The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, August 20, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.
Our program this month is entitled “Memories of Summer; Growing Up on the Boardwalk.”
Elaine Henson will run the projector and moderate stories from our long time members as they remember their teenage years. Dancing, eating, playing, and working.
Join us for this unique oral history program which will include innumerable stories from the 1940s to the 1960s.
The May 19, 1941 edition of the Wilmington Morning Star reported 10,000 people at Carolina Beach over the weekend with most of the boardwalk businesses rebuilt after the tragic fire the year before.
By the official opening of the summer season on June 6th, the new Hotel Bame and Palais Royal Hotel were open along with the new Wave Theater. The midway had more rides, more concessions, larger stores and wider and longer boardwalks lined with benches. The “South’s Miracle Beach” had indeed recovered and was on the way to even busier days and nights with the advent of World War II.
Wilmington and the surrounding beaches swelled with people during the 1940s, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
New Hanover County’s population went from 42,000 to over 100,000 with the NC Shipbuilding Company, defense workers and military personnel. Soldiers from Camp Davis, Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune and Fort Fisher flocked to our area on weekends when they had leave.
Many soldiers camped out with their regiments on the north end where Freeman Park is now. The Greystone Hotel on Cape Fear Boulevard became a USO and the boardwalk was filled with soldiers and military police, a trend that would continue even after the war years.
Carolina Beach Postmaster, W.H. Blair, reported an average of 25,000 cards a week were mailed in a 1941 article in the Carolina Beach Sun. He said “I trace the main reason for this to the visit of many soldiers …. they send mail to every state in the union.”
The August 2, 1941 issue of the Carolina Beach Sun shows an article on the 1,000 soldiers from Fort Bragg’s 36th Regiment that camped out on the north end of Carolina Beach. Another article is about the 40, 000 visitors at the beach the previous weekend and another on the 25,000 post cards mailed from the resort.
Atlantic City Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York
Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California
Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Ocean City Boardwalk, Ocean City, Maryland
Venice Beach Boardwalk, Venice Beach, California
Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California
Old Orchard Beach Boardwalk, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Wildwood, Wildwood, N.J.
Virginia Beach Boardwalk, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Disney World Boardwalk, Walt Disney World, Florida
Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, Texas
Mission Beach Boardwalk, San Diego, California
Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Appropriately located on Pleasure Island, Carolina Beach specializes in making you forget your cares. Mild breezes, gorgeous beach, and a sweet hospitality make this boardwalk a family favorite.
Hampton Beach Boardwalk, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Are you a history fan that likes to learn about the past by getting up close and personal with it?
Perhaps you are someone who has visited us before, noticed the brick, stone, and concrete fortifications on campus and wanted to know more about them. If so, you aren’t alone, and we want you as our guest!
The Cape Fear History Symposium’s 2018 event is a 2-day trip (Aug 24-25) to the past where guests will not only meet, eat, and sleep at Fort Caswell, but will enjoy a program topic that we’ve never offered before.
Hear from the nation’s leading experts on U.S. Coast defense history through a series of lectures and seminars, witness a live artillery demonstration, and tour the campus with the experts, getting up close with the relics and ruins as you learn about them.
Speakers include John Weaver, Lt. Col. Quentin W. Schillare, Glen Williford, Dale Floyd, as well as Vincent Melomo and Tom Beaman on the archaeology of Fort Caswell. Go to http://fortcaswell.com/project/cfhs/ for the registration form, a schedule of the symposium and details on the speakers and their topics.
On Tuesday, August 7, 2018 retired Judge Gilbert H. Burnett celebrated his 93rd birthday.
He also presented the town of Carolina Beach with a beautiful brass sundial on the boardwalk in a ceremony attended by his family, some of our members, Greg Reynolds from the Chamber of Commerce, Steve Shuttleworth and LeAnn Pierce from council and Town Manager, Michael Cramer.
The sundial is on the Harper Avenue beach access on the boardwalk and includes signage explaining how to read it and adjust for summer’s daylight savings time.
Judge Burnett dedicated the sundial in memory of his parents, John Henry and Ruth Deaton Burnett. After a long search he found one in the United Kingdom and he received the bill for it in pounds.
The Burnett family lived in Burgaw but built a cottage in 1936 in the 400 block of Carolina Beach Avenue North. Every summer they loaded eight children and the dog into vehicles piled high with everything from beach wear to Ruth Burnett’s sewing machine for the annual trip to the shore.
Young Gilbert ran a boardwalk Snow-Ball stand from age 12 into his teenage years. It was located where Wheel Fun Rentals keeps their surreys and bicycles now and was one of the stops on our summer Boardwalk Tour.
The Burnett Cottage was destroyed in 1954’s Hurricane Hazel but then rebuilt with the original pine paneling recovered from the wreckage and remains in the family today.
The Sundial is on the Harper Avenue beach access on the boardwalk.
WOW! Our first season is over and there’s no question our Historic Boardwalk tour was a great success.
WE HAD 144 PEOPLE ATTEND 7 TOURS (one got rained out) and collected $520 in donations!
We want to extend a HUGE thanks to Elaine Henson for doing the research and writing the script and finding all the “what used to be here” photos! She bought the tote bags that the tour leaders used, as well. Thanks, also, to Rebecca and Cheri who put together the tour tote scripts and pictures.
Special thanks go to Erin Whitman from Carolina Beach Parks and Recreation for designing the rack card that got the word out to the tourists. A huge thanks to Jasmine McKee and theIsland Gazette for including an article about the tour in every paper throughout the summer. We asked people where they heard about the tour and the most people told us they found out about it in the Island Gazette.
Mix the vinegar, onions, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a pot and bring to a boil. Add drained canned green beans. Heat thoroughly, stirring to mix, and let stand 2-3 hours. Heat before serving and add crumbled bacon.
Jan Davidson, Historian at the Cape Fear Museum, was the featured speaker at the May 21, 2018 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.
Jan talked about the history of Federal Point and Fort Fisher as depicted by some of the artifacts housed at the Cape Fear Museum.
Pictures of these early artifacts included a number of different styles of Civil War Confederate flags as well as General Whiting’s uniform and sword: Whiting switched sides and joined the Confederacy, taking the time to re-carve and alter the “U.S.” on his sword handle to read “C.S.” for the Confederate States.
She talked about the evolution of the four phases of Fort Fisher: as a battle site, a memorial site, a World War II site, and a state historic site.
As a state historic site, the 150th anniversary and re-enactment of the Battle for Fort Fisher in 2015 acknowledged sacrifices on both sides while focusing on the notion that there was “glory enough for all” in this attack. By focusing on glory, the real issues could be glossed over: that slavery was a real cause of the war and that slaves did not have happy lives.
Many of the artifacts Jan shared from more recent times overlapped or duplicated the excellent collection of beach memorabilia that Elaine Henson has shared with the History Center. The Museum even houses a urinal from Carolina Beach’s Ocean Plaza. (Leslie Bright would be able to speak to the origin of that donation.)
To me, the most interesting part of Jan’s presentation was her account of the transformation of the Cape Fear Museum over time. The Cape Fear Museum is the oldest history museum in North Carolina. It was founded in 1898 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to venerate and honor the Confederacy, and operated out of one room in the Light Infantry’s building.
Until the 1930’s, the museum moved all around Wilmington and even found its collection stored in Raleigh for a while when it couldn’t find a home in Wilmington. When the museum re-opened in the 1930’s, it took a much broader historical focus than it had in 1898. In the 1970’s, the focus broadened again to incorporate the region’s history, science, arts, and cultures to tell more balanced and inclusive stories about the area. This broader focus is reflected in its current name, the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.
The majority of its collections are in storage as there is not room to display everything. This led to a discussion of Project Grace, a potential collaborative effort between New Hanover County, the public library, Cape Fear Museum, and private investors.
Through this project, the Museum would evolve yet again and become part of a cultural-commercial hub in downtown Wilmington, where the main library is located now. How Project Grace shakes out and shapes up is still to be determined and it will be interesting to follow its progress as it moves forward.
Sharing our histories and stories involves not only looking backward, but looking forward—and being willing and able to change with the times. There was much to learn from Jan’s presentation on how an institution can do that well.
The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, July 16, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.
This month our speaker is Andrew Duppstadt who will speak on “North Carolina’s Naval Raiders, 1700-1865.”
Throughout much of North Carolina’s early history, naval raiding was practiced by pirates, privateers, blockade runners, and commerce raiders. Though often overshadowed by other colonies or states, the Old North State was home to some of the most prolific naval raiders during their prospective periods of history.
This program examines some of the men who undertook the practice of naval raiding, which brought them relative levels of fame during their time.
Andrew is the Program Development and Training Officer, and Historic Weapons Program Coordinator for North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. He has a BA and MA in history from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He is the Assistant Curator of Education for the North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor of History at Coastal Carolina Community College and Craven Community College.
By 1940 the Boardwalk was truly the Carolina Beach town center.
Not only were there hotels, eateries, bingo parlors, arcades, bath houses, the pavilion, a movie theater, bowling alley, amusements and other summer businesses, but also, essential services that were open year round. Beach residents shopped for groceries at the boardwalk A & P and spirits at the ABC store.
City Hall was located there along with the police station and the fire department. At one time, the grammar school was on one side of City Hall separated by a sheet from those who conducted the town’s business.
In this Louis T. Moore photo from the NHCPL collection, the back of the pavilion is on the left with a new fire station and fire truck on the right. Behind the fire station is City Hall.
But, all that was to change. In the early hours of September 19, 1940, a fire in the pavilion was discovered by CB Police Officer Mosely on his nightly rounds.
The pavilion, near the northern end of the boardwalk and Harper Avenue, was described in a Wilmington Morning Star article as “Old, unpainted, dried and fattened for the kill by 30 odd summers in the sun, the structure exploded with uncontrolled furry before police Officer Mosley, who discovered the fire, could turn in an alarm.” A fierce wind blew the fire in both directions but mainly toward the south. It swept down two blocks of the Boardwalk destroying everything in its path ending at the Bame Hotel.
The Bame was located just south of the present day boardwalk gazebo area on the vacant lot where some of the summer rides are located. So, the fire covered the area between today’s Hampton Inn and Marriott Hotel.
This photo from the boardwalk looking west shows some of the devastation caused by the fire. In the left background is the blue building that faces Cape Fear Boulevard in front of the Gazebo. Photo from the collection of the late Bob and Fran Doetsch.
Undaunted by their losses, the business owners vowed to rebuild in time for the 1941 summer season and they did. Having accomplished that, Carolina Beach was billed as “The South’s Miracle Beach” on post cards published after the fire and rebuilt.