Below is some information along with photographs inspired by lovely Wilmington, North Carolina, which I recently had the pleasure to explore.
Wilmington is a port city in and is the county seat of New Hanover County in coastal southeastern North Carolina, United States.
Wilmington was settled by European Americans along the Cape Fear River. Its historic downtown has a one-mile-long Riverwalk, developed as a tourist attraction. It is minutes away from nearby beaches.
The World War II battleship USS North Carolina is held as a war memorial; located across from the downtown port area, the ship is open to public tours.
The Cotton Exchange of Wilmington, North Carolina is a shopping complex consisting of over eight historical buildings dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is so named due to the inclusion of the Old James Sprunt Cotton Exchange building; a business who claimed to be the largest exporter of cotton on the east coast until its dissolution in 1950. The Cotton Exchange is located on what is now North Front Street in downtown Wilmington. It currently comprises over 20 shops and restaurants, all within the confines of restored historical structures. The center is currently privately owned by Jean and John Bullock who purchased it in 1990.
By the 1970s, the once bustling railroad hub and port city of Wilmington, North Carolina had greatly deteriorated. Many industries had left when the Atlantic Coastline Railroad decided to move its headquarters to Florida in 1961. Dilapidated buildings now stood where once had been a prosperous economy.
By 1974 several buildings had been razed in and around downtown, and several more were scheduled to be destroyed; this included a group of eight buildings currently in use as furniture storage on what was then Nutt Street. However, just as demolitions were about to get under way, a limited partnership of general partners J.R. Reaves and M.T. Murray bought the eight buildings from the Wilmington Redevelopment Commission for the sum of $242,416. They planned to renovate the building and rent it out as retail space. After visiting several other cities that had undergone renovations, including Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, and San Francisco, Reaves and Murray developed a business plan for their new space.
They planned to keep most of the structures intact, adding only some modern amenities to the already existing buildings. They wanted to create a “Historic Adventure in Trade”, where pedestrians could go and enjoy modern shopping in a beautiful old space. After a minor setback due to smoke damage from the fire of 1974, renovation went smoothly. Reaves and Murray exposed walls made from old ships ballast, and wooden beams 40 feet long and hand-hewn. They imported period furniture to go along with the group of buildings, and placed gigantic lamps once belonging to Wilmington’s old customs house at the entrance to the stores.
The Cotton Exchange opened in 1976, and within the first year of its operation had already received awards of merit from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the North Carolina Preservation Society. It brought over 200 new jobs into the area, and continues to expand both economically and physically. Now the complex has five sections: The Wood Seed Building (a building that once housed a Chinese laundromat and a seed company), The Bear Building (an early 20th-century grocery), The O’Brien Building (originally Sears, Roebuck and Co.), The Granary Building, and The DahnHardt Building (a late 19th-century saloon building).
Wilmington is the home of EUE Screen Gems Studios, the largest domestic television and movie production facility outside of California. “Dream Stage 10,” the facility’s newest sound stage, is the third-largest in the US. It houses the largest special-effects water tank in North America.
Since the studio’s opening in 1984, Wilmington has become a major center of American film and television production. Numerous movies in a range of genres and several television series, including Iron Man 3 and NBC’s Revolution, have been produced there.
The hot climate required a wetting of the whistle.
For more of my photography: