From the President – November, 2017

By Elaine Henson

This month we will take one last look at the empty lots at the boardwalk that are home to the rides each summer.

The empty corner lot at Cape Fear Boulevard and Canal Drive used to be the site of the Bame Gulf Station.

The station was managed by Ernest “Tite” Bame whose parents, J.R. and Amanda Bame, owned the Bame Hotel diagonally across the street. World War II took Ernest away in the early 1940’s to serve in the Army Air Corps so he asked his brother-in-law, Jim Knox, to manage the station while he was gone.  Jim and Ernest’s sister, Ruby Bame Knox, had recently moved to Carolina Beach to live year round.

At the end of the war Jim Knox and Ernest Bame became partners and also opened an appliance store next to the station.  It was housed in the bottom floor of a two story white building next to the Gulf station as seen in the photo above.  Cooks and other employees of the Bame Hotel lived upstairs during the summer season.

Ernest’s wife, Rachel Bame, talked about the businesses and Hurricane Hazel (October 15, 1954) in an oral history for FPHPS:

Hurricane Hazel. It really took my husband’s business – the Gulf station and the appliances.
During Hurricane Hazel, he stayed down at the business. I was living at the corner of Hamlet Avenue at the time. I wondered why he didn’t come home…. During the height of the hurricane the ocean and the canal were almost ready to meet. And it did eventually.
And he was trying to save the appliances. He had just put in a car load of GE appliances. And they stayed down there and tried to save those appliances until it just got hopeless. The building was almost demolished. That’s another reason they had to get rid of the hotel later – so much water came in. All that area just flooded something awful.”

After Hazel Jim and Ernest decided to move their business to the 1000 block of North Lake Park Boulevard. They also decided to go into the building supply/hardware and furniture trade erecting a building large enough for both in 1955.  Ernest and Rachel’s son, Phil Bame, still runs Bame Ace Hardware in that block today.

 

Masonboro Island

Masonboro Island is the largest undisturbed barrier island along the southern part of the North Carolina coast and is located approximately five miles southeast of Wilmington, in the most populous part of the North Carolina coast. The Masonboro site is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway to the west, Masonboro Inlet to the north, and Carolina Beach Inlet to the south.

The Masonboro Island component is the largest site, at 5,653 acres, within the NCNERR system and was designated in 1991. Eighty-seven percent of the 8.4 mile long island is covered with marsh and tidal flats. The remaining portions are composed of beach uplands and dredge material islands. Masonboro Island is an essentially pristine barrier island and estuarine system.

The various salinity patterns found in the extensive subtidal and intertidal areas along the sound side of the island support a myriad of estuarine species.

The habitats found within this site include subtidal soft bottoms, tidal flats, hard surfaces, salt marshes, shrub thicket, maritime forest, dredge spoil areas, grasslands, ocean beach, and sand dunes. Loggerhead and green sea turtles nest on the beaches, where seabeach amaranth plants grow on the foredunes.

All of these species are listed as threatened by the Federal Government. Species of concern are the black skimmers, Wilson’s plovers, and least terns that nest on the island. Sound sediments are home to two state watch list species – Hartmans Echiurid and a polycheate worm in the genus Notomastus.

The nutrient rich waters of Masonboro Sound are an important nursery area for spot, mullet, summer flounder, pompano, menhaden, and bluefish.

Island Reserve has more than 5,500 acres of natural barrier island habitat, estuary habitat and dredge spoil islands. Creation of the Reserve Masonboro Island was privately owned throughout most of the 20th century.

Increased development pressure prompted early conservation efforts by local citizens with the creation of the Society of Masonboro Island and involvement of the N.C. Coastal Land Trust during the 1980s.

Designation as the fourth component of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve occurred in 1991. Purpose of the Reserve This natural area is one of 10 sites that make up the North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Preservation of the Masonboro Island Reserve allows this coastal ecosystem to be available as a natural outdoor laboratory where scientists, students and the general public can learn about coastal processes, functions and influences that shape and sustain the coastal area.

Traditional recreational uses are allowed as long as they do not disturb the environment or organisms or interfere with research and educational activities.

The Masonboro Island Reserve is managed through a federal-state partnership between NOAA and the N.C. Division of Coastal Management to protect the island’s ecosystems for research and education. The support of ongoing stewardship of the site by a community of partner organizations is gratefully acknowledged. This site is also a dedicated state nature preserve.

The North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve is part of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, a division of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

 

Howard Hewett’s Legacy

from James Hewett:
“My cousin Howard Hewett passed away Monday Oct 6th in Vermont. His funeral will be Saturday in Texas.”

Howard Hewett

Between 2014 and 2015 from his home in Jones Creek, TX, Howard actively wrote many articles for the Federal Point History Center recalling his childhood years living just outside the gates to Fort Fisher.

Howard was a great writer with the amazing ability to recall details from his younger years on Federal Point.

Howard last visited Carolina and Kure Beach in November, 2015 and was the guest speaker at the Federal Point History Center.

Share some of Howard’s memories of Federal Point here.

From the President – October, 2017

By Elaine Henson

This month we are continuing to look at some of the empty lots on the boardwalk where the summer rides are located.

The lot between the Gazebo and the Marriott Hotel was the site of three Bame Hotel buildings built by James Rowan Bame and his wife, Mandy, from Barber, North Carolina.

The first Bame opened on the site in June, 1930.  It was three stories with a white wooden exterior and contained “33 rooms with running water, tubs and showers” according to a 1930s brochure.  Bame’s Hotel faced Cape Fear Boulevard near the wooden boardwalk and included a café with “Miss Mandy” in charge of the cooking. The rates were $1.50 to $2.50 per day or $10.00 to $15.00 a week based on the European Plan which did not include meals.

By 1935, “Mr. Jim” decided to enlarge and remodel his hotel with a brick exterior and including a large paneled dining room and a grill which faced the boardwalk.  The 60 rooms had a single bed or double bed with or without a private bath.

But it was not to last.  On the night of September 19, 1940, a fire began in the old pavilion and swept away two blocks of the boardwalk including the Bame Hotel reducing it to rubble.  Mr. Jim and the other business owners vowed to rebuild in time for the summer of 1941 and they did.  The fact that they were able to restore two entire blocks from ashes in just a few months earned Carolina Beach the nickname “The South’s Miracle Beach”.

The new brick three story Hotel Bame had 80 rooms, 65 with a private bath.  The floors on the first level were tile with hardwoods on the second and third floors. Red leather chairs graced the spacious lobby.

The new Bame also had an elevator, sizable dining room facing Cape Fear Boulevard, another grill on the boardwalk and optional air conditioning window units in the rooms.  It later included a pool room and a barber shop.

J.R. Bame died in 1959 with his son, George, continuing to manage the hotel until his death in 1968.  The family leased it for a few years before selling it to investors from Myrtle Beach in the early 1970s, who tore it down and built a water slide in its place.

 

Tanya Binford: Crossing the Wake

By Nancy Gadzuk

Tanya Binford, author of Crossing the Wake: One woman’s Great Loop Adventure spoke at the August 21, 2017 meeting of the History Center. She talked about her experiences traveling the 5,000 mile Great Loop Cruise Route around the eastern United States in a 25-foot Ranger tug motor boat. Alone.

Usually I take copious notes during our History Center meetings, but Tanya’s presentation was so spellbinding all I could do was listen with my mouth open in awe. Fortunately, Tanya also wrote a fascinating memoir to provide backup for the notes I didn’t take, and I recommend reading Crossing the Wake for an in-depth look at her trip.

Tanya dreamed of learning to sail, even though she spent most of her life in Arizona. She didn’t want to wait until she was able to retire to pursue her dream.

“Sometimes we have to make the adventure,” she said. At the age of 45, she decided to take a year off when she turned 50 to pursue the dream. Fortunately, she had a job she could do from anywhere that had a good Internet connection. She drew a line on a map from her home in Arizona due east and it led to Southport, North Carolina.

Once in Southport, she made every mistake a beginning boater could make, bought several boats that weren’t right for her, realized sailing was too difficult to do solo, and finally ended up with a 25 foot ranger tug motor boat.

She decided to travel America’s Great Loop Cruise Route, through the Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Approximately 100 boats make the loop each year, but most of them are much, much larger than hers, and very few people make the trip solo.

One of the frightening parts of her presentation was her description of going through close to 100 locks on the canal system along the route, where she was surrounded by much larger commercial vessels in a tight-fitting trough of moving water. She frequently needed to be in two places at the same time, holding a line on one side of the boat while doing something on the other.

Any long boat trip requires time, money, and energy for boat repairs. At one point, Tanya limped into a marina for a needed engine repair. (An impeller, whatever that is.) Tanya was working with Bob, the marina owner, on the repair and she was trying to get a bolt attached somewhere on the engine.

Bob asked what was taking her so long, and she yelled from under the engine, “I’m screwing as hard as I can! Can’t you feel it?”

There was silence until Bob said, “I’ve never had a woman say that to me before,” and they both burst out laughing.

A sense of humor is also useful for any adventure.

 

Gil Burnett – Memories of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Click image – to view images & videos

Want to take a walk along the new and improved Carolina Beach Boardwalk?

And learn something about its history from master storyteller and long-time resident Gil Burnett while you’re there?

Click the image or follow this link to a series of pictures from a recent History Center walk with the retired Chief Justice Court Judge. Click or tap on any image in the photo series to view images in full screen mode.

Video clips capture Gil’s experience as a 12-year-old setting up a successful sno-ball operation on the Boardwalk and provide some background on the evolution of shagging in Carolina Beach.

See you on the Boardwalk!

 

Newton Homesite and Cemetery

Report By: Linda and Bob Newton

Newton Graveyard & Homesite SignThe Newton Homesite and Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 1997, thereby providing it with the protection of both Federal and State laws.

 Dow Rd., Carolina Beach, NC

Dow Rd., Carolina Beach, NC

This four-acre site which is owned by the Federal government and maintained by the Department of the Army (MOTSU) is located between the Cape Fear River and Dow Road in an area adjacent and south of the Federal Point Methodist Cemetery. It consists of both an eighteenth to early nineteenth century homeplace and a cemetery containing grave markers with the surnames of Newton, Craig, Dosher, and Grissom, all well known early settlers of the area who become river and blockade runner pilots.

FP Methodist Cemetery Entrance RoadOral reports maintain that up to 40 markers may have existed there at one time and one deed references a “colored people’s graveyard” adjacent to it. Newspaper articles have suggested that the “Meeting House” and cemetery left by Edward Newton, Jr. in his will dated 1844 could be the site of the oldest Methodist Church in the State of North Carolina.

This site is significant as an example of early regional settlement which can also be associated with the region’s early maritime industries as it represents one of the earliest Euro-Amenican domestic settlements discovered on the east side of the lower Cape Fear River.

Newton Cemetery - National Register of Historic Places Sign - 1997

Newton Cemetery – National Register of Historic Places – 1997
(click)

It is one of only a handful of domestic sites which have been identified from the early settlement period of the Cape Fear peninsula, and it is one of only two sites identified as a small plantation associated with the eighteenth through early nineteenth century in this region, and it is one of only four possible maritime-related sites identified in Federal Point. Data from this site would serve as excellent comparative material in conjunction with other sites in the area such as Brunswick Town and the lighthouse keeper’s site on Battlefield Acre.

Members of the newly formed Cemetery Committee have attended three meetings with representatives from MOTSU, St. Paul’s Methodist Church and the Newton family to discuss the use, protection, restrictions and restoration of the site. In response to a letter written by David Brooks, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, to Colonel Toal, dated July 24, 1997, a meeting, was held July 31, 1997, and directions were given for short-term protection of the site against continuing ground disturbing activities which could damage or destroy archeological elements within the site.

The Society was asked to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) outlining restrictions for the care and use of the site. On September 30, 1997, after review by Society member, Attorney Gleason Allen, a proposed MOA concerning the preservation, maintenance and restoration of the site was signed by President Cheri McNeill and forwarded to MOTSU.

Newton Cemetery Historic Site

Newton Cemetery Historic Site
(click)

In a letter, dated October 6, 1997, from MOTSU, receipt of the MOA was confirmed and states that review by the State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Washington is in progress and should be complete in several months. Until the MOA is signed, preservation activities may be pursued on an individual basis with the permission of MOTSU.

The Society now maintains a Cemetery Fund to be used in the care and maintenance of the cemetery and any donated amount would be greatly appreciated. The Committee is working on gathering funds for constructing a picket fence and posting signage. Individuals wishing to donate to the Cemetery Fund to help with these projects, contact Darlene Bright.

[Text originally published in the November, 1997 – FPHPS Newsletter with images added in 2015]

 

[Additional current Newton Cemetery resources]

Memorial: Linda and Bob Newton

Oral History – Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church (adjacent to Newton Cemetery)

View images of the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – and the adjacent Newton Cemetery – taken on November 12, 2014

Complete listing of the tombstones in the Newton Homesite & Cemetery (2007)

 

 

The Ocean Plaza

Ocean Plaza - SlapdashBy Leslie Bright & Daniel Norris

Eugene and Marie Reynolds known as Mom and Pop, knew better days were coming as World War II ended in 1945 and soldiers were coming home. Big bands were the rave of the day and the new money could be made on the north end of the Boardwalk of Carolina Beach with the building of a large enough facility to house big bands and large crowds.

The Reynolds had purchased four and a half lots and a bowling alley on the northeast corner of Harper Avenue and Carolina Beach Avenue North in August 1942, from L. M. Massey. [2015: current construction site of The Hampton Inn and Suites]. They decided to remove the bowling alley and make this the footprint for their new Ocean Plaza building.

The building would contain a bathhouse and café on the first floor; a large cabaret or ballroom with bandstand area on the second floor; and a small apartment on the third floor. Work began to build the Ocean Plaza after the beach season of 1945 and continued through the winter and spring of 1946 under the direction of Mr. Shirley, a local contractor.

Once completed, the Ocean Plaza was a sight to behold. It became the new “Crown Jewel” of the Carolina Beach boardwalk. It was opened for business on May 31, 1946, which was Memorial Day weekend.

Bill Grassick and his orchestra, featuring the lovely singer, Betty McHugh, performed to an audience who paid $2.00 per person to attend. Even though the big band era was waning, the Ocean Plaza remained the center of activity as new trends changed musical entertainment.

The Reynolds sold the Ocean Plaza around 1950 and it changed hands several times before May 1961 when E. F. Courie Sr. and his wife, Rosabelle, purchased the property.

Through the years, many notable entertainers performed to large crowds at the Ocean Plaza. Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checkers, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, and The Embers, to mention a few, attracted audiences from all over.

The Jitterbug, bob, shag, rock & roll, twist and every variety of dance imagined occurred at the Ocean Plaza through the years.

With growth and development of better lodging facilities, the need for a bathhouse on the boardwalk diminished. The bathhouse at the Ocean Plaza was converted into a night club.

During the 80’s and 90’s the entire boardwalk fell into decline causing neglect to many of its structures.

In spite of the decline, the Ocean Plaza remained open struggling at times to do so. The Courie family, including sons, Eli Jr. and Louis, continued ownership until April 1993, when the Ocean Plaza was sold to Leslie and Darlene Bright and son, Sam Bright.

The second floor ballroom was renovated again and opened after several years of inactivity as the private club, Wranglers Dance Hall and Saloon, and later as the Shag Club.

The Brights sold Ocean Plaza to Robert Russo on January 31, 2000 and his Club Tropics was installed on the second floor. Mr. Russo operated Ocean Plaza until April 5, 2006, when he sold to Russ Maynard.

Leslie Bright – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society
From:  Carolina Beach, NC – Images & Icons of a Bygone Era

Source:  SlapDash Publishing, LLC, 2006

Construction begins on boardwalk hotel at Carolina Beach – 2015/02/03

 


OCEAN PLAZA T-SHIRTS –   Only available at the Federal Point History Center!

http://federal-point-history.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Gift-Shop-4.jpgThe OP’s gone but not forgotten. But we still have our CLASSIC Ocean Plaza T-shirts and Sweatshirts.

We’ve ordered a variety of sizes and they come in sky blue and daisy yellow.

They make great gifts or mementos and are sure to start a conversation with every ol’timer you meet.