WILMINGTON, NC – I’ve visited a number of coastal towns over the years, but only recently walked the streets of Wilmington, North Carolina. The port city was critical to the efforts of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Unfortunately it was cold and rainy during my stay, but that didn’t tarnish the charm of this town rich in history.
Battleship North Carolina
The Battleship North Carolina was the perfect outing for a cold and rainy day. The majestic decommissioned memorial rests as an attraction in North Carolina’s Cape Fear.
At the time of her commissioning on April 9, 1941, she was considered the world’s greatest sea weapon. Armed with nine 16-inch guns in three turrets and twenty 5 inch 38 caliber guns in ten twin mounts, NORTH CAROLINA proved a formidable weapons platform. Her wartime complement during World War II consisted of 144 commissioned officers and 2,195 enlisted men, including about 83 Marines.
Battleship North Carolina is one of the most decorated ships of WWII that was nearly scrapped.
Heather Loftin, promotions director for Battleship North Carolina, contends that in 1961 citizens of North Carolina launched the “Save Our Ship” campaign.
“It is very important to preserve her heritage, not just for the greatest generation that has served to this point in history, but also for this new generation that doesn’t really know anyone from WWII,” said Loftin. “What they don’t understand is that they were gone for three to four years at a time when they didn’t have Skype or Facetime to stay connected to their family.”
Guests can linger through the massive ship at their leisure. My tour took about two hours.
Battleship North Carolina was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
I was greeted by partly sunny skies when I emerged from the bowls of the ship, which cleared the way for me to explore Wilmington’s downtown.
Wilmington’s Historic District is filled with trendy locally owned stores, galleries and restaurants. The coastal town is also a haven of antebellum homes.
Because Wilmington was the last port to fall to the Union Army in 1865, a number of antebellum homes still remain.
Located on Third, Fourth and Fifth Streets Burgwin-Wright House, Bellamy Mansion and Hannah Block Historic USO have historic significance. A “History Walking Tour” unveils the Victorian Era of 1837- 1901.
If faith-based history is of interest – the Wilmington Historic District has several churches to visit.
The First Baptist Church of Wilmington is one such church to visit. The congregation was established in 1808. Designed by renowned architect Samuel Sloan of Philadelphia, the Early English Gothic Revival church building was built in 1859. Sloan was also responsible for the original First Presbyterian Church in the city, which was destroyed by fire in 1925.
Wilmington features a scenic Riverwalk filled with Southern palm trees and historic buildings. During my visit I was honored to watch a decorated US Coast Guard 125-foot vessel set sail.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence is one of a long line of Revenue Service/ Coast Guard ships by that name that have been ported in Wilmington, N.C. Diligence permanently moved to Wilmington in October 1792.
Just over the bridge a short distance from Wilmington is Wrightsville beach.
The Blockade Runner Beach Resort was my home away from home during my visit.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary the seaside resort has been completely refurbished. Even with poor weather, the view from the deck was relaxing and tranquil.
An added bonus was the friendly staff. While of late some excursions I’ve encountered facilities that made me feel like I was a burden, the team at Blockade Runner greeted me with a smile and was knowledgeable about the area.
The room rate includes a large selection of breakfast selections. The fresh squeezed orange juice was a special treat.
For more information about Wilmington, NC and the surrounding island beaches go to wilmingtonandbeaches.com.