For nearly twenty years I’ve observed that Wilmington officials spend excessive time and resources with numerous government-funded projects to attract tourists. Ironically, tourists, as well as residents, are taxed to support bureaucracies to promote more tourism. Yet, the best reason to visit downtown is to savor its amazing historic places. Unfortunately, they are being discarded and disregarded in favor of projects created by progressivism.
In my opinion, the intrinsic character of downtown is being compromised: multi-story parking garages; lumbering, diesel-spewing fake trolleys; sprawling, characterless new community college buildings; a convention center incongruous with the old riverfront; new hotels and other growing signs of the times detract from the historic nature of downtown Wilmington. City officials busy themselves trying to reconstruct Wilmington into a modern mecca for free-spending tourists—and to profit from taxes, fees and fines.
Wilmington has a worthy past rich with tales, but being largely overlooked. Yet it contains some well-maintained and restored remnants of one of the most misunderstood times in North Carolina history, according to local historian Bernhard Thuersam.
During the antebellum and war years of 1861-65, the port of Wilmington was important commercially as well as militarily. Blockade runners; the waterfront and Market Street dock; the homes and headquarters of Confederate leaders; defensive works protecting the city from attack and important buildings—some gone, but not forgotten—can be recalled and shown. But the casual tourist will not recognize or understand much of it.
Fortunately, Mr. Thuersam can help point out little known but important people and events in the remarkable history of 19th century Wilmington. He offers a unique walking tour where one can “tread in the footsteps of antebellum and wartime leaders.”
Thuersam, a noted historian, provides an “in-depth view of Confederate-era Wilmington.” He also directs the Cape Fear Historical Institute. He writes prolifically and lectures widely across the region.
Thuersam’s tour is well worth the small charge for those who want to learn about Wilmington’s unique past—before the city council obliterates it.
He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his website www.cfhi.net.
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