A STORIED BEACON
Lumina enjoys a storied history on Wrightsville Beach.
This beloved beach pavilion – once renowned as the “Fun Spot of the South” – was constructed in 1905 to showcase the wonder of electricity while beckoning people out to the beach.
Built by the Consolidated Railways Light & Power Company at the final stop of its trolley line, the three-story structure – which housed a dance hall, bowling alley, movie theater and promenade – literally glowed with more than a thousand incandescent bulbs hung inside and out.
Lumina was so bright that sailors navigated their ships by it and generations of beach-lovers navigated their social lives around it.
Trolley cars ran from Wilmington across the water and onto the island. During the busiest times, the trolley made the trip every 30 minutes, carrying beach-goers out to Lumina for the roundtrip price of 25 cents – which included a bathing suit rental and camaraderie galore.
Music drew crowds from across North Carolina and beyond, playing to the era from big bands to jazz to the origins of beach music. A film screen erected atop pilings over the water created what just might be the first dive-in theater on the beach.
Lumina was a beacon calling crowds onto the trolley and out to the beach for a happy half-century. Its heyday lasted until a drawbridge was built to allow automotive traffic to access the island and the trolley was discontinued. While the pavilion remained a popular attraction through the mid-1950s, it ultimately closed and was replaced by condominiums.
Fond memories, however, live on. As does the bright spirit of camaraderie out here on Wrightsville Beach.