Bathing Suit Exhibit

Bathing BeautiesThis summer the Federal Point History Center, located next to Town Hall at 1121-A North Lake Park Boulevard, will host an exhibit called Vintage Bathing Suits: 1900-1990 which includes 23 suits from the time period.

The exhibit will be open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm during June, July and August.

In for FunThe oldest suits are from the 1900-1920s and look more like dresses than bathing suits.  All three are fine worsted wool and were worn with stockings and bathing shoes.

Five suits are one piece tank suits of wool knit worn during the 1920s-30s.  One of those has the initials of the bath house that rented it stamped across the front much like those from our pavilion and bath houses at Carolina Beach.  And, one is a child’s suit in bright red that someone added elastic to the straps for another season of wear.

Two ladies’ suits are Jantzens with their distinctive swim girl logo, one of those has a zipper down the back.  Two men’s suits are bathing briefs made of wool knit from the 1930s-40s both with belts.  One has the Jantzen swim girl on the buckle and the other has a “Surfing Waikiki” patch.

There is an emerald-green ladies’ suit in silk taffeta with a flared skirt over cotton bloomers.  Bare Essentials - yellow 2 pieceThere is a yellow woven rayon two piece with a bra like top and trunks from the waist and a green woven cotton two piece with a halter top.

Wool, cotton and rayon gave way to synthetic fabrics from the 1950s on.  Several more one piece ladies’ suits are made from polyester blends most with a modesty panel to cover the crotch and some with zippers and boning.  There is a man’s cotton boxer suit and a ladies’ suit with a matching detachable skirt made from synthetic stretchy fabric.

The most modern suit is a 1980s-90s one made from linen and features embroidery and is fully lined.

We invite locals and beach visitors alike to visit our exhibit this summer at the History Center.  Call us at 910-458-0502 or email at and please visit our Facebook page at Federal Point History Center and like us.


Calling All Members

New Boardwalk #2We Need You To Volunteer!New Board Walk #1

We are currently planning an outreach program that will put our members on the Boardwalk one or two nights a week, in June, July and August. 

We hope to display some of our great pictures, pass out our brochure, and answer questions about Federal Point.

If you could take a night or two please let Rebecca know: 910-458-0502


Upcoming Exhibits

Snows Cut_Swing Bridge Plaque

Plaque reads:
Intracoastal Waterway From Beaufort To Cape Fear River NC
Built Under The Direction Of The Corps Of Engineers USA
For The N C State Highway Commission
Built By The Roanoke Bridge and Iron Works Inc.
Roanoke Va

The Exhibit Committee (Elaine Henson, Darlene Bright, Demetria Sapienza and Rebecca Taylor) is currently working on two upcoming exhibits.

We will showcase Snow’s Cut beginning in the early Fall of 2016, and commemorate the United States entry into WWI beginning in 2017.

We are looking for artifacts to use with both. If you have pictures, letters, or objects  you would lend us, please let Rebecca at the History Center know; 910-458-0502

We are also looking for ideas for additional rotating exhibits that will run for 3-6 months at the History Center and may be offered to other local institutions.

Please send your suggestions to Rebecca at

Seabreeze – A History Part 2 – Carolina Beach and Shell Island

by Rebecca Taylormap cropped

Because Sea Breeze was a leisure site, it has deep meaning for residents and former business owners, as well as for people who patronized it. The old resort has a remarkably wide constituency. All over North Carolina I have encountered people who have vivid and fond memories of Sea Breeze.”  – Jennifer Edwards, 2003

Through the last part of  the nineteenth century there was considerable cooperation between the Seabreeze and Carolina Beach communities.

  • From the August 15, 1891 Wilmington Messenger we find: “Professor Edward Jewell, the good-looking young aeronaut, left the earth in his balloon at 6 pm and was borne upward into the boundless space on the horizontal bar attached to his big canvas balloon inflated with hot air. He went up to 5,000 feet and came down in the ocean about one mile from shore. About 1,800 people, men and women, old and young, and many children had collected to witness the spectacle.
Seabreeze Resort

Seabreeze Resort

Bruce and Roland Freeman, with five men each,went to Jewell’s rescue with their whale boats. Professor Jewell, when about six feet from the water, sprang into the surf and against the tide and through the breakers swam one mile to the shore, as reckoned by the Freemans. The boats brought in the balloon and all was well.”

  • “Ellis Freeman, the well-known caterer, was prepared to furnish Myrtle Grove oysters at Carolina Beach. He was making a specialty of roasts. – Truelove’s Sauce, new delicious and appetizing.”
  • “It has been learned that Roland Freeman, one of the heirs to the Freeman estate, colored, which owns considerable quantities of land near Carolina Beach had practically closed negotiations for the sale of 250 acres of land owned by the estate and that he had also agreed to give options on a like amount of territory. The home of Roland Freeman was near the beach.”
  • “Real Estate Transfer – J. N. Freeman and wife transfer to A. W. Pate, trustee, for the Wilmington & Carolina Beach Railway, for $1 and other considerations, a 100-foot right-of-way through their lands in Federal Point Township.”
  • “On March 11, 1887, W. L. Smith Jr. bought a strip of land comprised of 24 acres for the amount of $6650. These acres were between the head of Myrtle Grove Sound and the ocean beach as recorded in New Hanover County Deed Book YYY, Page 578.”   Today, this land is located in the heart of the business district of the Town of Carolina Beach.


Shell Island Resort/Wrightsville Beach

In 1924, as Seabreeze was just beginning to flourish, Thomas H. Wright and Charles B. Parmele began to promote the Shell postcard of suitsIsland Beach Development Company. With an investment capital of $500,000 they planned to make Shell Island “a Negro Atlantic City.” A small island just north of Wrightsville Beach, it lasted only three summers before it mysteriously burned to the ground.

Shell Island Resort was destroyed by fire about 1926 and was not rebuilt. In the 1930’s Wrightsville Beach began enforcing ordinances that prohibited blacks from bathing on but one extreme northern section of the beach. They were also prohibited from wearing bathing suits and walking on the boardwalks in front of private white cottages.

Earlier attempts by blacks to develop resorts in the Wrightsville Beach area in 1883, 1902, 1904, and 1920 were either short-lived or never developed. In 1993 E. F. Martin took a ten-year lease on the Jim Hewlett place, at Greenville Sound, for a natural park and resort for the black community. Called Atlanta Park.

Bruce Freeman (one of Robert Bruce Freeman, Sr.’s grandsons) remembered that by 1929, after Shell Island burned, building had really begun at Seabreeze, and the resort was drawing crowds numbering thousands. Spending free time among one’s peers, away from the scrutiny of whites, is an implicit message emerging from oral histories of the people speaking about the early days of Seabreeze.


Calling all Members – Volunteers Needed

elains's men's suits

We are currently beginning to plan an outreach program that will put our members on the Boardwalk one or two nights a week, in June, July and August.

We hope to display some of our great pictures, pass out our brochure, and answer questions about Federal Point.

If you could take a night or two please let Rebecca know, 910-458-0502


Spring Clearance Sale – Throughout May

Gift Shop

FPHPS Gift Shop
Spring Clearance

      Entire Month of May


Gift Shop #3


Books         T shirts       Sweats    

Games Toys       Posters


      Many items as much as 50% off!


Steve Pfaff, Seneca Guns – April Meeting


Monday, April 18, 2016  7:30 PM

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, April 18, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker this month will be Steve Pfaff of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who will speak to us about the mysterious phenomena called the Seneca Guns.  What are Seneca Guns?  That’s the question.

Now and then, often on a beautiful, clear and sunny day, people in Southeastern North Carolina hear/feel strange booming noises. Some people report them as earthquakes others claim they are hearing something like cannon fire. Others swear they are hearing sonic booms from aircraft.  However, upon investigation none of these things are happening.

Steve Pfaff serves as the Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) at the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Wilmington, NC.  At the WCM since 2008, he is responsible for promoting weather safety outreach and awareness to the public. Steve is also responsible for providing emergency and decision support services to Emergency Management as well as a Seneca gunsmultitude of local, state, and federal partners.

He first arrived at NWS Wilmington, NC as a Senior Forecaster in 1998 where he served as the Marine Program Leader. Prior to his NWS career, he worked at WNBC-TV in New York where he prepared the forecast and graphics for Al Roker. Steve received his degree in Meteorology from Kean University in Union, NJ in 1994.

“The name Seneca Guns seems to come from Seneca Lake in upstate New York, where the sounds are often heard. In 1850, James Fenimore Cooper (author of “Last of the Mohicans”) wrote a story, “The Lake Gun,” describing the phenomenon, which seems to have popularized the term.

The sounds are heard in coastal areas; observers insist they are never heard at sea. In 2005 and 2008, residents in Brunswick County reported they were loud enough to rattle windows and shake houses.

In December 2001, a Seneca gun event prompted more than 100 calls to New Hanover County authorities. No serious damage, however, has ever been attributed to a Seneca gun.” – Wilmington StarNews, My Reporter column.

Road Trip!

Elaine, Darlene, Demetria, and Rebecca’s Excellent Adventuremissles and more

Just imagine. Two days in a car with the four of us.  On February 17th and 18th we set out to visit a number of small, non-profit museums. The goal: look at their current exhibits, and talk to them about how they fund, produce, and publicize their displays.

We started off at the Missiles and More Museum on Topsail Island.  Rose Peters was gracious enough to come in for a morning, even though they aren’t open to the public this time of year. She shared a whole bunch of ideas with us and several of the businesses she uses for exhibits are actually in Wilmington. The best ideas: use carpeting to back exhibits, then put Velcro on the back of the graphics and just stick them on.  Also useful to us was the idea of using simple hollow core doors to mount exhibits on.  We thought that might work well for us since we could fold them back to the wall when we have meetings.

Swansboro was next, for a great (and huge) lunch at Yana’s.  A real “hometown” treasure, with decor devoted to Elvis and the 50’s and onion rings to die for.

history placeOur next stop was The History Place, in Morehead City. It’s run by the Carteret County Historical Society and features not only exhibits, but also a large research library.  There we talked to Director Steve Anderson who spent a long time talking to us about fundraising, as well as giving us a tour of their new (as in still under construction) exhibit on Pine Knoll Shores.

We then drove up US 17 past New Bern to Plymouth, NC. And where is Plymouth? It’s on the south side of the Chowan River, across the Albemarle Sound from Edenton. It’s actually a very small town, with two small private museums, one on each end of town, about 6 blocks apart. We spent the night in a very nice Holiday Inn Express, though finding dinner was something of an adventure.  The only two local restaurants downtown were closed on a Wednesday night in the middle of winter, but we found the police station and asked for a recommendation.  A very nice young officer sent us back to the “highway” where we found Mama’s Pizza in the only shopping center with lights on.  It turned out to have a nice salad bar and their pizza wasn’t bad either.

The next morning we stopped first at the Port o’ Plymouth Museum.  It is mostly devoted to the Civil War and the battles that Port of Plymouthtook place for the domination of this important shipping harbor. David (sorry I’ve forgotten his last name) met us at the door and showed us around. We were particularly interested in a new display he had just put up on World War I.  While we were there, an older man, a member of their Board, came through and we talked to him for quite awhile. As it turned out, he knew Leslie Bright from his archaeology days.  They do one big fundraiser a year and pretty much exist on the proceeds from that.  One neat idea was the “sandbox” outside where kids could “dig for sharks’ teeth.”  We had also seen a special corner for kids at Topsail and Rebecca wants to work on making our place more “kid friendly.”

After an hour or so we went down the street to the Roanoke River Maritime Museum, where Brenda Roanoke MaritimeConklin greeted us warmly. It turns out she is the sister of the older man we talked to at the Port-o-Plymouth. They had some great exhibits devoted to boats large and small, as well as a replica of the Roanoke River lighthouse. We even found a canoe on display that Leslie had excavated from Lake Phelps and preserved years ago.

By late morning, we were ready to turn south. After a Wendy’s lunch in Greenville we made it to the Wayne County Historical Society museum in Goldsboro right on time.  Chris Lawson welcomed us warmly and talked to us about their displays and programs. One fascinating exhibit is a diorama of the Battle of Goldsborough Bridge, a Civil War battle, waged in 1862 for control of the railroad hub.

Roanoke Maritime exibit #2Our last stop was Liberty Hall in Kenansville but they were just about to close and we only had time to look at the exhibits in the modern building where tickets are sold.  The guided tour of the house and grounds takes as much as 90 minutes, so we hope to go back another day.

A huge thanks to Demetria who did all the driving.  We certainly learned a lot. Some things to do, and some very definitely NOT to do.  We’re working now on a proposal to take to the Board, for creating some seasonal exhibits and for refurbishing the display cases one at a time.


Society Notes – January 2016

Darlene Bright, History Center Director

  • The History Center recorded 40 visitors in December.
  • We had 41 in attendance at the wonderful Christmas potluck.
  • The gift shop took in $43.96 in December.
  • The History Center was used by Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club and the UDC for their monthly meetings.


  • Don’t forget! If you take a trip with Wilmington Water Tours, please tell them you are a member of FPHPS! If you do, we get a portion of your ticket price. Call us 910-458-0502 or them 910-338-3134.


  • The Carolina Beach Walk of Fame Committee has selected 4 people to be inducted on January 30, 2016. The unveiling ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at Carolina Beach Lake. This program recognizes people who have made a tangible and lasting contribution to the Town of Carolina Beach through their outstanding leadership and service.


Holiday Potluck – December 14, 2015

Remember. We start the potluck at 6:30 PMPOTLUCK LOGO

One week early due to Christmas, one hour early, too!

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its annual holiday potluck on Monday, December 14 at 6:30 pm. This year we will be back at the History Center as it’s a lot easier for the hospitality committee. Please join us for food, fun and festivities.

Joining the festivities will be John Golden and his magic guitar as well as Jay and Deborah Hockenbury. Please feel free to bring family and friends to this cozy community get-together.