April Meeting – Lynn Welborn on the History of Sport on the Island

Monday, April 16, 20187:30 PM

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, April 16, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Lynn Welborn’s program will focus on the organized sports that were offered on the island prior to 1980, little league baseball (one team), youth soccer (two teams) and church league basketball (various number of teams depending on the year). A discussion of other sports prior to organized sports will also be included.

Dr. Lynn R. Welborn is an award-winning journalist and professor who recently published his debut novel, Crazy Beach, about growing up on the island in the 60s and 70s.

Dr. Welborn was raised on the island, attended Carolina Beach Elementary School, Sunset Junior High, Williston 9th Grade Center and graduated from Hoggard. He played multiple sports both on the island and for local schools.

Welborn went to work in the newspaper business, getting his start at the Island Gazette the paper’s first year. His career path led him to several major newspapers, radio stations, and after earning his Doctorate degree, a career as a professor.  Currently, Dr. Lynn R. Welborn (DM, MBA) is the owner of – QLC- Quantum Leap Consulting.

[Read more on Crazy Beach in this month’s Society Notes and Ben Steelman’s review of the book and plans for a sequel in the StarNews.]

 

Free to a Good Home

Free to a Good Home

Early issues of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society Newsletters

 New to the Society?

Interested in reading about our early history?

We’ve uncovered a stash of old Newsletters and are giving them away free.

Stop by the History Center any time we’re open and check out what’s left.

To read any of the archived Newsletters published between 1994 thru 2014, just visit our home page.  Then using the top main menu select ‘FPHPS Resources‘ scroll down and select ‘Archived Newsletters 1994 – 2014′

 

Book Launch!

Kure Beach: Images of America
Arcadia Books, $21.99

Federal Point History Center

Saturday April 21 .. 1 pm – 3 pm

Please join author, Brenda Coffey, who will be signing books and postcards.

Kure Beach derived its name from a Danish immigrant named Hans Anderson Kure Sr. He began acquiring land in the area in 1891, and by 1900, he had purchased 900 acres just south of Carolina Beach to Fort Fisher.

He established the Kure Land and Development Company and in 1913 produced a map of Fort Fisher Sea Beach, which would later become Kure’s Beach and eventually Kure Beach.

In 1923, the first wooden fishing pier on the Atlantic coast was constructed by Lawrence Kure. DAN PRI, one of the first surfboard companies on the East Coast, was also established at Kure Beach.

The area is rich in historical significance—from Verrazzano’s discovery to Cape Fear Indians, pirates, lighthouses, the “Rocks,” the Ethy Dow Chemical Plant, and the community’s role in both the Civil War and World War II. Most cherished, though, are the people that loved living a relaxed, peaceful life in their “paradise.”

 

President’s Letter – April, 2018

The Breakers Hotel, Part IV
by Elaine Henson

In this Breakers Hotel ad from the Sunday Star News, June 13, 1948 edition, one can see that the building has been stuccoed and painted white giving it a whole new look.  The ad’s photo shows the side of the Breakers that faced the street. It also shows a north wing and south wing with a recessed porch in between.  The lobby and dining room faced the ocean on the other side along with the long porch running the building’s length.  The original 50 bedrooms have been converted to 73 and the manager that year was George Earl Russ.

In late 1951, the Breakers was purchased by Earl Russ and John Crews.  They spent $5,000 in repairs and new furnishings before a fire broke out in the southern wing apartment on January 10, 1952.  The fire mainly affected the southern wing with the main part and northern wing unscathed.

Two years after the fire, Russ and Crews sold the hotel to Lawrence C. Kure and Glenn Tucker.  They had bought the Wilmington Beach Corporation which included the remaining unsold land.

Tucker planned to market the remaining building lots and Kure planned to build a 1,000 foot pier in front of the Breakers to be named the Wilmington Beach Pier.

It was begun in December of 1953 and completed in time for the 1954 summer season. That was the pier’s  only summer.  On October 15, 1954, mighty Hurricane Hazel destroyed the pier and most of the hotel.

What remained was later torn down bringing an end to the Breakers Hotel.

On its footprint today is Sea Colony Condominiums, between the Golden Sands and Pelican Watch.

The pier ruins stayed on for many years and was nicknamed “Stub Pier” by locals.  It was just south of Center Pier which also opened that summer of 1954, and suffered damage in the only Category 4 hurricane to hit our area in all of the Twentieth Century to present.

 

Fisherman’s Steel Pier

Carolina Beach, NC  (1956 – 1977)

Excerpt from North Carolina’s Ocean Fishing Piers by Al Baird

If there was ever a pier that described the disclaimer ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time,’ it would be Fisherman’s Steel Pier on Carolina Beach.

J.R. Bame and his son J.C. Bame, both Carolina Beach businessmen, were approached with the idea to build a steel pier in 1955. The elder Bame, who already owned a hotel and Center Pier, thought it was a good idea.

In Spring of 1955, they began construction on the state’s third steel pier. The price tag was estimated at about $75,000. At the very beginning of construction, Hurricane Connie destroyed half of what had been built, but the pier was operational by 1956.

Angler Jack Wood recalls the location of Fisherman’s Steel Pier as ‘downtown at the boardwalk.’ The entrance was behind the bumper cars and north of the putt-putt. That put it right across the street from Carolina Beach’s largest amusement park, Seashore Park.

“The pier was built on the site of the Fergus cottage, which was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel, and R.C. Fergus would later become part owner. The one-thousand-foot-long pier was an instant attraction, but – as was the case with other steel piers in the state – the metal did not hold up in the salt water.”

“Fisherman’s Steel Pier had an arcade and a grill, but the main feature was the Skyliner chairlift, which lifted sightseers thirty feet into the air and out over the length of the pier. Many old postcards of the pier and the ride can be found online and in antique stores.”

“In the late 1960s, Bame and Fergus sold Fisherman’s Steel Pier to Effie and Howard McGirt from Zebulon, North Carolina, who were looking for something to do during their retirement years at the beach. One common postcard from 1970 shows the McGirts standing in front of the Skyliner ride at the entrance of the pier.”

“The pier lost about 150 feet to a storm in 1969, and by the early 1970’s, the pier was too much upkeep for the McGirt’s, who returned it to Bame and Fergus. Fisherman’s Steel Pier was closed and demolished shortly after.”

 

Society Notes, April, 2018

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director

Crazy Beach
By Lynn Welborn

Amazon Digital, 2018
$15.99 (Now available at the Fed. Pt. History Center gift shop)

Visit Crazy Beach for a wild ride jammed with hilarious adolescent mischief, teenage lust, and an unforgettable band of misfits calling the little island home.

An instantly entertaining trek embedding into your heart forever the soundtrack of boyhood adventure, the girls of summer, and a journey to Woodstock through the eyes of an 11-year old stowaway.

Action on the island reveals the secrets of The Wave Theatre, shenanigans on the boardwalk, an idyllic oceanfront beach cottage, and a grand old pier serving as the story’s heartbeat.

The boardwalk explodes with the exploits of Lenny’s crew, including scamming tourists, running from the cops, and the joy of discovering The Seven Wonders of Boyhood. On the more reflective side, like “The Last Picture Show” or “Prince of Tides” it’s a look at how love, absence, and loss shape us.

[Read more about Crazy Beach in Ben Steelman’s review of the book and plans for a sequel in the StarNews.]

 


Congratulations to the 2018 Walk of Fame inductees

Robert “Bob” Doetsch

Gerald “Jerry” P. Bigley, Sr.

Robert & Clara Lamb

Michael McGowan

 


Fran Doetsch passed away on Friday March 31. Our deepest sympathies go out to Gary, Kendal and the extended Doetsch family.

The History Center recorded 68 visitors in March, up from 47 in February. The tourist season is definitely started for this year. We had 35 in attendance at the March Meeting.

The History Center was used for meetings held by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the the Walk Of Fame Committee.

Thanks to this month’s volunteers. Cheri McNeill and Nancy Gadzuk brought refreshments for the March meeting. Jim Kohler helped with the Newsletter mailing and Leslie Bright helped us shop for, transport, and mount the new TV. Darlene is in the process of training our new treasurer, Ed Capel!

 

Federal Point Methodist Church

[Originally published in the July, 1996 FPHPS Newsletter – Sandy Jackson, editor]

[Editor (1996):  The following article on the Federal Point Methodist Church written by Jim Hardie originally appeared in the Wilmington News on February 23, 1956. I wish to thank Mr. Peter Haswell for bringing this article to my attention.]

Situated among the scrub oaks and long-leaf pines in this remote area of New Hanover County is a quaint three-room church which might be the “Mother” Methodist Church in North Carolina. ‘I think it’s considered the “Mother” Methodist Church in the state,’ said V. E. Queen, Methodist district superintendent.

01-FedPtMethodist-ChurchCemetary-Dow-Rd-Sign1There are no records available to confirm, or discredit, Federal Point Methodist Church as being the original Methodist Church in the state. At any rate, the church is definitely more than 112 years old, and may possibly be 162 years old. Some of the valuable old records in the basement of the historic old New Hanover County Courthouse, which date back to the early 1700’s throw some light on the subject, but there are years which slipped by unrecorded, leaving a vast area of unknown which only speculation can fill.

On July 14, 1725, the Commonwealth of North Carolina deeded to Maurice Moore, “500 acres, more or less,” at the southeastern corner of New Hanover County. That 500 acres today takes in Kure Beach and Fort Fisher. Moore acquired the land because as a major in the army, he had led some troops across the Cape Fear River and landed in the vicinity of Sugar Loaf Hill, a few hundred yards north of Federal Point.

Moore expressed the desire to establish a settlement around Sugar Loaf and Federal Point, and did so. At the same time he got the land for a settlement at Federal Point, Major Moore was building a plantation on a overlooking the Cape Fear River, just north of Orton Plantation.

It wasn’t until the spring of 1736 that the 500 acres which Moore had acquired, changed hands. Thomas Merrick took over the vast stretch of sandy wasteland from Moore.

Merrick had two daughters, Dorothy and Sarah. In his will, Merrick directed that all his land be divided equally between his daughters. Dorothy died without marrying, and Sarah was sole heir to the acres of sand, bordered on the south and east by the ocean, on the west by the Cape Fear River, and on the north by a boundary line.

Sarah Merrick married Samuel Ashe, Jr., and in 1788, they sold the southern half of their land to Archibald McLaine, and in 1792, they sold the remaining tract to William Mosely.

Moser didn’t hold onto the 300 acres he bought, very long, because on April 12, 1794, he sold his holdings at Federal Point to Joseph Newton. Some 49 years had passed from the time the state gave 500 acres to Major Maurice Moore, and Joseph Newton bought 300 acres of the same tract.

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935 Foreground - A Hewlett Grave

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935
Foreground – A Hewlett Grave

It was on the 300 acres bought by Joseph Newton that the Federal Point Methodist Church was built. It is entirely possible that a hand-full of people began holding simple worship services on the land of Joseph Newton soon after he bought it. This speculation is strengthened by the knowledge that a settlement existed at Federal Point during that time, and there is reason to believe those settlers were religious. Being far removed from the church facilities afforded by Wilmington, it is reasonable to assume they had their own makeshift services.

They may have congregated at Newton’s home on Sundays, then sometime later built a small meeting place which came to be known as the ‘Meeting House.’  New Hanover historian Louis T. Moore has no records on the Federal Point Methodist Church, but he has some ideas in connection with its beginning.

Moore, a direct descendant of Maurice Moore, the original owner of the land, agrees that a group could have held church meetings at Joseph Newton’s home as early as 1794, “But I doubt it. It is more likely that Federal Point Methodist Church was organized in the early eighteen hundreds, following the arrival of the Rev. William Meredith,” Moore said.

The Rev. Mr. Meredith came to Wilmington in 1797, and is regarded as the first Methodist minister in this area. Grace Methodist Church, which was organized in Wilmington, by the Rev. Mr. Meredith in 1797, is considered by historian Moore, as being the oldest Methodist Church in the state. There is no doubt that the arrival of the Rev. Mr. Meredith in this area the Methodist movement in this section, but there is still the contention that a group was meeting at Joseph Newton’s home before the Rev. Mr. Meredith came.

The early years during which Joseph Newton built his ‘homeplace’ at Federal Point, are shrouded by mystery, and it isn’t until the 1840s that we are able to pick up the chain of recorded events. Edward Newton, Jr., grandson of Joseph Newton, stipulated in his will, drawn January 15, 1844, that his entire 50 acres estate be left to his wife, Euphemia, ‘Except the Meeting House.’

It was on the 50 acres owned by Edward that the old Joseph Newton homeplace stood. However, no mention is made of when the Meeting House was built, or when the people first got together, and started holding religious services. We know that it was sometime between April 12, 1794, when Joseph Newton bought the land, and January 15, 1844, when Edward made reference to the Meeting House in his will.

There is considerable more history to the church, especially the part it played in the War Between the States, when the cannons at nearby Fort Fisher rattled the very foundations the Meeting House stood on, but that is a part of the mystery of its beginning. It is a romantic history indeed, and a history which easily stirs the imagination, and returns our thoughts to those days of yesteryear.

The historic old Federal Point Methodist Church will be abandoned soon because it is located in the area designated as a ‘safety zone’ for the Sunny Point Army Terminal. According to an agreement between the church and the government, the graveyard beside the church can still be used, and the government will provide maintenance for the burial ground.

At the present time, [1956] there are about 30 members of the church, and the pastor is Douglas Nathan Byrd, a ministerial student at High Point College. The present building was erected between 1910-12, and is located some 300 yards northeast of the site of the original Meeting House.

[Additional Resources]

July 1996 Newsletter (pdf) – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society
Newton Homesite and Cemetery
Oral History – Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church