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

 

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!

 

Christmas During the 1918 Pandemic

(Click Image)

by Rebecca Taylor

[excerpts from The ATLANTIC (3/3/2020) and USA TODAY (11/24/2020)]

In December, 1918, in the midst of the pandemic, 1,000 public-health officials gathered in Chicago to discuss the disease which had by then killed an estimated 400,000 people over three months. They did not know the cause of the epidemic, they had no treatments, and they had little idea how to control its spread.

Face masks, which were then being worn by a large portion of the general public, offered no guarantee of protection (and that remains true of face masks today). Many health officials believed that the masks provided a false sense of security. Perhaps that was correct, but there was still a value in providing any kind of security.

Chicago’s health commissioner made this clear. “It is our duty,” he said, “to keep the people from fear. Worry kills more people than the epidemic. For my part, let them wear a rabbit’s foot on a gold watch chain if they want it, and if it will help them to get rid of the physiological action of fear.”

Just as cases rose after Armistice Day celebrations, they rose again after Thanksgiving. Dallas, Minneapolis, San Antonio, San Francisco and Seattle saw surges. Omaha relaunched a public health campaign. Parts of Cleveland and its suburbs closed schools and enacted influenza bans in early December.

In this 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross tend to influenza patients in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, (Edward A. “Doc” Rogers/Library of Congress via AP)

On Dec. 6, the St. Paul Daily News announced that more than 40 Minneapolis schools were closed because of the flu, below the headline “SANTA CLAUS IS DOWN WITH THE FLU.”

Health officials asked “moving picture show” managers to exclude children, closed Sunday schools and ordered department stores to dispense with “Santa Claus programs.”

On Christmas Eve, health officials in Nebraska made influenza a mandatory quarantine disease, and fines ranged from $15 to $100 for violations. Approximately 1,000 homes in Omaha were placarded, meaning their occupants were unable to leave for at least four days after the fever had subsided.

In Denver, the Salvation Army canceled its annual Christmas parties for children,

Influenza epidemic in United States. St. Louis, Missouri, Red Cross Motor Corps on duty, October 1918. (National Archives)

and the Women’s Press Club canceled its New Year’s Eve ball. School Christmas assemblies were canceled in Fall River, Massachusetts, and families with an influenza patient in their homes were warned not to entertain guests and barred from borrowing books from the library.

On page 7 of its Nov. 23 edition, the San Francisco Examiner reported “‘Flu’ Masks To Be Ousted Thanksgiving.”
Image Provided by Influenza Encyclopedia Graphic by Karl Gelles, USA TODAY.
(Click Images)

By January, the USA was fully engulfed in its third wave of influenza.

The virus spread throughout the winter and spring, killing thousands more. It infected one-third of the world’s population and killed approximately 675,000 Americans before subsiding in the summer of 1919.

“What did they do wrong? That’s hard to say, but all of these measures are like Swiss cheese. They have holes, so you try to use as many layers as possible,” Markel said. “To me, those surges just represented whether there was social distancing or not. Flu didn’t stop circulating, the question was when did people go out and get exposed to it? And that’s what’s going on now.”

 

 

 


Quarantine 1918

*  No Internet; Facebook, Twitter, Zoom
*  No Cell Phones
*  No Streaming – or Television
*  News came from the daily newspaper or radio
*  No curbside pickup restaurants
*  No Grubhub, Door Dash, Uber Eats
*  Fresh Food refrigeration limited to “ice” box
*  No Air Conditioning           

“How bad do we have it?”

Plaqued Buildings – Federal Point, NC

Structures that are more than fifty years old are eligible for a plaque. To apply for your property see the Guidelines and Application link at the end.

[Tap/Click on any image.]

Blair-Brady House

 

Blair-Brady House
1001 Carolina Beach Ave. North, Carolina Beach

The house was probably built and occupied in 1935 by Walter H. Blair who was mayor of Wilmington for 5 terms 1926-1937. He was the first town clerk of Carolina Beach and also served Postmaster at Carolina Beach for a time.

The property was the home of a series of Blair family members until 1954 when it was sold to A.C. Green, Sr. and his wife Aileen.  In July 1974 it was sold to Gladys and Edward Craft of Wrightsville Beach. In February 1973 Jocelyn and Harry Lockamy purchased the property.

 


 

Burnett Cottage
404 Carolina Beach Avenue North, Carolina Beach

 

The Lot was purchased (along with nine other lots) 1926 by John Henry Burnett.  Ownership was from the right-of-way on Carolina Beach Avenue North to the high-water mark of the Atlantic Ocean.

The house was built in 1936. It was rebuilt in 1955 after Hurricane Hazel. Heating and air conditioning were added in 1966. The porch and roof were remodeled in 1987. There was an alteration of windows in 1997.

Burnett Cottage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Carolina Beach Community Church (Now: New Hope Memorial Baptist Church)
Was at: 200 S. Lake Park Blvd. (Now at corner of Cape Fear Blvd. and 4th St.)

Carolina Beach Community Church

Called by many the “Mother Church” of Carolina Beach, Carolina Beach Community Church began in the private vacation home of Mrs. S. C. Ogburn of Winston-Salem, NC around 1930.  One of the few residents of Carolina Beach, Mrs. S. C. Ogburn, described as a good woman, began opening her house on Sundays for Sunday school.  First, friends and relatives attended Sunday school, and eventually, others of various denominations came together creating a need to expand.  This cause interested people to immediately join her in a cooperative effort to build a building for a Community Sunday school in that no one denomination was sufficiently strong enough to do this alone.

Although the exact date was not recorded, a lot was acquired on 4th and Cape Fear Boulevard and a shelter was erected.  Early growth here in Sunday school work was gradual, but consistent.  The structure was enlarged several times within the next few years as the Town’s growing population forced it.  By 1937 there was a feeling that a larger, more comprehensive, and adequate church program for the community was needed.

Around 1940 a church was built with ministers from many denominations holding services.  With such a great influx of people at the onset of World War II, a number of various denominations splintered off to form their own church to accommodate them.

The Carolina Beach Community Church was formally organized as a Baptist Church in 1942.  The church has continued to operate through the years and changed the name to Hope Memorial Church on September 5, 1990.


 

Carolina Beach Drug Store
140 Harper Ave., Carolina Beach (SE corner of N. Lake Park and Harper)

“Carolina Beach Drug Store was the central focal point in the community for citizens as well as tourists, with a soda fountain and snack bar to accompany the pharmacy and a rooming house upstairs.  Informal meetings over a cup of coffee or sandwich allowed citizens to catch up on the news or air their opinions.

The bus stopped there, you could pay your light bill, and even receive advice from the resident pharmacist.” “…The two-story stucco building, with a distinctive, castle like parapet around its roof, was much more than a drug store…for years it doubled as Carolina Beach’s bus station.

During World War II, a bus stopped daily to ferry local workers to the shipyard in Wilmington…Besides soft drinks, the drug store boasted a “complete and modern restaurant” with seafood and other entrees according to a 1948 Star-News advertisement. Star News Article 2/24/04 


  

Carolina Beach Elementary School
400 S. 4th St., Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach Elementary School

The Carolina Beach School is a one story Spanish style, wood frame, brick veneer structure, originally constructed in 1938, containing four (4) classrooms and an auditorium, with additions in 1943, 1953, 1975, 1987, and 1989 to add more classrooms, a cafetorium, 1 office, media center, and covered canopy.

Carolina Beach Elementary School

The building has a hip roof with asphalt shingles, and has a large playground area to the rear of the building.  Double-loaded corridor on the interior and the cafetorium has a stage.

The school is located in a neighborhood setting.

 

 

 

 


 

Colonel Burnett House

Colonel Burnett House
7413 Carolina Beach Rd., Wilmington

The land was bought in April 1893 from the Southerland family by Thomas Burnett.  At his death in 1935, the land was divided among his heirs.

In 1939 Colonel Charles Henry Burnett built the current structure as a family home.  It remained in the family until 1978.

 

 

 


 

Immaculate Conception Chapel

Immaculate Conception Chapel
806 St. Joseph St., Caroline Beach

The Immaculate Conception Chapel is owned by Michael and Kathie Winseck.  The building, erected circa 1939, is significant for its social history as well as the structure.

Marion L. Winner of Carolina Beach donated the property to Bishop Eugene J. McGuinness in 1938 to build a chapel.  The Winner family was the first Catholics to make their permanent residence in Carolina Beach.

The building still standing was a rectory and four room dwelling. Today the building was the Checkered Church gift shop until 2020.


 

Joy Lee Apartments
317 Carolina Beach Ave. N., Carolina Beach

Grover Lewis, a masonry construction worker, together with his family, moved to Carolina Beach from High Point, North Carolina in March, 1941.  Mr. Lewis went to work for the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company and moved his family into the Marianette Cottage on Carolina Beach Avenue, North.  When the lot next door was filled in by a storm in the fall of 1944, the Lewis’s decided to purchase it.  Mr. Lewis immediately began designing the Joy Lee Apartment Building.  Long shipyard hours made it necessary for Mr. Lewis to hire William Bordeaux to build the basic concrete block structure.

Joy Lee Apartments

After purchasing a hand operated cement block press, the Lewis family turned out two blocks at a time, approximately fifty per evening.  Named the Joy Lee Apartments after Mr. Lewis’s daughter, the completed duplex was rented to vacationers.  Each apartment consisted of a living room, a dining room, a kitchen with an ice box, 2 bedrooms, and a central hall.  Considered luxury units at the time, they came equipped with private porches and private baths with hot and cold running water.

After the war, Mr. Lewis returned to masonry construction work.  Mrs. Lewis ran a large rooming house as well as the Joy Lee Apartment Complex.  Due to popularity of the Apartments, the Annex was constructed in 1948.

The Joy Lee Apartment building and Annex are a unique combination of several popular architectural styles, including Mission Style, Art Deco, Art Moderne, as well as Prairie Style.  Over the years the family has modified the Apartment Building several times, including a major renovation in 1976 when spiral cement stairs to the upper sundeck, and an in-ground pool were added.


 

Kure Cottage
301 Atlantic Ave., Kure Beach

Kure Cottage

The Kure Cottage, located at 301 Atlantic Street, Kure Beach, is owned by Mr. Terrell Webster.  The building circa 1916, is significant for the social history of its owners as well as the structure.

The cottage was built by Lawrence C. Kure and was one of the first cottages to be built in the Kure Beach area.  Mr. Kure also built the first fishing pier in Kure Beach.  Lawrence Kure was the founder of Kure Beach.

 


 

Loughlin House
1 North Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach (Now Havana’s – NW corner of N. Lake Park and Harper.)

Loughlin House

This bungalow style residence was built by A. W. Pate, president of the New Hanover Transit Company.

Loughlin House

In addition to being president of the New Hanover Transit Company, Mr. Alexander W. Pate was also in the hotel business. He owned a hotel in Florence, SC, two in Augusta, Georgia, and decided to build one in Carolina Beach – the Greystone Inn.

A. W. Pate and his wife, Eleanor, owned the property from June 1916 until November 6, 1925.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Lewis-Lyerly House

Lewis-Lyerly House
208 S. 4th St., Carolina Beach

Cinderblock with stucco, single family dwelling built in 1945.

Similar to other structures built in this period, though very few remain.

 

 

 

 

 


 

McCabe-Lancaster House

McCabe – Lancaster Cottage
815 Carolina Beach Ave. N.

On June 20, 1935, Vista and Harry Lee McCabe purchased lots 8 and 18 in block 14 of Federal Point Township.  According to tax records, they built a home on lot 8 in 1940.  The next year they sold the property to William and Estelle Upchurch.

Over the next 14 years, the property changed hands seven times.   Luke and Jessie Lancaster bought it on April 2, 1955, and kept the property until their deaths in 1991 and 1992.  In January of 2003, the Lancaster heirs sold the property to Charles and Elaine Henson.

 


 

The Ocean Plaza

The Ocean Plaza
Was at 200 Carolina Beach Avenue N., Carolina Beach. (Now Hampton Inn & Suites Oceanfront)

The Ocean Plaza building, erected circa 1946, is significant for its Art Moderne style and dominant location in the center of the Carolina Beach Business District.  Two stories covered approximately 5,000 square feet with a third story covering approximately 1,000 square feet.  One front corner was rounded.  It was constructed with stucco over a double course of cement block.

Located at the north end of the Carolina Beach boardwalk, it served as an entertainment center for people living in the area, as well as tourists who came to the beach in the 1940’s.  Big bands played in the building when that form of entertainment was popular.  Celebrities such as Bill Grassick, Bo Diddly, Chubby Checker and others played there.  Known to the community as the birth place of the Shag dance and Beach Music.


 

Pfaff-Cohen Cottage

Pfaff-Cohen Cottage
212 Atlanta Ave., Carolina Beach

In the 1920s, when Claude Pfaff was working for the Realty Bond Real Estate Company, the firm often sent its salesmen on vacation to Carolina Beach so that they would come back and tell their customers how wonderful the beach was – and, hopefully, sell more lots at Carolina Beach.

Pfaff-Cohen Cottage

In the early 1930s, Claude built a cottage near Carolina Beach Lake as a birthday present for Atha, who named it “The Lullaby” for the choruses of frogs that sang around it at night.

Often during WWII, the Pfaff family ended up sharing the small cottage with a family of strangers. Because of the shortage of housing in the Wilmington area, property owners were required to rent out their houses in order to provide the families of the enlisted men due to ship out soon a week at the beach before they were separated. Only office space was exempt, so Atha designated one room an office.


 

 Price Cottage
405 N. Carolina Beach Ave.

Price Cottage

The cottage was built in 1939 by a local contractor of Wilmington, Mr. Hines (he also built a dining room table that remains in the cottage today.) It was built for Grover Cleveland Price and his wife Tessie Sutton Price for recreational purposes for fishing and family gatherings. Materials were shipped in by rail; the structure is totally wooden.

When the cottage was built, all the area was marshland. During the Civil War, there was a confederate gun battery, the Half Moon Battery, across the canal. During the dredging of the canal, lots of cannon balls were unearthed.

Price Cottage

During World War II, the cottage was rented for a couple of years by Hazel King who fed and housed workers from the shipyard in Wilmington. There were 23,000 shipyard workers, so they had to stay where they could. The apartment slept three shifts of ship builders at eight hour intervals. Therefore there was always someone sleeping there sharing the cost. The children of the house spent their time looking for German spies on the beach. There was a blackout with black shades on the windows because of German U-boats offshore.

After the war and the death of her husband Tessie ran the Arlington Inn (named after the name of the street she lived on in Rocky Mount, NC as a rooming house for income to raise her family.

The cottage has weathered all hurricanes including Hazel, which after Hazel the asbestos shingles were overlaid on top of the wood. Hurricane Diana did some damage that required repairs as well as Fran, but structurally it survived with roof repairs, porch and awning repairs. Hurricane Fran came over the berm and up three feet inside the apartment.


 

Sly-Walton House
500 Cape Fear Blvd. Carolina Beach

Sly-Walton House

Monty A. Sly built this house for his family in 1938.  Monty, his wife and his two daughters lived in the downstairs area of the house and he rented out the upstairs rooms during World War II to young wives whose husbands were in the service overseas.  Said to be the first brick house on Carolina Beach, the Dutch colonial style has a gambrel roof with flaring eaves.

At the death of Mr. Sly’s wife, Edith, he sold the house to his daughter Lois Walton.  Mr. Sly lived in the upstairs until his death in 1957.  It remained the home of Lois Walton until her death in 2013.

 

Guidelines and Application to Plaque a Structure – Federal Point, NC

(Updated on 11/14/2020)

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

 

Then and Now – Part 1

For those of you who are new in town, and those who enjoy a trip down memory lane now and then, here are some local sights that are lost, but not forgotten.

The Shoo-Fly Train

In 1887, when Captain Harper began bringing beach goers to the new resort of Carolina Beach, the road to Federal Point was a sandy wagon track. Instead, people took the steamer, Passport, and later the Wilmington, down the Cape Fear River from Wilmington.

But, it was a long, hot, buggy walk from the dock on the river to the beach, so he bought a small, three car train and constructed tracks across the peninsula from Sugar Loaf (and, later, Doctor’s Point) to the first ocean side building.

 

January 14, 1887: The Carolina Beach Company, recently formed, had begun work on a railroad which was to run from near Sugar Loaf, about 13 miles below Wilmington on the Cape Fear River, across the peninsula to the Atlantic coast, near the head of Myrtle Grove Sound, and just below old Camp Wyatt.  The iron rails have already been purchased and the rolling stock provided.  The railroad work was to be completed in about two months, and the line was not to be more than two miles in length. At the terminus of the railroad on the ocean side there will be a “playground” for the excursionists where they can go and enjoy themselves.  WILM.STAR   1-14-1887

 

May 1, 1887: Capt. Beach was to have charge of the hotel which was to be erected at the new summer resort being developed south of Wilmington.  The building was to be put up as soon as the railroad from the river to the beach was completed and made available for the transportation of building materials received from Wilmington. WILM.STAR   5-1-1887

 

May 4, 1887: A locomotive for the railroad extending from the Cape Fear River to old Camp Wyatt and then to the ocean beach was sent down from Wilmington.  WILM.STAR   5-5-l887

May 5, 1887: Three railroad cars, intended for use on the railway from the river to the beach at Carolina Beach, were taken from the shops of the builders, Messrs. Burr & Bailey, to the wharf at the foot of Dock Street, for shipment. WILM.STAR   5-6-1887

Harper Avenue

Did you know?

You can still see where the old tracks ran in places in the Carolina Beach State Park.

You can also see them very plainly, right down the middle of Harper Avenue, which is why it curves as it approaches Dow Rd., instead of running exactly perpendicular from the ocean to the river.

 

 


 

Fort Fisher Radar Base

Fort Fisher Air Force Station was opened in 1955, on part of the Fort Fisher AFS installation as USAF Permanent System Radar Station “M-115” during a $1 billion increase for US continental defense after the Air Force approved the Mobile Radar program in mid-1954. It was assigned to Air Defense Command as part of a planned deployment of forty-four Mobile Radar Stations. Fort Fisher AFS was designed as site M-115 and the 701st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was assigned on August 1, 1955.

Initially, the Air Force Station functioned as a Ground control intercept and warning station to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the squadron’s radar scopes.

During 1962, Fort Fisher AFS joined the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, initially feeding data to Fort Lee AFS, Virginia. After joining, the squadron was re-designated as the 701st Radar Squadron on July 1, 1962. The radar squadron provided information 24/7 to the SAGE Direction Center where it was analyzed to determine range, direction, altitude, speed, and whether or not aircraft were friendly or hostile.

The 701st Radar Squadron (SAGE) was inactivated and replaced by the 701st Air Defense Group in March 1970. Just before inactivation, the squadron earned an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service for the period from December 1, 1968, through February 28, 1970. The upgrade to group status was done because of Fort Fisher AFS’s status as a Backup Interceptor Control (BUIC) site. BUIC sites were alternate control sites in the event that the SAGE Direction Centers became disabled and unable to control interceptor aircraft. The group was inactivated and replaced by 701st Radar Squadron (SAGE) in January 1974, as a reduction to defenses against manned bombers. The group and squadron shared a second Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period January 1, 1973, through December 31, 1974.

Fort Fisher AFS came under Tactical Air Command jurisdiction in 1979, with the inactivation of Aerospace Defense Command.

The base closed on June 30, 1988, and the USAF retained the housing complex and converted it into the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area. Supervision of the Recreation Area was transferred to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base when Myrtle Beach AFB closed in 1993.

Ground Equipment Facility J-02 continued use of the USAF radar in the Joint Surveillance System and “in 1995, an AN/FPS-91A performed search duties.” A portion of the base was returned to the State of North Carolina, which turned much of it into the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and historic site.

The Fort Fisher site is used by the National Guard as a training area and also hosts the Annual Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival.

 

President’s Message – August, 2020

Federal-Point-History.org

By Elaine Henson

This month’s newsletter and my president’s letter are devoted to our amazing website, federal-point-history.org. As you Google search online for our history at Federal Point, Fort Fisher, Seabreeze, Carolina, Hanby, Wilmington, and Kure Beaches, notice that our FPHPS website is always there in the list and often at the top or near the top of the links.

That is due primarily to the dutiful labor of our web site manager, Andre Blouin. He has spent countless hours uploading our archives on the site for everyone to read, use to answer questions, and to do research. Our archives collection is not of much value if it can’t be accessed. Not everyone can come to the History Center and go through our files, but most can search online or get someone to do it for them. We hope this focus on our site will inspire you to use it in the coming months.

This is the 73rd letter I have written for our newsletter since I became president in July, 2014.  Looking back, there are some that stand out because they tell very interesting stories of our history and were such fun to research and write. Hopefully you will go to our website, find them, and click and read.

2017:  January, February, March and April President’s Letters: The Carolina Beach Hotel.  This is a fascinating story of a 1920s beautiful new hotel situated on the property where Carolina Beach School is now.  Its opening was attended by Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and her husband from the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Its bright future was cut short involving multiple sales, arson, arrests, a trial, and eventually a school on its site.  A must read.

2018: January, February, March and April President’s Letters: The Breakers Hotel.  This is another promising 1920s hotel story; it doesn’t have visitors from a world-famous family, but it does include a relationship with Ethel-Dow, a fire, and even worse, a hurricane named Hazel.  The Breakers was located in Wilmington Beach which was annexed by Carolina Beach in 2000. It was on the site occupied by the Sea Colony Condominiums on South Lake Park Boulevard between North Carolina Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.

2018: May, June, July, August, September, October, November President’s Letters: The Boardwalk

These seven letters tell a condensed story of the boardwalk from its beginning in 1887 to the present. The boardwalk has lasted in some form for over a century and has gone through glory days, being the center of activity, world wars, numerous hurricanes, fires, and some dark days.  But it has survived them all and is enjoying revitalization and renewed popularity.  We hope it will survive this pandemic in the same way, and that next summer it will be better than ever.

Next month:  Mrs. High’s Dining Room on Cape Fear Boulevard

 

 

 

The Historic Joy Lee Apartments

Joy Lee front[Editor’s Note, 1997: In every developing community, certain structures epitomize detail and design during periods of that development.

Staff of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, as well as many of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society members, felt that Joy Lee Apartments on Carolina Beach Avenue, North at Carolina Beach represented a period of growth in the 1940s that has lasted throughout the last 50 years and is still flesh and useful.

For this reason, Beth Keane graciously volunteered her time and in nominating the beautiful resort attraction to the National Register of Historic Places. As of this writing (early April, 1996), the nomination has passed the local and State level of significance and is being reviewed for national significance. Many thanks to Beth for her contribution to the Federal Point community].

By Beth Keane

Grover Lewis, a masonry construction worker, together with his family, moved to Carolina Beach from High Point, North Carolina, in March, 1941. Mr. Lewis went to work for the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company and moved his family into the Marianette Cottage on Carolina Avenue, North.

When the lot next door was filled in by a storm in the fall of 1944, the Lewis’s decided to purchase it. Mr. Lewis immediately began designing the Joy Lee Apartment Building. Long shipyard hours made it necessary for Mr. Lewis to hire William Bordeaux to build the basic concrete block structure.

After purchasing a hand-operated cement block press, the Lewis family turned out two blocks at a time, approximately fifty per evening.

Named the Joy Lee Apartments after Mr. Lewis’s daughter, the completed duplex was rented to vacationers. Each apartment consisted of a living room, a dining room, a kitchen with an ice box, two bedrooms, each with a closet, and a central hall. Considered luxury units at the time, they came equipped with private porches and private baths with hot and cold running water.

After the war, Mr. Lewis returned to masonry construction work. For the next ten years, Mrs. Lewis ran a large rooming-house, as well as the Joy Lee Apartment Complex. The growth of Carolina Beach doubled during this time period; by 1950, there was a year-round population of 1,080.

Joy Lee poolDue to the popularity of the Joy Lee Apartment Building as a vacation destination, the Annex was constructed in 1948. While similar in form and structure to the original building, stylistically it exhibits design elements reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style.

Carolina Beach experienced widespread devastation several times during the past 50 years. Hurricane Hazel roared ashore with 150 miles per hour winds on October 15, 1954. Hurricane Diana struck in 1984 and last but not least, Hurricanes Bertha and Fran in 1996.

Suffering only minor water damage and some roof damage, the solid masonry construction allowed the Joy Lee Apartment Building to weather these storms intact.

The Joy Lee Apartment Building and Annex are a unique combination of several popular architectural styles, including Mission Style, Art Deco, Art Moderne, as well as the Prairie Style.

After the 1940 fire which destroyed many of the frame structures at Carolina Beach, cinder-block construction became a popular substitute. Not only was it deemed more durable, but because of the war effort, more traditional building materials were in short supply.

Over the years, the Lewis family has modified the Joy Lee Apartment Building several times to remain competitive with more modern buildings being constructed around it, including replacing bathroom showers with bathtubs in 1954, adding a lanai and portico in 1957, and an office and fireplaces in 1960. Major improvements in 1976 included enlarging the dining area with a bay addition, adding spiral cement stairs to the upper level sundeck, and installing an in-ground swimming pool.

While the Town of Carolina Beach has replaced many of its earlier structures with contemporary hotels, motels, and cottages, the Joy Lee Apartments is an original, built from the imagination and ingenuity of a World War II shipyard worker. The solid construction of the Joy Lee should ensure its survival, while continuing to provide Carolina Beach visitors with a glimpse into the past.

[This article was originally published in the April 1997 – FPHPS Newsletter]

The Joy Lee Apartments were entered into the National Register of Historic Places on April 3, 1997 (see plaque)

A History of Quarantine Stations on the Cape Fear River (Part 2 of 2)

By Sandy Jackson

[Originally published in the February, 1996 – FPHPS Newsletter]

In 1889 the state legislature failed to appropriate funds to improve the quarantine facilities. Plans for the selection and construction of a new quarantine hospital at the mouth of the Cape Fear River were again considered by the state in 1893-94.

The state proposed $20,000 for construction of a quarantine station, provided that Wilmington would contribute $5,000 for the purpose. Wilmington could not raise its appropriate share, and the state funds were never provided.

A suggestion was made by the board to petition the federal government to maintain a quarantine hospital on the Cape Fear River.

With the appropriation of $35,000 by Gen. Robert Ransom under the 1894 River and Harbor Act, the US. government would maintain the hospital site chosen to be located near Southport. The most promising site for a new quarantine station was at White Rock, southeast of Price’s Creek lighthouse. “It possessed the advantage of being fairly well protected wind and water, did not endanger Southport, was well isolated, and it was out of the way of regular river traffic”.

Bids were opened for the construction of a wharf and buildings at the new US. Quarantine Station. Frank Baldwin of Washington, DC, was the lowest bidder, at $18,500; however, Baldwin was unable to complete the service in 1895 and the project was then awarded to William Peake (one of the bondsmen for Mr. Baldwin) in the amount of $8,176.66. The State Quarantine Station near Southport was transferred to the US. government on July 18, 1895. There was no charge for inspection or disinfection.

For the prevention of the spread of cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, typhus fever, plague, or other such infectious diseases, the following vessels were subject to the quarantine regulations:

1) All vessels, American or foreign, that had any sicknes’s on board.
2) All vessels from foreign ports, except vessels from the Atlantic or Pacific coasts of British America, not having on board passengers or the effects of passengers not resident in America for sixty days; and except foreign vessels arriving by way of non-infected domestic ports.
3) All vessels from infected domestic ports.

Constructed on pilings located within the Cape Fear River, the new quarantine station consisted of four houses: the disinfecting house, the hospital, the attendants quarters, and the medical officers’ quarters. The quarantine complex was described as follows:

The station has been carefully laid out on the east side of the channel of the river half way between the upper end of Battery Island and No. 4 beacon light (Price’s Creek). The location is entirely in the water and the nearest point to the shore is fully a half mile. The station is one mile east of Southport. As before stated the station will be out in the water and will be constructed on a pier, the caps of which will stand ten feet above mean low water. The pier will be in the shape of a cross .

The quarantine station pier was 600 feet in length and ran north by northwest. It was constructed on a shoal in the river with water from 18 to 20 inches in depth. The disinfecting house was constructed at the west end of the pier and included tanks for disinfectants, sulfur furnaces, a steam boiler and engine, and hose and pumps for applying the disinfectants under pressure. Vessels that required fumigation laid alongside with their hatches closed. A hose was run down into the vessel and the fumes and disinfectants forced in by steam until the ship was entirely covered.

The hospital, built on the south wing of the cross pier, contained wards for the sick, a dispensary, and a kitchen. The third building, the barracks or attendants’ quarters, occupied the center of the cross pier.

The remaining medical officers’ quarters was a two-story house on the north wing that contained an office, living apartments, kitchen, and dining room. At the east end of the pier a ballast was built for the deposit of ballast from quarantine vessels.

Before ballast from contaminated vessels could be dumped into the crib, it had to be disinfected. From 1898 to 1928, about $75,000 was appropriated by the federal government for construction of various additions at the quarantine station. The additions included: men’s quarters, 1898; quarters for detained crews, 1901; wharf, 1914; water tank, 1920; launch shelter, 1921; remodeling 1926; and extension of gangway, 1928. An artesian well, 400 feet deep, was also added to the station in 1897.

The’ United States marine hospital service tug John M Woodworth arrived in November 1895 and was immediately placed under the supervision of Dr. J.M. Eager, quarantine officer, who had assumed charge of the quarantine station in June. The Woodworth was “an iron hull boat of 88 tons, 80 feet in length, 17 feet beam, and draws 7 feet 6 inches.” The tug was designated to be used as a “boarding steamer” but was tied to the end of the quarantine pier and used as attendants’ quarters until the station was completed.

Until the new station was completed, the Cape Fear quarantine vessel served only as a boarding service, and all vessels needing fumigation or treatment were sent to another port.

The quarantine station apparently continued operation until 1937, when it outlived its usefulness and was placed in a surplus status under a caretaker.

It appears on several maps until that period. The station is indicated as late as 1937 on a US. Army Corps of Engineers map. Health services for seamen were transferred to a shore facility, located next to the Stuart house in Southport.

By 1939 maps described the station as “Decommissioned.” With improvements in the control of contagious diseases, a need for quarantine stations no longer existed. In 1946 the Southport station’s status was changed to first class relief station. The status of the shore station again changed about 1953, when it became an outpatient office of the US. Public Health Service and operated as such until 1970.

The abandoned quarantine station within the river was left to deteriorate. The caretaker, Charles E. Dosher, retired in 1946 and five years later – on August 19, 1951 – a large part of the old quarantine station was destroyed by fire. Presently only the concrete platform for the steel tower and water tank remain

[Editor:  Claude V. (Sandy) Jackson III included this article in his book: ‘The Big Book of the Cape Fear River‘,  available at the Federal Point History Center]

Bibliography

Brown, Landis G.
1973 “Quarantine on the Cape Fear River. ” The State 41, no. 6 (November).

Reeves, William M.
1990 Southport (Smithville): A Chronology (1887-1920). Vol. 2. Southport, NC: The Southport Historical Society.

United States Army Corps of Engineers.
1937 Cape Fear River Below Wilmington, N.C. in Front of Southport. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Office Map, Wilmington, NC.

1939 Cape Fear River Below Wilmington, N.C. Southport to Fort Caswell. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Office Map, Wilmington, N.C.

Wilmington Messenger (Wilmington, NC.) 1895

Wilmington Star, (Wilmington, NC.) 1894, 1895

 

[Additional resources]

February, 1996 – FPHPS Newsletter (pdf)

Epidemic! Quarantine! – a July, 2014 FPHPS Article describing issues related to the ‘deteriorating’ quarantine station.