From the President — April, 2016

By Elaine HensonPalais Royal Hotel

The Palais Royal Hotel opened at the start of 1937’s summer season. The three story hotel was located on the northern end of the boardwalk near Harper Avenue. It was across from the pavilion, rebuilt in 1911 to replace the original one built in 1887.

The hotel’s owner/operators were Peter Compos as manager, Henry Omirly, night manager and John Kalagis, kitchen manager.

There was a spacious dining room with a large hardwood dance floor, a grille room with booth and counter service and a smaller private dining room all on the lobby ground floor.  It had twenty-three rooms with modern plumbing and shower baths outside for the hotel guests.  The Palais Royal specialized in dinner parties, bridge luncheons and business conferences.

It was very popular and enjoyed four summer seasons until it burned to the ground in the devastating boardwalk fire of September 19, 1940. The fire began in the pavilion and was discovered by police officer, Melvin D. Mosely, who was the stepfather of longtime beach resident Fran Doetsch.

The fire destroyed over two blocks of businesses including not only the Palais Royal Hotel but the newly remodeled and bricked Bame Hotel on Cape Fear Boulevard as well.  Since the winds blew the fire in a southward direction, the Hotel Royal Palm on Harper Avenue survived with sons of owner W. G. Fountain on the roof spraying the building with water hoses just to be sure.

Palais Royal Hotel #2After the fire a miraculous rebuilding of brick and concrete structures took place over the winter months.  By June, 1941 the boardwalk reopened with the town being billed as the “South’s Miracle Beach.”

The new Palais Royal held its formal grand opening early on April 25th with Ray Wise and his Dance Orchestra providing the music.

The new hotel had two floors and was owned and operated again by John Kalagis and Henry Omirly with Chris Economides replacing Peter Compos.  The hotel had rooms on the second floor, but the emphasis was focused on the restaurant, dinner and dancing as you can see by their sign.

Does anyone know when this building was torn down?  The former location is now a vacant lot up from the Fudgeboat/ Wheelfun Rental building and the building next to that.