From the President: December, 2015

From: Elaine Henson

Last month one of our FPHPS Facebook readers, John McMains, asked about the origin of calling our area “Pleasure Island.” We found a reference to the name in the Bill Reaves Files that led us to the July, 1983 issue of Scene Magazine and an article called Carolina Beach: Past and Present.

 “The name Pleasure Island was adopted in 1972 by the founders of the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce and it includes both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, Hanby Beach, Federal Point, Fort Fisher and Wilmington Beach…..”

(Photo courtesy of the Hugh Morton Collection, Wilson Library, UNC)

(Photo courtesy of the Hugh Morton Collection, Wilson Library, UNC)

 

Please note that a Chamber of Commerce at Carolina Beach had been in operation for quite a while before 1972. It was headquartered behind the Municipal Building that faced Canal Drive and across from the Yacht Basin in a small white concrete block building. It can be seen in this Hugh Morton photo from October, 1954 during Hurricane Hazel.

The Whale of a Beach float was Carolina Beach’s entry in the Azalea Festival parade in April of 1955. The float had been parked at the Chamber building and had survived Hazel.

In the 1955 Azalea Festival parade, local girls in bathing suits rode atop the float. To confirm that the beach had recovered from the devastating category 4 hurricane, they added the wording “More Alive in 55”.

 

History of the Federal Point Lighthouses

By Sandy Jackson

[Originally published in the March, 1995 FPHPS Newsletter]

In 1814 the US. Congress authorized the construction of a beacon at Federal Point. Two years later, on September 15, Robert Cochran, collector of customs at Wilmington and superintendent of the lighthouse on Bald Head, reached an agreement with Benjamin Jacobs of the town of Wilmington, for the construction of the new beacon. Jacobs agreed that he would build a beacon on Federal Point above New Inlet before the end of the year. The beacon, defined simply as a small lighthouse, stood on a stone or brick foundation laid approximately three feet under the ground.

Federal Point Light

Federal Point Light

The conical brick beacon rose forty feet in height to the base of the lantern. At its base it measured six feet across with walls three feet thick. Wooden shingles covered the top of the three-floored beacon. Ladders connected each of the floors.

Little is known of the type lantern used except that it was a fixed 1 light. A door entered the beacon, while only a single window was placed near the top of the structure.

The entire exterior of the brick beacon was plastered and painted white. By the spring of 1817 Robert Cochran certified that Benjamin Jacobs had successfully completed the task of building the lighthouse and it was ready for service. For his task Jacobs received the sum of thirteen hundred dollars.

The beacon warned mariners of the hazards at New Inlet until the night of April 13, 1836, when flames engulfed and totally destroyed it.

In 1837, Henry Stowell of Hingham, Massachusetts reconstructed the Federal Point lighthouse. It operated until Confederate forces put it out of use in 1861.

This new tower was constructed of hard brick in a rounded form 30 feet above the surface of the ground. The diameter of the base measured 18 feet, while the top was 9 feet. An arched deck of soap stone 11 feet in diameter, four inches thick, and the joints filled with lead, topped the brick I tower. Entrance to the lantern was made through a scuttle sealed by an iron and copper scuttle door.

The wrought iron lantern was built in an octagonal form and contained eleven patent lamps and reflectors. The brick tower contained a door six feet by three feet, and three windows. The tower and woodwork were painted white, except for the dome that was painted black. Adjacent to the lighthouse a one-story dwelling house 34 feet by 20 feet was built of hard brick and contained a chimney at either end. The following year a cistern was added to the complex.

The Third Federal Poin Lighthouse

The Third Federal Point Lighthouse

A third lighthouse was put into service after the war and used until the closing of New Inlet in 1880.

On August 23, 1881, although no longer in use, fire destroyed this lighthouse. At that time a Mr. Taylor, the former keeper, and his family still occupied the lighthouse located less than a mile from Fort Fisher.

 

Bibliography

Stick, David. “North Carolina Lighthouses“. Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1980.

US. Lighthouse Service Records, United States Coast Guard, Washington DC.

Wilmington (North Carolina) Advertiser, April 22, 1836

Wilmington (North Carolina) Star, August 24, 1881.


 [Additional resources]

Lighthouses of the Lower Cape Fear River

Federal Point Lighthouse Foundation Uncovered! (2009)

March, 1995 Newsletter (pdf) – FPHPS 

 

Wreck of the Blockade Runner, Emma, near Ocean View Beach

[Editor’s note:   Originally known as Ocean View Beach, the town was incorporated in 1899 as Wrightsville Beach.

The following articles appeared in the ‘Wilmington Messenger’ in 1893.

It is interesting to note the attitude of the period and the quest by reporters for a sensational story. The shipwreck in question was probably the ‘Emily’ of London and not the ‘Emma’. These amusing article segments are from the files of Bill Reaves via the Underwater Archaeology Unit at Fort Fisher].

The Wilmington Messenger, 8-3-1893
1893 BeachTO BLOW UP THE OCEAN – Capt. John H. Daniel, general manager of the Wilmington Seacoast Railroad, never is to be left out.  He is bound to have some attraction for the people, and on Saturday afternoon at 6 o’clock he will afford them a spectacle worth beholding.

The spectacle will be the blowing up of the wreck of the old blockade runner, Emma, which lies in the ocean 900 feet in front of the beach at Atlantic station, on Ocean View Beach. The wreck of the Emma will be blown up with dynamite torpedoes, and it will take place in view of everybody. The blow up will be under the supervision of Capt. L. Sorcho, the water wonder, and it will be done by electricity communicated from the shore by a wire that is to be run out to the wreck.

A battery will be attached to the shore end of the wire and the button is to be touched by Mrs. Sorcho. We are told that at the instant the button is touched there will be a mighty noise and a column of water two inches in diameter will be thrown up from the sea to a height of 200 feet in the air.

The Wilmington Messenger, 8-3-1893
Capt. L. Sorcho, the renowned swimmer, has received a new rubber lifesaving suit which he ordered several days ago. He tried it yesterday and found it all right.

The Wilmington Messenger, 8-5-1893
THE BLOW UP THIS EVENING – This evening at 6 o’clock is the time set for Capt. L. Sorcho, the water wonder, to stick dynamite torpedoes to and blow up the wreck of the old blockade runner Emma, on Ocean View Beach.

The wreck lies 900 feet out to sea, and it will be blown up by means of an electric battery on shore, with wires running out to the wreck. The button is to be pressed by Mrs. Sorcho and at that instant the old ocean will be made to tremble under the terrific explosion that will take place.

Capt. Sorcho estimates that when the explosion occurs it will throw up a column of water three feet in diameter to a height of 200 feet into the air. It will be interesting to watch what the explosion will have on the fish in the vicinity of the wreck.

The Wilmington Messenger, 8-5-1893
Capt. L. Sorcho, the human boat, stirred up the town last night. Without any warning, he donned his a new rubber lifesaving suit, and taking to the river at Hilton he floated past the city and gave thundering salutes by firing dynamite torpedoes as he went. The foundations of the city were shaken, and the people wondered.

Capt. Sorcho was hauled ashore at the S. W. Skinner Company’s ship yard. The Captain will no doubt draw a large crowd when he blows up the wreck of the blockade runner at Ocean View this evening at 6 o’clock.

The Wilmington Messenger, 8-7-1893
Owing to the breaking of the wires by the high tide at Ocean View yesterday, Capt. Sorcho failed to blow up the wreck of the old blockade runner Emma. He is determined to blow her up, however, and will fix another day for the event.

The Wilmington Messenger, 8-8-1893 (editorial letter)
I see in Sunday’s MESSENGER that Capt. Sorcho failed to blow up the wreck of the blockade runner, Emma, on Saturday but will fix another day for the event. Will you kindly explain for what reason and by what authority Capt. Sorcho will thus destroy a nice fishing ground that often is a good day’s sport to many of our citizens?

 

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]