The History of Kure Beach and the Kure Beach Pier
by Chelsea Paul
A few years after the Civil War, a Danish born man living in Charleston, South Carolina named Hans Kure moved his family to Federal Point. Hans was a retired sea captain and in 1895 he purchased 900 acres of land two miles south of Carolina Beach spanning from the Atlantic Ocean to the Cape Fear River. Today, Kure Beach is home to the East Coast’s oldest fishing pier and has become a popular beach vacation destination mostly thanks to one man and his family.
During his life in North Carolina, he built and helped run Wilmington’s largest ship chandler and stevedore operation which was and still is an incredibly important part of the “Port City” and its economy. As for the tourism aspect, Kure commissioned a railroad to be built from the Cape Fear River to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as chartering steamships to bring people to and from Kure Beach.
Kure and his sons erected a variety businesses and amusements on Pleasure Island including a multitude of inns and tract housing, bathhouses, a bowling alley, billiards and a grocery store. He was also granted the first retail liquor license in the area in 1892. A gas generator was installed so the residents and vacationers could have lights until 10pm and at this time the population was around 175 people. He was known to make everyone who was staying in his cottages and inns to feel at home and safe.
A few years later in 1913, the Kure Land and Development Company was founded and purchased more land that became know as “Fort Fisher Beach.” Eventually, it was renamed "Kure’s Beach" and it is now what we know as Kure Beach.
The Next Generation of Kure
After his death in 1914, his sons, L.C. and Hans A. took over the business. Kure Land and Development Company built Dow Road in 1916, which was the first highway in North Carolina to lead right to the ocean, a road I travel daily and am very thankful for! Most tourists are unaware that it saves time and brings you right to the beach. Shortly after the road was built, the company ceased to continue and its assets were split amongst Hans’s five children. Finally, in 1947, Kure Beach became incorporated and named Lawrence Kure as its first mayor.
Kure Beach Fishing Pier
However the most prominent landmark in Kure beach and the only one of Hans Kure’s plans that still remain as part of his legacy is the Kure Beach Fishing Pier. Built by his son L.C. in 1923, it was the first fishing pier on the Atlantic Coast. It was 120 feet long and 22 feet wide. At the time, a fishing permit was only $10.00 or thirty-five cents per a day. It was always packed with fisherman and you would have to wait around to snag a spot. Unfortunately the pier collapsed within the first year of being built due to sea creatures that no one was aware of at the time. In 1924 it was rebuilt to 240 feet long but this time using cement pilings. This new construction method which L.C. Kure is responsible for is called reinforced concrete and is widely used today.
Fishing on the Kure Beach Fishing Pier
Bill, the husband of L.C. Kure’s daughter Jennie, bought the pier from L.C. in 1952. At this point all the big catches of the day were photographed and sent to newspapers in North Carolina. Its reputation for great catches made it the place to fish and a sign was made, which still hangs today, saying “Man, You Should Have Been Here Yesterday!” There is a bait and tackle shop at the entrance of the pier which also sells other beach items, shirts and gifts. However, it is impossible to walk through the store without stopping for one of their famous ice cream cones to enjoy while strolling along the pier.
One Hurricane After Another Hits the Pier
Beach towns always have to deal and prepare for the possibility of hurricanes and the damage they leave. Sadly in 1954, Hurricane Hazel washed the entire pier away but luckily the concrete pilings stayed in place and made it slightly easier to rebuild. The third construction of the pier was partially destroyed by Hurricane Dianne in 1984. The same year, Mike Robertson, grandson of L.C. Kure, purchased the pier from his father. Mike rebuilt the pier back to its 711 feet with a few new additions. One being a 200 gallon bait tank and secondly, because king fishing is such a popular sport here, he made the end of the pier much wider providing more space.
Once again, the pier succumbed to nature and Hurricane Bertha destroyed it in July 1996 but was rebuilt by Mike Robertson using a slightly different construction and has been standing strong ever since.
The Kure Beach Pier is a huge attraction for those visiting Kure Beach and for those who want to catch “the big one” or for onlookers to walk and enjoy the scenic views of the coast. It is a regular spot for the 2,500 locals who call this beach home. Thanks to the dedication of Hans Kure and his family, we have a perfect, family oriented vacation spot with picturesque beaches and incredible history.