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Why do they call it Wrightsville Beach?

Ben Steelman

The town, the township and neighboring Wrightsville Sound owe their names to Joshua Grainger Wright, a prominent Wilmington resident and owner of Mount Lebanon, a plantation that once encompassed the area. (Part of Mount Lebanon became Airlie.)

The barrier island part of Wrightsville was originally known as “New Hanover Banks” and was owned by the state. It was gradually turned over to private hands by a series of land grants between 1791 and 1887. Development expanded after 1887 with the opening of the Shell Road (modern Wrightsville Avenue), although the beach was not open to automotive traffic until the opening of the first two-lane bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway in 1935.

The town was incorporated on March 6, 1899.

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