By Elaine Henson
This summer we are planning to conduct guided historical tours of our boardwalk. They will be on a weekday morning, last about 40 minutes and include the history and pictures of the ten to twelve historic buildings/businesses we will feature. We are also planning a new Boardwalk exhibit at our History Center.
Looking at the definition of the word “boardwalk” the dictionary says: “1. a wide sidewalk, usually made of boards, near the water at a shore resort: The boardwalk at Atlantic City is a famous promenade. 2. any sidewalk made of boards. They enabled early beach goers to walk without getting bogged down and their shoes filled with sand.
Carolina Beach began as a resort in the summer of 1887. Captain John W. Harper had been taking steamers from downtown Wilmington to Southport and back for many years passing the Federal Point peninsula along the way. He had the idea to build a pavilion, a hotel, and a restaurant near the ocean for excursionists. They would ride the steamer down the Cape Fear River to a dock then board a little train that would carry them over to the sea beach. The tracks followed present day Harper Avenue.
The picture above is a vintage post card of Captain Harper’s pavilion with the train pulled up to the back where the passengers would step down onto a boardwalk to enter the pavilion. The front faced the ocean and also had a boardwalk that connected to the Railroad Station Restaurant and the Oceanic Hotel that first year. Later there were bath houses, amusements, and houses connected by boardwalks. Notice the board from the track over to some marsh grass. The pavilion burned in 1910 and was rebuilt opening the next year. Both were designed by Wilmington architect Henry Bonitz who also designed Wrightsville’s famed Lumina.
The photo to the right shows the later pavilion during the 1920s with three lovely ladies standing at the end of a boardwalk with a fourth, in middy attire, standing on the sand. Hans Kure had several businesses and a summer home at Carolina Beach in the early 1900s.
This is a photo of his Ten Pin Alley and Bar with a banner advertising Trap Shooting. Alongside the railroad track is a boardwalk which connected all the buildings there in those early days.
Next Month: The Boardwalk, Part II