on the boardwalk in this photo from the 1940s. It is a little hard to see, but her black and white halter neck suit has a triangle shape cut out in the front just above the waist. These were the forerunners of two piece suits which were popular in the mid-1940s.
Plina ran the Fountain’s Rooms and Apartments on Harper Avenue while her husband Elmo managed the Hotel Royal Palm next door. They were the parents of four children, Ray, Sylvia, Griff and Janet.
Sylvia Fountain Logan passed away in 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; her funeral was held at Bethany Presbyterian Church on Castle Hayne Road. Her parents and grandparents are buried in Wilmington’s Oakdale Cemetery.
Featured Business Member
By Tony (Lem) Phillips
July is “Beach Portrait” month on Federal Point. No better way to celebrate it than to shout out to our Business Member of the month, John Gregory Photography! For over thirty years, John Gregory has been photographing the southeastern United States. Many of his photographs were published nationally.
Locally, John Gregory made the 1970 portrait of Big Daddy, which is still being used as their sign in Kure Beach. His photos regularly appear in the Island Gazette, local newspaper. John is also an astronomer. His door has often been open to the public for special celestial events.
You may have seen John under the Fort Fisher live oaks or on the sand near the Coquina rock coaxing families to smile just once more. Having seen John Gregory work with families first hand, I can say that no one does it better. With John’s patience and world of experience, no family could be in better hands.
Think it is about time to get a professional set of photographs of your family done reasonably and locally? Take a look at his website. The “Portrait Tips” will get you started. It lets you know what times work best, how long it takes, and what to do to prepare.
Smart phone photos are great and convenient, but when you decide to frame a photo that you will remember for the rest of your life, let John Gregory take it. You will never regret it.
Thank you John Gregory Photography again for supporting the Federal Point History Center as one of our Business Members. We hope our members will return the favor very soon!
John Gregory Photography
333 Atlantic Avenue
Kure Beach, NC 28449
Office hours: 11 AM to 6 PM Seven days a week, other times by appointment
By Darlene Bright, History Center Director
- The History Center recorded 83 visitors in June. We had 18 in attendance at the June Potluck. The History Center was used by Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club and the United Daughters of the Confederacy for their monthly meetings.
- New Members! Welcome to Jo Dheilly of Wilmington, Joan and Ted Podkul of Carolina Beach, Paulette Playce of Carolina Beach, and Barry and Ann Brown of Carolina Beach. Also, Beach Photographs by John Gregory is back on our list of supporting businesses.
- Group Programs: Rebecca talked to 13 UNCW graduate education students who are studying how to incorporate local history and the environment in their classrooms.
- Thanks to our active volunteers this month; Darlene Bright, Leslie Bright, Andre Blouin, Tony Phillips, Nancy Gadzuk. Thanks also to Lois Taylor for filling in at the History Center when Rebecca needed to be at a meeting in Raleigh.
We need you to Volunteer!
We are currently planning an outreach program that will put our members on the Boardwalk one or two nights a week in June, July and August.
We hope to display some of our great pictures, pass out our brochure, and answer questions about Federal Point.
If you could take a night or two please let Rebecca know: 910-458-0502
[Originally published in the May, 1995 – FPHPS Monthly Newsletter]
Mr. Harry Warren, guest speaker at the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society April,  meeting, received the undivided attention of those attending the meeting on Monday, April 17th.
The topic by Mr. Warren, who is assistant director of the Cape Fear Museum, Wilmington, was one of interest to everyone in attendance. He supported his presentation by displaying slides on a screen as he told history of the Fort Fisher Hermit.
At the beginning of his presentation he concentrated on the flowering foods, and seafood available in the Fort Fisher area, displaying them on the screen. “Needless to say, Robert E. Harrill, the Fort Fisher Hermit, knew about these flowering food plants and seafood before he moved in at the World War II bunker near Fort Fisher,” Mr. Warren said.
Robert E. Harrill was born in Shelby, North Carolina on Ground Hog Day, February 2, 1893.
His mother and two brothers died in the early 1900’s with typhoid fever. “His father remarried and his step-mother was-very dominating and strict. His childhood was cut short and he grew up in an atmosphere of family violence. He often sought solitude into the woods or into nearby streams, rivers, and lakes for solitude and refuge,” Mr. Warren stated.
He presented two slides, one showing the Hermit before he came to Fort Fisher and another picture of him, a young man standing with members of his literary club. “Some people say he was a well-educated man, however, there is no evidence of his attending college. He did receive a good basic education. He attended Boiling Springs High School and later returned to the school, when it became Gardner-Webb Jr. College, to study ministry,” Warren said.
In 1913, Robert Harrill married Katie Hamrick. The couple had five children, four sons and a daughter who died shortly after birth.
His family and other people thought Robert was disturbed. They felt his problem was caused by the abuse he suffered as a child. The problems caused the family to break up in the 1930’s. Katie took her four sons to Pennsylvania to live and Robert made a living peddling trinkets and making jewelry such as ID bracelets.
“It is said that on one occasion he was involuntarily committed to a state hospital for observation. It was there that he found a brochure about Dr. William Marcus Taylor and the Taylor School of Bio-Psychology. He read the material and felt that he had found the answers to many of his problems.” He met Dr. Taylor when he got out of the hospital and began studying in his correspondence school for a degree in Bio-Psychology.
When he became 62, he came to Fort Fisher and settled into the World War II bunker which was to become his home for 17 years. He became one of the biggest tourists attractions on the island as his fame grew.
“He made like he didn’t like the popularity and made the statement how was he going to be a hermit when all those people kept coming to see him. However, he painted ‘The Fort Fisher Hermit” on a pillar to the entrance of the road to the bunker,” Warren told the group.
The Fort Fisher Hermit passed away, some say by natural causes, others suspect foul play, in June 1972. He was buried in a cemetery in Shelby and later moved to the Federal Point Cemetery on Dow Road, Carolina Beach. “He came home,” Warren said, in closing his presentation.
[Editor’s Note: Information was provided by Sheila S. Davis, Features Editor for the Island Gazette.]
Book: The Reluctant Hermit of Fort Fisher
by: Fred Pickler and Daniel Ray Norris
“Our desire is that this book will shed light on his “unsolved” murder case and provide insight into what drove Robert E. Harrill to endure life as a hermit. Most importantly, we want to keep the memory of the Fort Fisher Hermit alive for future generations to ponder and respect.”
May, 1995 (pdf) – FPHPS Newsletter