Demolition Of Ocean Beach Wear To Make Way For New Development

The old Ocean Beachwear building at the corner of Lake Park Blvd. and Cape Fear Blvd. was demolished last week to make way for a new mixed-use commercial and residential development.  (Photo: Jasmine Mckee) The old Ocean Beachwear building at the corner of Lake Park Blvd. and Cape Fear Blvd. was demolished last week to make way for a new mixed-use commercial and residential development. (Photo: Jasmine Mckee)

Demolition Of Ocean Beach Wear To Make Way For New Development Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 16 September 2020 03:12

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -    A long-time historic buiding in the heart of Carolina Beach is now a pile of rubble. All in an effort to make way for a future mixed-use commercial and residential development at 109 Cape Fear Blvd and adjacent propeties between Caoe Fear Blvd. and Charlotte Ave.
The property most recently was home to Ocean Beachwear, a shop that sold swimwear, t-shirts, and other tourist targeted merchandise.
According to the Federal Point Historic Society, "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."
According to the Historic Society, "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."
According to the Historic Society, "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."
According to the Historic Society, "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."
The current project will encompass more than the land the building currently occupies by incorporating two larger lots to the south that have served as unpaved paid public parking lots leased by the Town of Carolina Beach for many years.
Development of those lots will result in a decrease in the number of paid parking spots available to people visiting the downtown Boardwalk.

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