Newsletter – June, 2021

History Center Again Open Three Days a Week!

Thursday, Friday, Saturday

10:00 am to 4:00 pm



Monthly Meetings/Programs to Return in September!



Monday, September 20: 7:30   9:00 pm.

John Moseley of the Fort Fisher State Historic Site will talk on the WASPs (Women’s Air Service Pilots)  and the role they played in the training of the men stationed at Fort Fisher during WWII, where they learned to shoot anti-aircraft artillery.

Monday, October 18:   7:30 – 9:00 pm.

Using his book, The Life and Tryals of the Gentleman Pirate, Major Stede Bonnet as a backdrop, author Jeremy Moss will re-create the life and times of some of history’s most famous pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard.

Saturday, November 6:   2:00 – 4:00 pm.

Historian Chris Fonvielle, will lead our annual walk to view the remnants of the Civil War trenches that can still be seen in Carolina Beach. This year we’ll begin at the J. Ryder Lewis Jr. Civil War Park and then hike from the History Center to Sugar Loaf in the Carolina Beach State Park. For reservations call: 910-458-0502


Monday, November 15:   7:30 – 9:00 pm.

John Bennett and musical friends will play 19th Century music and talk about music and dance in the culture of the time. They will play a mix of the most popular tunes from the mid 1800’s.



Back by Popular Demand! Holiday Potluck:

Monday December 20: 6:30 pm.




From the President – June, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

Center Pier Part III


The addition of the Ocean View Restaurant to Center Pier brought a different clientele to the pier along with the fishermen. Beach civic clubs, tourists and families after church were some of the new patrons. The large pine paneled dining room with

Juanita and Allen Herring

blue-green carpeting had windows facing the ocean which was a draw for sure.  They also had a private dining room for large families and meetings. The menu included lots of fresh seafood, some of it caught right out on the pier.

J.R. Bame’s daughter, Juanita and her husband, Allen Herring, were in charge of the pier and restaurant.  Juanita also was the librarian at Roland Grise Junior High School, but worked weekends and summers at the pier restaurant.  Their son, Pete Herring, also helped out when he was old enough.  Pete became quite a chef and opened his own restaurant in the mid-1980s on Charlotte Street in the old Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church. Pete named it the Steeple; it is now home to the ever popular Deck House.


This post card shows the interior of the Ocean View Restaurant

This post card shows the interior of the Ocean View Restaurant


By the early 1990s the pier had become the property of the Bame heirs since their parents had passed away.  In 1995, the Bame family sold the property to James & Anita Pope.

The notorious year of I996 brought Bertha and Fran to our area.  On July 12th, Category 2 Hurricane Bertha made landfall between Wrightsville Beach and Topsail with winds of 105 miles per hour. On September 5th, Hurricane Fran hit Cape Fear as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 miles an hour.  It quickly weakened after making landfall, but rains of 16 inches brought extensive flooding in North Carolina.  Fran destroyed the Kure Pier and took most of the Center Pier in its path.

But Jimmy Pope, had other plans for the Center Pier.  He turned the hurricane damaged fishing pier into a Tiki Bar with a post card of its own. Every summer visitors and locals flock there to hear live music, have a glass of wine or a beer and maybe dinner on the pier.



Next Month:  The Golden Sands, Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar


From Kings Highway to US 421

By: Rebecca Taylor

Roads to Federal Point, NC – Part III:  

“Cars come to the Beach”


After the Civil War, in Southeastern North Carolina, roads remained primitive. The trip to communities like Federal Point remained along treacherous sandy tracks and the drive from Wilmington via horse or mule drawn wagon was long and often unpleasant. Therefore, the Cape Fear River remained the primary “highway” between local communities, as it had been for several centuries. Then in the mid 1880s, Captain John Harper, who delivered mail, merchandise, and passengers by steamship daily from Wilmington to Southport, began dropping people off at the local landmark, “Sugar Loaf,” on the eastern side of the river. From there, fishermen and eventually “sea bathers” hiked across the peninsula to the ocean-side. But, in summer it was a long, hot and buggy walk to and from the beach.

It didn’t take long for Captain Harper to realize the potential that existed in this quiet backwater of southern New Hanover County. In January of 1887, the Wilmington Star reported that,  The Carolina Beach Company, recently formed, had begun work on a railroad which was to run from near Sugar Loaf, about 13 miles below Wilmington on the Cape Fear River, across the peninsula to the Atlantic coast, near the head of Myrtle Grove Sound… The iron rails have already been purchased and the rolling stock provided.  The railroad work was to be completed in about two months, and the line was not to be more than two miles in length. At the terminus of the railroad on the ocean side will be put in perfect order and a “playground” will be furnished for the excursionists where they can go and enjoy themselves.” And so, the seaside resort of Carolina Beach was founded.*

Then in 1908, Henry Ford revolutionized the world with the Model T. Suddenly the automobile was available to the American middle class at an affordable price. After twenty years, people with the means to visit the bustling resort of Carolina Beach, suddenly had a way to get there without having to rely on Captain Harper’s steamship schedule.


March 3, 1909        CAROLINA BEACH

Mr. Walter Sprunt made a trip to Carolina Beach in his Maxwell automobile and it was stated that this was the first touring car to reach that point. WILMINGTON  DISPATCH,  3-4-1909.


By 1910, the local citizens of the Federal Point area were holding a “Good Roads Rally” calling for better roads to be built by New Hanover County. Amazingly, by, “March 1915, the contractor had his convicts at work on the new road at Carolina Beach, the 7 ½ miles between the “Loop” road and the beach.”

 On July 7, 1916, the Wilmington Dispatch reported, “Last Sunday there were about 50 machines (automobiles) visiting the Beach, coming down the excellent new Carolina Beach Road. When the Boulevard at Carolina Beach is completed in the near future, this will be one of the prettiest drives in the county.”

Unfortunately, not every resident of Federal Point was happy about the new “infernal contraptions.” On June 28, 1917, the Wilmington Dispatch reported, “Councilman James M. Hall and his little son, Thomas Gray Hall, were attacked by an enraged bull as they made their way to ‘The Rocks’ at the lower end of Federal Point.  The Wilmington Councilman was on his way to visit a party of campers at “The Rocks,” when at a point below Carolina Beach a herd of cattle was encountered and a bull was enraged by the sight of the automobile.  Councilman Hall opened the throttle and soon left the mad animal behind. WILM. DISPATCH, 6-28-1917

In May of 1922, the Wilmington Dispatch reported, “By actual count, 584 automobiles were parked at Carolina Beach when the pavilion being organized by the Ocean Beach Company, under the management of Lem Davis, opened for the season.

And, by 1925, the promoters of the resort could say, “The formal opening of Carolina Beach, “the beach you can reach by automobile,” featured an opening dance in the remodeled pavilion with music by the “Southern Collegians,” of the University of North Carolina.  Flashlight pictures of the dancers and the crowd in the pavilion were taken, with the view of preserving these to mark the new era of prosperity for Carolina Beach.” 

*Always a visionary, Captain Harper sold 200 acres of his land holdings at Carolina Beach in 1912 to the Southern Realty and Development Company for $30,000. He agreed to continue steamship service to the beach for two years.


Society Notes – June, 2021

By: Darlene Bright, History Center Director

New Exhibit at Fort Fisher

KURE BEACH, NC—On June 29, 2021, Fort Fisher State Historic Site will debut a new exhibit depicting the contributions and remarkable story of Lumbee Indians at Fort Fisher entitled, A Memory A People Could Not Forget: Lumbee Indians at Fort Fisher.

Guest curated by the Museum of the Southeastern American Indian and the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the Civil War exhibit conveys the vital role played by Lumbee Indians in building the Fort’s massive earthworks alongside free and enslaved African Americans.

Faced with the reality of conscription and brutal working conditions, the Lumbee Indians endured seemingly endless labor demands in building what came to be known as the Gibraltar of the South. This new exhibit uses text, maps, photographs, and diagrams to show the grim price paid by individuals who were transported more than a hundred miles from home to construct the colossal Confederate fortress.

  • In May, the History Center had ­­­­­­­­­­­­­61 visitors. The UDC held their monthly meeting at the History Center.
  • Welcome to new members: Faith Savoca and Family of Wilmington, Richard Manning of Clemmons, NC, and Lifetime members Julia and Daniel Crouch and Ann Braxton of Carolina Beach.

 Volunteer Service Hours

Does anyone know a teenager or two who need some volunteer service hours?  We are currently cataloging our map collection and need to take a photograph of each map. We need a few days help with our 50 or so maps so that they can be unrolled, spread out on the floor, photographed, and then re-rolled.