From the President – April, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

Center Pier Part I

On January 8,1954, the Center Pier Corporation applied to build a fishing pier in what was then Wilmington Beach.  At that time pier permits were submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The pier was to be built in the 1200 block of Lake Park Boulevard, South, between Tennessee Avenue and North Carolina Avenue.  It was to be 25 feet wide and 1,000 feet in length with 800 feet beyond the low tide mark.

The Center Pier Corporation had four partners who were J.R. Bame, Cliff Lewis, C.W. “Pappy” Sneed and Merritt Foushee.  They hired Walter Winner to build the pier; he was assisted by Dub Hegler and others.

On January 18, 1954, the Army Corps of Engineers informed the New Hanover County Commissioners about Center Pier’s application.  This was the second application to build a pier in Wilmington Beach in the last 3 months and the Engineers wanted the commissioners to rule on the second pier.

The first Wilmington Beach pier application was from L.C. Kure and Glenn Tucker who filed it on October 30, 1953. Their pier, which had already begun construction, was 2 blocks south of the proposed Center Pier.

Kure and Tucker’s pier was in the 1300 block of then South Lake Park Blvd. between North Carolina Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. The partners, doing business as Wilmington Beach Investment Corporation, had purchased the Breakers Hotel on the corner of Lake Park Boulevard, South and Ocean Blvd where the most southern building of Sea Colony is now.

They also purchased all the available lots in Wilmington Beach, which at that time stretched from the ocean to the river. The plan was for Kure to run the hotel and Tucker would sell the real estate. Having owned the Kure Pier from 1923, when it was built until he sold it to his son-in-law in 1952.  L.C. Kure wanted to build another pier in front of the Breakers Hotel. This pier was called the Wilmington Beach Pier, the Breakers Pier and later nicknamed the Stub Pier.

At the next New Hanover County Commissioners meeting on January 25, 1954, the pier issue was on their agenda.  The meeting was also attended by Wilmington Beach residents who were there to protest the Center Pier application.  The Commissioners decided to take no action in the matter after the County Attorney, Cicero P Yow, stated that the county had no legal right to object or act in the matter.  Also at that meeting, Glenn Tucker read a letter from himself and L.C. Kure stating that  the second pier “will really benefit all.” After which, Center Pier’s attorney, Addison Hewlett, expressed gratitude for their support. The Army Corps of Engineers approved Center Pier’s application and it was soon also under construction

On May 13, 1954, a nor’easter with torrential rains and winds of 65 miles an hour, took off 150 feet from the Breaker’s Pier and a pile driving rig. Miraculously they were able to retrieve the rig with the efforts of brothers Hall and Robert Watters who flew over the ocean to locate it.  They signaled its position to Punky Kure, Bill Robertson and a diver in a 16 foot boat.  The diver was able to tie up the rig and it was pulled out of the ocean, dried out, cleaned up and continued driving pilings for the pier.  Both piers opened by summer.

August 30th, brought Hurricane Carol with estimated 75 mile per hour winds at the area beaches.  Carol took 150 feet off the Breaker’s Pier, and also damaged the Kure Beach Pier and Fort Fisher Pier.

On October 15th, Hurricane Hazel, the only Category Four hurricane to hit our beaches in all of the 20th Century and beyond, came in on a lunar high tide. Hazel destroyed the Breaker’s Pier, Center Pier, the Kure Beach Pier and Fort Fisher Pier. Of those four, Center Pier and the Kure Beach Pier were the only ones to rebuild.

This photo shows the ruins of the Breakers Hotel and the pier built by Kure and Tucker. Hurricane Hazel marked the end of both.

Next Month:  Center Pier – Part II

 

From the President – March, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

The Kupboard Grocery, Part III

During the years the Lancasters owned the Kupboard Grocery, the upstairs part of the building had three apartments. They each had a kitchen/sitting room, bath and bedroom with one having two bedrooms.

In the 1960s, their son, Lank Lancaster,  and his wife, Genie, lived in the two bedroom apartment and worked shifts at the store as well as Lank’s East Coast Surf Shop a few doors down.  During that time, the little house facing Sandpiper Lane, formerly 7th Avenue, was owned by the Autrys from Fayetteville who used it as their summer home. It was and still is connected to the Kupboard building.

By the mid 1970s, Luke and Jessie Lancaster were ready to retire as storekeepers and owners of the Kupboard Grocery.  So, they sold it to Herman and Rachel Cannady for $135,000 in March of 1975, with the Lancaster’s financing the sale. The Cannady’s ran it for about seven years before the property went back to the Lancasters.  The second buyer was a couple from England, Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Smith, who ran it for less than a year between 1982 and 1983, before the property again went back to the Lancasters.  The third time was a charm with a sale to Lloyd and Carolyn Nelms in December of 1983. They updated the building with new flooring, air conditioning and built a shop on the north end of the building. The Nelms owned and operated the store for the next fourteen years while living behind it at 902 Canal Drive.

In 1997, the Nelms sold the Kupboard to Joseph and Violet Guntle who kept it for about six years before selling it to Kamal A. Monsosur in May of 2003.  Mr. Monsosur ran the store for a while and has leased it to a few different operators over the last eighteen years to the present.  One of those operators was Phillippe Thompson whose mother, Yvonne Thompson,  owned and ran The 4 T’s Restaurant on the beach. Over time the building has had a few different paint combinations.

 

 

The red paint job is from 2016, the blue paint was 2017-2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On May 15, 2016, Eric Bunting opened the North End Café  in the building the Nelms added to the north end of the Kupboard.  Eric serves up coffee, breakfast sandwiches and lunch, including burgers, from 6:30 am to 1 pm.  It has been a very popular stop on the north end ever since.

For a while he has been planning on expanding into the Kupboard building and those plans are coming to fruition around mid March, 2021.  He is opening the North End Mini Mart with seating for his breakfast and lunch patrons along with a grocery store for residents and beach goers. It will be good to have the grocery back on this end of the beach. We wish him the best of luck!

 

On a personal note:  The Lancasters lived at 815 Carolina Beach Avenue North until their deaths, Jesse Lancaster in 1991 and Luke in 1992.  In 2003, my husband, Skip, and I purchased the house from their heirs to use as a get away and beach rental.  We joined Federal Point Historic Preservation Society right away and soon had a historic plaque since the house was over 50 years old. Please call or email FPHPS at 910-458-0502 or email  Rebecca@federal-point-history.org, if you are interested in our plaque program.

Just recently, we got a new plaque with a gold border which signifies a house 75 years old or older.  Skip and I grew up in Wilmington and were familiar with all our beaches, but have become true Carolina Beach devotees. We love our part time lives on Carolina Beach Avenue North and being a part of our wonderful beach community.

 

 

Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. Civil War Park

Park Was Dedicated on

Thursday, February 11, 2021
2:00 PM

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

Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr.

 

Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr.

Mr. Lewis (1926-2010) was a Carolina Beach resident, U.S. Army veteran, long-time employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a member of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.

Keenly interested in his family’s history and that of the Lower Cape Fear, he donated 10 acres that included these Confederate earthworks of the so-called “Sugar Loaf lines,” to the Town of Carolina Beach for the public park in the late 1990s.

 

 


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


Hunter Ingram – Wilmington StarNews, Feb. 10, 2021:
Carolina Beach fulfills wish of late resident with opening of new Civil War Park

Island Gazette: – May 19, 2015

Island Gazette re: Park Developments

Oral History – Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr. – Part 1

 

From the President – February, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

The Kupboard Grocery, Part II

In late 1954, when Luke and Jessie Lancaster bought a two story cottage just south of the Kupboard, they were still living in Raleigh where Luke owned Southern Welding.  By the late 50s, they had replaced the wallboard walls in their cottage with pine paneling and added a third bedroom and dining room on each floor and remodeled the kitchens with pine cabinets and Formica countertops.  They put their cottage up on a foundation and were living full time at the beach on the upstairs floor, renting out the bottom floor.

Mary Ann and Albert Newkirk were still running the Kupboard Grocery and living above.  In those days it was open from April until late November.  It opened each year on Azalea Festival weekend and closed at Thanksgiving. The Newkirks would go back to Warsaw for the winter and come back in the spring.

Luke and Jessie Lancaster on their porch

In 1959, Luke Lancaster began working part time at the Kupboard. As the year went on Albert talked about possibly retiring and selling the store. So, in 1960, Luke bought the Kupboard for $10,000 and he and Jessie became the owner/operators.

The Kupboard was a full grocery store with a meat market, fresh produce, canned goods, condiments, bread and baked goods, frozen food, beer and soft drink cases and a penny candy counter.

They also sold paper goods, toiletries, sunglasses, sand toys, surf mats, swim rings and other beach supplies.  Rusher Meat Company supplied the fresh meats and McEachern’s brought the produce. Outside there were benches to sit on, a phone booth and room for parking.

                                    

Luke Lancaster in the Kupboard Grocery with country hams hanging from the ceiling, c.1960s

The Lancasters’ son, Lank, and his friend, Harold Petty, started East Coast Surf Boards in a small cinderblock building down the street from the Kupboard, also owned by his father.  It had been a meat market and convenience store in the past, but was empty in 1964, when the surf shop began.                       

Luke Lancaster and son, Lank Lancaster, on the porch of  their cottage.  You can see the side of the Kupboard in the background.

They ended up building  a large wooden  building behind where they actually made the surfboards using the former market for selling surfing clothing and other items.

East Coast Surf Boards was the first surf shop to open on one of the lower Cape Fear area beaches. Lank and Harold shaped their boards from foam blanks they ordered from California. They were in business at 913 Carolina Beach Avenue North until 1967, when they decided that they could not meet the demand for their hand crafted boards and moved on with their respective careers.

 

 

Next month:  The Kupboard Grocery, Part III

 

 

 

A New Park for Carolina Beach

Walk, Stroll, Saunter, Picnic, Birdwatch, Commune with Nature, Discover Little Local History

Brought to you by the long, hard work of the staff of the Town of Carolina Beach, The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, and a dedicated group of historians and local history enthusiasts, the Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. Civil War Park will be officially dedicated on Thursday February 11, 2021, at 2:00 pm.

This new “passive” park will provide a quiet “off the beaten path” area for locals and visitors to get away from the hustle and bustle of the beach and spend a little time in the native natural setting of our original local Eco-system.

The new park is sandwiched behind the Dollar General and Sherwin Williams buildings on N. Lake Park Blvd. and the houses on Lighthouse Drive, which runs off of St. Joseph Street. The ten acre wetlands include boardwalks over local marshes was well as a gravel trail around the best preserved remnants of the earthen fortifications built along the “Sugar Loaf Line of Defense.”

Built by Confederate troops in late 1864 these defensive trenches were meant to defend the road to Wilmington if Union Forces were to ever take Fort Fisher.

The park can best be accessed from the gravel driveway just to the north of the Publix Grocery Store. It’s parking lot can be seen behind the large pond near the ABC store.

The Land: A Little History

The land that the park is now situated on was originally called the old Burriss Homeplace. The Burriss family were among the earliest settlers of the Federal Point area and owned a farm that encompassed much of this land throughout the nineteenth century. As late as the 1990s the stone fireplace of the original Burriss home could still be seen on the land, though is it gone now.

In 1907 Ryder Lewis’s grandparents bought about 150 acres of the Burriss land lying between the highway to Wilmington and  the Myrtle Grove Sound. As Ryder says in an oral history done by the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, And the deed says they paid $400 for it and it was in the woods, in the jungle.  Right where our house was, was in the woods. 

My daddy had the house built from his World War II bonus or something. I think it was a $1000 and that pretty well closed the house in.  So I was probably 2 or 3 years old when we actually moved into the house.  That was part of the Lewis estate.  My grandparents, on the Lewis side deeded out parcels of land to their various children.” 

 According to Ryder, the family farmed sweet potatoes, collards and watermelons, primary for family use. At that time they were “out in the country” as Ryder remembers:  “My parents would not allow my brother and I, who was a couple years younger than I am, to go down there and roam around that beach, or to go up on the Boardwalk.  That’s when we were young, unless we were escorted.  You  see, a lot of this stuff that went on, well like, Jimmy Davis and Milton Warwick, who came along later than I did, they were right there in town where they were involved in everything.  I was in the country.  And we had a big garden out back of our house, pole beans, sweet potatoes, pig pen.  We had hogs, milk goats and milk cows and we did have a nanny goat.

We had a pump out in the yard, one you went out and pumped up and down, that’s where we got our water. We had an outhouse out back, that was your bathroom and we had a Sears and Roebuck catalog in there. I don’t remember when we got power.  I was probably 6 or 7 years old, or a little older, when we got electricity along there.  We finally got a well with an electric pump on it, but we had the outhouse as long as I was growing up. 

 “Let’s put it this way…I told you my grandparents, in about 1907, bought about 150 acres.  And they deeded out quite a bit of it to their different children.  But when they died, there was still 30 or 40 acres of it that had not ever been distributed.  And furthermore, I’m one of the few people in a big family that was able to go to college and get a good job. 

 The old shopping center down here, coming from 421 all the way to St. Joseph’s Street, belonged to two Aunts.  One of the Aunts had the old, original Lewis home and she had no income.  She was an old maid and the county was giving her something like $30 a month and putting a lease on the property.  So I told Aunt Rose that I’ll buy that place, I’ll take your house, and I’ll pay off that lease and I’ll put lights, electricity in the house, which they didn’t have, and I’ll take care of you as long as you live if you’ll deed this property to me.  Well, she trusted me enough, she did it.  So that was about 8 acres.

 The other Aunt, she had 8 or 9 on out to the highway.  I got hers in a similar way.  I bought it.  And that’s where part of this house was sitting.  And, that’s the way I got started in getting some of the Lewis property.  Then they were getting close to building that bridge up here and they moved the highway over some and they got on Lewis property.  A good bit of it was on undivided property.  So they wanted the Lewis’s to come up with one person to deal with the state.  Well, all my old uncles and aunts and my old cousins agreed that I should be the one to represent them.  So I did.”

 In the 1960s, as Ryder’s Aunts and Uncles got older and property taxes on the jointly held property went up, the family attempted to divide the land. Unfortunately, “And the thing about it was there were ten children and one had had 7 children, 2 of the ones holding out on me were 1/7th and one, his mother, had turned hers over to him, so he had a tenth.  So I had 1/10th, 1/7th and then there was another 1/7th.  She had given it to her sister so she had 2/7ths of a tenth!  Well, they couldn’t figure out how to divide it, so then they finally said they’d sell.  The tenth cost me $500 and then one of ‘em got a seventh of $500 and another one got two-sevenths of $500.  And that’s the way I wound up with roughly 50 acres of land.”

Then in the late 1990s Ryder donated a portion of the remaining land to the Town of Carolina Beach: “I gave the town a little over 10 acres of land, that most of it was classified as wet land, and I thought they were going to make a park area.  (But they wound up, it’s only a 100 ft. on the highway and goes back 400 feet.) That area is where they put those ponds out there on the highway.”

 

 

Oral History – Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr.

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!