THE ORIGINS OF A TOWN AND PIER
Born in Denmark in 1851, Hans Andersen Kure first went to sea as a cabin boy and later became a
captain. A fateful shipwreck off the North Carolina coast left him hospitalized in Beaufort. He was smit-ten
with the area, and after returning to Denmark, he and his wife, Ellen Mueller Kure — who served as
a lady-in-waiting at the Danish court of Christian IX, speaking up to seven languages — immigrated to
Hans opened a ship chandler and stevedore business at Carolina Beach in 1879. In the early 1900s, he
sold some of his holdings and purchased 900 acres of land south of Carolina Beach spanning to Fort Fisher,
eventually establishing the Kure Land and Development Center.
In 1913, a year before his death, he produced a map of Fort Fisher Sea Beach, later known as Kure’s
Beach, and eventually Kure Beach.
In 1923, Lawrence Christian (L.C.) Kure, third-born to Hans and Ellen, built the first wooden
fishing pier on the Atlantic coast. The structure was 120 feet long and 22 feet wide. But within a year,
shipworms had eaten away at the supports, causing it to collapse.
L.C. tried again, developing reinforced concrete pilings and posts that were 15 inches square and
35 feet long. The rebuilt pier was 240 feet long and 32 feet wide. The elements and storms continued
to erode, wear down, and even destroy the structure, but L.C. was not deterred. He spent most of
his adult life rebuilding the pier, sometimes from scratch, determined to revive the heartbeat of Kure
Although L.C. built the first pier, it took another sort of thinker to rebrand it. In 1952, Bill
Robertson purchased the pier from his father-in-law. With a $20 typewriter and used camera, he
spent the next nine years marketing it with stories and photos, later captured in his book, “Man! You
Should Have Been Here Last Week! ... about fish, and the people who catch them.”
“This has been my happy lot in life since I bought the Kure Pier in 1952 … The ocean was full
of fish and the public was ready to take its first real vacation since the war,” Robertson wrote in the
introduction to his book. “In the first year, we doubled the largest
attendance the pier had had since 1923 … I once took a survey,
did some figuring, and determined that 80,000 fish had been caught from the pier that
day. I knew no one would believe it so I cut the figure in half and wrote a story saying
we caught 40,000 fish. Know what? No one believed that figure, either!”
Since its last complete rebuild after Hurricane Bertha in 1996, the pier has remained
standing. Hurricane Florence knocked down some of the railing in September, but
otherwise the structure withstood the storm.
After immigrating to America
with his wife, Ellen Mueller Kure
(top left), Hans Andersen Kure
(top right) bought the land that
became Kure Beach in the early
1900s. Hans’ son, L.C., built the
first fishing pier in 1923.
WBM november 2018