Beach Town in a Forest

Beach Town in a Forest
Beach Town in a Forest, Pine Knoll Shores located in Carteret County on North Carolina's Crysal Coast. Photo compliments of Bill Flexman and Dave Prutzman

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bogue Banks Library: Prehistory

Occupying a small room in the NC Marine Resource Center in Pine Knoll Shores, the Bogue Banks Public Library opened for business on September 27, 1981.  But, the following story is about what came before. This prehistory reveals several intriguing connections between Pine Knoll Shores and key players in the story of libraries in Carteret County.

Precursor to Bogue Banks Library: The Bookmobile

In the September 1973 issue of the Shore Line, a brief note is made, reminding the readers that the Bookmobile would be visiting once a month in Pine Knoll Shores, stopping on Wednesday morning from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.  It would park in front of William and Nettie Murrill’s home on Yaupon Drive a few houses south of Oakleaf. When first coming across this Bookmobile reference, I wondered if the time listed was a misprint. How could 45 minutes per month accommodate the reading interests of the community? A year later, the Bookmobile reminder appeared again—the time clearly stated to be 45 minutes starting at 10:30 on Wednesday at the Murrills’s home. (During the early years of Pine Knoll Shores, homes did not have numbered street addresses. The reader was expected to know where the Murrills lived. House numbers were not required until 1976.)

One of the early Shore Line articles about the Bookmobile included a list of other library facilities that were available to readers. They included the Webb Library, the library at the Carteret Technical Institute (now known as Carteret Community College) and the Carteret County Public Library in Beaufort. Today, that list could be expanded to include all the libraries of the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library system, the Pearse Memorial Library[i] at the Duke Lab on Pivers Island, the Charles R. McNeill Maritime Library at the NC Maritime Museum, and the Jack Spencer Goodwin Research Library at The History Place.

The Bookmobile in 1973 was run by the Carteret Public Library and staffed by two persons—a driver and a librarian. Searches to date have not identified when it started serving Bogue Banks. Perhaps, one of our readers can provide that information. The service started in 1947 using a truck with side panels that opened displaying the books. That truck was replaced in 1959 with a Dodge panel truck that allowed inside display, so the patrons could be out of the weather. The Bookmobile pictured below entered service in1974 and served until 1989 when a new, larger vehicle started making the rouds. The service ended after the vehicle was damaged beyond repair in an accident in the late 1999. It edged off the side of a narrow road near Williston, caught a rut and crashed into a house. No one was seriously injured, but the vehicle was a total loss. The library system lacked the funds to replace it. For a time, a station wagon was employed to deliver books to remote parts of the county and to shut-ins. Most of these deliveries were made to the Down-East area, a fact that provided some of the evidence justifying a library facility in Otway. The Bookmobile service ended in 2001, like the county doctor and the bookmobile no longer make house calls.

History of Public Libraries in Carteret County: Links to PKS

The beginning of public libraries in Carteret County can be traced to the early 1900s. Unfortunately, these efforts were not sufficiently organized to be able to benefit from the Carnegie Library Building Program. From 1883 to 1929, with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, over 2,500 Carnegie libraries were built through the United States and hundreds more overseas. The nation was on a library-building boom.

In 1933, the Women’s Club of Morehead City established a small lending library, originally housed in space at the old Municipal Building on the corner of Evans and 8th.  
Morehead City Municipal Building
Mrs. Eva Webb was a member of this club. Her husband, Earle W. Webb Sr. started construction on a commercial building on the corner of Evans and 9th St. in Morehead City in 1929. This site was the location of his childhood home. The building originally housed Dr. Ben Royal and Dr. Sam Thompson, whose offices were on the first floor, and the second floor was occupied by a Morehead City garment company and used as a training center. (Dr. Ben Royal is no relation to John Royall, the owner of ¾ of Bogue Banks in the early 20th century.)

In 1936, Mr. and Mrs. Earle Webb Sr. announced they would remodel the Webb building and give it to the Morehead City community as a memorial to their son, Earle Webb Jr., who died in 1932 while a student at Duke University. In 1937, the Women’s Club lending library was moved to the Webb Building. Today, The Webb Library contains over 13,500 volumes with very nice collections on local history, local authors and subjects.

The source for much of this discussion is a “Brief History of Earle Webb, Sr. and the Webb Memorial Library,” a presentation to the Carteret County Historical Society in 2006. As part of the credits section, “Nettie Murrill, a wonderful friend of the library” was recognized. The same Nettie Murrill who was the host of the bookmobile in Pine Knoll Shores. Nettie was born on June 3, 1911, in the Promise Land, a neighborhood in Morehead City generally considered to extend from 12th to 15th streets, from Evans St. south to Bogue Sound. In the early 1960s, she and her husband were among the first full-time residents in the Roosevelt development on Bogue Banks. This development eventually became Pine Knoll Shores. Nettie was a great supporter of libraries in all forms, a recognized local historian and a keeper of the down-east/banker linguistic traditions. "There must be a "blue million" ways to say things southern," Miss Nettie Murrill once said.[ii] 

There is another curious link between Bogue Banks and the Webb Library. The land on the north shore of Bogue Sound that Alice Hoffman purchased starting in 1923 to establish her dairy farm operation adjoined property owned by Earle W. Webb. The chart below shows the relationship of the various parcels and was prepared by Rivers &Associates for the Roosevelts in 1953. In 1929, Earle and Eva Webb started construction on a large vacation and retirement home on the parcel with Alice Hoffman as a neighbor on both sides. The chart below identifies Alice hoffman's land as Roosevelt.

Will and Fannie Louise Webb, one of Earle Webb’s brothers, had a house on the sound at 20th St. in Morehead City. Fannie and Alice Hoffman were friends and had lunch at each other’s house. We learned this story about Fannie and Alice from a 20th Street neighbor who spent his summers in Morehead. This neighbor also attended the auction at the Alice Hoffman house in 1954 after her death. He recalls a nice collection of books being in the house.  The whereabouts or disposition of her collection is unknown.

Beaufort Library: Precursor to Carteret-Craven-Pamlico Library District

The first library in Beaufort is thought to have started about 1910-1911 in the old courthouse building—which had been converted to use as a school after the new and current courthouse was built in 1906—located at the corner of Turner and Broad streets. Mrs. C. L. Stevens, superintendent of Beaufort High School, organized the effort, and students refurbished two rooms with stove heat and no electric lights. By the mid 1920s this building no longer existed. There is no information available about what happened to the library associated with the school.
The next mention of a library was in 1922, when the Beaufort Community Club (known today as the Beaufort Women’s Club) began the effort to form a library, which opened with a 120-volume collection in an office of a store on Front St[iii]. This library moved many times, involving many dedicated members of the community who saw it through financial difficulties common among libraries, but over the years, it managed to serve the growing population. By 1940, it was located in the Train Depot on Broad St., and in 1943, the Beaufort Library was incorporated by the NC Secretary of State as the Carteret County Public Library.
In 1962, the Carteret County Board of Commissioners signed the contract merging the Carteret County Public Library with the Craven-Pamlico Library forming the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library. Today, the Bogue Banks Public Library is operated as a branch of the Carteret County Library and is a member of the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library District. Other locations of the regional group can be found in Bayboro, Beaufort, Cove City, Cape Carteret, Havelock, New Bern, Newport, Otway, and Vanceboro.
For the story of the Bogue Banks Public Library from its formation in 1981 to the present, see The article covers organizational and location changes, discusses the critical importance volunteers and The Friends of the Library, and details the stormy weather that threatened the library’s existence.

Post Author: Walt Zaenker, revised 12/22/2014

[iii] Carteret County Library History