Guess who will be turning 50 next year. Emerald Isle was incorporated by the State Legislature July 1, 1957. That means in the summer of 2007, Emerald Isle will be 50 years old. We will be planning a birthday celebration, so if you would like to help with the plans, please let me know. Call me 252-354-2916 or email me email@example.com . We are especially interested in stories from families that have lived or visited Emerald Isle for many years. Several years ago, I asked for stories and I still have all of those stories which one day I hope to get into a book about Emerald Isle.
Now for a little Emerald Isle history. In the early 1900s, the area occupied by Emerald Isle was owned by John A. Royall, a New Englander who owned many islands in neighboring Onslow County. In 1922, Mr. Royall sold the property to Mr. Henry K. Fort of Pennsylvania for $70,000. Mr. Fort was connected to the Dixon Pencil Company of Pennsylvania and planned to use cedar from the property in the manufacture of pencils. I don’t think any timber was ever used to manufacture pencils. Instead, Mr. Fort drew up plans and specifications for a resort development. There still exists a copy of those plans which are remarkably similar to the way the Town has developed.
Upon the death of Mr. Fort, the land was inherited by his daughter Anita. She sold the timber rights to W. B. “Bill” McLean in 1946. McLean saw the potential to develop the island as a seaside paradise, but Anita Fort did not want to sell the property and McLean did not have enough money to buy the property.
Anita later agreed to sell the property for $350,000, and McLean began asking friends if they would be willing to invest in his dream along with his friend George Spell. J. A. “Bus” Singleton, Bill’s brother-in-law threw in, as did Hiram Grantham, another family friend. Between the four of them they had $200,000 which was pretty much their life savings. They still needed another $150,000 which was obtained when Robert Holding, then president of First Citizens Bank of Smithfield, put down the money in the name of his three sons, Frank, Lewis, and Robert Jr.
After the purchase, the land was divided into 54 blocks, 1,100 feet wide each, running from the sound to the sea. The seven then drew numbers to see who owned which parcels and development started. It is said that Emerald Isle received its name when a consultant hired by Bill McLean and George Spell to advise on the property purchase, flew over the Bogue Banks. The area appeared with its lush forest, a green gem in the middle of a sea of sparking water. The advisor suggested the name “Emerald Isle”.
Diane and I can pretty much choose to live anywhere, and we have chosen to call Emerald Isle our home for the last 12 years, so we obviously like Emerald Isle a lot. We hope you are as pleased as we are. Mark your calendars now for the next year’s birthday celebration.