Hard to say. The Wilmington thoroughfare is named for James T. Kerr, a Confederate veteran who was a prominent New Hanover County truck farmer in the late 1800s. (Some of Kerr Avenue apparently runs through, or over, some of his former fields.)
The “car” pronunciation seems to predominate among locals. (One longtime resident says he was told to pronounce it like Deborah Kerr, the actress.) A Kerr Avenue business underlines this pronunciation with a pun: “Kerr Wash.”
Some residents, however — including, reportedly, some of Joseph T. Kerr’s own descendants — prefer the “cur” pronunciation. The issue is still kind of up in the air, and the rules could change in another generation or so.
Date posted: May 17, 2009