Kure Beach – K Avenue Business District c. 1947-1953
By Elaine Henson
In 1937, Andrew Emile Kure, Sr. sold 40 acres of his land to the Dow Plant off what is now Dow Road. With part of the proceeds he bought a 1938 Chevrolet specially ordered with a heater and a radio, neither of which came with the car in those days. His new Chevy was black, the only color available at that time. After the car purchase, he built two houses and a garage apartment facing K Avenue west of the pier. Each cost $500 to build and $500 to furnish.
In the photograph above, the house with the black roof (3) was where his family lived. There was a living room and kitchen on the right with a bathroom behind the kitchen. There were two bedrooms on the left and a back porch behind them which was converted into a bedroom for Mary Rose who lived in to look after his wife, Betty Kure, who had heart trouble. Mary was descended from slaves at Orton Plantation. Her husband, Johnny Rose, built both houses and the garage apartment. Mary’s little daughter, Shirley, was born while she was caring for Betty and shared the room with her mother. Betty, dressed in her gown and robe, would walk across the street holding toddler Shirley’s hand to go to the Post Office. It was located between where the Arcade and Jack Mackerels are now.
Johnny Rose lived in town and would come on the weekends and sometimes weekdays. He was later in a serious brawl and lost his life. Their son, Emile Rose, is a retired longshoreman at Sunny Point. Andrew Emile Kure, Jr. better known as Punky, saw Emile about a year ago. Both men noted that they shared the same name and surmised that the Roses named him for the senior and junior A. E. Kures.
The second house was built with the same floor plan as the Kure home, but with an open front porch (4). It was used as a rental home. Behind that was the garage apartment (7). The downstairs had an efficiency apartment with bedroom, kitchen and living space. The upstairs had a kitchen/living room, bath, bedroom and a glassed-in front porch. Punky and Jean Kure lived there after they were married in 1952. They put in an oil heater and water heater. During Hurricane Hazel in October of 1954, there were whitecaps in the apartment’s bathtub. The storm surge was 17-18 feet.
Next to the rental house were two long buildings, most likely former barracks from Fort Fisher, that remain to this day. The first one (5) had John Flower’s Barber Shop in the back with Clarence Danner’s Fish Market in the front. Since 1972, it has been Bud and Joe’s Sandbar.
The second one (6) had an ABC Store in the front from 1949 to the mid-1960s and Kure Beach Town Hall in the back. East of those two buildings was the two-story white frame Ocean Inn (8) which had been moved there from its original location across the street after the Great Storm of 1944.
In 1947, Andrew Emile Kure, Sr. built a service station/café on the corner of K Avenue and Fort Fisher Boulevard (1). Punky Kure ran the station for two years which was on the left end of the building. The Café was on the right end. There was a garage (2) built at an angle to the service station. It was used for lubes and washing cars.
East of the station, garage, houses, barracks buildings and Ocean Inn were two rows of little guest houses (13) built by Fred Futch. He and Mrs. Futch also had a home among guest houses. Fred was an Air Raid Warden during WWII and was killed during a black out when a car ran over him.
At the end of K Avenue was the iconic Kure Pier (9) which was built in 1923 by Lawrence Kure, A.E. Kure, Sr.’s brother. He also served as the first mayor of Kure Beach when it was incorporated in 1947. Across the street was the Smitty’s building (10). Smitty’s was a restaurant that specialized in seafood, no surprise there. On the end of that building near the pier was Taft Russ’ Tackle Shop.
Number 11 shows three little one story buildings. The one on the left was the 400 sq. ft. post office. The next was Fry’s Fundy Café and the third was a small grocery store run by Linwood Flowers at the time.
Building #12 was the Plaza Grill, owned and operated by George & Lola Canoutas. The Plaza Grill had a restaurant on the end near Fort Fisher Boulevard, which also served as a bus stop for school children and Trailways/City buses. The building also had a Bingo Hall and at Beauty Shop on the main floor with apartments and rooms to rent on the second floor. Their son, Andy Canoutas, is the attorney for the Town of Kure Beach and has held that post for many years.