January Meeting – Dr. Keith Holland on Shipwreck “Maple Leaf”

Monday, January 15, 2018   7:30 PM

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, January, 15, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker will be Dr. Keith Holland from Jacksonville, Florida, who will discuss the story of the Maple Leaf, a Federal troop transport ship which carried men from six Federal regiments who would later take part in the two attacks on Fort Fisher.

Holland formed a company, St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions Inc. (SJAEI) to salvage the ship. After almost two years of negotiating, a deal was struck giving the federal government 20% and the salvagers 80% of what was found.

SJAEI subsequently relinquished its rights to the artifacts in order to keep the entire collection intact. The collection of artifacts was given to and remains with the Florida Division of Historical Resources in Tallahassee. In 2015, most of the collection that belonged to the federal government was removed from the State of Florida for possible display at the future National Museum of the US Army in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.

Over a ten-day period in 1989, over 3000 objects were recovered from the shipwreck site and they all had to be handled properly to preserve them. Once taken to the surface and to a source of abundant oxygen, materials start to deteriorate quickly. Holland and crew learned how to safely preserve their precious finds. They learned to treat materials with chemicals, freeze drying and electrical currents to stop oxidation.

President’s Letter – January, 2018

By Elaine Henson

The Breakers Hotel,   Part I

Breakers Hotel   photo courtesy of the New Hanover County Public Library, Louis T. Moore Collection

The Breakers Hotel opened in May of 1924 at what was then known as Wilmington Beach.  It was a three story brick hotel with 50 rooms, 40 with a private bath.  A second story veranda ran the length of the building which faced the ocean. The Breakers was located on what is now South Lake Park Boulevard between North Carolina Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.  Sea Colony Condominiums are there now.

The Breakers’ story began with an article in the Wilmington News Dispatch on July 6, 1913, about the newly formed Wilmington Beach Corporation and their plans for development.

The investors were C.E. Freenamyer, C.C. Chadbourn, L.W. Davis, Jr., J.J. Hopkins, D.N. Chadwick Jr., F.P. Jackson and S.V. Bowden; their vision was for Wilmington Beach to become the Atlantic City of the South.

The corporation’s property ran for one mile fronting the ocean and west across Federal Point to the Cape Fear River.

They planned for a macadam [crushed gravel compacted and often topped with water, oil or tarvia] boulevard one mile long running north to south and 50 to 90 feet wide avenues lined with building lots. The crown jewel was to be a large modern hotel on the ocean with a hundred feet in length and  25 feet wide boardwalk in front.  There was to be a pavilion and large garage for parking near the hotel.

Also the plans called for a Great Atlantic Pier in front of the hotel with smaller piers on the northern and southern ends of the property. The piers would each have refreshment parlors similar to ones at the Seashore Hotel Pier, 1910-1920, at Wrightsville Beach.

They hoped to have the hotel open year round with a golf course and tennis courts, hunting and fishing.   Ocean bathing was to be the main outdoor activity with a life guard on duty and a life line of rope in the sea for bathers to hold onto.  A bathhouse was to be in the basement (surely the first floor) with private shower rooms for the guests. The unsurpassed cuisine would center on fresh catches of fish, crabs and clams all served with other delicacies in the expansive dining room with tall ceilings.

An orchestra was to provide after dinner dancing music throughout the season and perform Sunday afternoon concerts in the spacious lobby for the public.  That 1924 summer opening featured an orchestra under the direction of Jack Cohn.  The Southern Collegians from the University of North Carolina were booked for the 1925 season, playing after luncheons in addition to after the evening meals.  There were also plans to have a railroad serving Wilmington Beach and Carolina Beach, connecting them to Wilmington and the Atlantic Coast Line trains.

Next month:  Breakers Hotel, Part II

 

Fort Fisher 153rd Anniversary

Living History Program Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018

On Saturday, January 13, 2018, Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host the program ‘Exploding shells and a blaze of musketry’: The 153rd Second Battle of Fort Fisher Commemoration.

Outside the museum, reenactors dressed in period garb will bring history to life as they discuss camp life, garrison duty, and conduct the manual of arms. The program will also feature large and small artillery firings throughout the day, including the site’s 32-pounder rifled and banded cannon.

Live 19th century music will be provided by Masonboro Parlor and local photographer Harry Taylor will demonstrate 1860s wet-plate photography.

In the afternoon, two special programs will be held in the site’s auditorium.

At 12:30 pm, Dr. Keith Holland will introduce visitors to the fascinating story behind the Maple Leaf, a Union troop transport ship that sank April 1, 1864 and later bore countless historically and cultural significant artifacts.

At 2:30 pm, NC Division of State Historic Sites and Properties director, Keith Hardison, will present “Confederate Commander: The Military Qualifications of Jefferson Davis.”

The living history program is free and open to the public and will be held from 9 am to 4 pm. Donations are appreciated. All Fort Fisher programming is made possible by support from the Friends of Fort Fisher and its sustaining members, as well as from support from New Hanover County, the Town of Carolina Beach, and the Town of Kure Beach.

 

Cookies Needed for Reenactment

FPHPS will be selling hot dogs, drinks and snacks at the Reenactment again this year.

We need people to bake cookies as well as people to work our booth on Saturday January 13.

Please call Rebecca or Cheri at 458-0502 to let us know you can help.

The Maple Leaf

[From the National Park Service website]

Constructed in Kingston, Ontario, the Great Lakes passenger steamship, Maple Leaf, set out to sea on June 18, 1851. Its first owner, Donald Bethune and Company, used the Maple Leaf as a passenger ship until the company started to flounder.

Mr. Bethune subsequently fled the country and the remaining partners sold the vessel to a company based in Rochester, New York, in 1855. At the time, a new reciprocity treaty between the United States and Canada temporarily revitalized Lake Ontario shipping, but by the end of the decade the United States found itself in a depression. Although the shipping trade went into decline, the charter market for steamers rose as a result of the Civil War. In 1862, the Maple Leaf was sold to Bostonians J.H.B. Lang and Charles Spear who chartered it to the U.S. Army.

The Maple Leaf was used as a transport vessel, bringing Union troops south to Virginia. In 1863, Confederate prisoners-of-war (POWs) on the ship overpowered their guards and took control of the vessel. After landing, the POWs escaped to Richmond.

The Union recovered the boat and continued to use it to transport troops along the East Coast until 1864. In April of that year, the Maple Leaf struck a Confederate “torpedo” (what we would now call a mine) off Mandarin Point in the St. John’s River.

The explosion tore the bow of the ship apart, ripping through the deck and killing four soldiers. The vessel sank quickly, but apart from those lost in the explosion, there were no other fatalities.

The Maple Leaf was never salvaged and, while the U.S. Treasury Department attempted to sell the wreck and signed two contracts in 1873 and 1876 that required removal of the wreck, no sale occurred.

Since the remains of the Maple Leaf were blocking a portion of the river and were a serious threat to other vessels, in 1882, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracted to move the wreck to its present location.

The Maple Leaf was 181 feet long by 25 feet wide and weighs 398 tons. The wreck is buried beneath 7 feet of mud in 20 feet of water. It is extremely well preserved under the mud with the hull virtually intact save for the starboard box and deck, which were damaged in the explosion.

However, what makes the wreck of the Maple Leaf truly amazing is the vast amount of cargo associated with the submerged steamer. More than 3,000 individual artifacts have been recovered from the Maple Leaf and are on public display at the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History.

The Maple Leaf wreck, a National Historic Landmark, lies in the middle of the St. John’s River about 12 miles south of downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Unlike other shipwrecks on this itinerary, the public is not permitted to dive on the Maple Leaf. The St. John’s River is extremely muddy and the visibility in the area around the Maple Leaf is extremely poor.

It is possible to view the artifacts recovered from the Maple Leaf at the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History. The exhibit contains the largest single collection of Civil War artifacts in the world, along with recovered sections of the wreck. For more information visit Maple Leaf Shipwreck.

We need your help!

Coming Summer 2018!

“Celebrating  the Boardwalk”

We need your help. We are looking for objects

(souvenirs and memorabilia) to borrow for display.

 


     We will probably keep the exhibit up for 9 months to a year.

Ashtrays, spoon holders, key chains,     

Magnets, plates, tea cups,  Pendants, beer bottles,

cupie dolls, and shells glued to anything.

 

 

 

 

Society Notes

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director

 

The Society would like to say a huge thank you to John Golden who led us all in singing Christmas carols at the December Potluck again this year.  He has done this for many years, and always been a great supporter of the Society.

Thanks, John! 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The History Center recorded 74 visitors in October. We had 50 in attendance at the Christmas Potluck.
  • The History Center was used for meetings held by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club and the United Daughters of the Confederacy
    .
  • We need cookie bakers for the January 13th Fort Fisher Reenactment! Please call Rebecca or Cheri at 458-0502 if you can help.

 

Located adjacent to Carolina Beach Municipal Complex