Brief History of Sunset Beach
by Ed Hughes
Former Sunset Beach Town Councilman
and Mayor Pro-Temp
In 1955, a year after the great hurricane Hazel, Manon C. Gore bought Bald Island from the Brooks family and renamed the island Sunset Beach. At about the same time, he purchased 500 acres of land along the Intracoastal waterway from the International Paper Company (IPC).
Manon Gore planned to develop the island and by 1958/1959 a bridge was built and lots were available for sale. In 1963 the Town of Sunset Beach was chartered with thirty residents, both permanent and non-permanent. By 1972 the town population had grown to 72. Sunset Beach hired a Town Manager and the Town was governed by 5 Commissioners, who made policy, and a Mayor. The Mayor had no vote and served primarily as the Town signatory. Sunset Beach included the island, the strip from Park Street to the bridge along the Intracoastal waterway, plus Twin Lakes and Blaines Landing to Bonaparts Landing. The town remained that way until 1990.
In 1976 some land adjacent to the Town became available from IPC. Four men: Ed Gore, Harris Thompson, Paul Dennis, and Miller Pope bought the land and developed most of it as Sea Trail, a mobile home community. In the early 80's, several thousand acres of land became available from IPC across RTE 179 from the Town. The same four men, in partnership with Odell Williamson, bought the property with plans for development. They leased some of the land to Larry Young, who developed Oyster Bay Golf Course. When the original four developers saw the success of Oyster Bay, they immediately began construction of the Maples Golf Course in 1984, and began developing the land around it as Sea Trail Plantation. Odell Williamson did not want to develop the land at that time so the original purchase was divided. Odell Williamson's part later became the Angel Trace Golf Courses.
In 1990 the Town of Sunset Beach grew in size with the addition of the Sugar Sands section of Sea Trail Plantation and the Food Lion and its adjacent stores. The original Sea Trail development was included within the Town’s boundaries in 1995. Since that time almost all of Sea Trail Plantation, including the golf courses, have been incorporated into the Town. Sunset Beach continues to expand to Georgetown Road along RTE 179 and toward Calabash. Town leaders have tried to confine commercial areas to specific parts of the Town and to maintain the family type atmosphere for those who use Sunset Beach as a vacation home. The Village of Sea Trail and the new Planetarium have brought the Town of Sunset Beach into the new Millennium. Sunset Beach is a far cry from the original 500 acres plus the island and is now home to over 1600 permanent residents.
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