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

President’s Message – September, 2020

By Elaine Henson

Mrs. High’s Dining Room

Many old timers will remember Mrs. High’s Dining Room on Cape Fear Boulevard. It featured home cooking, great seafood of all kinds, steaks, chops, lots of fresh vegetables, and homemade pies.  It was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Mrs. Adrienne Cole, who taught at Carolina Beach School, would often play the piano during meals.

The dining room was owned by Mrs. Lillie Mae High and her partner, Jesse Croom and his wife, Rose Croom.  Judy Cumber Moore worked the summers of 1957 and 1958 at Mrs. High’s.  She remembers the kitchen help shelling peas and butterbeans also cutting corn off the cob for creamed corn. There was no air conditioning back then, just very large fans on stands placed all around the pine paneled dining room.  She also recalls that Mrs. Croom, who was in a wheelchair, sat at a table up front with Mrs. High or Mr. Croom at the cash register.

Ann and Tommy Greene remember that the Crooms and Mrs. High shared a house next door to his parents on Myrtle Avenue, two blocks from the dining room.  Ann Greene also worked there one summer. After Mrs. Croom’s death in 1965, Mr. Croom and Mrs. High married and lived on the beach until his death in 1978 and hers in 1983.  Mr. Croom and both Mrs. Crooms are buried in the same plot in Oakdale Cemetery.

I also worked at High’s during the summer of 1966 while in college.  By then, Mrs. High and the Crooms had retired and the restaurant was owned by Charles and Martha Haas and renamed High’s Dining Room.  The kitchen was very small and bustling with activity with fans blowing there and in the dining room.  On the way to work, I remember riding over the new high-rise Snow’s Cut bridge that had opened in August of 1962.  It seemed so big and modern compared to the old swing bridge.

Mrs. High’s had started out as a diner next to the Greystone Hotel.  Mr. A. W. Pate built the Greystone Hotel in 1916, on Cape Fear Boulevard.

In the linen, hand colored post card, you can see the Greystone with its roof top dancing porch, just down from the Bame Gas Station and Grocery and Hotel Bame.

In 1939, the Tidewater Power Company was discontinuing the trolley line to Wrightsville Beach and put some of the beach cars up for sale.  Mr. Pate bought one and put it next to the Greystone as a hot dog stand. You can see the white roof of the beach car diner; it is on the far-right edge of the card just above the half blue car.

We don’t know how long the hot dog stand lasted, but we do know that sometime in the 1940s it became Mrs. High’s Diner. Punky Kure recalls eating at the diner next to the Greystone.  Mrs. High and Jesse Croom were partners early on as you can see in the restaurants list from a Sunny Carolina Beach brochure distributed in 1945 to 1949.  It was put out by the Chamber of Commerce.

As business for the diner grew, the restaurant moved into the new cinder block building next door painted green in the card at the top.  Its entrance was under the striped awing and round sign with an arrow pointing to the door.

The Greystone Hotel is above the Mack’s Dime Store with Mrs. High’s to the left of that extending into the flat roof addition.

Soon the cinder block building that housed Mrs. High’s will be torn down to make way for new retail on the bottom and condos on the top.  What’s old is new again.

Next month:  Mr. A.W. Pate and the Greystone Hotel

 

President’s Message – August, 2020

Federal-Point-History.org

By Elaine Henson

This month’s newsletter and my president’s letter are devoted to our amazing website, federal-point-history.org. As you Google search online for our history at Federal Point, Fort Fisher, Seabreeze, Carolina, Hanby, Wilmington, and Kure Beaches, notice that our FPHPS website is always there in the list and often at the top or near the top of the links.

That is due primarily to the dutiful labor of our web site manager, Andre Blouin. He has spent countless hours uploading our archives on the site for everyone to read, use to answer questions, and to do research. Our archives collection is not of much value if it can’t be accessed. Not everyone can come to the History Center and go through our files, but most can search online or get someone to do it for them. We hope this focus on our site will inspire you to use it in the coming months.

This is the 73rd letter I have written for our newsletter since I became president in July, 2014.  Looking back, there are some that stand out because they tell very interesting stories of our history and were such fun to research and write. Hopefully you will go to our website, find them, and click and read.

2017:  January, February, March and April President’s Letters: The Carolina Beach Hotel.  This is a fascinating story of a 1920s beautiful new hotel situated on the property where Carolina Beach School is now.  Its opening was attended by Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and her husband from the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Its bright future was cut short involving multiple sales, arson, arrests, a trial, and eventually a school on its site.  A must read.

2018: January, February, March and April President’s Letters: The Breakers Hotel.  This is another promising 1920s hotel story; it doesn’t have visitors from a world-famous family, but it does include a relationship with Ethel-Dow, a fire, and even worse, a hurricane named Hazel.  The Breakers was located in Wilmington Beach which was annexed by Carolina Beach in 2000. It was on the site occupied by the Sea Colony Condominiums on South Lake Park Boulevard between North Carolina Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.

2018: May, June, July, August, September, October, November President’s Letters: The Boardwalk

These seven letters tell a condensed story of the boardwalk from its beginning in 1887 to the present. The boardwalk has lasted in some form for over a century and has gone through glory days, being the center of activity, world wars, numerous hurricanes, fires, and some dark days.  But it has survived them all and is enjoying revitalization and renewed popularity.  We hope it will survive this pandemic in the same way, and that next summer it will be better than ever.

Next month:  Mrs. High’s Dining Room on Cape Fear Boulevard

 

 

 

President’s Message – July, 2020

By: Elaine Henson

Andrew Emile “Punky” Kure, Jr.  – Part VI

Punky Kure, Marine

Punky has a lifelong hobby of collecting firearms and reloading ammunition. Growing up, he got his first 22 rifle at age 7. The men in the Kure family all had firearms and taught the younger ones proper use and safety procedures when using them. The men would often have target shooting on the beach, which could never happen today. Punky and his Watters cousins practiced with their 22s.

In the late 1930s, there were only 6-8 houses on all of Kure Beach and Fort Fisher. There were no houses between the Kure Pier and Walter Winner’s place next to the Confederate Monument at the Fort.

Kure Beach was fairly deserted with lots of sand dunes, sea oats and woods, so target practice on the beach was not such a strange thing back then. The boys also went hunting for rabbits, squirrels and other wild life at the beach, bringing home their kill for dinner. At that time there were no deer at the beach, so they would have to go to Brunswick or Pender Counties for deer hunting.

Later, in the Marine Corps, he was one of only three in his company to earn the Expert Rifleman badge which paid an extra $5 a month. He has devoted one room of his home to hold his collection of about 50 guns, pistols, and reloading equipment.  He still enjoys working in the Gun Room and garage on this hobby.

Collecting Civil War artifacts has also been a lifelong hobby of Punky’s.  Again, his father piqued his interest in this pursuit. When he was a boy it was easy to unearth treasures with a trowel or small shovel since they were not far from the top layer of sand.  He would often ride his bike down to the Fort to search, making sure he got back home before dark and supper. As an adult, he began diving on the many blockade runner wrecks right off our Kure and Carolina Beaches, Fort Fisher, and Bald Head finding many treasures. When metal detectors became available, he used those in his searches.

After a lifetime of looking for artifacts, he has an enviable collection. It includes a Confederate rifle, Civil War uniform buttons, belt buckles, bullets (fired and unfired) and bomb shells just to name a few.

This picture above shows a haul of one day’s dig at the Battle of White Hall Ferry site in present day Seven Springs, North Carolina.  He is standing with the pier in the background on land where they would later build the Kure Motel.

At age 93, Punky is pretty much confined to home except for riding his hover round or adult tricycle in his neighborhood. He lives with his faithful cat “Motor Mouth” and some feral cats he feeds outside.

He has two granddaughters, Ashley Danner Frank and Amie Danner Harrison, and five great grandchildren, Danner, Sawyer and Porter Harrison, Hampton and Keegan Frank.  Ashley is his main caregiver making frequent phone calls, visits and driving him for appointments and outings.

Punky is the last living grandchild of Hans and Ellen Kure, founders of Kure Beach and the last to carry the Kure name.