President’s Letter – June, 2019

by Elaine Henson

Kure Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church – Part II

Kure Memorial Chapel was “Serving the Savior by the Sea” and almost five years old when members and Kure Beach residents were invited to a meeting on August 21, 1951, to discuss its future.  Those attending voted that the Chapel would become Kure Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church and affiliated with North Carolina Synod of the United Lutheran Church of America. That organizational meeting marks the birthday of Kure Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Eighteen adults were present at that meeting including Mrs. Laura Kure Williford, Miss Anne Kure, Margaret and Robert Ford, Bessie and Fred Schenk, Lawrence C. Kure, Oscar and Anna Lee Wren, Isabell and Merritt Foushee, Betty Kure (Mrs. A. E. Sr.) and Jean Gore (later Jean Kure, Mrs. A. E. Jr.).  The group adopted a constitution and elected the following church council members: Lawrence C. Kure, Vice Chairman, Margaret Ford, Secretary, Anne Kure, Treasurer and W. E. Williford, Sunday School Superintendent and Council Members Robert Ford, Oscar Wrenn, Merritt Foushee and Fred Schenk.  The council decided to leave the charter membership open until one month after the arrival of a full time Pastor.

On Sunday evening, August 26, 1951, the new church held a special service to mark the organization of Kure Memorial Evangelical Lutheran in the barracks church building.  Celebrants were Rev. K.Y. Huddle of St. Matthews Lutheran, Rev. J. Frank Davis of St. Paul’s Lutheran and seminarian, Jack Martin.  The congregation applied for membership in the North Carolina Synod on October 7, 1951.  Rev. Huddle and Rev. Davis continued with Sunday evening services throughout the winter months.

The first congregational meeting was held on January 9, 1952.  There was $227.14 in the general fund and $86.10 in the building fund.  75 members were on the roll with an average Sunday School attendance of 64.  The Council voted to budget $1,000 toward a pastor’s annual salary of $3,600.

In early 1952, men of the congregation began building a parsonage on the lot next door to the church.  It was completed in time for their first pastor, the Rev. David Johnson and his family who arrived in June.

Attendance increased with Pastor Johnson’s ministry. In 1953, the church built its first educational building.  It was brick with four classrooms and two bathrooms.  Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Kure donated $1,300 for the building with matching funds coming from the N.C. Synod and labor from the men of the church.  Dedication services were held for the classroom building on August 30, 1953.

Later that year plans for a new church building began with a fundraising campaign.

Next month:  Kure Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church, Part III

 

President’s Letter — May, 2019

By Elaine Henson

Kure Memorial Lutheran Church Part I

117 North 3rd Street in Kure Beach is the address of Kure Memorial Lutheran Church.  It is a block off of busy Fort Fisher Boulevard and a block from K Avenue.  The brick church building opened its doors for a dedication service on June 26, 1955, but the congregation had its beginnings before that.

Kure Lutheran’s story actually begins during the war years of 1942-43 and not as a church but with nondenominational Sunday School classes at the home of Mrs. W. O. Fickling located near the intersection of S. Fort Fisher Boulevard and K Avenue.  The adults who came were taught by retired Lutheran minister, Rev. B. D. Wessinger.

As the town filled with soldiers and their families, defense and shipyard workers and those with other war related jobs, the Sunday School outgrew Mrs. Fickling’s home.  The Sunday School began meeting in a vacant store building owned by Lawrence C. Kure.

Founders of Kure Beach, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Kure, Sr., had set aside land on 3rd Street for the time when a Lutheran church could be organized.  Hans and Ellen Kure deeded the land to St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Wilmington for safe keeping until the time arose.

In 1946, the Sunday School group reorganized as Kure Memorial Chapel with a constitution and soon after St. Matthews deeded the 3rd Street property to them as a nondenominational church.  Pastor Wessinger, Mrs. Fickling and Lawrence Kure began fund raising for a building with fish suppers and the like.

Soon they were able to purchase two Army barracks from Fort Fisher.  They put them together in the shape of a T and added a vestibule on the front replete with a steeple. The converted barracks were dedicated as Kure Memorial Chapel on December 1, 1946. Pastor Wessinger officiated assisted by Rev. Edwin Carter from Carolina Beach Methodist Church and retired Salvation Army Major John O’Beinne.

The first trustees of Kure Memorial Chapel were Fred Schenk, Linwood Flowers and Lewis E. Weinberg. The first wedding in the Chapel was on July 13, 1949 as Oscar B. Wrenn and Anna Lee Lewis were married by Rev. Edwin Carter and Dexter Moser. A. E. “Punky” Kure and Jean A. Kure were married there in 1952.

Sunday School was held every Sunday with a church service once a month held by Pastor Wessinger until ill health forced him to resign.  In the summer of 1949 Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary student Dexter Moser conducted services every Sunday.  In winter other students from the seminary, located in Columbia, South Carolina, held monthly services.  In the summers of 1950 and 1951 seminarian Jack Martin conducted Sunday services.

Next month:  Kure Memorial Lutheran Church, Part II

 

President’s Letter — April, 2019

By Elaine Henson

Blockade Runner Museum

Blockade Runner Museum

Last month we featured the Picnic Shelter/Gazebo next to the Blockade Runner Museum which is the home of Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.  This month our focus is the Museum.

John Hanby Foard (1901-1977) opened the Blockade Runner Museum in the 1100 block of Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach, as a private venture on July 4, 1967, after years of research and construction. He moved from Newton, N.C. to Carolina Beach, living on Raleigh Avenue, in 1965 to begin the museum project.

Foard was a retired textile executive whose interest in the Civil War came from his maternal grandfather John Hazard Hanby (1841-1910).  Hanby was a Confederate veteran who owned the Atlantic View Hotel at Wrightsville Beach in the late 1880s when Wrightsville Beach was known as Atlantic View Beach.  Young Foard delighted in hearing stories of the war, blockade runners and Fort Fisher from his Grandfather Hanby which spurred his life long love of Civil War history.

The museum’s exhibits focused on Fort Fisher and the Wilmington port’s roles with ships getting through the Federal blockade carrying goods vital to the Confederate supply line.  There were several dioramas made by renowned model maker Lionel G. Forrest and ship modes by John Railey. It was open for ten years when Foard died unexpectedly in 1977, but remained open until 1983.

Civil War expert and retired UNCW Professor, Dr. Chris Fonvielle, worked at the museum as curator from 1979-1983.  He recalls that when he put the key in to lock the door on the last day, the key broke off in the lock.  After closing, many of the museums displays went to the Cape Fear Museum where they remain today.  One is a diorama of the Battle of Fort Fisher with lights and sound and the other is a very large model of Wilmington’s waterfront during the Civil War.

In 1989, the Town of Carolina Beach purchased the Blockade Runner Museum and adjoining property in the 1100 block of Lake Park Boulevard for $398,000.  Town officials and employees moved into the renovated museum in 1990 from the Municipal Building across from the marina on the corner of Carl Winner Drive and Canal Drive. In 1999, after record hurricane flooding in the Municipal Building, they added on to the remodeled former museum making room for the police, recreation and other departments.

Twenty years later we have the handsome town complex, separate Recreation Center and converted the picnic shelter, to the Federal Point History Center, on the former Blockade Runner Museum grounds.

In 2016, four of the smaller dioramas from the Blockade Runner Museum were installed in the atrium in the Carolina Beach Town Complex.  One depicts the drowning of Rose O’Neal Greenhow when the blockade Runner Condor went down in 1864; one shows an auction house scene where goods from the blockade runners were sold; another shows Union sailors boarding a blockade runner; and the last is a recreation of Lt. Commander William B. Cushing’s raid on Smithfield, present day Southport.  Visitors can view the dioramas during regular business hours at the town complex.

 

President’s Letter — March, 2019

By Elaine Henson

FPHPS 25th Anniversary, Gazebo/Picnic Shelter

This month we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.  The organization was incorporated on March 28, 1994.  In those early days the Society met at various places including Fort Fisher State Historic Site, but after a few years they were eyeing the gazebo/picnic shelter next to the Town Hall complex in the 1100 block of North Lake Park Boulevard.

The Town of Carolina Beach had purchased the former Blockade Runner Museum in 1989 to remodel and expand into the present day town complex.  The property included a replica of a 19th Century open air public market which was used as a picnic shelter for school groups and visitors to the museum.

In the late 1990s, FPHPS approached the town about converting the picnic shelter into a meeting space.  After a couple of years, the town gave the go ahead and the fund raising and gathering of materials began.

There were generous donations from many individuals from the Federal Point area, Wilmington and New Hanover County.  Many donated money, materials, services, talents and man hours.  Just to name a few, the HVAC was donated by Taylor Heating and Air; M & M Plumbing donated their labor and got a vendor to donate fixtures; EWE Electrical donated their labor; Hanover Iron Works donated the shingles and Lowes gave a discount on all the building materials and other purchases.

Many organizations donated their time such as the Junior Sorosis who donated and installed the ceiling tiles and the North Carolina Aquarium employees who helped with the display cases.  FPHPS members, their families and other volunteers worked tirelessly to complete enclosing the picnic shelter and adding a 16-foot addition to the back to make the almost 1600 square foot History Center.

Upon completion they held a grand opening celebration on March 30, 2001.  The guest speaker was Lisbeth Evans, Secretary of North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

 

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

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.

 

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.

 

 

President’s Letter — October, 2018

By Elaine Henson

Boardwalk, Part VI

The summer of 1978 opened without the iconic rides that had long been an integral part of the boardwalk’s charm. Looking back, many believe this was the beginning of a decline that led to dark days for the Carolina Beach landmark.

The 1980’s boardwalk was filled with many vacant stores and properties in various states of disrepair.  By the latter part of that decade there were 14 bars in a two block area which made for many problems.  The town spruced up Cape Fear Boulevard with new paving, landscaping medians and built the Gazebo.  In the early 1990’s they built a wooden boardwalk over the dunes, added new landscaping and lighting.  The town assigned a police officer to patrol the boardwalk and enforce ordinances nightly.

By 1993 there were 16 bars, two of them, Honey Bares and Roadies, featured topless dancers.

But the most troubled establishment was the Longbranch Saloon where on April 8, 1993,a fight broke out over a pool game that ended with one man being stabbed to death.  A few months later on September 22nd,a construction worker was hit with a chair at the Longbranch and died two days later.

A third death happened at the saloon that year when a man was beaten to death in a fist fight on November 20th.  The bar closed by November 30th after the landlords did not renew the lease. Dark days were here indeed.

 

 

Next month:

Boardwalk Part, VII

 

President’s Letter — September, 2018

By Elaine Henson

Boardwalk, Part V

After WW II, life on the Boardwalk got back to normal.  Beachgoers were walking the wooden boards enjoying the arcades, bingo parlors, miniature golf, amusements and rides along with salt water taffy, snow balls, donuts and great short order food.  There were still soldiers, most from nearby Camp Lejeune, who came for some rest and recreation.  For soldiers that might have a little too much R & R, there was the steady presence of Military Police on the boardwalk that continued for many years.

Dancing was still an important part of boardwalk life with many establishments having juke boxes providing music to dance by.  There was also the Ocean Plaza, built in 1946, with a ballroom on the second floor to replace the pavilion and its dance floor that burned in 1940.

Hurricanes always brought damage that had to be repaired time and time again. Hazel was the worst being the only Category Four hurricane to hit our area in all of the 20th Century to the present day. It destroyed over 300 homes at Carolina Beach along with most of the boardwalk businesses.  But changes were coming.

The 1960s and 70s brought beach erosion concerns. They were addressed with berms of sand planted with sea oats that made the beach wider.  As a result you couldn’t see the ocean from the boardwalk which was now made of concrete.  Beach goers had to walk on ramps over the berm to get to the sand and surf.  Some of the boardwalk charm was gone.

In 1972, Mayor Richard Kepley proposed tearing down the boardwalk and replacing it with a three story complex.  There would be parking on the bottom, an entertainment mall on the second floor with a hotel on the top.  The proposal was not well received by boardwalk owners and town officials and soon faded away.

But, in 1977, another proposal became reality. Seashore Amusement Park announced that they would reopen in 1978 on Lake Park Boulevard as Jubilee Park leaving the boardwalk with no rides.

Next month Boardwalk, Part VI