From the President – January, 2017

By Elaine Henson

The grand, new, three story Carolina Beach Hotel opened for the 1926 beach season near the Carolina Beach Lake where Carolina Beach School is today.  But by September of 1927 it was gone. It had lasted for only two summer seasons.

It all began when the Carolina Beach Corporation announced plans for a hotel in mid-1925, you can see the planned site in this April, 1925 map of the beach.

The CB Corporation’s president was S.C. Ogbourne of Winston Salem, NC.  He and Mrs. Ogbourne purchased the Loughlin home on the corner of Lake Park Blvd. and Cape Fear Blvd. as their summer residence.  The house later became The Cottage Restaurant and is presently Havana’s.

Mr. Ogbourne awarded a contract to W.A. Simon on October 27, 1925 to build the hotel which was designed by Wilmington architect Leslie Boney.  By December 7th the hotel’s foundation was laid making it certain to be open by beach season 1926. Also planned was a golf course and a pier for mooring yachts on the Cape Fear River.

The hotel’s location was a big draw as it overlooked a fresh water lake a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean thus affording guests “still water” bathing in the lake as well as the ocean bathing.

Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Ogbourne are seen here enjoying the gardenias at their home on the corner of Lake Park and Cape Fear Boulevard

Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Ogbourne are seen here enjoying the gardenias at their home on the corner of Lake Park and Cape Fear Boulevard.

The hotel’s formal opening was held on June 4, 1926. Its manager was J.L. Fagan formerly of the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida and the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia.

There were 75 rooms with adjoining baths, a 150 capacity formal dining room overlooking the verandas, a smaller private dining room and a room for children’s dining. The lobby and mezzanine were furnished with cream colored wicker with print upholstery.  Enclosed porches had orange hued wicker.

Guests could dance the night away to the Meyers Davis Orchestra. The rates were $6 per day or $36 for a week, both rates included meals.

Carolina Beach had its formal opening on June 12 with many Wilmington, New Hanover County and beach dignitaries.

Carolina Beach Hotel from the May 30, 1926 edition of the Wilmington Morning Star

Carolina Beach Hotel from the May 30, 1926 edition of the Wilmington Morning Star

Among the guests at the Carolina Beach Hotel that weekend was the Honorable J.F.A. Cecil and Mrs. Cecil, the former Cornelia Vanderbilt of Biltmore.  The Cecils were married in April of 1924 with a lavish reception at the mansion.  Nearly a hundred years later their grandson, William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, continues to oversee the day to day operations of the largest private residence in the United States.

Coming next month, Part II