Carolina Beach Pavilion, Largest on South Atlantic Coast – 1911

[‘Wilmington Morning Star’,  January 22, 1911]

Shoo Fly Trainarriving at Carolina Beach Pavilion

Shoo Fly Train
arriving at the original Pavilion
from the steamer ‘Wilmington’

Without a doubt the largest strictly pleasure Pavilion on the south Atlantic coast will be erected within the next few weeks [Jan, 1911] on Carolina Beach. The plans and specifications for the magnificent new summer retreat were recently drawn for Captain John W. Harper, owner of the property and the splendid steamer, Wilmington, by which it is reached, by Architect H. E. Bonitz, of Wilmington.

It was Architect Bonitz who designed and supervised the construction of Lumina Pavilion at Wrightsville Beach, which has been so much admired, but in the structure at Carolina Beach, he has gone a step further and provided the largest and most completely equipped Pavilion on the south Atlantic coast – a thing of beauty and a joy forever when it is completed and ready for occupancy about May 1st.

Carolina Moon Pavilion c. 1912 NHC Library - LT Moore Collection

Carolina Moon Pavilion c. 1912   (click)
Louis T. Moore Collection – NHC Library

The contract for building of the new Pavilion has recently been let to Mr. W. B. Bevill, while the plumbing work will be executed by Dosher Bros, of Wilmington. The material will soon be on the ground and Contractor Bevill will send down a large force of hands who will remain on the beach until the splendid new structure is finished.

A 14-foot veranda will encircle the entire Pavilion, which will have all told 13,000 feet of floor space, “40-foot beam and 14 feet depth of hold,” as Captain Harper expresses it in the parlance of the sea with which he is quite as familiar as with the land.

Overall the structure will be 164 feet in length. The ballroom proper will be the largest south of Washington, DC, and as someone has said, the steamer Wilmington, could be put down in the middle of the floor and couples could dance around both ends. The floor will be of select material and will be smooth and highly polished to admit of the most delightful dances.

There will be large and commodious lavatories, toilet rooms and dressing room for ladies and children while another end of the structure Will be a refreshment booth. The design of the building is of the bungalow type and the roof and sides will be shingled.

The Carolina Beach pavilion in 1934 stood almost alone on the beach strandLouis T. Moore Collection, NHC Library

The Carolina Beach pavilion in 1934
stood almost alone on the beach strand.
Louis T. Moore Collection, NHC Library (click)

An entirely new acetylene lighting system will be provided and nothing in the way of expense and comfort for all visitors will be spared. The building will be six feet above the beach, amply protecting it from the highest tides, while provision is made so that trains from the Cape Fear River pier will run directly alongside. Visitors may step right from the cars into the Pavilion and there enjoy the pleasure that awaits them.

Hotel and bathing facilities will be provided at the beach independently of the pavilion which will be devoted exclusively to “have a good time.” Captain Harper is never so happy as when providing for others the means of enjoying themselves, and in the construction of the new Pavilion, he seems to have reached the climax.

Everything at the beach is now being put in good shape and the approaching season promises to be one of the most successful in the history of the resort.

[Editor, 1997:  This Pavilion was later known as the “Carolina Moon” Pavilion and burned in the big fire in September, 1940.  Later, in 1954 the boardwalk was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel.]

Mr. Reaves, a noted historian and member of the Federal Point Historical Preservation Society,  was involved in over fifty local history publications and genealogical abstracts, covering New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Duplin counties.  A charter member of the Southport Historical Society, he wrote a remarkable four volume history of Southport.

Mr Reaves was the author of Strength Through Struggle, The Chronological and Historical Record of the African-American Community in Wilmington, North Carolina, 1865-1950, for which he received a national award from the American Association of State and Local History. – New Hanover County Public Library


[Additional Resources – 2015]

Over the years, the Pavilion was called many names – by Elaine Blackmon Henson
‘Carolina Moon, Carolina Club Casino, Carolina Club’

Architect Bonitz, Henry E. (1872-1921) – for a list of Carolina Beach buildings designed by Bonitz – look for ‘Building Types’ then click ‘Recreational’

Henry Bonitz also designed the Lumina Pavillion in Wrightsville Beach – Our State Magazine

Captain John Harper – from the Bill Reaves Files – a FPHPS resource

Wilmington Morning Star,  January 22, 1911

[Text was originally published in the July 1997 – FPHPS Newsletter (pdf)]