Wrightsville Beach

10th Anniversary Edition, published Oct. 1, 2017




Signed “Wrightsville” HC + FREE ship
Inscription desired on book(s)

  • $22.95 retail price, ISBN: 978-0-9987881-1-1.
  • Published Oct. 1, 2017, by John F. Blair, Publisher, in collaboration with Beach Glass Books
  • Hardcover, 256 pages, 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches, 150 B&W illustrations

By mail: Send $22.95 to Ray McAllister Books, P.O. Box 72672, North Chesterfield, VA 23235.



“Wrightsville Beach” PB $13.95 Order from the Publisher

John F. Blair, Publisher, Winston-Salem, NC



10th Anniversary Edition

Pages 35 percent larger, double the illustrations, new foreword by Ben Steelman, new author afterword



–Midwest Book Revew (full review)


SOON AFTER CROSSING the drawbridge from the mainland, you’ll reach a fork in the road and face your first decision at Wrightsville Beach. Bearing left will take you to the famous Johnnie Mercer’s Fishing Pier and near the site where a giant sperm whale named Trouble once washed ashore and refused to leave. Bearing right will take you to the classic downtown and points south, including the Coast Guard station and the site of the late, great Lumina Pavillion.

“Wrightsville Beach” is Ray McAllister’s homage to a special place, a book that captures not only Wrightsville’s history but its heart. Along the way, he shares stories of fire and and hurricanes and beach trolleys and Big Bands.

Through all the changes, Wrightsville has never forgotten the hospitality that made it such a destination in the first place. Just ask the airplane full of Pennsylvanians who fled here to escape one of American’s first man-made disasters. Or the thousands who continue to come for happier reasons today.

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Winner of the Willie Parker Peace History Book Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians.
Nominee for the Library of Virginia Literary Award.

“Covering Big Bands, fires, hurricanes, and trolleys, McAllister captures Wrightsville’s Beach history and heart as he explains the appeal of the area that attracts so many annual visitors.”

  • Andrea Griffith, Our State North Carolina magazine

“Congratulations on Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island. … I admire the research and effort you put into your well-written book. I’m also glad to have the map and the information I had never heard of about the ‘National Negro Playground.’ I’m recommending ‘Wrightsville Beach’ …Your book made me hungry for seafood and the beach …”

  • Tom Wicker, author of “Shooting Star: The Brief Arc of Joe McCarthy,” ” A Time to Die” and “Unto This Hour: A Novel.”

“Another home run with this book. As expected, I love the chapter on fishing piers. You are making my task of researching and documenting all of NC piers past and present easy. Can’t wait for your next one.”

  • Al Baird, founder, North Carolina Fishing Pier Society

“After reading this book, if you haven’t already been to this beach and experienced some of what Mr. McAllister wrote about, you will want to [go]. … Why is it called the ‘luminous’ island? You’ll have to read the book. Do you want to know about the Pirates and Money Island or the Mystery of the Blockade Runner? Read the book. Is this beach considered another ‘Atlantic City’? And how did the Storm of 1899 affect the area? What ‘Trouble’ washed ashore there on April 5, 1928? Here are only a few reasons to ‘READ THE BOOK!’ –which is filled with fabulous historical stories … [and] dotted with wonderful pictures.”

  • North Carolina Society of Historians

“McAllister perfectly captures the essence of Wrightsville Beach.”

  • Deal Safrit, owner of Literary Bookpost (Salisbury, NC), in Our State North Carolina

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“The 10th anniversary edition’s release of Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island represents a milestone in several notable ways. First, the reissue itself has been physically expanded: it’s 35 percent larger, doubling the number of images to approximately 150 and increasing the size of others, it includes a new afterword by author Ray McAllister, and it includes a new foreword by book editor Ben Steelman of the Wilmington Star-News, a major voice in North Carolina literature.

“These changes will make this new edition of special interest to collections and readers who have shopworn older copies and who will find this not only offers a sturdy replacement, but added value.

“The second thing to note is that Wrightsville Beach captures the landscape, evolutionary process, historical importance, and lives on an island which enjoys one of the largest populations of any island along the North Carolina coast.

“This process is significant because development began late, and so the area retained much of its beach cottage/small town vacationer atmosphere right up to modern times.

“As chapters trace the forces that affected and changed the island, from hurricanes to entertainment and cultural transformations and challenges to lifestyles, they pair vintage black and white images with candid assessments of these experiences: “It takes work to keep a paradise a paradise these days.”

“It also takes work to adequately capture the process of retaining a paradise in the face of change: much research has gone into the preservation process, with materials coming from archival records and libraries, the author’s own collection, and even museums of natural sciences.

“The result is a wide-ranging survey of all the disparate forces that have shaped Wrightsville Beach and made it what it is today.

“Why should non-North Carolina collections be interested? Because the microcosm of this community’s experience and evolution holds lessons not only for understanding the region, but the pressures and places of small town America as a whole, making this a powerful recommendation for any library strong in regional Americana.”

  • Midwest Book Review, Diane C. Donovan, Senior Review

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Foreword by Ben Steelman
CHAP. 1: The Luminous Island
CHAP. 2: The Pirates and Money Island
CHAP. 3: The Mystery of the Blockade Runner
CHAP. 4: ‘Another Atlantic City’
CHAP. 5: The Storm of 1899
CHAP. 6: Lumina
CHAP. 7: Shell Island and a Separate Paradise
CHAP. 8: Trouble Washes Ashore
CHAP. 9: The Great Fire of 1934
CHAP. 10: Emerging from the Ashes
CHAP. 11: The Island Goes Dark
CHAP. 12: Escaping Donora’s Deadly Smog
CHAP. 13: Hazel Crashes In
CHAP. 14: The Lights Go Out at Lumina
CHAP. 15: Holding Back the Sea
CHAP. 16: Wrightsville Today
CHAP. 17: Fishing Piers and the Waters Beyond
CHAP. 18: Guarding the Coast
CHAP. 19: Loop Around the Past
CHAP. 20: Wrightsville Tomorrow

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