From the President – July, 2017

By Elaine Henson

Our final local World War I soldier featured in our WWI exhibit is Arthur Bluethenthal.  He was born in Wilmington in 1891 to parents, Leopold and Johanna Bluethenthal, who had emigrated from Germany after the Civil War. Leopold worked in his uncle’s dry goods business which he eventually took over in later years.

The family lived on Dock Street and later at 17th and Market Streets which remains across from the Kenan mansion, home of UNCW’s Chancellor. They also had a home at Wrightsville Beach built c.1897. The home, which was the oldest surviving on Wrightsville Beach, sold in 2015 for over $3.45 million, only to be torn down so the two lots it sat on could be relisted.

Nicknamed “Bluey”, Arthur was educated in local schools, then attended Phillip’s Exeter Academy and graduated from Princeton University in 1913, where he was a star on their football team.  After college he did some football coaching at Princeton and UNC- Chapel Hill.  He also worked in his family’s business.

Arthur joined the war effort in France in May of 1916, the year before the US entered the war. He was a volunteer ambulance driver before joining the French Foreign Legion as an aviator in May of 1917.  He was shot down in combat on June 5, 1918 and was buried in France.  Later his body was exhumed and shipped home.  He was re-interred in the Jewish section of Oakdale Cemetery.  On Memorial Day of 1928, the Wilmington Airport was renamed Bluethenthal Field in his honor and remained that until the 1950s when the name was changed to New Hanover County Airport.

The North Carolina State Archives has a collection of letters that Arthur Bluethenthal wrote from France during WWI.  You can access the State Archives here and search for them and other North Carolinians’ letters from the “Great War”.

This is an excerpt from one of Arthur’s letters that we have on display at our exhibit:

Our own Cape Fear Museum has a collection from the Bluethenthal family. See it at: www.capefearmuseum.com  Photo courtesy of Cape Fear Museum.

 

From the President – June, 2017

By Elaine Henson

Andrew Emile Kure was born March 30, 1893, the youngest child to Hans Anderson and Ellen Miller Kure.  His parents had emigrated from Denmark in the late 1880s, first to Charleston, SC, and later Wilmington where they formed a ship chandler business.

When Carolina Beach was begun as a resort in 1887, the family bought property and started businesses in the new beach community.  In early 1900s they purchased large tracts of land near Fort Fisher.

Hans and Ellen Kure formed the Kure Land and Development Company in 1915 with their four sons, William Ludwig, Hans Adolph, Lawrence Christian and Andrew Emile, thus becoming the founders of Kure Beach.  They also had a daughter, Elene H. Kure Shands.

Twenty-four year old Andrew E. Kure enlisted in WWI on December, 15, 1917, in Lumberton, NC, leaving his job at the Atlantic Coast Line.

He served with the American Expeditionary Force in France, being promoted to Corporal in the Signal Corps in July, 1918, and then to Sergeant in the Air Service in September, 1918.  He was discharged June 9th of 1919.

He returned to his job as auditor in the freight receipt department at ACL and remained there until 1945.

In 1925 he married Elizabeth Hall Singletary.  The couple welcomed their only child, Andrew E. Kure, Jr., in 1927.  Andrew’s mother, Ellen, declared that the baby looked “punky” the first time she saw him. The nickname stuck and has followed their son for 90 years at this writing.

After retiring from the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, Andrew became more involved in the family land and rental businesses and helping to care for his oldest Uncle William L. “Cap” Kure.

Andrew died in 1950 and is buried in the family plot at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.

(right) Andrew Emile Kure, Sr. and Betty Singletary Kure, parents of Andrew E. Kure, Jr, better known as “Punky” of Kure Beach, NC

 

 

 

From the President – May, 2017

By Elaine Henson

Our World War I exhibit will be opening soon.  We are focusing on soldiers with local ties to Wilmington and Federal Point. Over the next three months we will be featuring Major William A. Snow, Andrew Emile Kure, Sr. and Arthur Bluethenthal.

William Arthur Snow was born at Fort Hamilton, New York, to Major General and Mrs. William J. Snow.  He graduated from West Point in 1916 and was assigned to the Corps of Engineers as a Second Lieutenant. He first served in Mexico from graduation to the spring of 1917.  In late September, 1917, he sailed to France with the 2nd Division.  He immediately engaged his company in construction work and training for battle.

He was at the front in Verdun Sector, Chateau Thierry, Belleau Woods and Soissons being wounded twice and later serving with the Army of Occupation in Germany.  Major Snow was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Silver Cross, Chevalier Legion d”Honneur, Croix de Guerre with two Palms, and the  Silver Star Citation during the war.

Following the war, Major Snow served in the Army Corps of Engineering in Kansas after which he obtained a BS of Civil Engineering at M. I. T.  For the next two years he was in Washington, D. C. as assistant to the Chief Engineer in that district.

In July of 1926, he was assigned to Wilmington, N. C. as the chief engineer for the Wilmington District.  He was 32 years old.  His assignment was being in charge of the 93 mile continuation of the Intracoastal Waterway from Beaufort, N. C. to the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

There was only one land cut in the whole project that being the area we now know as Snow’s Cut.  That land cut, completed in 1930, transformed our Federal Point peninsula into an island requiring a bridge to cross over.  The cut and the bridge have been known ever since as Snow’s Cut, named for the young Army Corps Engineer.

Next month: Andrew Emile Kure, Sr.

Note:  Last month I mentioned the old Federal Point School on the Cape Fear River and stated that it was located on what is now known as Dow Road near Henniker’s Ditch, which would put it near the Newton Cemetery.  I was contacted by A.E. “Punky” Kure who told me the road leading to the old school on the river is about a quarter mile from where Dow Road curves and becomes K Avenue. 

Punky showed me several ledger sheets belonging to his grandmother, Ellen Kure, who owned the land and the building. They were dated early 1900s and showed $100 a month rent for the property paid by the School Board.  I apologize for the error and am most appreciative that Punky reads our newsletter so carefully and often calls us to task.  A historical society needs to have its facts straight and we welcome corrections when you see an error.

 

From the President – April, 2017

By Elaine Henson

Carolina Beach Hotel, Part IV

The Carolina Beach Hotel opened on June 4, 1926, it was destroyed by fire on September 13, 1927, and its’ owners were acquitted of arson charges on January 20, 1928. In a year and a half, the hotel’s story had come to an end.  The city block bordered by South Fourth and Fifth Streets, Atlanta Avenue and Clarendon Boulevard sat empty for the next ten years.

In January, 1938, construction began on the Carolina Beach School in the same city block where the hotel had been.  Another similarity was that the builder of the new school, W.A. Simon, also built the hotel.

Until 1916 Carolina Beach elementary students attended a school near the river in the area where Dow Road and Henniker’s Ditch are located. Katie Burnett Hines was the principal of that school that burned in 1916.

After that the pupils were bused to Myrtle Grove School near Myrtle Grove Road with the promise that the school board would build a new school on the beach.  About 70 Carolina Beach students went back to the beach for the 1937-38 school year. They used a temporary school located on the boardwalk and called, appropriately, the Boardwalk School.

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938

There were two classrooms: one for grades 1-3 and the other for grades 4-6. The rooms were separated by a sheet hanging from the ceiling. It was located near Britt’s Donuts present location.

You can see our late member, Ryder Lewis, in this photo of the fourth, fifth and sixth grades from that 1937-38 Boardwalk School.  He is on the third row, second from the left.  (click image) The late Juanita Bame Herring is on the same row, fourth from left.  You can tell this was post WWI, pre-WWII, and at a time when boys were crazy about planes from all the aviator caps in the photo.

The new school on South Fourth Street was begun in early January of 1938.  It had an auditorium and four classrooms.  You can see how quickly it went up from this mid- February picture from the Sunday Star News.

In April, 1938, the New Hanover Board of Elections made plans to move Federal Point’s polling place to Carolina Beach School since 70% of the voters lived south of Snow’s Cut.  Previously they had voted at Robinson’s Store on Carolina Beach Road.

New Hanover Schools Superintendent, H.M. Roland announced that 105 students were enrolled when the school opened in fall of 1938. Mrs. Madge Woods Bell was principal the first year.  She moved away the summer of 1939 and was replaced by Mrs. C.G. Van Landingham who was still there when the first of several additions was added in 1941.

Carolina Beach School celebrated its 75th birthday in 2013. [This is the only image we have of the early school.  If any of you have a photo we would love to scan it for our archives.]

Carolina Beach Hotel:   Part I    Part II    Part III
Oral History – Isabel Lewis Foushee: ‘School Memories’

From the President – March, 2017

Carolina Beach Hotel Part III

By Elaine Henson

The trial for hotel owners H.T. Ireland and J.L. Byrd was slated to begin on Wednesday, January 18, 1928, but was continued to Thursday, January 19th, by Judge N.A. Sinclair because a witness subpoenaed by the state was a no-show on January 18th.  Mrs. S.R. Petty of Greensboro was believed to have important information regarding the whereabouts of a certain unnamed party on the night of the fire. It was also believed that Mrs. Petty was in Ohio and had been there for a while having left unanswered another subpoena from January 3rd. The state contended her testimony would have important bearing in the case. But Judge Sinclair decided the trial would proceed on Thursday without her.

The state began with testimony from the treasurer of the Carolina Beach Corporation, W.W. Walsh of Winston- Salem, who stated that the sale of the hotel was, in reality, a trade for a business property in Winston-Salem.  The CB Corporation got the Winston property with a mortgage of $50,000 and John R. Baker got the hotel with 75 lots and a mortgage of $85,000.  Mr. Baker was supposedly purchasing the hotel for a Mr. R.L. Nisson who planned to move his family to Carolina Beach to live and implement plans of vast improvements for the hotel and lots.  As it turned out Mr. Baker bought it for himself and immediately sold it to Sam Jackson of Mecklenburg County who sold it to Highway Park West, Inc. Ireland and Byrd were two of the owners of that company.

Mr. Walsh also testified that the hotel had to turn away guests “by the hundreds” for July 4, 1917, but by August, business had dropped off considerably owing to the beach season coming to an end.

[I have an idea that being a summer season hotel may have influenced their decision to sell it coupled with the location. It was eight blocks southwest of the boardwalk, the pavilion and all the many activities there. This may have created a problem for hotel guests as it was a long walk back and forth to the boardwalk and they would have to drive.

Guests at the Bame and Greystone Hotels could walk out the front door to the boardwalk and ocean. Also, the fresh water lake may have turned out not to be as much of a draw as anticipated and the guests would have to walk or drive four blocks for ocean bathing. 

Indeed, in the trial’s second day the Wilmington Morning Star reported that the “Defense Counsel poked fun at the advertised slogan that the hotel was located in front of the only freshwater lake located within a few hundred feet of ocean along the Atlantic coast.” 

CB Corporation Treasurer W.W. Walsh also touched on the location by testifying that the hotel was 3,000 feet from the ocean to be closer to the fresh water lake and the lots owned by the corporation.  I can’t quite see the advantage of the hotel being close to potential neighborhoods full of homes. But, of course, the corporation didn’t own any lots on the ocean.]

Further testimony by Marsden de Rosset of the firm de Rosset and Hazlehurst, fire insurance agents, revealed that Mr. Ireland purchased $28,500 additional insurance on the hotel on September 6, 1927.  That was seven days before the fire on September 13th.  Oddly, the premium was paid on September 16th, three days after the fire. The additional insurance meant the hotel was insured for over $100,000.

The State called W. W. Lewis, who lived about a block north of the hotel, who testified about hearing shouts and gun shots about 2:30 in the morning of September 13th.  He ran to the hotel where he helped rescue Byrd and Ireland from the porch roof of the burning building and described the scene there.  Also testifying at the end of day one was Captain W. A. Scott of the North Carolina Fire Commission. He explained the details of the department’s investigation against the pair leading to their indictment, but the newspaper account of his testimony was almost nonexistent.

The second day began with defenses’ unsuccessful motion of a direct verdict of not guilty as to end the trial.

The defense then proceeded with a lengthy list of character witnesses. The witnesses included J. Elmer Long, Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina; B.T. Baynes, president of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce; C.L. Story, Sheriff of Alamance County; Dr. W. W. Harvey, coroner of Guildford County; bank presidents, real estate developers, builders, insurance executives and attorneys, among the many prominent citizens who testified to the defendants’ character.

The three defense attorneys, led by Wilmington attorney John Bright Hill, then gave ending arguments without calling a single material witness.  The judge spent 20 minutes instructing the jury who returned in 50 minutes with the verdict. This is the headline in the Morning Star’s Saturday, January 27, 1927’s, edition:

 

One can only wonder why the State’s failed witness, being from Greensboro, was in Ohio at the time of the trial ignoring two subpoenas.   And, one can further wonder if that witness’ testimony could have had a different bearing on the case. That, we will never know.

Next month: Part IV: Carolina Beach School on the site.

 

From the President – February, 2017

Carolina Beach Hotel, Part II

Click

By Elaine Henson

On May 26, 1927, just before opening for the summer season, the Carolina Beach Hotel with all its furnishings plus the adjacent 755 lots were sold to John R. Baker of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  The sale represented most of the holdings of the Carolina Beach Corporation who had built the hotel and owned the lots.  The sale resulted in a change of management and may have been the reason the formal opening was delayed until June 18th.

Surprisingly, on July 25, 1927, John R. Baker sold the hotel and lots to Sam Jackson of Mecklenburg County who sold it again to Highway Park West, Inc. of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Three sales in two months may have been an indication that the “Roaring Twenties” economy was riding high in a bubble that was to break with the October, 1929 stock market crash resulting in the Great Depression.  Economics aside, the new owners from Greensboro announced on July 28th that they planned to operate the hotel year round and were making plans to do so.

Less than 6 weeks later, on September 13, 1927, the Carolina Beach Hotel lay in smoldering ruins, the result of a fire that burned it to the ground.  Miraculously rescued from the burning hotel were two of the owners, H.T. Ireland and J.L. Byrd, both of Greensboro.

The rescue was assisted by a nearby resident, W.W. Lewis, who was awakened about 2:30 in the morning by gun shots and cries for help. Mr. Lewis said Ireland and Byrd were in their night clothes, had on no shoes and jumped from the 14 foot high porch roof.  The pair were the only ones in the hotel.

Earlier they had been taking inventory of the property with plans of reopening the hotel for the first winter season.  The next day attorneys for Ireland began an investigation of possible arson.  Also on the scene investigating were Stacy W. Wade, North Carolina Fire Insurance Commissioner, and his deputy Captain W.A. Scott.

Click

On November 18, 1927, H.T. Ireland and J.L. Byrd were arrested in Greensboro after a New Hanover County Grand Jury returned true bills of indictments against them for house burning in connection with the fire at the Carolina Beach Hotel.  They each posted a bond of $5,000 and were to appear in Superior Court, New Hanover County in January, 1928.

Captain W.A. Scott of the NC Fire Insurance Commission and an inspector from the National Board of Fire Underwriters had conducted a thorough investigation of the fire resulting in the grand jury’s action and the men’s subsequent arrests.

Carolina Beach Hotel, Part I

Coming next month, Part III

 

 

From the President – January, 2017

By Elaine Henson

The grand, new, three story Carolina Beach Hotel opened for the 1926 beach season near the Carolina Beach Lake where Carolina Beach School is today.  But by September of 1927 it was gone. It had lasted for only two summer seasons.

It all began when the Carolina Beach Corporation announced plans for a hotel in mid-1925, you can see the planned site in this April, 1925 map of the beach.

The CB Corporation’s president was S.C. Ogbourne of Winston Salem, NC.  He and Mrs. Ogbourne purchased the Loughlin home on the corner of Lake Park Blvd. and Cape Fear Blvd. as their summer residence.  The house later became The Cottage Restaurant and is presently Havana’s.

Mr. Ogbourne awarded a contract to W.A. Simon on October 27, 1925 to build the hotel which was designed by Wilmington architect Leslie Boney.  By December 7th the hotel’s foundation was laid making it certain to be open by beach season 1926. Also planned was a golf course and a pier for mooring yachts on the Cape Fear River.

The hotel’s location was a big draw as it overlooked a fresh water lake a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean thus affording guests “still water” bathing in the lake as well as the ocean bathing.

Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Ogbourne are seen here enjoying the gardenias at their home on the corner of Lake Park and Cape Fear Boulevard

Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Ogbourne are seen here enjoying the gardenias at their home on the corner of Lake Park and Cape Fear Boulevard.

The hotel’s formal opening was held on June 4, 1926. Its manager was J.L. Fagan formerly of the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida and the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia.

There were 75 rooms with adjoining baths, a 150 capacity formal dining room overlooking the verandas, a smaller private dining room and a room for children’s dining. The lobby and mezzanine were furnished with cream colored wicker with print upholstery.  Enclosed porches had orange hued wicker.

Guests could dance the night away to the Meyers Davis Orchestra. The rates were $6 per day or $36 for a week, both rates included meals.

Carolina Beach had its formal opening on June 12 with many Wilmington, New Hanover County and beach dignitaries.

Carolina Beach Hotel from the May 30, 1926 edition of the Wilmington Morning Star

Carolina Beach Hotel from the May 30, 1926 edition of the Wilmington Morning Star

Among the guests at the Carolina Beach Hotel that weekend was the Honorable J.F.A. Cecil and Mrs. Cecil, the former Cornelia Vanderbilt of Biltmore.  The Cecils were married in April of 1924 with a lavish reception at the mansion.  Nearly a hundred years later their grandson, William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, continues to oversee the day to day operations of the largest private residence in the United States.

Coming next month, Part II

 

From the President – December, 2016

By Elaine Henson

Many of you may not know that the Hanover Seaside Club at Wrightsville Beach actually had its beginnings here at Carolina Beach.

Captain John W. Harper and other investors formed the New Hanover Transit Company in 1886. They planned to ferry passengers from downtown Wilmington to Carolina Beach by steamer to a dock on the Cape Fear River.  From the dock, passengers could board the Shoo Fly train for the trip from the river to the sea beach.

The first excursions began in the summer of 1887 with guests staying over at Bryan’s Oceanic Hotel and dining at the Railroad Station Restaurant both barely completed.  The resort grew over the next few years to include bath houses, cottages and amusements.

In January of 1898, Captain Harper met with leaders of Wilmington’s sizeable German community who were interested in building a club house at Carolina Beach.  They elected officers, appointed a committee to draw up a constitution and by-laws and to choose a site.  Since most of them came from Hanover, Germany they decided to name it ‘The Hanover Seaside Club’.

The group of over a hundred subscribers pledged an initial fee of $10 each to construct the club.  Later they set up a membership fee of $20 with annual dues of $3. By March, 1898 they approved plans for the clubhouse by architect Henry northend-mapBonitz.  He had designed the 1887 pavilion at Carolina Beach and later designed Lumina Pavilion at Wrightsville Beach built in 1905.

Construction on the clubhouse began in early May of 1898.  It was located ocean front in the block between cross streets Fourth and Fifth which ran from the ocean to Myrtle Grove Sound as seen in the early plot map.

Over a hundred years later, in 1988, the Town of Carolina Beach changed the name of Fourth to Seagull Lane and Fifth to Sailfish Lane.

Also note that the map is before Myrtle Grove Sound was dredged and widened in 1939 becoming the yacht basin with the dredge spoil creating additional land and Canal Drive.

The Club’s first floor had a 30’ by 40’ auditorium in the center with a ladies’ parlor and toilet room, kitchen, dining room and lunch alcove.  The upper story was for the gentlemen and was accessible only by an outdoor stair.  It contained a 25’ by 30’ billiard salon, a café, smoking room, two card rooms, a plain chamber and custodian’s room.  The building was encircled downstairs with a 20’ wide porch or piazza as it was called.  The upper floor had a porch in the front and back together containing 1,000 feet.

The Club was completed by July 3, 1898 and had safety lines with floaters, also called life lines, in the ocean for the safety of the bathers.  It also had a 120’ long railroad platform so members could get off and on the Shoo Fly train right at the club house.

hanover-seaside-clubThe members enjoyed nine seasons at Carolina Beach before deciding to build a second club house at Wrightsville Beach which opened September 3, 1906.

The plan was to have two locations but by1909 they sold the Carolina Beach building to T. A. Boyd of Hamlet who operated it as a boarding house.

Anyone interested in reading more about the Seaside Club can get a copy of Ann Hutteman’s One Hundred Golden Summers: A History of the Hanover Seaside Club 1898-1998 at the library.  Ann is my good friend and a longtime member of FPHPS.  Most of my research for this letter came from the first chapter of her book.


 

From the President – November, 2016

By Elaine Henson

Most residents on our island consider 1954’s Hurricane Hazel as the worst hurricane ever to hit our area.  It was the only Category Four hurricane in southeastern North Carolina in all of the 20th Century or since. And, it came in on a lunar high tide. It is often the benchmark to which all other hurricanes are compared. 

Hazel’s reputation often overshadows the 1955 hurricane season which had three hurricanes impacting coastal North Carolina with two of the hurricanes hitting within 5 days of each other.

Hurricane Connie 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.

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 of the rain-soaked area from Connie. hazel-cb This August 17, 1955 press photo of Hurricane Diane shows the 1600 block of Carolina Beach Avenue North featuring two flat top houses on the ocean front. Their porches are gone and waves are splashing at the front door. 

Lane Holt, whose parents Dan and Margaret Holt operated the Carolina Beach Pier on the north end, confirmed that these two houses were just a few yards south of the pier.

He remembers Connie and Diane well and reports that the post Hazel rebuilt pier held up through the two storms, but the tackle shop was destroyed again. Then 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.

Not only did Pleasure Island have to rebuild after Hazel in 1954, a year later it suffered three hurricanes in just 37 days and faced more rebuilding and repairs.  It makes one understand just how strong and resilient our residents are.

 

From the President – October, 2016

By Elaine HensonHazel CB

Sixty-two years ago on October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel slammed into our area as the only Category 4 storm to hit the Carolinas in all of the Twentieth Century or since.  It came in on a lunar high tide which added to the flooding damage with winds at our beaches clocked at almost 100 miles an hour.  It was possibly the most devastating hurricane to ever hit the NC/SC border.

This picture shows what is now the 200 block of Carolina Beach Avenue North with the two-story Sessoms’ Rooms and Apartments (on the right) after Hazel.  It was pushed over with the bricks formerly covering the exterior tumbled on the sand.

This post card (below) shows what Sessoms’ looked like before Hazel.  It is not postmarked, but the Ford parked next to the building is a 1952 model.  So, this card could be 1952, 53 or even 54 since Hazel hit in October and the photo could have been taken earlier in that year.

On the porch sit several aluminum chairs with webbing which were very popular in the fifties. You entered through a screen door with an aluminum floral design also popular mid-century. All the windows have screens to let the cool ocean breezes in.  You can also see a parking meter by the curb showing that at one time Carolina Beach had meters along that stretch of Carolina Beach Avenue North.  Do you think the guests parked in the sand lot cordoned off by the chain?

sessoms CBSessoms’, 52 Carolina Beach Avenue North, address was before the center of town was moved 2 blocks north which would put it in the present day 200 block.  It was owned by Edger and Novella Sessoms who also owned another Sessoms rooms and apartment. across the street.

Their niece, Carol Sessoms Ford, used to live in the white 2-story building in the Hazel picture. It was purchased by the Sessoms in the late 1950s or early 1960s and still remains at 236 Carolina Beach Avenue North, now part of Surfside Motel.  Carol stated that the Sessoms’ brick building was torn down to make room for a three-building modern motel with a pool in the center which is still there, and also, a part of Surfside.