From the President – July, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

Center Pier Part VI

Golden Sands Motel

 

The original Golden Sands Motel was located on two ocean front lots in the 1200 block of South Lake Park Boulevard, just north of the Center Pier.  It was built the 1960s. This post card is from 1978 and shows the two story motel with office/living quarters on the left and an above ground pool on the right.

The back of the post card reveals details about the motel including that it was owned and operated by P. V. Medlin and Betty L. Hurt.  Betty, a widow,  later became Mrs. Medlin and was the first woman mayor of Kure Beach and the first mayor elected by the vote of the people instead of being elected by town council. Mayor Medlin served from 1993 to 2005.  The Medlins sold the Golden Sands in 1981, and, then bought the Rolling Surf Motel across from  the Kure Pier.

Betty Medlin died in January, 2007; in December of that year the Town of Kure Beach purchased the Rolling Surf property for $3.6 million. It became the site for the Kure Beach Ocean Park which opened in April, 2013.

In 1985, the new owners of the Golden Sands, going by Golden Sands Motel LLC, added a two story addition on the ocean front, built perpendicular to the street. It was up on pilings and had twelve units; they later added an owner’s quarters on one end.  In 1995, they purchased the Center Pier which was just south of their motel.  The pier was badly damaged the next year by back to back hurricanes Bertha and Fran and was closed.  In 1997, they built the five story Golden Sands Motel building with an ocean front swimming pool in front of the pier. The next year they added the two story Ocean Grill building which opened in December of 1998. Soon after, the stub of Center Pier became the ever popular Tiki Bar.

Photo courtesy of Golden Sands Motel

Business was good enough that another building was planned. But first, they had  to move the original Golden Sands across the street where the former Shoreline, Manning and Pier Inn motels had been.  Part of that property was and still is used for parking.  They later sold the newly relocated motel which was renamed the Sea Mist, and is now a condominium. The move made way for a new seven story Golden Sands with an indoor pool that was built in 2003.

The two Golden Sands buildings have a total of 113 rooms plus the Ocean Grill and the Tiki Bar, all popular vacation and year round destinations.   It’s come a long way since the 60s!

 

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 the President – May, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

Center Pier – Part II

Following Hurricane Hazel in October of 1954, Center Pier was repaired and was ready for the 1955 season. That year turned out to be a challenge with two hurricanes and a tropical storm back to back over a 37 day period.

The first was Hurricane Connie which hit on August 12, 1955 as a Category Two with typical strong winds, high tides and heavy rainfall.  It caused heavy crop damage and 27 deaths in North Carolina.

<center><i>Photo courtesy of Jay Winner</i></center>

Photo courtesy of Jay Winner

Five days later, on August 17, Hurricane Diane made landfall in North Carolina as a tropical storm with winds of 50 mph and gusts of 74 mph in Wilmington.  The waves were 12 feet, tides were 6-8 feet above normal and the storm surge caused damage to homes along the beach and coastal flooding on top being rain-soaked from Connie.

On September 19, 1955, Hurricane Ione made landfall near Wilmington as a Category Two storm leaving more flooding, strong winds, storm surge, more crop damage and 7 dead in North Carolina.

By the end of that year some of the partners in Center Pier Corporation wanted out. Eventually, J.R. Bame bought them out and was sole owner. Mr. Bame had been in business at the beach since he opened the Bame Café in 1925 and in 1926 operated the only filling station on the beach.  He replaced his Café with the first Bame Hotel in 1930, then remodeled, enlarged and bricked it in 1937.  That hotel was burned to the ground in the devastating 1940 boardwalk fire.

He rebuilt it again and had it open by the 1941 season.  By the mid-50s, he had been through many hurricanes and fires and was used to rebuilding and starting over, so he did that with the pier as well.

 

The above post card from 1958 shows Center Pier repaired and in good shape with a snack bar and tackle shop.  The parking lot is sand and filled with 1950s cars.

 

In this later card from the mid-1960s, the building looks sleek and modern.  Inside is a new restaurant called the Ocean View along with the tackle shop/snack bar and a paved parking lot.

 

From the President – April, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

Center Pier Part I

On January 8,1954, the Center Pier Corporation applied to build a fishing pier in what was then Wilmington Beach.  At that time pier permits were submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The pier was to be built in the 1200 block of Lake Park Boulevard, South, between Tennessee Avenue and North Carolina Avenue.  It was to be 25 feet wide and 1,000 feet in length with 800 feet beyond the low tide mark.

The Center Pier Corporation had four partners who were J.R. Bame, Cliff Lewis, C.W. “Pappy” Sneed and Merritt Foushee.  They hired Walter Winner to build the pier; he was assisted by Dub Hegler and others.

On January 18, 1954, the Army Corps of Engineers informed the New Hanover County Commissioners about Center Pier’s application.  This was the second application to build a pier in Wilmington Beach in the last 3 months and the Engineers wanted the commissioners to rule on the second pier.

The first Wilmington Beach pier application was from L.C. Kure and Glenn Tucker who filed it on October 30, 1953. Their pier, which had already begun construction, was 2 blocks south of the proposed Center Pier.

Kure and Tucker’s pier was in the 1300 block of then South Lake Park Blvd. between North Carolina Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. The partners, doing business as Wilmington Beach Investment Corporation, had purchased the Breakers Hotel on the corner of Lake Park Boulevard, South and Ocean Blvd where the most southern building of Sea Colony is now.

They also purchased all the available lots in Wilmington Beach, which at that time stretched from the ocean to the river. The plan was for Kure to run the hotel and Tucker would sell the real estate. Having owned the Kure Pier from 1923, when it was built until he sold it to his son-in-law in 1952.  L.C. Kure wanted to build another pier in front of the Breakers Hotel. This pier was called the Wilmington Beach Pier, the Breakers Pier and later nicknamed the Stub Pier.

At the next New Hanover County Commissioners meeting on January 25, 1954, the pier issue was on their agenda.  The meeting was also attended by Wilmington Beach residents who were there to protest the Center Pier application.  The Commissioners decided to take no action in the matter after the County Attorney, Cicero P Yow, stated that the county had no legal right to object or act in the matter.  Also at that meeting, Glenn Tucker read a letter from himself and L.C. Kure stating that  the second pier “will really benefit all.” After which, Center Pier’s attorney, Addison Hewlett, expressed gratitude for their support. The Army Corps of Engineers approved Center Pier’s application and it was soon also under construction

On May 13, 1954, a nor’easter with torrential rains and winds of 65 miles an hour, took off 150 feet from the Breaker’s Pier and a pile driving rig. Miraculously they were able to retrieve the rig with the efforts of brothers Hall and Robert Watters who flew over the ocean to locate it.  They signaled its position to Punky Kure, Bill Robertson and a diver in a 16 foot boat.  The diver was able to tie up the rig and it was pulled out of the ocean, dried out, cleaned up and continued driving pilings for the pier.  Both piers opened by summer.

August 30th, brought Hurricane Carol with estimated 75 mile per hour winds at the area beaches.  Carol took 150 feet off the Breaker’s Pier, and also damaged the Kure Beach Pier and Fort Fisher Pier.

On October 15th, Hurricane Hazel, the only Category Four hurricane to hit our beaches in all of the 20th Century and beyond, came in on a lunar high tide. Hazel destroyed the Breaker’s Pier, Center Pier, the Kure Beach Pier and Fort Fisher Pier. Of those four, Center Pier and the Kure Beach Pier were the only ones to rebuild.

This photo shows the ruins of the Breakers Hotel and the pier built by Kure and Tucker. Hurricane Hazel marked the end of both.

Next Month:  Center Pier – Part II

 

From the President – March, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

The Kupboard Grocery, Part III

During the years the Lancasters owned the Kupboard Grocery, the upstairs part of the building had three apartments. They each had a kitchen/sitting room, bath and bedroom with one having two bedrooms.

In the 1960s, their son, Lank Lancaster,  and his wife, Genie, lived in the two bedroom apartment and worked shifts at the store as well as Lank’s East Coast Surf Shop a few doors down.  During that time, the little house facing Sandpiper Lane, formerly 7th Avenue, was owned by the Autrys from Fayetteville who used it as their summer home. It was and still is connected to the Kupboard building.

By the mid 1970s, Luke and Jessie Lancaster were ready to retire as storekeepers and owners of the Kupboard Grocery.  So, they sold it to Herman and Rachel Cannady for $135,000 in March of 1975, with the Lancaster’s financing the sale. The Cannady’s ran it for about seven years before the property went back to the Lancasters.  The second buyer was a couple from England, Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Smith, who ran it for less than a year between 1982 and 1983, before the property again went back to the Lancasters.  The third time was a charm with a sale to Lloyd and Carolyn Nelms in December of 1983. They updated the building with new flooring, air conditioning and built a shop on the north end of the building. The Nelms owned and operated the store for the next fourteen years while living behind it at 902 Canal Drive.

In 1997, the Nelms sold the Kupboard to Joseph and Violet Guntle who kept it for about six years before selling it to Kamal A. Monsosur in May of 2003.  Mr. Monsosur ran the store for a while and has leased it to a few different operators over the last eighteen years to the present.  One of those operators was Phillippe Thompson whose mother, Yvonne Thompson,  owned and ran The 4 T’s Restaurant on the beach. Over time the building has had a few different paint combinations.

 

 

The red paint job is from 2016, the blue paint was 2017-2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On May 15, 2016, Eric Bunting opened the North End Café  in the building the Nelms added to the north end of the Kupboard.  Eric serves up coffee, breakfast sandwiches and lunch, including burgers, from 6:30 am to 1 pm.  It has been a very popular stop on the north end ever since.

For a while he has been planning on expanding into the Kupboard building and those plans are coming to fruition around mid March, 2021.  He is opening the North End Mini Mart with seating for his breakfast and lunch patrons along with a grocery store for residents and beach goers. It will be good to have the grocery back on this end of the beach. We wish him the best of luck!

 

On a personal note:  The Lancasters lived at 815 Carolina Beach Avenue North until their deaths, Jesse Lancaster in 1991 and Luke in 1992.  In 2003, my husband, Skip, and I purchased the house from their heirs to use as a get away and beach rental.  We joined Federal Point Historic Preservation Society right away and soon had a historic plaque since the house was over 50 years old. Please call or email FPHPS at 910-458-0502 or email  Rebecca@federal-point-history.org, if you are interested in our plaque program.

Just recently, we got a new plaque with a gold border which signifies a house 75 years old or older.  Skip and I grew up in Wilmington and were familiar with all our beaches, but have become true Carolina Beach devotees. We love our part time lives on Carolina Beach Avenue North and being a part of our wonderful beach community.

 

 

From the President – February, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

The Kupboard Grocery, Part II

In late 1954, when Luke and Jessie Lancaster bought a two story cottage just south of the Kupboard, they were still living in Raleigh where Luke owned Southern Welding.  By the late 50s, they had replaced the wallboard walls in their cottage with pine paneling and added a third bedroom and dining room on each floor and remodeled the kitchens with pine cabinets and Formica countertops.  They put their cottage up on a foundation and were living full time at the beach on the upstairs floor, renting out the bottom floor.

Mary Ann and Albert Newkirk were still running the Kupboard Grocery and living above.  In those days it was open from April until late November.  It opened each year on Azalea Festival weekend and closed at Thanksgiving. The Newkirks would go back to Warsaw for the winter and come back in the spring.

Luke and Jessie Lancaster on their porch

In 1959, Luke Lancaster began working part time at the Kupboard. As the year went on Albert talked about possibly retiring and selling the store. So, in 1960, Luke bought the Kupboard for $10,000 and he and Jessie became the owner/operators.

The Kupboard was a full grocery store with a meat market, fresh produce, canned goods, condiments, bread and baked goods, frozen food, beer and soft drink cases and a penny candy counter.

They also sold paper goods, toiletries, sunglasses, sand toys, surf mats, swim rings and other beach supplies.  Rusher Meat Company supplied the fresh meats and McEachern’s brought the produce. Outside there were benches to sit on, a phone booth and room for parking.

                                    

Luke Lancaster in the Kupboard Grocery with country hams hanging from the ceiling, c.1960s

The Lancasters’ son, Lank, and his friend, Harold Petty, started East Coast Surf Boards in a small cinderblock building down the street from the Kupboard, also owned by his father.  It had been a meat market and convenience store in the past, but was empty in 1964, when the surf shop began.                       

Luke Lancaster and son, Lank Lancaster, on the porch of  their cottage.  You can see the side of the Kupboard in the background.

They ended up building  a large wooden  building behind where they actually made the surfboards using the former market for selling surfing clothing and other items.

East Coast Surf Boards was the first surf shop to open on one of the lower Cape Fear area beaches. Lank and Harold shaped their boards from foam blanks they ordered from California. They were in business at 913 Carolina Beach Avenue North until 1967, when they decided that they could not meet the demand for their hand crafted boards and moved on with their respective careers.

 

 

Next month:  The Kupboard Grocery, Part III

 

 

 

From the President – January, 2021

By Elaine Henson

The Kupboard Grocery, Part I

Happy New Year!  We sincerely hope, with help from the vaccines for Covid 19, that we will be able to meet in person at our History Center sometime in 2021. As of now, we are open on Fridays and Saturdays, 10am to 4 pm.

Our topic, this first month of 2021, is the Kupboard Grocery at 901 Carolina Beach Avenue, North. This rare piece of commercial real estate is amid blocks of residential property on the North End of Carolina Beach. According to the New Hanover County Tax records, it was built in 1940 which makes 80 years that it has sat between the ocean and canal on the corner of Carolina Beach Avenue North and what is now Sandpiper Avenue.

The first owner was Cornelius M. Kelley, also known as Neal.  He and his wife, Mattie, opened the store as Kelley’s Kupboard carrying a full supply of meats and groceries.   Mr. Kelley was an industrial inspector for the Hartford Insurance Company so he depended on his wife and three children to help with the store during the week, especially during beach season. The  Kelley family lived over the store.

One of his children, Ann Kelley, later married James “Jim” Watters who grew up at Kure Beach and was first cousin to Punky Kure who always called him “Son”.  Ann was a tomboy and spent a lot of her summer days at Kure when she wasn’t working at the Kupboard.  She tagged along with Jim Watters, his two brothers, Robert and Hall Watters, and Punky Kure. Eventually, the Kelleys sold the Kupboard and moved to town. Ann and Jim enjoyed 60 years of marriage until her death in May of 2006 at age 81.  The photo on the right shows Ann and Jim in front of Punky’s parents’ house on K Avenue, Kure Beach, in the late 1940s.

The second or possibly third owners were Mary and Albert Newkirk from Warsaw, North Carolina.  The Newkirk’s owned it in the 1950s.  The post card that headlines this article shows the Kupboard during the Newkirk’s ownership.  That is his Cadillac Sedan DeVille parked beside the store. You can see the double screen doors on the front and another door on the side with the living quarters above.

Our late member, Eddie Capel, had fond memories of Mr. Newkirk as his family spent summers just two houses south of the Kupboard. Eddie collected glass soft drink bottles and took them to the Kupboard to collect the 2 or 3 cents deposit on each bottle. In those days, bottles were returned to a store and were picked up by the delivery man and taken back to the bottling plant to be sterilized and reused. Kids could make spending money for candy and such by collecting bottles and returning them. Eddie’s sister, Martha Breslin, remembers that one summer she helped Eddie fill his wagon several times with bottles enough to buy their mother a birthday present.  They bought her a new lamp with their earnings.  Martha also remembers getting phone calls from their home in Apex, NC, at the Kupboard.  The caller would hold on while someone ran down to their cottage and got them to the phone. She said that the Kupboard was a center of activity for the north end, not just a place to shop for groceries.

In 1954, the Kupboard survived Hurricane Hazel with some minor damages.  The day after Hazel hit on October 15, 1954, Luke Wilson Lancaster and his wife, Jessie, bought a house just 3 doors south of the Kupboard. They bought it from Glenn Tucker on a handshake and, most likely, a deposit since the sale was not recorded at the New Hanover County Register of Deeds until April 2, 1955.  The Lancasters would become the next owners of the Kupboard. 

Mrs. Jessie Lancaster stands on the front porch of what is now 815 Carolina Beach Avenue North on October 16, 1954, the day after Hazel. 

Next month: Kupboard Grocery, Part II

 

President’s Message – December, 2020

By Elaine Henson

Gilbert Henry Burnett 1925-2020

Gil Burnett in 2016 at the Burnett Cottage

Our Society lost longtime member and part time Carolina Beach resident on November 9, 2020. Gil was a prominent citizen of Wilmington and was retired Chief Judge of the 5th Judicial District.

He is known for his innovative work programs for juvenile offenders that later expanded to include adults convicted of minor crimes.  Programs modeled on his Community Service Work Program later were instituted nationwide and internationally.

He was the recipient of many honors including the Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the Star-News Lifetime Achievement Award and the News and Observer’s Tarheel of the Week among other others.

Gil is best known to us for his lifelong love of Carolina Beach that began in early childhood for him and his seven brothers and sisters.  The Burnetts lived in Burgaw and would take day trips to the beach and visit family in addition to spending at least two summer weeks in a rented cottage.

In 1936, his parents, John Henry and Ruth Deaton Burnett, built their own family cottage on 410 Carolina Beach Avenue North. From then on, the family would load up their Packard automobile after school was out for the summer and stay until after Labor Day when school started again.  They would often take two cars, one with the family and dogs and the other with clothes, food, his mother’s sewing machine and whatever else they could find room for.

The Burnett Cottage at 410 Carolina Beach Avenue North showing the back door.

The Burnett cottage was a large two-story house right on the ocean and about 3 blocks from the boardwalk, or downtown as they called it in those days.

The 1936, cottage had two bedrooms downstairs and four upstairs to accommodate eight children and occasional guests. It had a very large, shady porch facing the ocean which they considered the front.

The back door was the one you entered from the street. The kitchen was small by today’s standards, but living and dining rooms were large and inviting. The house was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, but the family rebuilt with six bedrooms upstairs for a total of eight.  It is one of the houses on the beach with a plaque from FPHPS.

John Henry Burnett was an attorney and worked for the U.S. Government. Although he sometimes traveled, his summer office was in a corner of the cottage’s parental bedroom and so he was able to work from the beach.  His wife, Ruth, was busy with homemaking and the many children. Her sewing skills made her “best dressed” along with her six daughters.  She also sewed window treatments, pillows and other accessories for the cottage. (She once sewed a canvas sail for Gilbert’s row boat when he tried to convert it to his first sailboat.)  Both parents were very involved in their children’s lives and their friends.

Young Gil, center, at his stand. His sister, Susie Burnett Jones, is left.

It was Mr. Burnett who decided that young Gilbert could profit from some early business training and set him up with a snowball stand on a lot he owned on the boardwalk. Gilbert’s Snowball Stand opened on the boardwalk around 1941 when he was 15 years old.

His father had a simple stand built with a beach umbrella overhead for shade.  Gil’s mother made the syrup in flavors of grape and cherry.  It was contained in five-gallon jugs installed upside down over two spigots, one for each flavor.  They purchased V shaped paper cups which were filled with crushed ice and then topped with the flavored syrup of your choice.  In those days, an ice man named Charlie would deliver big blocks of ice to businesses on the boardwalk.

The ice at the Snowball Stand had to be chipped off and put through a hand powered ice crusher which was labor intensive. The stand was hugely successful and later expanded into an open-air building. Gil’s younger brother, Julian, recalls one Fourth of July when they made $104 selling snowballs for 5 cents apiece.  (In today’s dollars $104 would be $1,818.00) That was over 2,000 snowballs made and sold that day.

The stand was one of the stops on our Boardwalk History Tour which we hope to resume when it is safe.  Gil was very proud to be on our tour and helped with the planning. We will miss him!

 

President’s Message – November, 2020

By Elaine Henson

Mr. A.W. Pate and the Greystone Inn, Part II

In addition to being president of the New Hanover Transit Company, Mr. Alexander W. Pate was also in the hotel business. He owned a hotel in Florence, SC, two in Augusta, Georgia, and decided to build one in Carolina Beach. It would not only be for tourists, but also for the company’s salesmen.  He wanted them to have a grand place with a dining room to host prospective lot buyers.

In February of 1916, construction began on the Greystone Inn.  It was on Cape Fear Boulevard, 300 feet from the Atlantic Ocean with a large covered veranda in front. The exterior was blocks made of Carolina Beach sand with plastered walls and ceilings in the interior rooms. A 30×30 lobby had a large fireplace. The beautifully appointed dining room was also 30×30.

Behind the lobby and dining room was a two-story bedroom section with 30 rooms. Each room had all the modern conveniences including telephones, electric lights and steam heat.  In the summer, windows were opened to let in the cool ocean breezes.

By the 1930s, the Inn was managed by A.W. Pate’s son, Waddell Pate.  Just in time for the summer season of 1933, the Greystone opened a roof garden on the expansive flat roof over the front porch, lobby and dining room.

That summer Cliff Smith and his Ohioans were engaged to play at the Inn. The band consisted of 3 trumpets, 3 saxophones, a piano, brass horn, tuba, guitar and drums.  The Ohioans vocalist was Cliff Smith’s wife, Betty. Cliff and his band designed the roof garden like an outdoor nightclub.  They placed the bandstand on the part of the roof next to the two-story bedroom wing, the dance floor on the right and tables and chairs on the left.  There was a white lattice railing around the perimeter of the roof and they made it look like a garden with lots of potted palm trees and colorful tropical plants.

The food was light fare, mostly sandwiches with soft drinks, beer and sets ups for brown bagging*. The attraction was dancing under the stars to a live band near the ocean.  It was a huge success and by the next summer they had added a portable awning used to cover the roof garden on rainy nights. Eventually, the roof garden had a permanent roof of its own.

A June 20, 1935, article in the Wilmington News described the beach opening with the first dance of the season at the Greystone Inn with Bob Hubbard and His Philadelphians.  The Pavilion, which also had live bands and dancing nightly, had not yet opened.  The article reported on that night, 300 couples were turned away from the Greystone’s Roof Garden because they were full.

During the years of WWII, the Greystone was converted into a USO, serving the hundreds of servicemen who frequented the beach during the war years.

It continued to be a popular attraction into the 1940s and 50s. It had survived the devastating Boardwalk Fire of 1940, being just two buildings west of the Bame Hotel. The Bame burned to the ground along with two blocks of boardwalk buildings and businesses. But, in the wee hours of April 12, 1958, the Greystone became the victim of a fire of its own.

Waddell Pate had been at the beach supervising repairs and painting of the Inn for the upcoming summer season.  He left that Friday afternoon for his home in Augusta, Georgia, stopping over in Florence, South Carolina, for the night. Early the next morning, he got a call about smoke coming from the Greystone. Firemen from Carolina and Kure Beaches battled the fire from about 5am to 7:30 am, when they finally got it under control.  It was believed to have started in a closet where paint and solvents were stored.

Pate decided to have the remainder of the building torn down and planned to rebuild.  Instead, he opted to have a Greystone Motel on the top floor of the former Mrs. High’s Dining Room and Mack’s building that was just torn down last month (Oct. 2020).

After the demolition of the Greystone building during Oct. 2020, the site of the former Greystone building is currently (Nov. 2020) a vacant lot.

 

The Greystone Motel over the Mack’s Store and Mrs. High’s Dining Room on Cape Fear Boulevard c. 1950s

In those days you took a bottle of spirits in a brown bag to a restaurant and bought set ups, such as a glass of ice and a mixer and made your own drink at the table.  New Hanover County did not adopt ‘Liquor By the Drink’ until January, 1979.

 

President’s Message – October, 2020

by Elaine Henson

Mr. A.W. Pate and the Greystone Inn, Part I

Alexander W. Pate was born in Cumberland County in September of 1875.  He would grow up to become one of the principal developers of Carolina Beach.  In 1912, he and partners bought the holdings of the New Hanover Transit Company from Captain John W. Harper, who developed Carolina Beach as a resort in 1887.

Mr. Pate was the president of Southern Realty Company along with D. N. Chadwick as Vice President and J. J. Loughlin, Secretary-Treasurer.  The purchase included a steam train, dock on the Cape Fear River, a railroad to the beach, two pavilions, bath houses and 200 acres of land along the beach for two miles all for $30,000.  Later they bought an additional 772 acres from Robert Bruce Freeman to own controlling interest in Carolina Beach.  They had a long list of plans and improvements to make it one of the finest resorts on the east coast along with selling lots from their extensive acreage.

By 1914, Mr. Pate and partners had completed an electric light plant to provide lights to all the businesses, cottages and future cottages.  They installed a pumping station for two new artesian wells.  To encourage people to come on the weekends and look at lots, Captain Harper lowered the price for a trip down on the Steamer Wilmington as did the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Railroads during the summer months.

A.W. Pate was a tireless supporter of Carolina Beach and had no end of ideas to promote the beach as evidenced by an article in the Sunday Star News of June 18, 1939, by none other than native son, David Brinkley, a writer for the newspaper at that time.  Among other projects Mr. Pate describes is one to reroute Highway 17 from going through Wilmington to going by Carolina Beach which never materialized.  Here are some excerpts from that article including his comments on dredging Myrtle Grove Sound to make the yacht basin:

Another ambitious project was to provide a trolley line from Wilmington to Carolina Beach.  He planned for it to begin at Greenfield Lake near Sunset Park and run parallel with the new hard surface road from the Masonboro Loop Road to Carolina Beach.  The Wilmington City Commissioners required a vote of the people in order to issue the franchise for the trolley.  On October 11, 1914, the Wilmington & Carolina Beach Railway Company franchise passed by a margin of 473 votes despite opposition from some factions.  One caveat was that three miles of the railway must be completed by August 1, 1916.

Mr.  Pate had a tentative agreement with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Company to build the railway and scheduled an in-person meeting with them in Norfolk, Virginia, soon after the franchise was granted.  On the morning he was to leave for Norfolk by train, he received a call from them asking to postpone the meeting until the impact of the recent outbreak of WWI could be assessed. As it turned out, the meeting was never held and he failed to build the required three miles by the deadline in 1916, so the project failed.

Not to be completely outdone, in 1939, he did buy a beach car from the Tidewater Power Company who was discontinuing their trolley line to Wrightsville Beach.

He placed it next to his Greystone Inn on Cape Fear Boulevard to use as a diner selling hot dogs.  That diner was soon taken over by Mrs. Lille Mae High and became Mrs. High’s Diner.

Next month:  Mr. A.W. Pate and the Greystone Inn, Part II