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What is the story behind those brick columns on N.C. 133 near Sunny Point?

D.J. Bernard
StarNews photo by D.J. Bernard.

StarNews photo by D.J. Bernard.

Q. Vegetation clearing for utilities along the right of way for N.C. 133 just south of N.C. 87 and Sunny Point in Brunswick County seems to have revealed some brick columns from a previously used gated entrance. Do you have any knowledge regarding these columns and their use?

A. The brick columns that were revealed on N.C. 133 just south of N.C. 87 have the word “Walden” inscribed on them. They were gateway markers for a housing subdivision that was originally planned in the 1970s, according to Marshall Dotson Jr., a Jacksonville lawyer who runs the Hunter Heath Trust, which owned the land at the time.

Two other short roads were paved for the future development and still exist near the Walden markers, though they are crumbling and overgrown with underbrush

Hunter Heath was a doctor in Jacksonville who owned property in North Topsail Beach along with more than 600 acres in Southport, which included the Walden tract. Hunter Heath died in 1989 and left both properties in the Hunter Heath Trust, which Dotson has managed for 24 years

Hunter Heath’s Southport subdivision was never developed because one of the main roads planned for it was the access road for the Sunny Point Military Ocean Terminal. It turned out this road had restrictive access and could not be zoned for the amount of traffic the subdivision needed, Dotson said. So the housing development was abandoned.

The Hunter Heath estate held onto the land, with the Walden pillars intact, until 1992. In May of 1992, the construction materials company Martin Marietta purchased the land in hopes of building a quarry there, according to Paxton Badham, vice president of resources and environmental services at the company’s Raleigh office. Badham said the pillars were still on the property when his company started to develop the quarry. Unfortunately, the quarry project didn’t work out either and that project was abandoned in the late 1990s.

Martin Marietta still owns the land. Badham said the company is waiting for the right deal to sell it, such as if the Brunswick County super port project comes to fruition. In the meantime, the Walden gateways remain on the property, now exposed to N.C. 133 after almost 40 years hidden in the woods.


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User-contributed question by:
Pete Quinn

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