north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      An older generation of North Carolinians remembers Lumina, the massive pavilion on Wrightsville Beach, with affection and nostalgia. Its history began in February 1905 when the Consolidated Railways, Light & Power Company, under the leadership of Hugh MacRae, purchased a track along the waterfront. At a cost of between $5,000 and $7,000, the company constructed the pavilion to promote electricity and beach tourism and for the better accommodation of the patrons of their trolley line. The ground floor featured dressing rooms, refreshment stands, and other amusements. The second level was primarily a dance floor with a balcony and band shell for the orchestra and a restaurant. The third floor housed a fifteen-foot wide promenade overlooking the dance floor. The grand opening was on June 3, 1905. The building was enlarged in 1909 and 1913 to 25,000 square feet and the dance floor expanded to fifty by one hundred and twenty feet. On July 4, 1910, more than 3,000 people took in the entertainment at Lumina.

      The Consolidated Company, which in 1907 became the Tidewater Power Company, spared no expense to make Lumina what it called the “Fun Spot of the South.” Lumina was a mecca for excursions from all across North Carolina and beyond. Incandescent lights inside and out made the pavilion a beacon. Staff carefully supervised the dress code and etiquette of the dance floor. In the era of silent films a screen was erected on tall pilings on the beach alongside the pavilion. Style of music changed over the years. Ragtime dominated in the 1910s. Writer Lewis Philip Hall claims that it was at Lumina that the shag was invented in 1928. Lumina was damaged by Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and later became a skating rink. In February 1972 the pavilion was condemned and in April 1973 it was demolished.

Lewis Philip Hall, Land of the Golden River, Vol. 1 (1975)
Wilmington Star-News, August 10, 1986, and May 23, 1973
(Raleigh) News and Observer, July 24, 1955
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources