January, 2021 Newsletter

Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. Civil War Park to be Dedicated

Thursday February 11, 2021

2:00 PM

(North of the Publix — old Federal Point Shopping Center)

 

A committee of historians and citizens dedicated to our local history, along with the staff of the Town of Carolina Beach have completed the preservation and development of the Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. Civil War Park located around the remnants of the fortifications of the “Sugar Loaf Line of Defense.”

This project was made possible by the Town of Carolina Beach, The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and its volunteers, along with the following contributors: the Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. family; staff from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, and Underwater Archaeology Branch; Brunswick Civil War Round Table; Cape Fear Civil War Round Table; Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Foundation, Milford, Ohio; the Island Gazette; Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.; Daniel Ray Norris/Slapdash Publishing; and  SEPI Engineering and Construction.

 

Ryder Lewis Jr. Civil War Park

Park to be Dedicated
Thursday February 11, 2021

2:00 PM

Entrance is North of the Publix — old Federal Point Shopping Center

A committee of historians and citizens dedicated to our local history, along with the staff of the Town of Carolina Beach have completed the preservation and development of the Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr., Civil War Park located around the remnants of the fortifications of the “Sugar Loaf Line of Defense.”

This project was made possible by the Town of Carolina Beach, The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and its volunteers, along with the following contributors: the Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr, Family; staff from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Fort Fisher and Underwater Archaeology Branch; Brunswick Civil War Round Table; Cape Fear Civil War Round Table; Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Foundation, Milford, Ohio; the Island Gazette; Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle Jr.; Daniel Ray Norris/Slapdash Publishing; and  SEPI Engineering and Construction.

[Click/tap for larger images]

Click/tap for larger images

 

 

 

 

 

President’s Message – December, 2020

By Elaine Henson

Gilbert Henry Burnett 1925-2020

Gil Burnett in 2016 at the Burnett Cottage

Our Society lost longtime member and part time Carolina Beach resident on November 9, 2020. Gil was a prominent citizen of Wilmington and was retired Chief Judge of the 5th Judicial District.

He is known for his innovative work programs for juvenile offenders that later expanded to include adults convicted of minor crimes.  Programs modeled on his Community Service Work Program later were instituted nationwide and internationally.

He was the recipient of many honors including the Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the Star-News Lifetime Achievement Award and the News and Observer’s Tarheel of the Week among other others.

Gil is best known to us for his lifelong love of Carolina Beach that began in early childhood for him and his seven brothers and sisters.  The Burnetts lived in Burgaw and would take day trips to the beach and visit family in addition to spending at least two summer weeks in a rented cottage.

In 1936, his parents, John Henry and Ruth Deaton Burnett, built their own family cottage on 410 Carolina Beach Avenue North. From then on, the family would load up their Packard automobile after school was out for the summer and stay until after Labor Day when school started again.  They would often take two cars, one with the family and dogs and the other with clothes, food, his mother’s sewing machine and whatever else they could find room for.

The Burnett Cottage at 410 Carolina Beach Avenue North showing the back door.

The Burnett cottage was a large two-story house right on the ocean and about 3 blocks from the boardwalk, or downtown as they called it in those days.

The 1936, cottage had two bedrooms downstairs and four upstairs to accommodate eight children and occasional guests. It had a very large, shady porch facing the ocean which they considered the front.

The back door was the one you entered from the street. The kitchen was small by today’s standards, but living and dining rooms were large and inviting. The house was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, but the family rebuilt with six bedrooms upstairs for a total of eight.  It is one of the houses on the beach with a plaque from FPHPS.

John Henry Burnett was an attorney and worked for the U.S. Government. Although he sometimes traveled, his summer office was in a corner of the cottage’s parental bedroom and so he was able to work from the beach.  His wife, Ruth, was busy with homemaking and the many children. Her sewing skills made her “best dressed” along with her six daughters.  She also sewed window treatments, pillows and other accessories for the cottage. (She once sewed a canvas sail for Gilbert’s row boat when he tried to convert it to his first sailboat.)  Both parents were very involved in their children’s lives and their friends.

Young Gil, center, at his stand. His sister, Susie Burnett Jones, is left.

It was Mr. Burnett who decided that young Gilbert could profit from some early business training and set him up with a snowball stand on a lot he owned on the boardwalk. Gilbert’s Snowball Stand opened on the boardwalk around 1941 when he was 15 years old.

His father had a simple stand built with a beach umbrella overhead for shade.  Gil’s mother made the syrup in flavors of grape and cherry.  It was contained in five-gallon jugs installed upside down over two spigots, one for each flavor.  They purchased V shaped paper cups which were filled with crushed ice and then topped with the flavored syrup of your choice.  In those days, an ice man named Charlie would deliver big blocks of ice to businesses on the boardwalk.

The ice at the Snowball Stand had to be chipped off and put through a hand powered ice crusher which was labor intensive. The stand was hugely successful and later expanded into an open-air building. Gil’s younger brother, Julian, recalls one Fourth of July when they made $104 selling snowballs for 5 cents apiece.  (In today’s dollars $104 would be $1,818.00) That was over 2,000 snowballs made and sold that day.

The stand was one of the stops on our Boardwalk History Tour which we hope to resume when it is safe.  Gil was very proud to be on our tour and helped with the planning. We will miss him!

 

November 2020 Newsletter

The History Center is OPEN

Hours:  Friday and Saturday

10:00 am to 4:00 pm

 

Monthly Programs Still on Hold

Since Governor Cooper has allowed museums in the state to open, we have decided to re-open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. For the time being we will not be opening on Tuesdays. We are currently looking at a significant budget shortfall this coming year, due to being closed for six months, which cost us a good deal in donations and gift shop sales.

Unfortunately, monthly programs are still on hold and it doesn’t look like we will be able to hold our annual Christmas Potluck this year.  The space is just too small for gatherings of the kind we have had in the past.

We are looking into using Zoom at some point. If there is anyone with experience in producing video programs and making them available on Zoom and our Website, please let us know!  

 

President’s Message – November, 2020

By Elaine Henson

Mr. A.W. Pate and the Greystone Inn, Part II

In addition to being president of the New Hanover Transit Company, Mr. Alexander W. Pate was also in the hotel business. He owned a hotel in Florence, SC, two in Augusta, Georgia, and decided to build one in Carolina Beach. It would not only be for tourists, but also for the company’s salesmen.  He wanted them to have a grand place with a dining room to host prospective lot buyers.

In February of 1916, construction began on the Greystone Inn.  It was on Cape Fear Boulevard, 300 feet from the Atlantic Ocean with a large covered veranda in front. The exterior was blocks made of Carolina Beach sand with plastered walls and ceilings in the interior rooms. A 30×30 lobby had a large fireplace. The beautifully appointed dining room was also 30×30.

Behind the lobby and dining room was a two-story bedroom section with 30 rooms. Each room had all the modern conveniences including telephones, electric lights and steam heat.  In the summer, windows were opened to let in the cool ocean breezes.

By the 1930s, the Inn was managed by A.W. Pate’s son, Waddell Pate.  Just in time for the summer season of 1933, the Greystone opened a roof garden on the expansive flat roof over the front porch, lobby and dining room.

That summer Cliff Smith and his Ohioans were engaged to play at the Inn. The band consisted of 3 trumpets, 3 saxophones, a piano, brass horn, tuba, guitar and drums.  The Ohioans vocalist was Cliff Smith’s wife, Betty. Cliff and his band designed the roof garden like an outdoor nightclub.  They placed the bandstand on the part of the roof next to the two-story bedroom wing, the dance floor on the right and tables and chairs on the left.  There was a white lattice railing around the perimeter of the roof and they made it look like a garden with lots of potted palm trees and colorful tropical plants.

The food was light fare, mostly sandwiches with soft drinks, beer and sets ups for brown bagging*. The attraction was dancing under the stars to a live band near the ocean.  It was a huge success and by the next summer they had added a portable awning used to cover the roof garden on rainy nights. Eventually, the roof garden had a permanent roof of its own.

A June 20, 1935, article in the Wilmington News described the beach opening with the first dance of the season at the Greystone Inn with Bob Hubbard and His Philadelphians.  The Pavilion, which also had live bands and dancing nightly, had not yet opened.  The article reported on that night, 300 couples were turned away from the Greystone’s Roof Garden because they were full.

During the years of WWII, the Greystone was converted into a USO, serving the hundreds of servicemen who frequented the beach during the war years.

It continued to be a popular attraction into the 1940s and 50s. It had survived the devastating Boardwalk Fire of 1940, being just two buildings west of the Bame Hotel. The Bame burned to the ground along with two blocks of boardwalk buildings and businesses. But, in the wee hours of April 12, 1958, the Greystone became the victim of a fire of its own.

Waddell Pate had been at the beach supervising repairs and painting of the Inn for the upcoming summer season.  He left that Friday afternoon for his home in Augusta, Georgia, stopping over in Florence, South Carolina, for the night. Early the next morning, he got a call about smoke coming from the Greystone. Firemen from Carolina and Kure Beaches battled the fire from about 5am to 7:30 am, when they finally got it under control.  It was believed to have started in a closet where paint and solvents were stored.

Pate decided to have the remainder of the building torn down and planned to rebuild.  Instead, he opted to have a Greystone Motel on the top floor of the former Mrs. High’s Dining Room and Mack’s building that was just torn down last month (Oct. 2020).

After the demolition of the Greystone building during Oct. 2020, the site of the former Greystone building is currently (Nov. 2020) a vacant lot.

 

The Greystone Motel over the Mack’s Store and Mrs. High’s Dining Room on Cape Fear Boulevard c. 1950s

In those days you took a bottle of spirits in a brown bag to a restaurant and bought set ups, such as a glass of ice and a mixer and made your own drink at the table.  New Hanover County did not adopt ‘Liquor By the Drink’ until January, 1979.

 

President’s Message – October, 2020

by Elaine Henson

Mr. A.W. Pate and the Greystone Inn, Part I

Alexander W. Pate was born in Cumberland County in September of 1875.  He would grow up to become one of the principal developers of Carolina Beach.  In 1912, he and partners bought the holdings of the New Hanover Transit Company from Captain John W. Harper, who developed Carolina Beach as a resort in 1887.

Mr. Pate was the president of Southern Realty Company along with D. N. Chadwick as Vice President and J. J. Loughlin, Secretary-Treasurer.  The purchase included a steam train, dock on the Cape Fear River, a railroad to the beach, two pavilions, bath houses and 200 acres of land along the beach for two miles all for $30,000.  Later they bought an additional 772 acres from Robert Bruce Freeman to own controlling interest in Carolina Beach.  They had a long list of plans and improvements to make it one of the finest resorts on the east coast along with selling lots from their extensive acreage.

By 1914, Mr. Pate and partners had completed an electric light plant to provide lights to all the businesses, cottages and future cottages.  They installed a pumping station for two new artesian wells.  To encourage people to come on the weekends and look at lots, Captain Harper lowered the price for a trip down on the Steamer Wilmington as did the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Railroads during the summer months.

A.W. Pate was a tireless supporter of Carolina Beach and had no end of ideas to promote the beach as evidenced by an article in the Sunday Star News of June 18, 1939, by none other than native son, David Brinkley, a writer for the newspaper at that time.  Among other projects Mr. Pate describes is one to reroute Highway 17 from going through Wilmington to going by Carolina Beach which never materialized.  Here are some excerpts from that article including his comments on dredging Myrtle Grove Sound to make the yacht basin:

Another ambitious project was to provide a trolley line from Wilmington to Carolina Beach.  He planned for it to begin at Greenfield Lake near Sunset Park and run parallel with the new hard surface road from the Masonboro Loop Road to Carolina Beach.  The Wilmington City Commissioners required a vote of the people in order to issue the franchise for the trolley.  On October 11, 1914, the Wilmington & Carolina Beach Railway Company franchise passed by a margin of 473 votes despite opposition from some factions.  One caveat was that three miles of the railway must be completed by August 1, 1916.

Mr.  Pate had a tentative agreement with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Company to build the railway and scheduled an in-person meeting with them in Norfolk, Virginia, soon after the franchise was granted.  On the morning he was to leave for Norfolk by train, he received a call from them asking to postpone the meeting until the impact of the recent outbreak of WWI could be assessed. As it turned out, the meeting was never held and he failed to build the required three miles by the deadline in 1916, so the project failed.

Not to be completely outdone, in 1939, he did buy a beach car from the Tidewater Power Company who was discontinuing their trolley line to Wrightsville Beach.

He placed it next to his Greystone Inn on Cape Fear Boulevard to use as a diner selling hot dogs.  That diner was soon taken over by Mrs. Lille Mae High and became Mrs. High’s Diner.

Next month:  Mr. A.W. Pate and the Greystone Inn, Part II

Then and Now – Part 2

Seabreeze

There’s not much left to see in the old Seabreeze community.  To view the few bits remaining, turn down S. Seabreeze Rd. at Pelican’s Snowballs. Scattered among the large newer contemporary homes, you will pass several small buildings that have survived the many hurricanes and modern development that have decimated most of the rest of the community’s once significant infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you drive all the way to the Intracoastal Waterway, there’s a gravel parking lot at Carolina Beach Jet-Ski Rentals that affords you a view of the old pilings from one of the restaurants built over the water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are lucky, you just might find one of the last Seabreeze fishermen casting his line.

 

President’s Message – September, 2020

By Elaine Henson

Mrs. High’s Dining Room

Many old timers will remember Mrs. High’s Dining Room on Cape Fear Boulevard. It featured home cooking, great seafood of all kinds, steaks, chops, lots of fresh vegetables, and homemade pies.  It was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Mrs. Adrienne Cole, who taught at Carolina Beach School, would often play the piano during meals.

The dining room was owned by Mrs. Lillie Mae High and her partner, Jesse Croom and his wife, Rose Croom.  Judy Cumber Moore worked the summers of 1957 and 1958 at Mrs. High’s.  She remembers the kitchen help shelling peas and butterbeans also cutting corn off the cob for creamed corn. There was no air conditioning back then, just very large fans on stands placed all around the pine paneled dining room.  She also recalls that Mrs. Croom, who was in a wheelchair, sat at a table up front with Mrs. High or Mr. Croom at the cash register.

Ann and Tommy Greene remember that the Crooms and Mrs. High shared a house next door to his parents on Myrtle Avenue, two blocks from the dining room.  Ann Greene also worked there one summer. After Mrs. Croom’s death in 1965, Mr. Croom and Mrs. High married and lived on the beach until his death in 1978 and hers in 1983.  Mr. Croom and both Mrs. Crooms are buried in the same plot in Oakdale Cemetery.

I also worked at High’s during the summer of 1966 while in college.  By then, Mrs. High and the Crooms had retired and the restaurant was owned by Charles and Martha Haas and renamed High’s Dining Room.  The kitchen was very small and bustling with activity with fans blowing there and in the dining room.  On the way to work, I remember riding over the new high-rise Snow’s Cut bridge that had opened in August of 1962.  It seemed so big and modern compared to the old swing bridge.

Mrs. High’s had started out as a diner next to the Greystone Hotel.  Mr. A. W. Pate built the Greystone Hotel in 1916, on Cape Fear Boulevard.

In the linen, hand colored post card, you can see the Greystone with its roof top dancing porch, just down from the Bame Gas Station and Grocery and Hotel Bame.

In 1939, the Tidewater Power Company was discontinuing the trolley line to Wrightsville Beach and put some of the beach cars up for sale.  Mr. Pate bought one and put it next to the Greystone as a hot dog stand. You can see the white roof of the beach car diner; it is on the far-right edge of the card just above the half blue car.

We don’t know how long the hot dog stand lasted, but we do know that sometime in the 1940s it became Mrs. High’s Diner. Punky Kure recalls eating at the diner next to the Greystone.  Mrs. High and Jesse Croom were partners early on as you can see in the restaurants list from a Sunny Carolina Beach brochure distributed in 1945 to 1949.  It was put out by the Chamber of Commerce.

As business for the diner grew, the restaurant moved into the new cinder block building next door painted green in the card at the top.  Its entrance was under the striped awing and round sign with an arrow pointing to the door.

The Greystone Hotel is above the Mack’s Dime Store with Mrs. High’s to the left of that extending into the flat roof addition.

Soon the cinder block building that housed Mrs. High’s will be torn down to make way for new retail on the bottom and condos on the top.  What’s old is new again.

Next month:  Mr. A.W. Pate and the Greystone Hotel

 

President’s Letter – November, 2019

Kure Memorial Lutheran Church Part VII

By Elaine Henson

The Rev. Jacob Young has the distinction of being the longest serving pastor of Kure Memorial Lutheran having served 15 years from 1975 to 1990.  Pastor Frank Perry followed him as interim until Rev. Charles Britton came in November of 1991. He stayed until 1993 followed by interim pastors Rev. Ron Wedekind, Rev. Lawrence Koss and Rev. Frank Ebert from 1993-1997. During that time the church and parsonage sustained damages from back to back hurricanes Bertha on July 12, 1996 and Fran on September 5, 1996.

After that the church devised a hurricane preparedness plan, got a computer and began a monthly newsletter to keep parishioners informed. Later they began recording attendance with pew pads.

Rev. Robert Matthias served from 1997-2000.  During his tenure the congregation formed a Fiftieth Anniversary Committee and began planning for a celebration in August of 2001.  Members were Judy Arndt, Margaret Ford, Joel McKean, Ted & Ellen Prevatte, Tammy Ebersole, Tracy Goodrich, Barbara Vought and Beth Wrenn.

Rev. Paul E. Christ came in 2001 and was installed at the Fiftieth Anniversary service in August of that year by Bishop Leonard H. Bolick.  A special guest attending was Rev. Jack Martin who had served Kure Chapel in the summer of 1951 as a seminarian. He was there when Kure Chapel became allied with the N.C. Lutheran Synod and was also present at their August 26, 1951, first service as Kure Memorial Evangelical Lutheran. The Fiftieth celebration continued after the service with a dinner on the grounds under a big tent.

Rev. Christ served until 2007.  Rev. Richard Graf came in 2008 to 2011 followed by Pastor Dan Keck who came in 2008 and remains as pastor to Kure Beach Memorial Lutheran Church.

Pastors from 1991 to the present 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Graf 2007-2011

2012-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the last in the series of seven parts of Kure Memorial Lutheran Church history.