Jack Fryar—History Buff

by Nancy Gadzuk

Jack FryerThe Federal Point History Center’s August 15 meeting featured Jack Fryar, well-known local historian, prolific author, publisher, and, as his T-shirt proclaimed, History Buff.  (His T-shirt also mentioned that, as a history buff, he’d be more interested in you if you were dead.)

Jack spoke on The Cape Fear in the Revolutionary War Part II: 1777 – 1781.  He illustrated his detailed walk through various battles with numerous pictures of modern-day war reenactments alongside period maps from the Revolutionary War era.

Title - Jack FryerHe referred to this time period as the “first civil war,” because after the Battle of Moore’s Creek in 1776, settlers began to split into two camps: those who wished to remain loyal to the King, and those who wanted independence.

Charleston and Savannah had been important in the early Revolutionary War effort, but with the fall of Charleston in 1780, the British gained a toehold in the South and Wilmington became a critical focus.

The Cape Fear region was geographically very important to the war effort. First, the Cape Fear River is the only river in North Carolina with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. This was critical for fighting a war in which the Loyalists were coming from across the Atlantic Ocean. Second, the Cape Fear River went inland 147 miles to Fayetteville, and effectively served to divide the state.

Burgwin's House - FryerThe Loyalist Major Craig used Wilmington as a base of operations until forced to evacuate by the Independent forces in 1781, marking the end of significant British presence in North Carolina.

Jack talked in detail about battles, battle routes, winners, and losers. It’s important, however, to also keep in mind the human cost of all wars — the death, devastation, and destruction.

 

 

September Meeting – Jim McKee on Archaeology at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, September 19, 7:30 p.m. at the JIM MCKEEFederal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Jim McKee will present a program called “Archaeology of Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson.” According to McKee, archaeology has been the primary source of information about the history of Brunswick.

After a nearly forty-year hiatus, archaeology is once again being regularly conducted at the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson site. McKee will talk about what has been done in the past and what is planned for the future. Artifacts give us an idea of what life was like during Colonial times.

McKee plans to bring along a number of BrunsTown artifactoriginal items discovered during recent archaeological digs at the site – items that are not yet on public display.

Jim McKee is the site manager at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site. He is a graduate of Greensboro College and a passionate life-long student of American history.

He serves on numerous historic battlefield boards and participates in living history programs throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Previously, he worked for the National Park Service and the NC Maritime Museum at Southport.

 

Island Day – 2016

Island DayThis year’s Island Day celebration will take place on Sunday, September 25. 

It’s a time for locals to let down from the Summer rush and meet and greet neighbors and friends. 

We will have a table giving out information about the Society and our current activities. 

If you can help for an hour or two, please call Rebecca at 458-0502.

 

 

 

From the President — September, 2016

By Elaine Henson

Due to popular demand, our Bathing Suit Exhibit will be open through the month of September on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10-4.  So you have a last chance to come in and see it if you haven’t already.

It gives me an opportunity to feature one last Carolina Beach bathing beauty and we may have saved the best for last.

Hannah Solomon Block hailed from Portsmouth, Virginia when she moved to Wilmington in 1935 as the bride of Charles M. Block, one of the founders of Block’s Shirt Factory.  The couple built a home in Forest Hills, but also had a cottage at Carolina Beach where she became the first woman head lifeguard on the North Carolina coast.  She served in that post from 1940 to 1949 while many men were away during WWII.

In addition to being head lifeguard, she also served as Chairman of the Carolina Beach Water Safety and First Aid Committee Henson #1who operated a first aid station in Town Hall located at that time on the boardwalk. The station was established in 1936 as the first Red Cross Highway First Aid Station in eastern North Carolina.  Hannah’s duties included running the station, training life guards, training town employees in first aid and life guarding herself. During WWII she was also a charter member of the USO and on its Board of Directors.

Block swimsuit

Courtesy of the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science

This photo from the May 30, 1946 edition of the Wilmington Evening Post shows her with two lifeguards demonstrating life saving techniques in transporting a stretcher case to the first aid station.  She is wearing a black bathing suit with her Red Cross lifesaving patch; the suit was most likely made of wool knit very similar to one in our exhibit.

Many years later, Hannah donated a similar bathing suit to the Cape Fear Museum for their collection. It is a Jantzen with the familiar Swim Girl logo and also has her Red Cross Lifesaving patch.

Hannah Block went on to devote her life serving her adopted hometown working on the Azalea Festival Committee in many capacities, helping organize the first Miss North Carolina Pageant (1947), training Miss Wilmington for the NC Pageant for 40 years, serving as the first woman Mayor Pro Tem of the Wilmington City Council (1961-63), and being a pioneer in restoring houses in the Historic District among many other activities.

Her work with the USO during WWII was rewarded in 2008 when the former 1940 USO Building was renamed the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center in her honor.

 

Seabreeze Part 4 — Growth of Seabreeze

by Rebecca Taylor

In February, 1930, the Wilmington Star reported that, “Electric poles are now being set from Wilmington to Seabreeze, a colored resort, by the Tide Water Power Company for the extension of electrical current.” Then in July of 1931, the Wilmington News reported that the North Carolina Negro Insurance Association held its annual convention at Seabreeze with speakers from Durham, Winston, Charlotte as well as smaller towns.seabreeze #1

By the Labor Day holiday of 1933, the Wilmington Star reported that “Ten thousand Negroes visited Seabreeze yesterday. They came by trucks, motor cars, buses, and, in fact, every mode of vehicle. Some trucks were loaded with as many as 75 to 100 men, women, and children all packed in these vehicles like sardines. Four large buses were employed in conveying the crowds to and from the resort. Trucks came from Fuquay Springs, Lumberton, Pembroke, Charity Cross Roads, and from numerous other towns in eastern and Piedmont North Carolina.”

By July of 1934, Dr. Foster F. Burnett, a local Negro physician who was a Harvard University graduate, constructed a convalescent home and recreation center at Seabreeze that would  accommodate up to 10 persons at a time. A pier was also constructed from the home to the sound. Dr. Burnett had plans to also build tennis courts, a golf course and other recreational facilities. That same month Dr. Burnett was promoting a request to the State Highway and Public Works Commission to improve the road connecting State Highway 40 with Seabreeze.

By the summer of 1935, the resort was so developed that the North Carolina Utilities Commission voted to grant a franchise to a Wilmington bus company to operate a bus line from Wilmington to Seabreeze.

In July 1938, the Wilmington Star reported the “purchase of a site at Seabreeze in connection with a development for colored tourists, to cost about $7,600 was announced yesterday by Ben McGhee. The pavilion is to be located off the Carolina Beach road near the entrance to Seabreeze.”

By the summer of 1938, C.C. Spaulding, President of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company of Durham, announced plans to purchase a lot and build a vacation home at Seabreeze. “Spaulding announced his plan following a weekend visit to the resort in which he was favorably impressed with the quietness of the resort on the southern side of Seabreeze as most conductive to rest and relaxation.”

Seabreeze #2By the mid-1930s, Seabreeze was in full swing. They had so many visitors that parking became a problem.  On summer weekends cars lined Carolina Beach Road for up to a mile. On holiday weekends the New Hanover County Sheriff assigned deputies to supervise traffic flow to and from the resort. At least 10 restaurants, including Barbecue Sam’s, served summer visitors. The area’s cooks quickly became famous for their clam fritters, often with finely chopped bell peppers and onions.

At some point in the 1930s, there seems to have been talk of incorporating Seabreeze as a municipality.  An editorial appeared in the Wilmington Star that advised them that it would be “Wise to go Slow” concluding with; “It is, therefore, our advice to our Negro citizens to proceed with caution. They should do everything possible to develop their resort, and for this they are to be commended, but corporate responsibilities may invite worries that are not compensated by such benefits as might accrue.”

Wilmington Water Tours

Featured Business Member
September, 2016

By Tony (Lem) Phillips

The History Center is very proud to have Wilmington Water Tours as one of our Business Members. In fact, we are just plain proud to know these folks.

WWT #4We have taken several of their cruises up and down the Cape Fear River and many times accompanied by local historians narrating our journey. Folks like Dr. Chris Fonvielle and Beverly Tetterton tell us so much of what we never knew.

You really have to visit Wilmington Water Tours website to fully appreciate all the ways in which you can be entertained, whether it is a Sunset Cruise or a lazy day cruise sipping Bloody Marys, you will find something affordable and fun to do.

WWT #3Captain Doug Springer and his wife, Diane Upton, returned to Wilmington in 2004 to pursue their dream of life on the water.

The Wilmington is the first and finest state-of-the-art catamaran to serve Historic Downtown Wilmington, NC. She has a wake cancelling design and is fully enclosed (heat if needed).

She is handicap accessible and offers a flexible layout for comfortable seating up to 49 guests. All ABC permits and spacious restroom complete our package. Come downtown and visit us.  You’ll be impressed with our 46′ catamaran, The Wilmington.

Wilmington Water Tours is based out of Wilmington, North Carolina, here to serve the City and its new convention center. They offer sunset cruises and private charters. Their investment in the custom design and state of the art catamaran, The Wilmington, the first vessel of hopefully many, allows them to provide a wide WWT #3range of offerings.

Give these folks a look and let them know that you, too, are a member of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society. And remember, they will donate a part of the ticket purchase price to the Historic

Society for every ticket purchased by members. To reserve tickets call FPHPS at 910-458-0502

 

Wilmington Water Tours, 212 S. Water Street, Wilmington, NC 28401
Tickets: 910.338.3134
Private charters: 910.632.4095
email: info@wilmingtonwt.com

 

Society Notes – Sept, 2016

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director

DONATION! Thanks to Jane Albers for the donation of framed images of Hurricanes Bertha, Fran, Bonnie, Dennis, Floyd and Irene. They are a great addition to the Burnett Cottage Hurricane Hazel pictures.

Welcome to new members Gerry Clonaris of Charlotte, Debra and Garth Bowling of LaPlata, MD, Sandra Shugart of Winston-Salem, Joan Dunn of Wilmington, and Barbara and Michael McQuery of Carolina Beach. WOW!

The History Center recorded 167 visitors in August. That is even higher than last month, and now the highest month in our records. We had 34 in attendance at the August Meeting. The gift shop took in $396.50.

The History Center was used by Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club.

Thanks to our active volunteers this month; Darlene Bright, Andre Blouin, Tony Phillips, and Jim Kohler for helping Cheri with the August newsletter. Thanks to Steve Arthur and Mary Ann Targonski for the refreshments at the August meeting.


We need “old” photos! — We’re working on enlarging our photo collection.

Do you have photos that document “the way things were?”

We would love to scan and archive a copy.  Lend them to us for a few weeks and we’ll scan them, and give them back to you, and share a digital copy with you if you want one.

We need pictures of buildings, people and events that have taken place in Federal Point from the 1920s to the 1970s.


Officers:           2016-2017
President:           Elaine Henson
Vice-President: Tony Phillips
Treasurer:         Demetria Sapienza
Secretary:          Nancy Gadzuk

Board of Directors: 2015-2017
Skippy Winner
Jim Dugan
Chris Fonvielle
John Moseley

Board of Directors: 2016-2018
Andre Blouin
Barry Nelder
Jean Stewart
Byron Moore
Cheri McNeill