From the President – October, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

John W. Plummer, Jr.   Part Two

When John W. Plummer, Jr. became our first mayor on September 7, 1925, Carolina Beach was a fairly small community that grew exponentially in the summer.  The Plummers were part of the summer enclave while living in town the rest of the year.  We don’t know the number of full-time residents of Carolina Beach in 1925 because the unincorporated community was counted with the residents of Federal Point (Monkey Junction to Fort Fisher) in the 1920 census. It was counted in the 1930 census since it had become a municipality.  That census listed 69 full-time residents.

Caroline Rowell King Plummer
 Post Mistress of Carolina Beach 1927

 

John Wilkinson Plummer, Jr.
  Mayor of Carolina Beach
1925-27 & 1927-29

In 1925 Mayor Plummer had several priorities in mind.  He also served as the Commissioner of Public Safety, so the first item on his list was to hire a police officer for the resort. That was definitely needed in the summer months when the population swelled with cottage owners and visitors to the hotels, boardwalk and beach. The beach town was not without protection, as the New Hanover County Sheriffs Department did regular summer patrols.

Mayor Plummer also wanted to improve the limited lighting, increase the water supply and build more boardwalks.  By April of 1926 Tidewater Power Company began working on a transmission line from Wilmington and building a transformer station at the beach. It would provide electricity year-round for the beach.  They later extended the line to Wilmington Beach and the new Breakers Hotel there that had opened the summer before. At the same time another deep water well was dug to make the fourth one at Carolina Beach. It could produce 100,00 gallons of water every 24 hours.

By July there was a meeting of the government and citizens in the ballroom of the brand new Carolina Beach Hotel to approve a resolution for a bond issue.

The Carolina Beach Hotel overlooked the lake, about where the Carolina Beach Elementary School is located now.
 

[Carolina Beach School sits on the site of this hotel that burned on September 13, 1927] An advisory committee was appointed under Public Works Commissioner E. Fleet Williams and the bond passed soon after.  It was to fund street improvements, the new power line, the deep well and more boardwalks. Under Mayor Plummer, the new town government was up and running.

On May 11, 1927 Mayor Plummer was re elected to a second term at a town meeting with over 100 citizens in attendance.  He was joined by Commissioner of Finance J. Edwin Bunting and Commissioner of Public Works L.T. Landing. On July 7, 1927 a rural substation post office was established at Plummer’s Store with Mrs. Caroline Plummer named as the first postmistress of Carolina Beach.  The mail was delivered to the post office from Wilmington each day and was then delivered to the residents by rural carriers. Mayor Plummer served until 1929 when he was replaced as mayor by Dr. Auley McRae Crouch.

Their son Robert C. Plummer followed in his father’s business and became the first president of the Carolina Beach Chamber of Commerce when it was formed in 1937.  Robert Plummer was married to Margaret Johnson Plummer; they lived in Wilmington at 2802 Market Street and had a cottage at Carolina Beach where they spent summers.

Margaret Johnson Plummer
1910-2004

Robert Cronly Plummer
1908 – 1960

 

                                 

On a personal note, Mrs. Margaret Plummer was my much-loved 6th grade teacher at Bradley Creek Elementary School on Oleander Drive where the Arboretum is now. That building burned in 1982 and was rebuilt on Greenville Loop Road.  Mrs. Plummer loved literature and read to us every day when we got back from lunch. After becoming a teacher, I was inspired by her and read to my classes every day after lunch for my 31-year teaching career.

 

 

 

 

 


Ann Plummer Corr and her husband Bill at the first Walk of Fame at the Carolina Beach Lake in 2015. They are standing at the stone to honor her grandfather, John W. Plummer, Jr. our first mayor.

The first recipients of the Carolina Beach Walk of Fame were honored with a ceremony and engraved stone at the Carolina Beach Lake on January 24, 2015.

John W. Plummer, Jr. was honored as our first mayor. His granddaughter Ann Plummer Corr was there with her husband Bill.  Ann and Bill had retired to Wilmington in 2003 and lived at the family cottage on Carolina Beach Avenue North while their new home was being built in town.  We happened to meet one day while they were out walking their dogs and discovered that she was my 6th grade teacher’s daughter.  We became instant friends and Ann has become one of my history sources.  She supplied the portraits of her grandparents and a lot of information along with her cousin Suzanne Ruggiers.  And, Ann still has her grandfather Plummer’s ice cream recipe!

Mrs. Margaret Plummer died in 2004 and I attended her funeral. Ann and Bill moved to Atlanta in 2019 to be close to their daughters, sadly Bill died last year.  Ann is excitedly about our upcoming Centennial and hopes to attend some of the celebration.

 

 

 

 

From the President – September, 2021

John W. Plummer, Jr.

John W. Plummer, Jr. –  Part One

By:  Elaine Henson

Carolina Beach’s first mayor was born in Plummerville, Robeson County, North Carolina, on July 17, 1874.  John Wilkinson Plummer, Jr. was a first generation American, as his father came to the U.S. at age 15 with his family from Lincolnshire, England.  The Plummer family settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where a few years later, the senior John Wilkinson Plummer enlisted in the Union Army.  He was assigned to Company G of the 24th Regiment of Wisconsin. For four years he fought bravely in the Civil War until it ended earning the rank of Captain.

After the war, he found his way to North Carolina and Robeson County where in 1867, he married Miss Susan Gilbert. He worked for the Manchester Railroad, an early branch of the Coastline, and then Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherfordton Railroad. In 1888, Captain Plummer moved his family to Wilmington. The year before, Captain John Harper had launched the resort of Carolina Beach where the Plummers later owned some cottages and spent summers.

In town, he went into the confectionery business selling sweets of all kinds including homemade candy along with fruit, nuts, tobacco and fireworks. The business started out on Front Street moved to North 2nd Street, Princess Street and back to Front at 219 North Front between Grace and Chestnut Streets.  Captain  Plummer’s son, John W. Plummer Jr. followed his father in the confectionery business in the early 1990s. Soon after they began making ice cream in the back of their store.

On September 7, 1906, our future mayor, John W. Plummer Jr., married Caroline Rowell King in the small town of Cronly in Columbus County. The young couple made their home in Wilmington and soon had the first two of their three children, son Robert Cronly Plummer (1908-1960) followed by daughter, Doris Grey Plummer (1910-1992).  In 1912, to fit the needs

312 North 5th Avenue, 2020

of their growing family, the Plummers built a bigger home at 312 North 5th Avenue that remains to this day. Five years later, Helen King Plummer (1917-1972) completed their family.

Due to his father’s declining health, Mr. Plummer, Jr. had taken over the family business. Captain Plummer died August 15, 1911, with the funeral being conducted at his residence, 119 South 6th Street and his burial at Oakdale Cemetery.

The demand for Plummer’s ice cream was growing.  By 1918, Mr. Plummer had installed modern pasteurizing, mixing and freezing equipment that completely manufactured the ice cream without ever being touched by human hands.  It was capable of making 1,000 gallons of ice cream daily.  With this new equipment, he was able to expand selling ice cream at Carolina Beach where his family spent summers at their cottage.  He opened Plummer’s Store on the boardwalk and became very involved in the summer community to the point that he became the lessee of Carolina Beach for the 1923 summer season.  In that capacity, he was in charge of all the entertainment at the pavilion, orchestras for dancing, holiday celebrations, the bath house, etc.

 

 

The following newspaper clipping details The Sunset Six, the orchestra John W. Plummer, Jr.  hired to play at the Pavilion for the summer of 1923.  On May 31, 1923, they gave a performance at the Plummer’s Carolina Beach home.    [Courtesy of Bill Reaves Files NHCPLL]

May 31, 1923                             CAROLINA BEACH

“The Sunset Six,” a splendid orchestra which was to play at Carolina Beach during the coming summer season, arrived in Wilmington. Their first engagement was a public concert at the Orton Hotel. On May 30th, the players under the direction of Wayne Hinkle, gave a performance at the home of John W. Plummer, lessee of Carolina Beach, and it delighted all those present.
WILM.STAR, 5-31-1923.     WILM.STAR, 5-30-1923

In May of 1923, property owners at Carolina Beach organized a movement to incorporate the town.  John W. Plummer, Jr. was surely a member of this group as he was one of the 3 commissioners named in the incorporation papers that passed in the NC Legislature in March, 1925.    [Courtesy of Bill Reaves Files NHCPLL]       

 

May 10, 1923                                           CAROLINA BEACH

Some of the property owners at Carolina Beach inaugurated a movement to have the popular seaside resort incorporated at the next session of the North Carolina general assembly.
The property owners are convinced that the incorporation of the resort would be the taking of a big step towards developing the beach.
WILM.STAR, 5-10-1923.

Next month:  John W. Plummer, Jr. Part Two

From the President – August, 2021

Carolina Beach Incorporation 1925/Centennial 2025

By: Elaine Henson

A Centennial Committee has been formed to make plans for Carolina Beach’s Centennial coming up in 2025.  Even though the history of the resort goes back to 1887, the Town was not incorporated until 1925.

The celebration will kick off Friday, March 7, 2025, which is the day after the actual March 6, 1925, date of incorporation.  It will wrap up September 5, 6 & 7, 2025, which commemorates the September 5, 1925, date when the government actually began.  This month we are taking a look at the history of the incorporation and our first government officials.

In the 1920s a group of Carolina Beach property owners and residents approached State Representative J.E.L. Wade about introducing a bill to incorporate the beach community.  Mr.Wade introduced the bill in the North Carolina House of Representatives on February 21, 1925.  It went through committees in the House and Senate until it was ratified and sent to the Secretary of State’s Office  on March 6, 1925.

 

Map of Carolina Beach, 1925 (FPHPS Collection)

 

Parker Quince Moore

The bill named three commissioners of Carolina Beach to be Parker Quince Moore, Mayor of Wilmington from 1913-1920 and brother to Louis T. Moore, famed for his early (1925-1930) photographs of Wilmington and beaches.  Mr. P.Q. Moore’s son, Maurice Moore was also named a commissioner along with former ice cream manufacturer and Carolina Beach business owner,  John W. Plummer, Jr.

All three owned property on the beach, with the elder Moore having extensive holdings. Even though the incorporation had taken place in March, the three commissioners did not get together to decide who would be mayor and hold the other offices, as the incorporation dictated, until September 5, 1925. So, the town of Carolina Beach government began, then, and that is the reason for the second and ending date of our celebration in 2025.

John W. Plummer, Jr. was chosen to be mayor and Commissioner of Public Safety.  Parker Quince Moore took the post of Commissioner of Public Works and his son, Maurice H. Moore, became Commissioner of Finance. Mr. Plummer was the lessee of Carolina Beach in 1923, and managed the pavilion and amusements for the summer season that year. He also owned and operated a general store on the boardwalk.

In the post card below the Plummers’ store is the white house with a red roof and front porch. This post card that was published by John Plummer to sell in his store.  Their summer cottage is the white house with gray roof next to the store. Behind them is the Pavilion, the large building with blue roof with “Bath House” painted on it. The triangular space pictured behind the Pavilion with tall poles is an early miniature golf course.

Across the street from that is the Greystone Hotel, built in 1916, with rooftop deck in front.  The deck later became the Greystone Roof Garden, a very popular dancing spot. North of the Greystone is the Bame Hotel, built in 1930, and depicted as being yellow with a green roof.

And, just look at all those cars!  For many years Carolina Beach was known as “The beach you can reach by automobile” as Wrightsville Beach was only accessible by train/trolley until 1936, when a vehicular bridge was constructed over Banks Channel.

Next month: John W. Plummer, Jr. First Mayor of Carolina Beach.

 

From the President – July, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

Center Pier Part VI

Golden Sands Motel

 

The original Golden Sands Motel was located on two ocean front lots in the 1200 block of South Lake Park Boulevard, just north of the Center Pier.  It was built the 1960s. This post card is from 1978 and shows the two story motel with office/living quarters on the left and an above ground pool on the right.

The back of the post card reveals details about the motel including that it was owned and operated by P. V. Medlin and Betty L. Hurt.  Betty, a widow,  later became Mrs. Medlin and was the first woman mayor of Kure Beach and the first mayor elected by the vote of the people instead of being elected by town council. Mayor Medlin served from 1993 to 2005.  The Medlins sold the Golden Sands in 1981, and, then bought the Rolling Surf Motel across from  the Kure Pier.

Betty Medlin died in January, 2007; in December of that year the Town of Kure Beach purchased the Rolling Surf property for $3.6 million. It became the site for the Kure Beach Ocean Park which opened in April, 2013.

In 1985, the new owners of the Golden Sands, going by Golden Sands Motel LLC, added a two story addition on the ocean front, built perpendicular to the street. It was up on pilings and had twelve units; they later added an owner’s quarters on one end.  In 1995, they purchased the Center Pier which was just south of their motel.  The pier was badly damaged the next year by back to back hurricanes Bertha and Fran and was closed.  In 1997, they built the five story Golden Sands Motel building with an ocean front swimming pool in front of the pier. The next year they added the two story Ocean Grill building which opened in December of 1998. Soon after, the stub of Center Pier became the ever popular Tiki Bar.

Photo courtesy of Golden Sands Motel

Business was good enough that another building was planned. But first, they had  to move the original Golden Sands across the street where the former Shoreline, Manning and Pier Inn motels had been.  Part of that property was and still is used for parking.  They later sold the newly relocated motel which was renamed the Sea Mist, and is now a condominium. The move made way for a new seven story Golden Sands with an indoor pool that was built in 2003.

The two Golden Sands buildings have a total of 113 rooms plus the Ocean Grill and the Tiki Bar, all popular vacation and year round destinations.   It’s come a long way since the 60s!

 

From the President – June, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

Center Pier Part III

 

The addition of the Ocean View Restaurant to Center Pier brought a different clientele to the pier along with the fishermen. Beach civic clubs, tourists and families after church were some of the new patrons. The large pine paneled dining room with

Juanita and Allen Herring

blue-green carpeting had windows facing the ocean which was a draw for sure.  They also had a private dining room for large families and meetings. The menu included lots of fresh seafood, some of it caught right out on the pier.

J.R. Bame’s daughter, Juanita and her husband, Allen Herring, were in charge of the pier and restaurant.  Juanita also was the librarian at Roland Grise Junior High School, but worked weekends and summers at the pier restaurant.  Their son, Pete Herring, also helped out when he was old enough.  Pete became quite a chef and opened his own restaurant in the mid-1980s on Charlotte Street in the old Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church. Pete named it the Steeple; it is now home to the ever popular Deck House.

 

This post card shows the interior of the Ocean View Restaurant

This post card shows the interior of the Ocean View Restaurant

 

By the early 1990s the pier had become the property of the Bame heirs since their parents had passed away.  In 1995, the Bame family sold the property to James & Anita Pope.

The notorious year of I996 brought Bertha and Fran to our area.  On July 12th, Category 2 Hurricane Bertha made landfall between Wrightsville Beach and Topsail with winds of 105 miles per hour. On September 5th, Hurricane Fran hit Cape Fear as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 miles an hour.  It quickly weakened after making landfall, but rains of 16 inches brought extensive flooding in North Carolina.  Fran destroyed the Kure Pier and took most of the Center Pier in its path.

But Jimmy Pope, had other plans for the Center Pier.  He turned the hurricane damaged fishing pier into a Tiki Bar with a post card of its own. Every summer visitors and locals flock there to hear live music, have a glass of wine or a beer and maybe dinner on the pier.

 

 

Next Month:  The Golden Sands, Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar

 

From the President – May, 2021

By: Elaine Henson

Center Pier – Part II

Following Hurricane Hazel in October of 1954, Center Pier was repaired and was ready for the 1955 season. That year turned out to be a challenge with two hurricanes and a tropical storm back to back over a 37 day period.

The first was Hurricane Connie which hit on August 12, 1955 as a Category Two with typical strong winds, high tides and heavy rainfall.  It caused heavy crop damage and 27 deaths in North Carolina.

<center><i>Photo courtesy of Jay Winner</i></center>

Photo courtesy of Jay Winner

Five days later, on August 17, Hurricane Diane made landfall in North Carolina as a tropical storm with winds of 50 mph and gusts of 74 mph in Wilmington.  The waves were 12 feet, tides were 6-8 feet above normal and the storm surge caused damage to homes along the beach and coastal flooding on top being rain-soaked from Connie.

On September 19, 1955, Hurricane Ione made landfall near Wilmington as a Category Two storm leaving more flooding, strong winds, storm surge, more crop damage and 7 dead in North Carolina.

By the end of that year some of the partners in Center Pier Corporation wanted out. Eventually, J.R. Bame bought them out and was sole owner. Mr. Bame had been in business at the beach since he opened the Bame Café in 1925 and in 1926 operated the only filling station on the beach.  He replaced his Café with the first Bame Hotel in 1930, then remodeled, enlarged and bricked it in 1937.  That hotel was burned to the ground in the devastating 1940 boardwalk fire.

He rebuilt it again and had it open by the 1941 season.  By the mid-50s, he had been through many hurricanes and fires and was used to rebuilding and starting over, so he did that with the pier as well.

 

The above post card from 1958 shows Center Pier repaired and in good shape with a snack bar and tackle shop.  The parking lot is sand and filled with 1950s cars.

 

In this later card from the mid-1960s, the building looks sleek and modern.  Inside is a new restaurant called the Ocean View along with the tackle shop/snack bar and a paved parking lot.

 

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.

 

 

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

 

 

 

From the President – January, 2021

By Elaine Henson

The Kupboard Grocery, Part I

Happy New Year!  We sincerely hope, with help from the vaccines for Covid 19, that we will be able to meet in person at our History Center sometime in 2021. As of now, we are open on Fridays and Saturdays, 10am to 4 pm.

Our topic, this first month of 2021, is the Kupboard Grocery at 901 Carolina Beach Avenue, North. This rare piece of commercial real estate is amid blocks of residential property on the North End of Carolina Beach. According to the New Hanover County Tax records, it was built in 1940 which makes 80 years that it has sat between the ocean and canal on the corner of Carolina Beach Avenue North and what is now Sandpiper Avenue.

The first owner was Cornelius M. Kelley, also known as Neal.  He and his wife, Mattie, opened the store as Kelley’s Kupboard carrying a full supply of meats and groceries.   Mr. Kelley was an industrial inspector for the Hartford Insurance Company so he depended on his wife and three children to help with the store during the week, especially during beach season. The  Kelley family lived over the store.

One of his children, Ann Kelley, later married James “Jim” Watters who grew up at Kure Beach and was first cousin to Punky Kure who always called him “Son”.  Ann was a tomboy and spent a lot of her summer days at Kure when she wasn’t working at the Kupboard.  She tagged along with Jim Watters, his two brothers, Robert and Hall Watters, and Punky Kure. Eventually, the Kelleys sold the Kupboard and moved to town. Ann and Jim enjoyed 60 years of marriage until her death in May of 2006 at age 81.  The photo on the right shows Ann and Jim in front of Punky’s parents’ house on K Avenue, Kure Beach, in the late 1940s.

The second or possibly third owners were Mary and Albert Newkirk from Warsaw, North Carolina.  The Newkirk’s owned it in the 1950s.  The post card that headlines this article shows the Kupboard during the Newkirk’s ownership.  That is his Cadillac Sedan DeVille parked beside the store. You can see the double screen doors on the front and another door on the side with the living quarters above.

Our late member, Eddie Capel, had fond memories of Mr. Newkirk as his family spent summers just two houses south of the Kupboard. Eddie collected glass soft drink bottles and took them to the Kupboard to collect the 2 or 3 cents deposit on each bottle. In those days, bottles were returned to a store and were picked up by the delivery man and taken back to the bottling plant to be sterilized and reused. Kids could make spending money for candy and such by collecting bottles and returning them. Eddie’s sister, Martha Breslin, remembers that one summer she helped Eddie fill his wagon several times with bottles enough to buy their mother a birthday present.  They bought her a new lamp with their earnings.  Martha also remembers getting phone calls from their home in Apex, NC, at the Kupboard.  The caller would hold on while someone ran down to their cottage and got them to the phone. She said that the Kupboard was a center of activity for the north end, not just a place to shop for groceries.

In 1954, the Kupboard survived Hurricane Hazel with some minor damages.  The day after Hazel hit on October 15, 1954, Luke Wilson Lancaster and his wife, Jessie, bought a house just 3 doors south of the Kupboard. They bought it from Glenn Tucker on a handshake and, most likely, a deposit since the sale was not recorded at the New Hanover County Register of Deeds until April 2, 1955.  The Lancasters would become the next owners of the Kupboard. 

Mrs. Jessie Lancaster stands on the front porch of what is now 815 Carolina Beach Avenue North on October 16, 1954, the day after Hazel. 

Next month: Kupboard Grocery, Part II