Feb 182010

Yesterday I was on the beach and stopped to watch the earth movers as they were pushing sand as part of the beach nourishment here at Wrightsville Beach. The sound is so distinctive, the rumbling diesel engines and that incessant beeping when they throw it in reverse. Usually when you here that sound it means that something is being changed. It could be something as welcomed as the nourishment of our beaches, as they try to reinforce the inevitable progress of Nature and stem erosion, if only for a brief period. Unfortunately, it also is the sound of progress, as old buildings are torn down for new along with their memories. Soon you have nothing but old photos or stories about what was there and how it may or may not have been a part of our lives.

I remember when I lived in Charlotte I often commented on how the city seemed to lack soul, as it was so quick to tear down the old and replace it with new steel and glass. Now I am a realist and understand that regretfully and economically, most of the time it is the highest and best use of a building to start anew. I like old buildings and their history and always cringe when the wrecking balls come and change both the face of the landscape, but also its history. In a city like Charlotte and its incredible growth, many embrace the new, and this is especially evident with its commercial buildings. Its just that with the new coming in, the soul and character dissipate. Now this is the opinion of yours truly and nothing more. It just seems to ring so true for me.

In Wrightsville Beach, as small a community as it is, we see this progress often, mainly in the tear down of the older cottages and their replacement with the much larger homes. Because of the land costs here and the strict building codes, this has almost become a necessity for homeowners who want to heavily renovate a structure. There are still some grand old beach cottages on this island, and hopefully they will endure. Many have not and some were such mainstays of WB that it is sad they have gone. The same can be said for the loss of businesses that were old friends to many of us. Who wouldn’t want the Middle of the Isle, or the MOI as it was known to many, back on the island. Sure the building was falling down and the land is being considered for a shiny new development that will maximize its value. Unfortunately, the owner had to make a decision and move and with that went the fried shrimp and squash casserole everyone loved. The MOI was the light that never failed as far as local restaurants were concerned. But its just a memory, like so many things. Its sad to drive by the vacant building that once had so much life. Progress is good, don’t get me wrong. Its necessary for us to prosper and grow. Its just that often we have to sacrifice in order to promote growth. Maybe a little soul. I’ve included a few photos of those gone from WB. I guess they won’t be the last.