From the President: November, 2015

by Elaine HensonElaine Henson

In our September newsletter, I asked for help with the location of the post card of Gray’s Grill, Cottages and Service Station.

Thanks to Bobby and Maxine Nivens for responding with information on the card and sharing some great photos of the same site.

gray's cottage

Click any image – for more detail

Gray’s Grill was located where Burt’s Surf Shop is now at 800 North Lake Park Boulevard. The vacant lot next to the grill is where Spectrum Paint is at 810 N. Lake Park. The two story building with dormers and a gallery railing on the roof was on the present site of the Scotchman Store at 900 N. Lake Park.

There is a house and another grill beyond that. The cottages were behind those buildings that faced the road. Charlie Gray owned it when the photo for the card was taken: the post card is dated c. 1945.

Spur's Cottages #1In the 1950s-60s, Maxine Niven’s mother and stepfather, Carra and Norman “Jim” Spurbeck bought the property with the exception of Gray’s Grill pictured in the card.

They renamed them Spur’s Cottages and rented the eight or nine cottages behind the buildings on the road beginning at $6 a night.

Bobby Nivens remembers them always full on summer weekends. They also operated a grill north of the two story building with dormers and gas pumps called Spur’s Coffee Shop. The grill had a counter and booths inside and also offered curb service with car hops which was very popular in the 50s and 60s.

Spur's Cottages #2Bobby and Maxine lived in the house on the property and helped run the cottages from 1963-1965. In 1966 they ran them with Vito and Ann Martin. The Spurbecks later sold the property to Jim and Mary Burton; other owners followed them until the buildings were torn down.

Spur’s Cottages were on North Lake Park Blvd. where the Scotchman is presently located

There were eight or nine cottages behind the buildings on the road and each had two or three bedrooms and kitchens with refrigerators and gas stoves.

 

The Freeman Family – from the Bill Reaves Files

1870
Anthony A. Hawes offered his resignation as a member of the School Committee for Federal Point Township, which was accepted, and R.B. Freeman was appointed in his place. (Wilm.Star, 12-7-1870)

1876
The land now Carolina Beach came into the hands of Bruce Freeman and remained in his family for many years. His family still owns land on Federal Point.  (Wilm.Star, 6- 15-1941)

August 7, 1887
“Chief Justice” Freeman opened a law dispensary at Carolina Beach, and he was prepared to issue “writs at living prices. Special attention given to mandamuses, quo warrants, scieri facieses, capiases and respondum, etc. The blind goddess always on hand with scales in good condition.”  (Wilm.Star, 8-7-1887)

February 3, 1888
In view of the largely increased river travel last season, Capt. Harper and the New Hanover Transit Company was to put another vessel to serve all points on the lower Cape Fear River, in addition to the steamer PASSPORT. Capt. John Harper “gives due notice that if any man has red clay on his boots and a blue jeans suit, he will carry him on the steamer for nothing, provided it can be shown clearly after a judicial investigation before “Chief Justice” Freeman that the man has no money and never had any, as the Captain is determined to bring our up-country friends to Wilmington and the nearby beach”  (Wilm.Star, 2-2-1888)

September 29, 1889
Archie Freeman hauled in over 2,000 mullets at Carolina Beach.   (Wilm.Star, 9-29-1889)

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

Seabreeze

Seabreeze

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

The boats brought in the balloon and all was well. The elegant blue silk shirt and buff silk tights were, of course, dripping as the tired man reached the shore. He was still wearing his brown Derby hat. (Wilm. Messenger, 6-18-1891)

July 22, 1893
Papers of incorporation were filed in Superior Court for the Carolina Beach Pleasure Club. The corporators were Messrs. Hans A. Kure, E.H. Freeman, J.J. Dray, W.H. Gerken, F. Richter and F.B. Rice. The capital stock was $5,000 and the limit of corporation was 30 years. The general purpose and business of the company was social.  (Wilm Messenger, 7-23-1893)

March 26, 1907
Members of the Board of County Commissioners went down into Federal Point and Masonboro Townships to confer with committees of citizens representing rival delegations urging the permanent improvement of one of the county roads leading into that section. The Commissioners are at sea as to which of two routes to adopt, the people of the townships differing upon which is best. Messrs. Melvin Horne, Owen Martindale and Horton Freeman urged the adoption of the old Federal Point Road, and Messrs. G. W. Trask, George W. Rogers and D. J. Fergus urged the adoption of the “Masonboro route.” A decision was postponed until the next meeting.  (Wilm. Star, 3-28-1907)

June 5, 1910
Ellis Freeman, the well known caterer, was prepared to furnish Myrtle Grove oysters at Carolina Beach. He was making a specialty of roasts. “Truelove‟s Sauce”, new, delicious and appetizing, was the latest attraction with oysters. (Wilm. Dispatch, 6-3-1910)

May 23, 1911
There were persistent rumors that there was planned big development for Carolina Beach. It was known that T. F. Boyd and several other citizens of Hamlet, N.C., as well as several gentlemen from Michigan, interested in such a project. It had been learned that Roland Freeman, one of the heirs to the Freeman estate, colored, (which owns considerable quantities of land near Carolina Beach) had practically closed negotiations for the sale of 250 acres of land owned by the estate and that he had also agreed to give options on a like amount of territory. The home of Roland Freeman was near the beach. From the rumors it seemed that an effort was being considered to promote the advantages of Carolina Beach.   (Wilm. Dispatch, 5-23-1911)

August 18, 1914
Real Estate Transfer – J. N. Freeman and wife transfer to A. W. Pate, trustee, for the Wilmington & Carolina Beach Railway, for $1 and other considerations, a 100-foot right–of-way through their lands in Federal Point Township.   (Wilm. Star, 8-19-1914)

July 3, 1930
Six local fishermen fishing off Carolina Beach reported a catch of 80 sheephead in 2 1⁄2 hours. The haul was said to be the largest of its kind ever landed at Carolina Beach.
The party of anglers consisted of E.H. Tolar, Harry DeCover, Horace Pearsall, T.E. Loftin, Bill Watson and Ellis Freeman. The fish weighed from 1 to 10 pounds each.   (Wilm. Star, 7-4-1930)

Seabreeze Beach Resort

Seabreeze Beach Resort

Hans A. Kure – from the Bill Reaves files 1889-1899

Federal Point Chronology 1725 – 1994

Hans A. Kure

Hans A. Kure

The first mention of Hans Kure in the Bill Reaves Files is in the Wilmington Messenger on April 16, 1889. H. A. Kure is “offering the Carolina Beach Club House and furniture for rent for the season.” Later that year, (Messenger, August 10, 1889) the  reports that he is building a “pretty cottage at Carolina Beach.”

In June of 1890 we find this wonderful account of a bear hunt: “A bear hunt was organized at Carolina Beach with thirty men and a pack of good trained dogs taking part in the campaign against Bruin.”

The leader of the group was Mr. George L. Morton. The bear was first seen on June 22nd by Mr. Hans A. Kure, about 1 1/2 miles below Carolina Beach. On the 25th a party was organized by Mr. Morton and went in search of the game. They found the bear, a big black fellow, about 10 p.m., near the surf some two miles below Carolina Beach. They got two or three shots at him before he escaped into the woods.”

A year later, (Wilmington Star, May 21, 1891) reported on an interesting fishing trip: “Messrs. Hans A. Kure, G. Smith, and Charlie Williams went over on the wreck of the old blockade runner BEAUREGARD and caught seventy-five fine fish in about thirty minutes. In the lot was a sheepshead that weighed fifteen pounds. This big fish was baked and made a meal for nine persons.”

The next month this advertisement runs in the (Wilmington Messenger, June 9, 1891): “Hans A. Kure has erected a building at Carolina Beach for amusements, which included a first class bowling alley, billiard and pool tables. The building also included a No.1 family grocery store. Oranges, lemons, bananas, and other fruits always on hand. A full assortment of canned goods. Ice available in any quantity.”

In August of the same year this delightful little note appears in the (Weekly Star, August 7, 1891): “Mr. H. A. Kure was ordered exempt from tax on pool table and bowling alley at Carolina Beach, on petition of residents of that place.”

By the next month (Aug 25, 1891) the business is in full swing. “A ten-pin tournament was given at Carolina Beach by Mr. Hans A. Kure. The first day was for the ladies and the next day for the men. Handsome prizes were given, which had previously been exhibited at Dinglehoef’s jewelry store in Wilmington. Perfect order was observed at the alleys during the tournament.”

What was this all about? “December 21, 1891. The Board of County Commissioners ordered that the valuation of the property of Hans A. Kure, in Federal Point Township, be reduced from $2,000 to $1,000, and his personal property from $2635 to $1,350.”  (Wilm. Messenger, 12-22-1891).

Business was clearly prospering for by summer of 1892 this note appears in the (Wilm. Messenger, August 1, 1892): “Hans A. Kure made application for a retail liquor license at Carolina Beach, which was granted.”

In August 1893 a major hurricane hit the beaches. This note appeared after the storm. ”A number of residents of Carolina Beach published a resolution in the Wilmington Messenger newspaper about the gallant and efficient Hans A. Kure.” It read in part as follows: “Before the storm had burst in all its fury, Mr. Hans A. Kure visited the beach, and, going from cottage to cottage, tendered to the inhabitants the hospitality of his residence situated a short distance from the beach. In the midst of impending danger, while the billows were lashing the beach and encircling many of the cottages.

Mr. Kure, with the assistance of a number of white fishermen, by Herculean effort, rescued the valuables from the threatened cottages and transported them to a point of safety. His ministration to the needs and comfort of many who sought shelter at his residence elicited the highest praise. To him is justly due and cordially tendered the heartfelt gratitude of all.” (Wilm. Messenger, 9-3-1893)

The year 1893 must have been one of those years! In October another, even more destructive storm blasted the area. “During the terrible hurricane very minor damage was done to the buildings, bath houses or residences on Carolina Beach, with the exception of fences, which were generally blown down or washed away.

A few of the residences had their doors forced open and some panes of glass were blown in. The only damage of consequence was to the railroad track which had been badly washed at several points between the beach and the river. The pier leading out into the river was, however, all gone, except the pilings; the entire superstructure with ties and rails, having been washed away. The storm raged with great fury at “The Rocks.” Six small cottages were demolished and swept away, the wharf being destroyed, and much damage was done to the fishing boats and nets. Mr. Hans A. Kure lost seines, nets, boats, and other articles belonging to his fishery.” (Wilm. Star, 10-15-1893).

As always the residents of the beaches were resilient. Two years after the horrible hurricane year the Kure‟s were back in business: “Mr. and Mrs. Hans A. Kure were now to be found at their ‘Big Cottage on the Beach,’ with a first-class boarding house at Carolina Beach. Meals and lunch could be had at all hours. Rooms were for rent, furnished or unfurnished, by day, week or season. Mr. Kure was to have charge of the Carolina Beach Club, about two squares from the Cottage.” (Wilm. Star, 6-2-1895 – advertisement)

One can imagine just how much work went into the Kure’s summer enterprises. (Wilm. Star, July 4, 1895) A large number of people visited Carolina Beach and spent a quiet, pleasant day. There was music for dancing all day, which was taken advantage of by a large number. Several fishing parties went out in the afternoon. The surf bathers were on hand in large numbers. Mrs. Mayo and Mrs. Kure had all they could do serving guests with sea delicacies. The last boat to Wilmington returned at 9:30 p.m. and the ride on the river was delightful.”

Two years later (Wilmington Messenger, May 16, 1897) the following advertisement appeared: “H. A. Kure, manager, announced that the Carolina Beach Pleasure Club was now open for the accommodation of members. The management was to spare no pains to make this season the most enjoyable of the club. Ladies and gentlemen friends were cordially invited to come down and try their hand at Ten Pins and Billiards and Pool.” And again on June 8. 1897 “A license was granted to Hans A. Kure for the sale of spirituous liquors at Carolina Beach.”

In the late 1890’s the beaches must have been a major storm cycle. This Nor’easter hit the beaches in April, 1898 (Wilmington Dispatch): “One of the worse days experienced in a long time occurred today. It was cold and the wind blew fiercely all day. The Cape Fear River was lashed into a fury; Mr. T.F. Tyler reported that the occupants of a house at Carolina Beach sat up all night in the fear that the building would be blown down. It weathered the storm all right, though.

And so did Sedgeley Hall Club house which had excellent foundations. Some of the telegraph lines were in distress until long after noon.” (Wilm. Weekly Star, 4-29-1898). “The wind blew big guns and hail fell in abundance. A cottage on the beach, the property of Mr. Hans A. Kure, was blown from its foundation and wrecked. It was not occupied. It was a total loss.”

This poignant note brings the century to a close: (September 16, 1898) “All the cottagers who had summered at Carolina Beach had moved back to the city and consequently the beach closed down today. There were no city people on the beach, even Mr. Hans A. Kure had gone. The steamer WILMINGTON ceased stopping at Carolina Beach. She now only made daily trips from Wilmington to Southport.” (The Semi Weekly Messenger, 9-16-1898).

 

Carolina Beach Bus Station

Bus Station Carolina Beach - opened July 30, 1948

Bus Station Carolina Beach – opened July 30, 1948

[Written by Bill Reaves and published in ‘The Coastal Carolinian’ on September 9, 1982. This new bus station was located at Lake Park Avenue North and Raleigh Avenue in what is now the BB&T Bank building.

The original bus station operated during the early 1940s in Hall’s Drug store, currently the Laney Real Estate building].

Carolina Beach - Nyal Drugs and Bus Station 1930-1948

Carolina Beach – Nyal Drugs and Bus Station 1930-1948

“Carolina Beach’s new ultra-modem bus terminal opened to the public for the first time at 6 pm. on Friday, July 30, 1948. The formal opening included a large number of state, city and county officials, plus many bus line representatives. The Queen City Coach Company free soft drinks, nabs and ice cream.

The radio station WGNI covered the festivities by a “remote broadcast” for minutes.

Construction of the station took more than a year, after the announcement on May 14, 1947, that “Carolina Beach’s dream was to come true” after the resort’s long fight for a bus station there. Hal J. Love, local manager of the Queen City Coach Company at Wilmington, made the announcement. The long delay was caused by the Civilian Product Administration holding up the construction permit. Material shortages were still a problem following World War II.

The building was 60 by 44 feet in size and was surrounded by a spacious loading and unloading platform. The waiting room was 32 by 22 feet and was equipped with three sets of comfortable benches in the latest style. In the waiting room was the ticket office, baggage checking room, telephone booths and rest rooms.

Another waiting room, 22 by 20 feet in size, with rest rooms, was provided for the “colored.” The soda shop, with a modern fountain, a sandwich bar, and a “Hot Point” kitchen, plus a gift and magazine counter, was well lighted with large plate glass windows and the very latest designed fluorescent electrical light fixtures. The terminal was to be well heated during the winter months by a Bryant heating system.

Hals Drug Store  1940

Hals Drug Store 1940

W.C. Wise, of Wilmington, was to be the first manager of the bus terminal and the grill. Manager Love declared that “We have implicit confidence in the outlook for the future of Carolina Beach. If we didn’t we never would have built this $40,000 bus terminal here.”

Guests for the formal opening included Carolina Beach Mayor A.P. Peay and the following members of the local board of aldermen: Thomas A. Croom, William L. Farmer, W.H. Shinn and Glenn Tucker; also Mrs. Alice Strickland, town clerk; Mrs. Julia M. Helms, assistant town clerk; Police Chief Bruce Valentine; Fire Chief Jim Bame; R.G. Barr, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce; Emmett H. Bellamy, attorney for the town; and local Queen City Bus Agent Adams, Carolina Beach druggist. Other guests included Kure Beach Mayor Lawrence C. Kure, Wilmington Mayor E.L. White, New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Addison Hewlett, and many, many more.

Also invited were: H.E. Livingston, of the Wilmington, Brunswick and Southport bus line; R S. Pullen, of the Pullen bus lines, of Burgaw; Charles Hall, president of the Seashore Transportation Company; R.C. Hofiinan, president of the Carolina Coach Company, of Raleigh; D.D. McAfee, district superintendent of the Atlantic Greyhound Bus Lines, of Raleigh; and George Pullen, Fayetteville attorney.

At the opening, a promise was made to all in attendance, “We will make every possible to have the very best bus service possible, and we also intend to try and give the very best transportation advice to all travelers using this facility.”

Thus opened one of the most modern and up-to-date bus terminals on the southern coast of the United States.” [End]

This article was originally published in the October 1996 Newsletter (pdf) – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society

 

Carolina Beach Town Hall

[Text was originally published in the September 1996 – FPHPS Newsletter (pdf)]

[Sept, 1996 Editor’s Note:
The following article was written by Bill Reaves and published in ‘The Coastal Carolinian’ on November 18, 1982

As a result of the recent destruction of Carolina Beach’s police and fire complex by Hurricane Fran on Sept 5, 1996, we thought it would be of interest to our readers to reprint this article about the building.]

By Bill Reaves – November 18, 1982

Carolina Beach’s new $44,000 town hall and auditorium project was approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 8, 1939. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was to supply $20,000, and local amounting to $24,000 was to be made available through a special bond issue.

Shortly thereafter, Mayor R. C. Fergus announced that funds were also available for a new sanitary sewerage system which was to replace the septic tank system then in use and had proved to be inadequate, inefficient and unsanitary. The new system was to cost $188,000, of which the WPA would pay $125,000.

In March, 1940, the WPA ofiice in Raleigh put their stamp of approval on the construction of the town hall, municipal auditorium, to seat approximately 800 people, jail and fire department building for Carolina Beach. The final cost figure arrived at was $39,938.

The site for the new structure was located on reclaimed marshland [now the Town parking lot across from the Winner boats] acquired by the town sometime earlier for $27.

Carolina Beach Town Hall

Carolina Beach Town Hall and Auditorium ~ 1942

The project was to give work to 30 laborers and was to be completed in five to six months. Mayor Fergus began negotiating a loan through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) for additional to pay the costs of materials. Bids for construction were opened in August, 1940, and construction was to begin on September 1st, to be completed by the opening of the 1941 beach season.

Problems intervened so that work did not begin until December, 1940, and another delay halted work until September, 1941.

In April, 1941, the local Chamber of Commerce was getting into gear and exerting every effort to make Carolina Beach, with its new auditorium under construction, the convention headquarters for Eastern North Carolina. The auditorium was to provide an ample stage for shows, cooking schools, community gatherings and other convention headquarter needs. Space was to be provided also as a meeting place for local civic clubs, bridge parties and other social functions.

The new auditorium of Carolina Beach’s municipal building was used for the first time on January 30, 1942, despite the fact that the building was not yet completed. The event was the celebration of President Roosevelt’s birthday with a ball to raise funds for the fight against infantile paralysis (polio).

The committee of arrangements for this initial event in the new auditorium was Capt. Leo S. Iobe, head of the US. Army‘s Carolina Beach recreation area, as director, and other members included Mayor Fergus, Lewis, B. Shepherd, C.M. Kelly, Dudley Humphrey, W.G. Fowler, Lt. Warren Burkholder, Frank Rossetta, Mrs. Lewis, Mrs. Warren Burkholder, Mrs. C.M. Murrin, Mrs. H.C. Fields, Mrs. Albert Harris, Mrs. Brewer, Mrs. C.G. Vanlandingham and Mrs. D.M. Greer.

The new building was 114 feet wide and 132 feet long, and the auditorium was 44 by 91 feet. There were four offices, fire department section, jail for whites, jail for blacks, 12 restrooms, a kitchen, two dressing rooms and a recreation room for volunteer firemen. It was plastered on the interior and stuccoed on the outside, and painted white throughout the interior, with green woodwork.

Carolina Beach officials moved into their handsome new Town Hall in April, 1942, except the fire department who were to take up their space in the near future. It was said at this time that Carolina Beach’s new Town Hall was “one of the finest city buildings at a resort along the Atlantic seaboard.”

[Text was originally published in the September 1996 – FPHPS Newsletter (pdf)]

Hurricane Fran in Carolina Beach – September 5-6, 1996  (YouTube video, 7 min.)

Seabreeze – March 16, 2006 (6:33am – 8:25am)

[Click any image – for a larger image or full-screen slide show]

Seabreeze and Carolina Beach

Seabreeze Map

Click – for detailed map

New – 7/26/15:  Images of Seabreeze – taken on March 16, 2006 – 6:33am – 8:25am

Source:  Our State, North Carolina – Oceanside Divide – By Herbert L. White

A small strip of land near Wilmington entertained thousands of visitors — some famous — during the Jim Crow era in North Carolina.

SeaBreeze[1]That was the allure of Seabreeze when it was a resort for African-Americans during the Jim Crow era. The place was born out of necessity: Segregation was the way of life then.

African-American men riding through Carolina Beach to access black-owned Bop City, now called Freeman Park, were required to wear shirts over their swimsuits.  African-American swimmers could access the ocean from Carolina Beach on Mondays only, although it was directly across from Seabreeze.

Monte Carlo at Seabreeze

Monte Carlo at Seabreeze

Seabreeze Beach ResortIn many ways, Seabreeze and Carolina Beach, resorts separated by a half-mile — one for blacks, the other for whites — were in different worlds.  Seabreeze, a nearly two-mile strip of unincorporated hamlet, was a busy seaside retreat tucked among mossy oaks and crape myrtles. It was the place to see and be seen.

Seabreeze was home to 31 juke joints, or taverns, where jukeboxes supplied the soundtrack of American culture and attitudes.

Seabreeze Shacks

Seabreeze

…. then ….

Seabreeze, 2008

Seabreeze, 2008

On October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel blew in from the Atlantic. Hazel’s estimated 140-mile-per-hour winds and 18-foot storm surge devastated Seabreeze. The hurricane littered the sound with debris from trees torn from their roots; homes caved in or blew from their foundations.

Rather than rebuild, many property owners shuttered entire lots, hastening Seabreeze’s demise with the loss of businesses.

continue reading this interesting history of the people of Seabreeze … from Our State Magazine

 

Source:  Our State, North Carolina:  Oceanside Divide – By Herbert L. White

A Reader Response: to Oceanside Divide

D Franklin Freeman PhD says:
April 19, 2014 at 13:09
Alexander Freeman was actually not a “Freed Slave” but a Free Person of Color i.e. Black and American Indian – our dates for him are 1788-1855. He is the son of Abraham Freeman (and a brother of my 6th Great Grandfather Moses Freeman) who is listed in the books as a Free Person of Color; and owned much land (thru land grants) around Columbus, Brunswick, Bladen and New Hanover, NC as well as Craven County, SC. We are apart of the currently named Waccamaw-Siouan and Lumbee Tribes. We are proud of our contributions to North Carolina. We just had family from Wilmington, Delco, Leland, Bolton and Buckhead visit our remaining family at Seabreeze last month. I hope that we are able to save this as a major part of North Carolina history.


…. But Wait!      … There’s More …… local content

From:  Oral History – Fessa’ John Hook – ‘Jim Hannah, One of the Two Original Beach Music Pioneers’

Visit Seabreeze AdSeabreeze was the black resort just up the coast across the Intracostal Waterway at Snow’s Cut. Originally called Freeman’s Beach from the 1920’s to the 1950’s, locals made a living serving black tourists with sandwiches, beer, and plenty of room for family picnics in the day and adult entertainment at night. Chicken Hicks found his way to Seabreeze in the early 40’s, returning often for white hot Carolina moonshine, and even hotter music on the piccolos (jukeboxes) at places like the Ponco, The Big Apple, the Daley Breezey Pavilion, Bruce’s, Ponco #2, the Monte Carlo, and as Jim recalled, “a place called Big Mama’s.”   … more »»»


From:  Oral History – Dorothy McQuillan – Part 4: ‘Freeman’

Seabreeze - Daley Breezy

Daley Breezy Pavilion

SeaBreeze had some boats that went across the water and you would dance til you got ready to come back over to this side.

It was an evening thing and a weekend thing, not an everyday thing. Everybody at Seabreeze worked weekends and holidays.

There used to be a place over there just for Blacks called Bop City. A lot of Black soldiers from Ft. Fisher used to come up to this neighborhood. Matter of fact, Dot’s sister married a soldier that used to be at Ft. Fisher in the service. Some of the Freemans married some of the guys that used to be down at Ft. Fisher.

Dot remembers Hurricane Hazel going through here tearing everything up. She saw the buildings from Carolina Beach floating down the Inland Waterway – refrigerators, stuff that come out of some of the businesses at Carolina Beach, furniture and big stuff from the houses came floating down the river. And at Seabreeze that water was almost to her mother’s house.   … more »»»


What is Seabreeze?
by: Ben Steelman,  May, 2009, Wilmington StarNews

“White kids from nearby Carolina Beach, such as Malcolm “Chicken” Hicks, would cross over to check out Seabreeze’s night spots and the local dance steps. Local historians such as Jenny Edwards — who wrote a master’s thesis on the history of Seabreeze for the University of North Carolina Wilmington — credit this musical cross-pollination with promoting, if not inspiring, the later crazes of shag dancing and beach music.”   … more »»»

Freeman Beach\Seabreeze, Wilmington, North Carolina (ca. 1885- )
by: Stephens, Ronald J. Blackpast.org

“Between the 1920s and the 1960s Freeman Beach\Seabreeze developed rich cultural traditions and history as blacks from across eastern and central North Carolina traveled for miles to experience the wooden dance floors and jukeboxes. With Freeman Beach they found a place to vacation, relax, and play. From the 1920s through the 1960s, the beach had three hotels, ten restaurants, dozens of rental cottages, a boat pier, a bingo parlor, and a small amusement park, complete with Ferris wheel. During the summer months thousands of visitors flocked to the area. ”  … more »»»

Brown. Girl. Farming

“As I got older, I learned more of my family history. For all of us, the only thing worse than not knowing our history is believing we have no history. My parents were from a small farming town in the Wilmington area called Lake Waccamaw, located on the shore of the largest natural lake in the eastern United States by the same name. Some historians claim Osceola, the great war chief of the Seminole Nation (of mixed Native American and African ancestry) was born on Lake Waccamaw. The lake feeds south and into the great Okefenokee Swamp which stretches through Florida.  

During slavery, many Africans and Native Americans escaped into these swamps. Their descendants cultivated farm land around the lake and throughout the Wilmington area. There is also a town in that area called Freeman, NC, founded by my grandmother’s great-grandfather, Alexander Freeman.

Following Alexander Freeman’s death, his son, Robert Bruce Freeman (b. 1830) inherited the land, and parlayed the investment to become one of the largest landowners in New Hanover county. In the 1920’s, [Robert’s heirs] began to develop a recreational community known as Seabreeze. During the Jim Crow years, Seabreeze was the only beach community in the state that black families could visit. When black people were forbidden from even traveling through Carolina Beach to get to Seabreeze, the Freeman family bought a boat to ferry people back and forth to the resort.”  … more »»»

 

 

No Reward for Finding Gold

By Bill Reaves

(Wilmington Morning Star, June 17, 1927)

Erosion at Ft. Fisher

Click

D. R. Connor, 97 years old, and a native of Robeson County, NC died on June 16, 1927, at the home of his daughter, Mrs, A. M. Roberts, 309 Dawson Street, in Wilmington, NC. He served in the War Between the States with North Carolina troops. He was among the defenders of Fort Fisher when that stronghold fell and was made a prisoner at the time of its capture.

Following the death of Connor, the Wilmington historian, Andrew J. Howell, recalled a story that he had been told by the deceased when they had a visit together earlier. Connor told Howell about finding a satchel of geld coins in the surf at Fort Fisher while he was a soldier there.

It was on the beach below the “Mound Battery” at the southeastern corner of the Fort, which has since been washed away. One morning he went to a secluded spot, where he often went for secret prayer, when he noticed an object in the shallow water close to the shore. He went for it, and found it to be a satchel containing some heavy material. When he opened it, his eyes fell upon a quantity of gold coins!

This was too big a discovery for a mere private to keep so he carried the bag to the headquarters of his company and was given the information that the officers would make the proper disposition of the money. He naturally expected to be rewarded with some of the prize, but he said he never received any of it. He felt pretty sure, however, that he afterwards could trace the whereabouts of at least some of the money.

Rose O'Neil Greenhow

Rose O’Neil Greenhow

The satchel was supposed to have been the property of Mrs. Rose Greenhow, the Confederate secret agent, who lost her life in the breakers while attempting to land from the blockade runner, Condor, on September 30, 1864.

Mr. Connor was an honored citizen of the Fair Bluff area of Columbus County, NC, and was much beloved by his fellow Confederate veterans, at whose reunions he was often seen.

(Wilmington Morning Star, June 17, 1927; June 19, 1927)

[This article was originally published in the January 1998 – FPHPS Newsletter]

Fort Fisher Revetment Project Nears Completion (March 1996)

[Originally published in the March, 1996 – FPHPS Newsletter]

At last month’s [Feb, 1996] meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, Mr. Bill Dennis, a civil engineer with the US. Army Corps of Engineers – Wilmington District, presented a thorough site history and review of the Fort Fisher revetment project to a well-attended audience. Mr. Dennis, a native of New Jersey, began his slide presentation and discussion with a quick overview of the Federal Point area and how changes in its shape led to a need for a protective seawall to save the fort.

In 1761 a hurricane drastically reshaped Federal Point when it opened a passage known as New Inlet between the ocean and the Cape Fear River.

New Inlet, however, later played an important role during the Civil War as an entrance for sleek, fast blockade runners to slip past the Union fleet and enter the river under the protective guns of Fort Fisher. These ships were able to successfully deliver their valuable cargoes to Wilmington and on to the rest of the Confederacy until early 1865.

The Rocks2

‘The Rocks’ from Battery Buchanan to Zeke’s Island

Following the war, Federal Point again underwent a major transition in appearance when the US. Army Corps of Engineers closed New Inlet to improve river navigation. During the 1870s and 1880s the Corps built a stone structure known as “The Rocks” in two sections across the inlet and swash that still exists today.

The upper section of the dam extended from Battery Buchanan on Federal Point to Zeke‘s Island, a distance of 5,300 feet. The continuation of the lower section known as the Swash Defense Dam from Zeke’s Island to Smith’s Island [Bald Head Island], a distance of 12,800 feet, made the entire closure just over 3 miles in length.

Ft Fisher vs Erosion

Erosion at Ft. Fisher

In addition to the natural deterioration of Federal Point, serious erosion problems occurred near Fort Fisher alter the state intentionally removed coquina rock from the shore just north of the earthworks during the 1920s for use as road construction fill. Since that time approximately 200 yards of sea front has been lost to wave action.

This loss forced the state in the early 1950s to realign the very same highway that had been built with the use of the coquina rock. The North Carolina Highway Department, and later aided by local communities, then began dumping concrete and other large construction debris along the sea front near Battle Acre. As a further means of slowing erosion at Fort Fisher, the state placed a line of rocks along the shoreline in 1970. Storms since that time showed the revetment to be too short. Shoreline erosion continued at a rate of nearly 10 feet per year.

Since the end of the Civil War the ocean has claimed nearly half of the fort.

A more substantial solution to the site erosion problem came in 1995 when matching federal and state funds for a larger revetment project became available. The state and Corps of Engineers approved a plan for a permanent seawall based upon a design of Mr. Dennis.

After two years of planning, an acceptable design called for the construction of a 3,040-foot seawall to extend from south of Battle Acre to north of the Fort Fisher mounds.

Bids went out for the construction of the seawall. Selected for the construction project was Misener Marine Construction, Inc. of Tampa, Florida, at a bid of 4.6 million dollars.

Fort Fisher Rocks and BeachWork on the project began in June 1995, and included a multi-layered rubble revetment with circular tie-ins to natural ground on both ends of the site.

Beginning on the south end, the construction company dug a trench to 3.5 feet below mean sea level in which to lay the revetment ends. Within the trench at both ends, and along the shoreline, a fabric liner was first applied topped by a layer of gravel. Slightly larger bedding stone was then applied and finally a layer of armor stone.

The armor stone, weighing approximately two tons apiece, came from a quarry near Raleigh, while the smaller bedding stone was mined near Castle Hayne.

Approximately 68,000 tons of rock form the seawall.  Along Battle Acre the revetment overlaid most of the preexisting rubble. To prevent the new stone from washing into the sea from the sloping shoreline, Misener Marine placed a line of concrete sta-pods at the toe of the protective stone. Nearly four hundred of the pods, weighing 5 tons each and shaped like a tri-pod, were interlocked in a parallel row to the shoreline.

Reventment - Ft FisherSticking slightly above the water, marine algae soon covered the sta-pods.  On December 15 , 1995, Misener Marine placed the last rock in the revetment—nearly three months ahead of schedule.

The revetment rises slightly above the natural ground elevation at about 12-15 feet above sea level. Behind the revetment, sand was placed to form a gentle slope from the crest of the revetment to the existing ground. Currently landscaping with trees and scrubs is occurring near the revetment.

3,200-foot seawall completedat Fort Fisher Museum and Earthworks.

3,200-foot seawall completed (April, 1996)
at Fort Fisher Museum and Earthworks.

A security fence, walkway with stairs leading down to the beach on either end, and two observation gazebos are being constructed. The landscaping and construction projects are expected to be completed by April.

The new revetment should halt the ocean-side erosion of Federal Point for the next fifty years.

Mr. Dennis summarized his work on the design and construction of the seawall project when he jokingly indicated, “It took a Yankee to finally save Fort Fisher.”

 

March 1996 Newsletter (pdf) – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society

Changes to the Federal Point Landscape – webpage – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society

US. Army. Corps of Engineers:
Revetment stability study,  Fort Fisher State Historic Site