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

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.

 

President’s Letter – July, 2019

By Elaine Henson

Kure Memorial Lutheran Church Part III

In 1953, the growing congregation began planning for a new church building to replace the barracks church.  Their first full time pastor, Rev. David Johnson, had a background in building design and construction, so he took a lead role in planning the new church. He designed a traditional cruciform, cross-shaped, floor plan and building with modern low lines, a Roman brick exterior and contemporary windows. Interior walls would be masonry painted concrete block.  The roof was to be supported with arches and purlins laminated on the job from three quarter inch Douglas fir timbers.

Everything was put on hold until after clean up from Hurricane Hazel, which came ashore on October 15, 1954. Hazel is the only Category Four Hurricane to hit our area in all of the 20th Century to date. It came in on a lunar high tide, wreaking havoc and leaving much devastation.

On February 6, 1955, groundbreaking ceremonies were held with Dr. F. L. Conrad, President of the North Carolina Synod.  Assisting him were Mrs. Ernest Lineberger of the United Lutheran Church Women and Miss Judy Lewis from the Kure’s Luther League.  The barracks church was moved to the back of the lot and they laid out the foundation.

Again, the men of the church were the volunteer labor.  The only paid full time worker was Bob Ford as Construction Supervisor with Rev. Johnson acting as advisor. Construction went quickly and soon cranes were lifting the arches and purlins into place.

Next: Kure Memorial Lutheran Church, Part IV

President’s Letter — February, 2019

By Elaine Henson

Last month we featured the 1942 Municipal Building or Town Hall on Canal Drive.  It included offices for the town staff, police and fire departments plus a large auditorium, jails and other spaces.

At some point a second floor was added on top of where the Fire Department had been.

A new garage for the fire trucks was attached next to it as seen in this 1985 photo.

Compare it with the vintage post card from the 1940s.

 

 

 

Another renovation involved the 800-seat auditorium.  The space was converted to hold a gym and a room for council meetings.

The gym got lots of use with church league basketball and other activities for youth and adults until flooding over the years rendered the building unusable. It was torn down in April of 1999.

 

 

Below is an image from the Island Gazette showing the demolition which was halted due to asbestos in the floor tiles used in the second floor addition.

 

 

 

President’s Letter – January, 2019

By Elaine Henson

Many locals will remember the Municipal Building, also called Town Hall or City Hall on the corner of Canal Drive and Carl Winner Drive.

The actual lot had formerly been marshland and part of Myrtle Grove Sound.  The sound was dredged and widened in 1939 to make the canal and yacht basin.  The dredge spoil added enough land to the north end to make new building lots and a street called Canal Drive.

You can see the large white Town Hall Building at the head of the yacht basin in this picture along with Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North on the east side of the canal.

Town/City Hall had been on the boardwalk since Carolina Beach was incorporated in 1925, but with WPA (Works Progress Administration) funds available during FDR’s administration, a new one was planned.  President Roosevelt approved the town hall project in December of 1939. The WPA paid $20,000 and $24,000 was raised through a bond issue for a total construction cost of $44,000.  A building start was delayed several times but finally got underway in September of 1941, giving work to 30 laborers.

The building was 114 feet wide and 132 feet long.  It was designed in the Art Moderne style which was very popular in the 1940s and 50s.  The outside was covered in white stucco with white plaster walls inside and green woodwork trim. In addition to offices for the town, there was also a large auditorium seating 800 people that was used for conventions, stage shows and community gatherings.

Also, included, was office space for the fire- department, police department, a jail for whites, jail for blacks, kitchen, recreation rooms bathrooms.  The Municipal Building was used for all kinds of community activities from bridge parties to church league basketball and also housed a county library branch beginning in 1950.

The building opened with a celebration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday on January 30, 1942.  It was held in the auditorium since the rest of the structure was not finished.  It was billed as a Birthday Ball and  also, as a fund raiser for polio research.  Town officials and employees moved in later that year and it remained a town center into the late 1990s despite flooding during hurricanes and storms.

In April of 1989 the Town of Carolina Beach purchased the Blockade Runner Museum and adjoining property in the 1100 block of North Lake Park Boulevard for $398,000 (the museum and other additions are now the present-day town complex).  Carolina Beach Town Council had much debate over the purchase even though they were anxious to buy before a possible price increase.  Interstate 40 was due to open from Wilmington to Raleigh in June, 1990 and many thought property prices along major highways would go sky high. At first only town officials and employees moved into the new space leaving the harbor master, police, fire, and recreation departments to spread out in the 1942 building.

After record flooding from back to back hurricanes, Bertha and Fran in 1996 and Hurricane Bonnie in 1998, plans were made to move the remaining departments and employees to Lake Park Boulevard.  The exception was the fire department which moved to Bridge Barrier Road. Later CBFD took over the former Federal Point Fire Department on Dow Road when FPFD moved to the other side of the Snow’s Cut Bridge.

The old City Hall was torn down in 1999 leaving that space empty.  Part of the lot was used to widen and redirect Carl Winner Avenue making more open space in front of the Marina.  The remainder was used to create a parking lot on Canal Drive.

 

 

Wilmington Star News, March 23, 2000

Holiday Shopping – FPHPS Gift Shop

 

Local Flavor - CookbookDoes everyone in your extended family have one of our Local Flavor Cookbooks?  How about friend and neighbors!

At $25.00 it’s the perfect homegrown gift for every cook you know. It is full of “cookable” recipes mostly built from ingredients you already have in your pantry or can pick up at any local grocery store.  And, it has a section with historic highlights of well known restaurants of Federal Point.

Don’t forget our t-shirts are a real bargain at  $12.00 each..  We’ve got plenty of the Society shirts in every size and color.  We’re also well stocked with the Ocean Plaza BIRTHPLACE of the SHAG shirts.  Anyone with a history of the Boardwalk would love this reflection of  our history.

Books, Books, Books! We have lots of books that relate to the history and culture of our area.  The two most important are Elaine Henson’s Carolina Beach in Postcards and Brenda Coffey’s new Images of America: Kure Beach.  Both are well researched and would be a great present to anyone who’s interested in the history of our local area.

Carolina Beach in PostcardsCarolina Beach, North Carolina, has been a destination for beachgoers, boaters, and fishermen since the 1880s. Visitors came first by the combination of river steamers and a train and later by automobiles to seek respite from the summer’s heat and the daily grind. This book shares the history of this seaside community through the postcards its visitors sent home. From the early hand colored cards printed in Germany to the modern chrome cards of today, we see the people and places of Carolina Beach.

Kure Beach derived its name from a Danish immigrant named Hans Anderson Kure, Sr. He began acquiring land in the area in 1891, and  by 1900, he had purchased 900 acres just south of Carolina Beach to Fort Fisher.

He established the Kure Land and Development Company and in 1913 produced a map of Fort Fisher Sea Beach, which would later become Kure’s Beach and eventually Kure Beach. In 1923, the first wooden fishing pier on the Atlantic coast was constructed by Lawrence Kure.

DAN PRI, one of the first surfboard companies on the East Coast, was also established at Kure Beach.

The area is rich in historical significance from Verrazzano’s discovery to Cape Fear Indians, pirates, lighthouses, the “Rocks,” the Ethel Dow Chemical Plant and the community’s role in both the Civil War and World War II.

 

President’s Letter – December, 2018

By Elaine Henson

Once again, we are asking our members for help. This is a postcard of the Guilford Cottage.

It was a guest house operated by Mrs. S.R.Jordan and was “in the center of all social activities” according to the information on the back.

It was postmarked August 9, 1940, and was sent to Mr. Howard R. Fields in Glendale, California, from his mother.

She was inquiring about when he was coming home or if he had plans to stay and also implored him to write and let her know. She also asked him if the picture of the Guilford cottage meant anything to him. Perhaps the family had stayed there on a beach vacation in the past.

Do any of you remember this cottage and where it was located? Did you know Mrs. S.R.Jordan? I seem to recall reading about a Dr.S.R.Jordan who had a medical practice at Carolina Beach, but can’t remember where I read it.

If you have any information, please call the History Center at 910-458-0502.

 

Tooting Our Own Horn?

By Elaine Henson

Several months ago, we were asked to present a program on our Historical Society by the Kiwanis Club in Wilmington for their monthly meeting.  Don’t know why we had not thought of doing that before, but we got a program together and presented it at their August meeting. A few days after that we were invited to come to the Wilmington Civitan Club meeting in September and then by the Men’s Breakfast Group at Carolina Beach Presbyterian in October.

On January 8, 2019, we will be presenting a shorter version at the Carolina Beach Town Council Meeting having been invited by Mayor Joe Benson.  So, it seems that we have taken our show on the road.

The presentation begins with an overview of who we are, where we are, what we do and what we collect.  It talks about our monthly meetings, our exhibits, our newsletter, our special programs like the Historic Boardwalk Tour, and our awesome website that has so much of our archives online.

Then, there are two short history lessons.  One is about the beginning of Carolina Beach as a resort in the early1880s, the Winners, Capt. John Harper, the Steamers and Shoo Fly train, first Pavilion, etc.  The other is how our Federal Point Peninsula became an island with the coming of the Intracoastal Waterway 1926-1932.

If you know of an organization that has monthly meetings or any group that looks for programs, please tell them about us.  We would love to visit them!

 

President’s Letter – November, 2018

By Elaine Henson

Boardwalk, Part VII

Even though the future looked bleak during the dark days of 1993, our boardwalk story does have a happy ending.  From the mid-1990s into the new twenty-first century, many successful building blocks for boardwalk revitalization were laid.  All of the mayors and council members we’ve had since then have been dedicated to restoring it to its former glory.

Some used our building and fire codes to clean up buildings in need of repair.  There were committees like the Carolina Beach Citizens for Progress, Carolina Beach Boardwalk Preservation Association, Pleasure Island Merchant’s Association and Paint the Town Group formed with government and citizens working for the goal.

Perhaps the biggest shot in the arm was the announcement of a new Courtyard by Marriott Hotel to be built on the boardwalk.  The ten story 144 room hotel, which opened in 2003, came at the perfect time and provided a catalyst for further development.

The next few years saw several big projects planned, some of which materialized and others that went belly up in the recession of 2008.  But, there were new boardwalk businesses such as Wheel Fun Rentals, the Fudgeboat, the Blackhorn Restaurant and the Island Ice Factory added to the old standbys like Frank’s Pizza and Britt’s Donuts whose opening in 1939 holds the record of being the longest continuous business and mainstay, constantly drawing visitors to the boardwalk.  With its long lines of devoted fans coming back year after year and being the recipient of many awards, Britt’s remains a number one boardwalk destination.

In the Fall of 2007, the Boardwalk Makeover Group was formed by then councilman, Dan Wilcox, and business owner, Duke Hagestrom, and others which really got the ball rolling.

Council kicked in $53,000 to fund the improvements in 2008, which included new landscaping, public bathroom upgrades, colorful planter boxes, trash cans, ashtrays, benches and bike racks.  There were attractive directional signs and banners hanging from new lamp posts.

They extended the Chamber of Commerce’s Thursday night fireworks shows, begun two years earlier, with live music at the Gazebo.  The excitement was real as others joined in to help and contribute monetarily like the Chamber and private individuals.  Then in 2009, when the carnival rides returned to the boardwalk, it was the icing on the cake.  The family friendly atmosphere was back.

Elaine Henson leads FPHPS Historic Boardwalk Tour

But there was more to come!  In the fall of 2013, a $1.5 million-dollar boardwalk makeover was announced to be funded by grants and tourist revenue.  It opened in 2014, with an all new 750-foot-long, 16-foot wide boardwalk along with swings, gazebos, shade sails, showers and five ADA accessible walkways combined with available beach wheelchairs.

Then in 2016, the new Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton opened at 1 Harper Avenue, in the same spot as the Ocean Plaza which was torn down in 2006.

The 106 room, 8 story hotel is located at the beginning of the 875-foot boardwalk extension going all the way to Pelican Lane.

The new and improved family friendly boardwalk prompted FPHPS to launch a Historic Boardwalk Tour in 2018 every Tuesday, during the summer, at 10 am.  It was a huge success and will be back next summer.