New – 7/26/15: Images of Seabreeze – taken on March 16, 2006 – 6:33am – 8:25am
Source: Our State, North Carolina – Oceanside Divide – By Herbert L. White
A small strip of land near Wilmington entertained thousands of visitors — some famous — during the Jim Crow era in North Carolina.
African-American men riding through Carolina Beach to access black-owned Bop City, now called Freeman Park, were required to wear shirts over their swimsuits. African-American swimmers could access the ocean from Carolina Beach on Mondays only, although it was directly across from Seabreeze.
In many ways, Seabreeze and Carolina Beach, resorts separated by a half-mile — one for blacks, the other for whites — were in different worlds. Seabreeze, a nearly two-mile strip of unincorporated hamlet, was a busy seaside retreat tucked among mossy oaks and crape myrtles. It was the place to see and be seen.
Seabreeze was home to 31 juke joints, or taverns, where jukeboxes supplied the soundtrack of American culture and attitudes.
…. then ….
On October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel blew in from the Atlantic. Hazel’s estimated 140-mile-per-hour winds and 18-foot storm surge devastated Seabreeze. The hurricane littered the sound with debris from trees torn from their roots; homes caved in or blew from their foundations.
Rather than rebuild, many property owners shuttered entire lots, hastening Seabreeze’s demise with the loss of businesses.
… continue reading this interesting history of the people of Seabreeze … from Our State Magazine
Source: Our State, North Carolina: Oceanside Divide – By Herbert L. White
A Reader Response: to Oceanside Divide
D Franklin Freeman PhD says:
April 19, 2014 at 13:09
Alexander Freeman was actually not a “Freed Slave” but a Free Person of Color i.e. Black and American Indian – our dates for him are 1788-1855. He is the son of Abraham Freeman (and a brother of my 6th Great Grandfather Moses Freeman) who is listed in the books as a Free Person of Color; and owned much land (thru land grants) around Columbus, Brunswick, Bladen and New Hanover, NC as well as Craven County, SC. We are apart of the currently named Waccamaw-Siouan and Lumbee Tribes. We are proud of our contributions to North Carolina. We just had family from Wilmington, Delco, Leland, Bolton and Buckhead visit our remaining family at Seabreeze last month. I hope that we are able to save this as a major part of North Carolina history.
…. But Wait! … There’s More …… local content
Seabreeze was the black resort just up the coast across the Intracostal Waterway at Snow’s Cut. Originally called Freeman’s Beach from the 1920’s to the 1950’s, locals made a living serving black tourists with sandwiches, beer, and plenty of room for family picnics in the day and adult entertainment at night. Chicken Hicks found his way to Seabreeze in the early 40’s, returning often for white hot Carolina moonshine, and even hotter music on the piccolos (jukeboxes) at places like the Ponco, The Big Apple, the Daley Breezey Pavilion, Bruce’s, Ponco #2, the Monte Carlo, and as Jim recalled, “a place called Big Mama’s.” … more »»»
SeaBreeze had some boats that went across the water and you would dance til you got ready to come back over to this side.
It was an evening thing and a weekend thing, not an everyday thing. Everybody at Seabreeze worked weekends and holidays.
There used to be a place over there just for Blacks called Bop City. A lot of Black soldiers from Ft. Fisher used to come up to this neighborhood. Matter of fact, Dot’s sister married a soldier that used to be at Ft. Fisher in the service. Some of the Freemans married some of the guys that used to be down at Ft. Fisher.
Dot remembers Hurricane Hazel going through here tearing everything up. She saw the buildings from Carolina Beach floating down the Inland Waterway – refrigerators, stuff that come out of some of the businesses at Carolina Beach, furniture and big stuff from the houses came floating down the river. And at Seabreeze that water was almost to her mother’s house. … more »»»
What is Seabreeze?
by: Ben Steelman, May, 2009, Wilmington StarNews
“White kids from nearby Carolina Beach, such as Malcolm “Chicken” Hicks, would cross over to check out Seabreeze’s night spots and the local dance steps. Local historians such as Jenny Edwards — who wrote a master’s thesis on the history of Seabreeze for the University of North Carolina Wilmington — credit this musical cross-pollination with promoting, if not inspiring, the later crazes of shag dancing and beach music.” … more »»»
“Between the 1920s and the 1960s Freeman Beach\Seabreeze developed rich cultural traditions and history as blacks from across eastern and central North Carolina traveled for miles to experience the wooden dance floors and jukeboxes. With Freeman Beach they found a place to vacation, relax, and play. From the 1920s through the 1960s, the beach had three hotels, ten restaurants, dozens of rental cottages, a boat pier, a bingo parlor, and a small amusement park, complete with Ferris wheel. During the summer months thousands of visitors flocked to the area. ” … more »»»
“As I got older, I learned more of my family history. For all of us, the only thing worse than not knowing our history is believing we have no history. My parents were from a small farming town in the Wilmington area called Lake Waccamaw, located on the shore of the largest natural lake in the eastern United States by the same name. Some historians claim Osceola, the great war chief of the Seminole Nation (of mixed Native American and African ancestry) was born on Lake Waccamaw. The lake feeds south and into the great Okefenokee Swamp which stretches through Florida.
During slavery, many Africans and Native Americans escaped into these swamps. Their descendants cultivated farm land around the lake and throughout the Wilmington area. There is also a town in that area called Freeman, NC, founded by my grandmother’s great-grandfather, Alexander Freeman.
Following Alexander Freeman’s death, his son, Robert Bruce Freeman (b. 1830) inherited the land, and parlayed the investment to become one of the largest landowners in New Hanover county. In the 1920’s, [Robert’s heirs] began to develop a recreational community known as Seabreeze. During the Jim Crow years, Seabreeze was the only beach community in the state that black families could visit. When black people were forbidden from even traveling through Carolina Beach to get to Seabreeze, the Freeman family bought a boat to ferry people back and forth to the resort.” … more »»»