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A Century of Dining at Wrightsville

Brightmore University held its 2nd class, Up to Date with “A Century of Dining at Wrightsville”:1870-1970, presented by Elaine Hensen, a Wilmington historian. Elaine presented the history of Wrightsville Beach’s culinary past: where visitors have eaten, from the late 1880’s in hotels and guest houses, to the 1970’s in restaurants like The Marina, Faircloth’s, Crystal Pier and The Neptune. We learned that in the beginning, the 1800’s, you could not even reach Wrightsville Beach unless you traveled by boat, so if you said you were going to the beach you were actually going to the Wrightsville Sound Parks; Seaside Park or Pine Grove Park, and you got there by traveling on a “shell” road.  The steam engine began in 1888, and it would transport visitors from the river of downtown Wilmington to the sound of Wrightsville Beach. The most popular hotels and guesthouses to eat at in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s were the Oceanview Hotel (1892), the Seashore Hotel (1908-burned down in 1919 and rebuilt as the Blockade Runner in 1922), the Hotel Terrymore (1905 & remodeled in 1911 as the Oceanic Hotel) and several different Guesthouse Cottages, such as the famous Kitty House. An interesting fact about the hotels are that they had their own chicken yards in the back where they raised chickens to cook and serve for the meals; there was even a herd of cattle raised on Wrightsville Sound for their dairy needs. The Kitty House was in the news as the result of the 1934 Wrightsville Beach fire that burnt down over 100 homes, and the beach damage totaled $1,000,000. At that time many of our newer hotels and restaurants were built such as the Oceanic at Crystal Pier and King Neptune’s. Elaine gave us wonderful slideshow and presentation on the past!