“Walk of Fame” James Rowan Bame and Amanda Ludwig Bame

By / Life on the Island / Wednesday, 11 March 2015 04:00

Continuing our feature for those recognized in the Walk of Fames first 10, we would like to introduce JR and Mandy Bame. The two began married life in Rowan County North Carolina near the beginning of the 20th century.  They lived in a small town named Barber, NC where they had a general store and cotton gin and later another gin in nearby Bear Poplar.  The couple had eleven children born from 1905 to 1929.  Mandy’s parents J.O. and Laura Ludwig had retired to Carolina Beach from Salisbury, NC and had a rooming house on Cape Fear Boulevard. The young Bame family would often visit the Ludwigs at the beach.
In the mid-1920s J. R. Bame opened a gasoline station and café’ at the beach and he and the family spent the summers there returning to Barber in the fall.  By 1929 he decided to build a hotel at Carolina Beach in spite of the stock market crash and subsequent depression.
 The wooden 3 story Bame Hotel opened in June of 1930 on Cape Fear Blvd. near the boardwalk with 33 rooms and “Miss Mandy” in charge of the dining room.  In 1937 J.R. Bame, known as “Mr. Jim”, doubled the size of the original hotel enlarging it to 60 rooms with a bricked exterior.  It had a larger dining room and a grill that faced the boardwalk and was a bustling center of activity in the summers.  Many of the Bame children worked at the hotel with oldest brother George Bame in charge, a job he would keep for many years to come.  
On September 19, 1940 a fire started in the old pavilion destroying two blocks of the boardwalk including the Bame Hotel.  Mr. Jim and the other business owners vowed to rebuild and be open for the 1941 season which they did.  That effort earned Carolina Beach the nickname “The South’s Miracle Beach”.  The new hotel had 80 rooms with an elevator, dining room and grill and barber shop on the boardwalk.  George Bame continued to run the hotel until his death in 1968.  It was sold a few years later and replaced with a water slide.  The site is the empty lot next to the Marriott Hotel.
Mr. Jim and Miss Mandy celebrated their fiftieth anniversary in 1954 with ten of their eleven children and their families in attendance.  The Bame patriarch died in 1959 at age 76 and his wife, who lived to be 93, died in 1979.
Many of the Bame children settled on the beach to raise their families and had businesses.  Ruby Bame Knox and her husband Jim Knox had a Gulf service station, hardware and appliance store with her brother Ernest “Tite” Bame and his wife Rachel Bame.    (Ernest and Rachel’s son Phil Bame continues to run Bame’s Ace Hardware store on Lake Park Blvd).  Ruby and Ernest’s brother, J.C. “Mike” Bame ran a gas station and grocery next to the hotel on Cape Fear Blvd and later had Bame’s TV and Appliance store on Lake Park Blvd.  Sister Juanita Bame Herring and her husband Alan ran the grill on the family owned Fisherman’s Steel Pier.  Later they operated the Center Pier and Restaurant, where the Ocean Grill and Tikki Bar is now.  Their son, Pete Herring, converted the Presbyterian Church on Charlotte Avenue to the Steeple Restaurant (present day Deck House).  Juanita Herring was a librarian at Roland Grice Junior High School and her sister Ruby Knox was on the faculty of Wilmington College.  Ernest “Tite” Bame and his brother J.C. “Mike” both served as mayors of Carolina Beach.  Mike was also the fire chief in the days when it was a volunteer position.  Mike’s son, Larry Bame, operated Bame Tool and Die on the island until his death last year.  
JR and Mandy Bame left a legacy at Carolina Beach that will always be an important part of its history.
The “Walk of Fame” committee along side of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society recognized 10 people who have made a tangible and lasting contribution to the Town of Carolina Beach through outstanding leadership and service.  Each year 5 more people will be chosen for this award by letters of nomination with their contributions to the town. Throughout the year there will be fundraisers and will be accepting donations for next years recipients.


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