Due to Governor Cooper’s order, we do ask that everyone who attends wear a mask.
The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, October 18, 2021, at 7:30 pm, at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.
This month author, Jeremy Moss, will speak to us on the amazing and true story of the Cape Fear’s most famous pirate. Using his book, The Life and Tryals of the Gentleman Pirate, Major Stede Bonnet as a backdrop, Moss re-creates the lives and history of some of history’s most famous pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard.
Awash with myth-busting history, Moss tells the story of the real pirates of the Caribbean, sharing accounts of their daily life, social issues, natural disasters, political intrigues, bloody battles, and, of course, buried treasure, walking the plank, flying the Jolly Roger, pirate-speak and much more, all while weaving in interesting connections to the history of North Carolina and tying in lessons-learned from the research, writing and publication process.
How the unlikeliest of pirates came to stand among the New World’s most notorious and successful pirates.
Major Stede Bonnet was living the good life by the age of 28. Bonnet was a wealthy, well-married father of three children, and the family lived on a 400-acre estate on the lush Caribbean island of Barbados
Then Bonnet had a “humor to go a-pirating,” and left it all behind…
An heir to an established land-owning aristocratic family in Barbados, Major Stede Bonnet enjoyed luxuries equal to those of the finest houses in London. “A Gentleman of good Reputation” and a “Master of a plentiful Fortune,” he was given “the Advantage of a liberal Education,” but the call of the sea-and perhaps more significantly, the push of his obligations as a father and husband cast Major Bonnet onto an unlikely and deliberate course toward piracy.
When John W. Plummer, Jr. became our first mayor on September 7, 1925, Carolina Beach was a fairly small community that grew exponentially in the summer. The Plummers were part of the summer enclave while living in town the rest of the year. We don’t know the number of full-time residents of Carolina Beach in 1925 because the unincorporated community was counted with the residents of Federal Point (Monkey Junction to Fort Fisher) in the 1920 census. It was counted in the 1930 census since it had become a municipality. That census listed 69 full-time residents.
Caroline Rowell King Plummer Post Mistress of Carolina Beach 1927
John Wilkinson Plummer, Jr. Mayor of Carolina Beach 1925-27 & 1927-29
In 1925 Mayor Plummer had several priorities in mind. He also served as the Commissioner of Public Safety, so the first item on his list was to hire a police officer for the resort. That was definitely needed in the summer months when the population swelled with cottage owners and visitors to the hotels, boardwalk and beach. The beach town was not without protection, as the New Hanover County Sheriffs Department did regular summer patrols.
Mayor Plummer also wanted to improve the limited lighting, increase the water supply and build more boardwalks. By April of 1926 Tidewater Power Company began working on a transmission line from Wilmington and building a transformer station at the beach. It would provide electricity year-round for the beach. They later extended the line to Wilmington Beach and the new Breakers Hotel there that had opened the summer before. At the same time another deep water well was dug to make the fourth one at Carolina Beach. It could produce 100,00 gallons of water every 24 hours.
By July there was a meeting of the government and citizens in the ballroom of the brand new Carolina Beach Hotel to approve a resolution for a bond issue.
The Carolina Beach Hotel overlooked the lake, about where the Carolina Beach Elementary School is located now.
[Carolina Beach School sits on the site of this hotel that burned on September 13, 1927] An advisory committee was appointed under Public Works Commissioner E. Fleet Williams and the bond passed soon after. It was to fund street improvements, the new power line, the deep well and more boardwalks. Under Mayor Plummer, the new town government was up and running.
On May 11, 1927 Mayor Plummer was re elected to a second term at a town meeting with over 100 citizens in attendance. He was joined by Commissioner of Finance J. Edwin Bunting and Commissioner of Public Works L.T. Landing. On July 7, 1927 a rural substation post office was established at Plummer’s Store with Mrs. Caroline Plummer named as the first postmistress of Carolina Beach. The mail was delivered to the post office from Wilmington each day and was then delivered to the residents by rural carriers. Mayor Plummer served until 1929 when he was replaced as mayor by Dr. Auley McRae Crouch.
Their son Robert C. Plummer followed in his father’s business and became the first president of the Carolina Beach Chamber of Commerce when it was formed in 1937. Robert Plummer was married to Margaret Johnson Plummer; they lived in Wilmington at 2802 Market Street and had a cottage at Carolina Beach where they spent summers.
Margaret Johnson Plummer 1910-2004
Robert Cronly Plummer 1908 – 1960
On a personal note, Mrs. Margaret Plummer was my much-loved 6th grade teacher at Bradley Creek Elementary School on Oleander Drive where the Arboretum is now. That building burned in 1982 and was rebuilt on Greenville Loop Road. Mrs. Plummer loved literature and read to us every day when we got back from lunch. After becoming a teacher, I was inspired by her and read to my classes every day after lunch for my 31-year teachingcareer.
Ann Plummer Corr and her husband Bill at the first Walk of Fame at the Carolina Beach Lake in 2015. They are standing at the stone to honor her grandfather, John W. Plummer, Jr. our first mayor.
The first recipients of the Carolina Beach Walk of Fame were honored with a ceremony and engraved stone at the Carolina Beach Lake on January 24, 2015.
John W. Plummer, Jr. was honored as our first mayor. His granddaughter Ann Plummer Corr was there with her husband Bill. Ann and Bill had retired to Wilmington in 2003 and lived at the family cottage on Carolina Beach Avenue North while their new home was being built in town. We happened to meet one day while they were out walking their dogs and discovered that she was my 6th grade teacher’s daughter. We became instant friends and Ann has become one of my history sources. She supplied the portraits of her grandparents and a lot of information along with her cousin Suzanne Ruggiers. And, Ann still has her grandfather Plummer’s ice cream recipe!
Mrs. Margaret Plummer died in 2004 and I attended her funeral. Ann and Bill moved to Atlanta in 2019 to be close to their daughters, sadly Bill died last year. Ann is excitedly about our upcoming Centennial and hopes to attend some of the celebration.
(North of the Publix — old Federal Point Shopping Center)
Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr.
Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr.
Mr. Lewis (1926-2010) was a Carolina Beach resident, U.S. Army veteran, long-time employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a member of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.
Keenly interested in his family’s history and that of the Lower Cape Fear, he donated 10 acres that included these Confederate earthworks of the so-called “Sugar Loaf lines,” to the Town of Carolina Beach for the public park in the late 1990s.
(Park is located North of the Publix — old Federal Point Shopping Center)
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.
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.
Entrance is North of the Publix — old Federal Point Shopping Center
A committee of historians and citizens dedicated to our local history, along with the staff of the Town of Carolina Beach have completed the preservation and development of the Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr., Civil War Park located around the remnants of the fortifications of the “Sugar Loaf Line of Defense.”
This project was made possible by the Town of Carolina Beach, The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and its volunteers, along with the following contributors: the Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr, Family; staff from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Fort Fisher and Underwater Archaeology Branch; Brunswick Civil War Round Table; Cape Fear Civil War Round Table; Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Foundation, Milford, Ohio; the Island Gazette; Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle Jr.; Daniel Ray Norris/Slapdash Publishing; and SEPI Engineering and Construction.
In December, 1918, in the midst of the pandemic, 1,000 public-health officials gathered in Chicago to discuss the disease which had by then killed an estimated 400,000 people over three months. They did not know the cause of the epidemic, they had no treatments, and they had little idea how to control its spread.
Face masks, which were then being worn by a large portion of the general public, offered no guarantee of protection (and that remains true of face masks today). Many health officials believed that the masks provided a false sense of security. Perhaps that was correct, but there was still a value in providing any kind of security.
Chicago’s health commissioner made this clear. “It is our duty,” he said, “to keep the people from fear. Worry kills more people than the epidemic. For my part, let them wear a rabbit’s foot on a gold watch chain if they want it, and if it will help them to get rid of the physiological action of fear.”
Just as cases rose after Armistice Day celebrations, they rose again after Thanksgiving. Dallas, Minneapolis, San Antonio, San Francisco and Seattle saw surges. Omaha relaunched a public health campaign. Parts of Cleveland and its suburbs closed schools and enacted influenza bans in early December.
In this 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross tend to influenza patients in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, (Edward A. “Doc” Rogers/Library of Congress via AP)
On Dec. 6, the St. Paul Daily News announced that more than 40 Minneapolis schools were closed because of the flu, below the headline “SANTA CLAUS IS DOWN WITH THE FLU.”
Health officials asked “moving picture show” managers to exclude children, closed Sunday schools and ordered department stores to dispense with “Santa Claus programs.”
On Christmas Eve, health officials in Nebraska made influenza a mandatory quarantine disease, and fines ranged from $15 to $100 for violations. Approximately 1,000 homes in Omaha were placarded, meaning their occupants were unable to leave for at least four days after the fever had subsided.
In Denver, the Salvation Army canceled its annual Christmas parties for children,
Influenza epidemic in United States. St. Louis, Missouri, Red Cross Motor Corps on duty, October 1918. (National Archives)
and the Women’s Press Club canceled its New Year’s Eve ball. School Christmas assemblies were canceled in Fall River, Massachusetts, and families with an influenza patient in their homes were warned not to entertain guests and barred from borrowing books from the library.
On page 7 of its Nov. 23 edition, the San Francisco Examiner reported “‘Flu’ Masks To Be Ousted Thanksgiving.”
Image Provided by Influenza Encyclopedia Graphic by Karl Gelles, USA TODAY.
By January, the USA was fully engulfed in its third wave of influenza.
The virus spread throughout the winter and spring, killing thousands more. It infected one-third of the world’s population and killed approximately 675,000 Americans before subsiding in the summer of 1919.
“What did they do wrong? That’s hard to say, but all of these measures are like Swiss cheese. They have holes, so you try to use as many layers as possible,” Markel said. “To me, those surges just represented whether there was social distancing or not. Flu didn’t stop circulating, the question was when did people go out and get exposed to it? And that’s what’s going on now.”
* No Internet; Facebook, Twitter, Zoom * No Cell Phones * No Streaming – or Television * News came from the daily newspaper or radio * No curbside pickup restaurants * No Grubhub, Door Dash, Uber Eats * Fresh Food refrigeration limited to “ice” box * No Air Conditioning
Structures that are more than fifty years old are eligible for a plaque. To apply for your property see the Guidelines and Application link at the end.
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Blair-Brady House 1001 Carolina Beach Ave. North, Carolina Beach
The house was probably built and occupied in 1935 by Walter H. Blair who was mayor of Wilmington for 5 terms 1926-1937. He was the first town clerk of Carolina Beach and also served Postmaster at Carolina Beach for a time.
The property was the home of a series of Blair family members until 1954 when it was sold to A.C. Green, Sr. and his wife Aileen. In July 1974 it was sold to Gladys and Edward Craft of Wrightsville Beach. In February 1973 Jocelyn and Harry Lockamy purchased the property.
The Lot was purchased (along with nine other lots) 1926 by John Henry Burnett. Ownership was from the right-of-way on Carolina Beach Avenue North to the high-water mark of the Atlantic Ocean.
The house was built in 1936. It was rebuilt in 1955 after Hurricane Hazel. Heating and air conditioning were added in 1966. The porch and roof were remodeled in 1987. There was an alteration of windows in 1997.
Carolina Beach Community Church(Now: New Hope Memorial Baptist Church) Was at: 200 S. Lake Park Blvd. (Now at corner of Cape Fear Blvd. and 4th St.)
Carolina Beach Community Church
Called by many the “Mother Church” of Carolina Beach, Carolina Beach Community Church began in the private vacation home of Mrs. S. C. Ogburn of Winston-Salem, NC around 1930. One of the few residents of Carolina Beach, Mrs. S. C. Ogburn, described as a good woman, began opening her house on Sundays for Sunday school. First, friends and relatives attended Sunday school, and eventually, others of various denominations came together creating a need to expand. This cause interested people to immediately join her in a cooperative effort to build a building for a Community Sunday school in that no one denomination was sufficiently strong enough to do this alone.
Although the exact date was not recorded, a lot was acquired on 4th and Cape Fear Boulevard and a shelter was erected. Early growth here in Sunday school work was gradual, but consistent. The structure was enlarged several times within the next few years as the Town’s growing population forced it. By 1937 there was a feeling that a larger, more comprehensive, and adequate church program for the community was needed.
Around 1940 a church was built with ministers from many denominations holding services. With such a great influx of people at the onset of World War II, a number of various denominations splintered off to form their own church to accommodate them.
The Carolina Beach Community Church was formally organized as a Baptist Church in 1942. The church has continued to operate through the years and changed the name to Hope Memorial Church on September 5, 1990.
Carolina Beach Drug Store 140 Harper Ave., Carolina Beach (SE corner of N. Lake Park and Harper)
“Carolina Beach Drug Store was the central focal point in the community for citizens as well as tourists, with a soda fountain and snack bar to accompany the pharmacy and a rooming house upstairs. Informal meetings over a cup of coffee or sandwich allowed citizens to catch up on the news or air their opinions.
The bus stopped there, you could pay your light bill, and even receive advice from the resident pharmacist.” “…The two-story stucco building, with a distinctive, castle like parapet around its roof, was much more than a drug store…for years it doubled as Carolina Beach’s bus station.
During World War II, a bus stopped daily to ferry local workers to the shipyard in Wilmington…Besides soft drinks, the drug store boasted a “complete and modern restaurant” with seafood and other entrees according to a 1948 Star-News advertisement. Star News Article 2/24/04
Carolina Beach Elementary School 400 S. 4th St., Carolina Beach
Carolina Beach Elementary School
The Carolina Beach School is a one story Spanish style, wood frame, brick veneer structure, originally constructed in 1938, containing four (4) classrooms and an auditorium, with additions in 1943, 1953, 1975, 1987, and 1989 to add more classrooms, a cafetorium, 1 office, media center, and covered canopy.
Carolina Beach Elementary School
The building has a hip roof with asphalt shingles, and has a large playground area to the rear of the building. Double-loaded corridor on the interior and the cafetorium has a stage.
The school is located in a neighborhood setting.
Colonel Burnett House
Colonel Burnett House 7413 Carolina Beach Rd., Wilmington
The land was bought in April 1893 from the Southerland family by Thomas Burnett. At his death in 1935, the land was divided among his heirs.
In 1939 Colonel Charles Henry Burnett built the current structure as a family home. It remained in the family until 1978.
Immaculate Conception Chapel
Immaculate Conception Chapel 806 St. Joseph St., Caroline Beach
The Immaculate Conception Chapel is owned by Michael and Kathie Winseck. The building, erected circa 1939, is significant for its social history as well as the structure.
Marion L. Winner of Carolina Beach donated the property to Bishop Eugene J. McGuinness in 1938 to build a chapel. The Winner family was the first Catholics to make their permanent residence in Carolina Beach.
The building still standing was a rectory and four room dwelling. Today the building was the Checkered Church gift shop until 2020.
Joy Lee Apartments 317 Carolina Beach Ave. N., Carolina Beach
Grover Lewis, a masonry construction worker, together with his family, moved to Carolina Beach from High Point, North Carolina in March, 1941. Mr. Lewis went to work for the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company and moved his family into the Marianette Cottage on Carolina Beach Avenue, North. When the lot next door was filled in by a storm in the fall of 1944, the Lewis’s decided to purchase it. Mr. Lewis immediately began designing the Joy Lee Apartment Building. Long shipyard hours made it necessary for Mr. Lewis to hire William Bordeaux to build the basic concrete block structure.
Joy Lee Apartments
After purchasing a hand operated cement block press, the Lewis family turned out two blocks at a time, approximately fifty per evening. Named the Joy Lee Apartments after Mr. Lewis’s daughter, the completed duplex was rented to vacationers. Each apartment consisted of a living room, a dining room, a kitchen with an ice box, 2 bedrooms, and a central hall. Considered luxury units at the time, they came equipped with private porches and private baths with hot and cold running water.
After the war, Mr. Lewis returned to masonry construction work. Mrs. Lewis ran a large rooming house as well as the Joy Lee Apartment Complex. Due to popularity of the Apartments, the Annex was constructed in 1948.
The Joy Lee Apartment building and Annex are a unique combination of several popular architectural styles, including Mission Style, Art Deco, Art Moderne, as well as Prairie Style. Over the years the family has modified the Apartment Building several times, including a major renovation in 1976 when spiral cement stairs to the upper sundeck, and an in-ground pool were added.
Kure Cottage 301 Atlantic Ave., Kure Beach
The Kure Cottage, located at 301 Atlantic Street, Kure Beach, is owned by Mr. Terrell Webster. The building circa 1916, is significant for the social history of its owners as well as the structure.
The cottage was built by Lawrence C. Kure and was one of the first cottages to be built in the Kure Beach area. Mr. Kure also built the first fishing pier in Kure Beach. Lawrence Kure was the founder of Kure Beach.
Loughlin House 1 North Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach (Now Havana’s – NW corner of N. Lake Park and Harper.)
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 tobuild one in Carolina Beach – the Greystone Inn.
A. W. Pate and his wife, Eleanor, owned the property from June 1916 until November 6, 1925.
Lewis-Lyerly House 208 S. 4th St., Carolina Beach
Cinderblock with stucco, single family dwelling built in 1945.
Similar to other structures built in this period, though very few remain.
McCabe – Lancaster Cottage 815 Carolina Beach Ave. N.
On June 20, 1935, Vista and Harry Lee McCabe purchased lots 8 and 18 in block 14 of Federal Point Township. According to tax records, they built a home on lot 8 in 1940. The next year they sold the property to William and Estelle Upchurch.
Over the next 14 years, the property changed hands seven times. Luke and Jessie Lancaster bought it on April 2, 1955, and kept the property until their deaths in 1991 and 1992. In January of 2003, the Lancaster heirs sold the property to Charles and Elaine Henson.
The Ocean Plaza
The Ocean Plaza Was at 200 Carolina Beach Avenue N., Carolina Beach. (Now Hampton Inn & Suites Oceanfront)
The Ocean Plaza building, erected circa 1946, is significant for its Art Moderne style and dominant location in the center of the Carolina Beach Business District. Two stories covered approximately 5,000 square feet with a third story covering approximately 1,000 square feet. One front corner was rounded. It was constructed with stucco over a double course of cement block.
Located at the north end of the Carolina Beach boardwalk, it served as an entertainment center for people living in the area, as well as tourists who came to the beach in the 1940’s. Big bands played in the building when that form of entertainment was popular. Celebrities such as Bill Grassick, Bo Diddly, Chubby Checker and others played there. Known to the community as the birth place of the Shag dance and Beach Music.
Pfaff-Cohen Cottage 212 Atlanta Ave., Carolina Beach
In the 1920s, when Claude Pfaff was working for the Realty Bond Real Estate Company, the firm often sent its salesmen on vacation to Carolina Beach so that they would come back and tell their customers how wonderful the beach was – and, hopefully, sell more lots at Carolina Beach.
In the early 1930s, Claude built a cottage near Carolina Beach Lake as a birthday present for Atha, who named it “The Lullaby” for the choruses of frogs that sang around it at night.
Often during WWII, the Pfaff family ended up sharing the small cottage with a family of strangers. Because of the shortage of housing in the Wilmington area, property owners were required to rent out their houses in order to provide the families of the enlisted men due to ship out soon a week at the beach before they were separated. Only office space was exempt, so Atha designated one room an office.
Price Cottage 405 N. Carolina Beach Ave.
The cottage was built in 1939 by a local contractor of Wilmington, Mr. Hines (he also built a dining room table that remains in the cottage today.) It was built for Grover Cleveland Price and his wife Tessie Sutton Price for recreational purposes for fishing and family gatherings. Materials were shipped in by rail; the structure is totally wooden.
When the cottage was built, all the area was marshland. During the Civil War, there was a confederate gun battery, the Half Moon Battery, across the canal. During the dredging of the canal, lots of cannon balls were unearthed.
During World War II, the cottage was rented for a couple of years by Hazel King who fed and housed workers from the shipyard in Wilmington. There were 23,000 shipyard workers, so they had to stay where they could. The apartment slept three shifts of ship builders at eight hour intervals. Therefore there was always someone sleeping there sharing the cost. The children of the house spent their time looking for German spies on the beach. There was a blackout with black shades on the windows because of German U-boats offshore.
After the war and the death of her husband Tessie ran the Arlington Inn (named after the name of the street she lived on in Rocky Mount, NC as a rooming house for income to raise her family.
The cottage has weathered all hurricanes including Hazel, which after Hazel the asbestos shingles were overlaid on top of the wood. Hurricane Diana did some damage that required repairs as well as Fran, but structurally it survived with roof repairs, porch and awning repairs. Hurricane Fran came over the berm and up three feet inside the apartment.
Sly-Walton House 500 Cape Fear Blvd. Carolina Beach
Monty A. Sly built this house for his family in 1938. Monty, his wife and his two daughters lived in the downstairs area of the house and he rented out the upstairs rooms during World War II to young wives whose husbands were in the service overseas. Said to be the first brick house on Carolina Beach, the Dutch colonial style has a gambrel roof with flaring eaves.
At the death of Mr. Sly’s wife, Edith, he sold the house to his daughter Lois Walton. Mr. Sly lived in the upstairs until his death in 1957. It remained the home of Lois Walton until her death in 2013.
For those of you who are new in town, and those who enjoy a trip down memory lane now and then, here are some local sights that are lost, but not forgotten.
The Shoo-Fly Train
In 1887, when Captain Harper began bringing beach goers to the new resort of Carolina Beach, the road to Federal Point was a sandy wagon track. Instead, people took the steamer, Passport, and later the Wilmington, down the Cape Fear River from Wilmington.
But, it was a long, hot, buggy walk from the dock on the river to the beach, so he bought a small, three car train and constructed tracks across the peninsula from Sugar Loaf (and, later, Doctor’s Point) to the first ocean side building.
January 14, 1887: The Carolina Beach Company, recently formed, had begun work on a railroad which was to run from near Sugar Loaf, about 13 miles below Wilmington on the Cape Fear River, across the peninsula to the Atlantic coast, near the head of Myrtle Grove Sound, and just below old Camp Wyatt. The iron rails have already been purchased and the rolling stock provided. The railroad work was to be completed in about two months, and the line was not to be more than two miles in length. At the terminus of the railroad on the ocean side there will be a “playground” for the excursionists where they can go and enjoy themselves. WILM.STAR 1-14-1887
May 1, 1887: Capt. Beach was to have charge of the hotel which was to be erected at the new summer resort being developed south of Wilmington. The building was to be put up as soon as the railroad from the river to the beach was completed and made available for the transportation of building materials received from Wilmington. WILM.STAR 5-1-1887
May 4, 1887: A locomotive for the railroad extending from the Cape Fear River to old Camp Wyatt and then to the ocean beach was sent down from Wilmington. WILM.STAR 5-5-l887
May 5, 1887: Three railroad cars, intended for use on the railway from the river to the beach at Carolina Beach, were taken from the shops of the builders, Messrs. Burr & Bailey, to the wharf at the foot of Dock Street, for shipment. WILM.STAR 5-6-1887
Did you know?
You can still see where the old tracks ran in places in the Carolina Beach State Park.
You can also see them very plainly, right down the middle of Harper Avenue, which is why it curves as it approaches Dow Rd., instead of running exactly perpendicular from the ocean to the river.
Fort Fisher Radar Base
Fort Fisher Air Force Station was opened in 1955, on part of the Fort Fisher AFS installation as USAF Permanent System Radar Station “M-115” during a $1 billion increase for US continental defense after the Air Force approved the Mobile Radar program in mid-1954. It was assigned to Air Defense Command as part of a planned deployment of forty-four Mobile Radar Stations. Fort Fisher AFS was designed as site M-115 and the 701st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was assigned on August 1, 1955.
Initially, the Air Force Station functioned as a Ground control intercept and warning station to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the squadron’s radar scopes.
During 1962, Fort Fisher AFS joined the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, initially feeding data to Fort Lee AFS, Virginia. After joining, the squadron was re-designated as the 701st Radar Squadron on July 1, 1962. The radar squadron provided information 24/7 to the SAGE Direction Center where it was analyzed to determine range, direction, altitude, speed, and whether or not aircraft were friendly or hostile.
The 701st Radar Squadron (SAGE) was inactivated and replaced by the 701st Air Defense Group in March 1970. Just before inactivation, the squadron earned an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service for the period from December 1, 1968, through February 28, 1970. The upgrade to group status was done because of Fort Fisher AFS’s status as a Backup Interceptor Control (BUIC) site. BUIC sites were alternate control sites in the event that the SAGE Direction Centers became disabled and unable to control interceptor aircraft. The group was inactivated and replaced by 701st Radar Squadron (SAGE) in January 1974, as a reduction to defenses against manned bombers. The group and squadron shared a second Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period January 1, 1973, through December 31, 1974.
Fort Fisher AFS came under Tactical Air Command jurisdiction in 1979, with the inactivation of Aerospace Defense Command.
The base closed on June 30, 1988, and the USAF retained the housing complex and converted it into the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area. Supervision of the Recreation Area was transferred to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base when Myrtle Beach AFB closed in 1993.
Ground Equipment Facility J-02 continued use of the USAF radar in the Joint Surveillance System and “in 1995, an AN/FPS-91A performed search duties.” A portion of the base was returned to the State of North Carolina, which turned much of it into the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and historic site.
The Fort Fisher site is used by the National Guard as a training area and also hosts the Annual Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival.
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.
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