Lumina, Storied Beacon at Wrightsville Beach

Tourists gather at Lumina Pavilion, circa 1918. Image from the State Archives

On June 3, 1905, Lumina, a pavilion on Wrightsville Beach known as the “Fun Spot of the South” opened for the first time.

Lumina had its roots in February 1905 when the Consolidated Railways Light & Power Company purchased a train track along the waterfront. On the land it purchased, the company constructed the pavilion to promote beach tourism and better accommodate the patrons of its 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 15-foot wide promenade overlooking the dance floor.

Lumina quickly became a mecca for excursions from all across North Carolina and beyond. Incandescent lights inside and out made the pavilion a beacon. In the era of silent films a screen was erected on tall pilings on the beach alongside the pavilion, and though the style of music changed over the years, music always dominated the scene. Writer Lewis Philip Hall even claims that it was at Lumina that the shag was invented in 1928.

The pavilion was condemned in 1972 and demolished a little over a year later.

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