By Leslie Bright
When the old one-room school-house on lower Federal Point, in New Hanover County, NC, burned down mysteriously in 1916, it became necessary to transport the few children who attended there to Myrtle Grove school six miles up the peninsula from Carolina Beach. Miserable transportation conditions at the time and obvious overcrowding persisted.
Over time, adverse conditions at Myrtle Grove school reached the point of barely tolerable. The beaches of lower New Hanover County began developing into a vacation resort creating an influx of many more year-round families. The need for another school became critical to meet the growth.
During 1937, public-spirited citizens in the County began meeting and organizing to appeal to New Hanover County Board of Education for a new school to be built at Carolina Beach. Under the leadership of Mayor R.C. Fergus, Mrs. H.B. Strickland, and others, permission and support were granted and work began in the fall of 1937 under the direction of contractor, W.A. Simon.
Cost of the building was $20,000.00. It was built on a complete city block between 4th and 5th Avenue, with Atlanta and Clarendon Avenue on either side. The block owned by the Town of Carolina Beach was eventually transferred to New Hanover County Board of Education.
During construction, area students (approximately 50) were schooled in two small rooms in Carolina Beach Town Hall located on the Boardwalk. Grades 1 – 3 were taught by Miss Mae McFarland and Grades 4 – 6 by Miss Madge Woods.
Under the leadership of principal, Mrs. C. G. Vanlandingham, Carolina Beach School opened for the school year 1939-40. Few knew that the growth that created the need for the school was only just beginning. Within two years, it became necessary to add three new classrooms and other amenities costing $28,000.00. Keen foresight during the original school design allowed for additional growth.
In 1953, three more classrooms, a kitchen and other amenities were added. By 1975, it became necessary to add a six classroom wing with additional trailers and teachers to meet new growth. In 1983, the school was reconstructed due to significant damage by fire in 1982.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what the future holds for Carolina Beach School as growth continues. One thing remains certain, the community takes pride in Carolina Beach School and its excellent staff. In these early grades, students receive a very important educational foundation, preparing them for the higher grades.
Carolina Beach School was built on the site of the ill fated Carolina Beach Hotel which opened in 1926 by the Carolina Beach Lake.
The 100 room hotel was designed by Leslie Boney and built by W A Simon who also later built the school.
The Carolina Beach Hotel burned to the ground in September of 1927, a victim of arson from the two new owners who were arrested that November. — Elaine Blackmon Henson