BROWSE BY:     Title Number Subject Creator Digital Content

Interview with Joseph R. Reaves (with Malcolm T. Murray),  November 18, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

pdf icon Get PDF Version
Interview with Joseph R. Reaves (with Malcolm T. Murray),  November 18, 2004
November 18, 2004
Janet Seapker, retired director of the Cape Fear Museum and Sherman Hayes interviewed these two real estate developers. The majority of the interview was about their successful efforts to create the Cotton Exchange retail/food complex in downtown Wilmington over an extended period of time. There is excellent history of the original complex, the changes made, the tenants and the stories related to this development. After 70 minutes of exchange between the four people, the two principals took us on a brief tour with the camera running of the Cotton Exchange, with even more stories and images to go with several of the earlier comments. Subjects would be development of Wilmington, 1965-on. Urban Renewal-Wilmington, retail history-Wilmington, and other general development of Wilmington, 1950-1990.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Reaves, Joseph R. (with Malcolm T. Murray) Interviewer: Hayes, Sherman / Seapker, Janet Date of Interview: 11/18/2004 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length 80

Murray: You want me to do it now?

Hayes: I’m on right now. Okay, today is, last time I checked, November 18th. My name is Shurman Hayes, University Librarian at Randall Library at UNCW, and we’re interviewing today two distinguished gentlemen, and if you would just tell us your name and the year you were born.

Reaves: Joseph Reaves, born in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1921.

Murray: Mal Murray, born in Newton, Massachusetts, and uh.. long time ago. May uh.. May 15, 1916.

Hayes: Right. And also joining us today as a special interviewer, Janet Seeker (ph). You don’t have to tell us uh..

Murray: .. how old she is.

Hayes: How old she is.

Seapker: Good, old enough to know better.

Hayes: Now if, one of the things that we’re going to concentrate on is in the wonderful building that is attached to us, I guess what is this called as a- is it a complex? What would you..

Reaves: Complex would be fine, yeah.

Murray: The theme <inaudible> cotton exchange.

Hayes: Cotton exchange. And the building that we’re in right now is ..

Reaves: Spront Building. Spront.

Hayes: Spront Building, okay, good. But before we jump in to that which is one of the interesting things that we want to do, if you could just give me a- we’ll start here, if you could just give me a sense of how you got to this point to become a kind of an entrepreneur/developer. Where did, you started here in Wilmington, and some highlights before we get going on the cotton exchange.

Reaves: I’m gonna yield to my senior here who would like to start off back in those days.

Hayes: That’s fine, alright.

Murray: Y- you see what happened there, don’t you.

Hayes: Liked it.

Murray: No, uh.. Teddy, who is my wife, and I moved out here in ’69. And we got in the business with Joe Reaves, uh.. and Harbor Associated Realtors, but we did more than just real estate, we got in to development projects, and interesting things. The first thing that happened with us as far as this area is concerned down here, it was an empty grass lot between these buildings and the hotel which was then the Time.

Hayes: It was the what?

Murray: The Time Hotel.

Hayes: Oh that was the name of it?

Murray: Yes, it was the name of it.

Seapker: Time Plaza.

Murray: Right.



Hayes: Time, interesting.

Reaves: There was a plant out on the edge of town that built that.

Hayes: Interesting.

Murray: And uh.. that empty lot uh.. Joe knew that the urban renewal was trying to sell off things so that took a look at it and so wouldn’t that be a beautiful place to have a sort of high rise apartment building. And uh.. so we went to them and they just let us have time to investigate that situation, and we called in Salla Hammer & Green (ph) from Atlanta who did a feasibility studies, and they made a feasibility study and said no, that won’t work in Wilmington. And this was 1972, Joe?

Reaves: In- in the early 70’s, yes.

Murray: In the early 70’s.

Hayes: But tell me, before you had come here, were you in the real estate business?

Murray: No, no.

Hayes: No, what were you in another life and career, or what was..

Murray: I’d been with two different large paper companies, and uh.. the last one I was head of a division and sold the division, and enthusiastically sold myself out of a job. At that time all my children were through college and getting married. So being empty nests, we decided to live down here where we could really live, rather than New York City and..

Reaves: And Teddy is from North, North Carolina.

Murray: My wife’s a Tar Heel, from Mount Olive.

Hayes: And so we’re talking the late 60’s..

Murray: Well, in ’69, right.

Hayes: So tell us a little bit about if somebody today, you know, we see all of this development, and wonderful, and they don’t have anything in their mind of, you know, what was it like? Was the downtown dead, was it live, what was it? What was it then on the street?

Murray: Joe, you take over there.

Hayes: Yeah, I mean that’s…

Reaves: Well I was born here in Wilmington, and I lived downtown on South Front Street for uh.. two or three years uh.. back when I was uh.. probably in the early ages of- of high school. And uh.. so I was a gr- a downtown person, always liked downtown, still like downtown. It was very vibrant, you didn’t have to have an automobile to go anywhere, you could walk to school, you could walk to church, you could walk to shops, you could do everything you want to and not have to get in an automobile. Uh.. and the downtown just had a flavor of its own with the waterfront, it was just uh.. just a uh.. a little heaven in itself. Uhm.. so..

Hayes: But that’s in 1937, ’38.

Reaves: Yeah- yeah, that’s all back then. But then- then of course in the early ‘40’s, while I went in the service, we both went in the service, both were navy pilots.

Hayes: Oh, interesting.

Reaves: And uh.. after the war, uh.. uh.. went back to school at State College, and uh.. then came on back to Wilmington, and got in to real estate business, and then Mal came in to town. And uh.. one of our banker friends that introduced us together, and we made a good match, and we were uh..

Hayes: On your way.

Reaves: .. partners for a quarter of a century.

Hayes: And did you ever, is your company called a particular name?

Reaves: Har- Harvour, H-A-R-V-O-U-R, the English version, Harvour Associates.

Hayes: Associates.

Reaves: We have a residential, commercial, and of course, development.

Hayes: But when you were starting to go in ’69, was the town just as vibrant as you remember it, or had it gone downhill a little bit? I mean there are ..

Reaves: Exce- except..

Hayes: Janet were you here at that point too in ’69?

Seapker: I came in ’71.

Hayes: All right. There the same flavor, I’m just saying what was it like? People don’t know, what went..

Reaves: Well, the- the- the department stores was still downtown, Belk’s, Penny’s, Sears were all downtown, it’s still a vibrant town. There was a lull in time when the Atlantic coastline left Wilmington.

Hayes: Oh, that’s right.

Reaves: Immediately after that, and I’d say some months after that, it was uhm.. very critical economically, very critical.

Hayes: That was late ‘50’s, right?

Seapker: Nine- 1960.

Hayes: Sixty, yeah, yeah.

Reaves: And uh.. so uh.. the town got together, and they put on some efforts by some good strong uh.. leaders in our town, and we brought in uh.. some manufacturing companies, and things were on the- on the go then with uh.. a lot of the big companies we had, G.E., and Riegal Paper, and uh.. there was uhm.. air conditioning company out on uh.. off of Carolina Beach Road. So there are a lot of companies brought in that would hire people, and got things back on its economic feet again.

Hayes: Now you mentioned the term urban renewal though. Was that all the national, all of the business of trying to help cities? Is that what that program was?

Murray: Yes, it was for that. They took over the properties that had been empty and uh..

Reaves: Run down.

Murray: Uh.. yeah. Usually just tore them down so that people could start fresh with a piece of land. And uh..

Seapker: I think they principally focused on sort of old industrial areas, you know,..

Murray: Old industrial areas.

Seapker: .. and slums. There was a lot of slum clearance going on.

Reaves: However, there were a lot of good buildings that could have been salvaged, and uh.. it’s unfortunate we lost those. But I guess in to carrying out the theme that they were focused on was to clean up an area for redevelopment of uh.. these buildings went by the wayside.

Hayes: Is there anything comparable today? I mean are they still doing that kind of thing? There’s no formal program like that.

Murray: No, that’s out. They finally turned their interests over to the city.

Hayes: Oh, okay.

Reaves: Norfolk, Virginia was uh.. a key that Wilmington focused on. I went up with a group of other people to Norfolk to see the urban renewal up there, of what was happening. And uh.. because they were selling us on that idea to do the same thing here in Wilmington. And they had grandiose plans about developing the downtown area, and the same thing for Wilmington. And uh.. so that was really the- the commission that was organized decided to follow suit, tear down, get some of the good buildings downtown, flatten the downtown area, and cleaned it up. And Time Hotel was an al- was an- it was a- a growth out of that p- plan, out of that program, as well as the parking deck downtown.

Hayes: So those, and those are the same ones that are there now as uh..

Reaves: Yeah. Hilton Hotel.

Hayes: Hilton Hotel. So it’s not a new structure.

Murray: No.

Reaves: No, no.

Hayes: That was built about, before the.

Reaves: That’s right.

Murray: Through the early ‘70’s, we did run in to a different economic situation downtown. The uh.. <cough>, excuse me. The big stores up and moving out to the mall..

Hayes: Oh, I wondered about that.

Murray: And uh.. Phelps moved out..

Reaves: Penny’s.

Murray: Penny’s moved out..

Reaves: Sears.

Hayes: Wow. And that was like early ‘70’s?

Murray: Yes.

Hayes: One right after another? Is that what ..

Murray: Right. And so downtown, you’d go down the street, and they were just closed shops all the way down. And uh.. and this group of buildings here, uh.. Sutton Console Furniture was in here, and uhm.. but they were spread out all over the buildings..

Hayes: This whole complex was just one..

Murray: Right. Good- good part of it.

Reaves: Just a- le- a lot of the buildings just for warehousing, and I think it was loosely used because we could have plenty of room to spread out.

Murray: But the whole downtown area, you go building uh.. right down the street, and there were very few places occupied at that time.

Hayes: What was your, the community college, was it even in existence.

Murray: Yes it was.

Hayes: Just started at ..

Reaves: Yeah. Yell, one of the community college is, another- another uh.. product of the urban renewal clean up, and that’s where they came downtown because of this urban renewal redevelopment.

Hayes: Interesting. Well Janet, you can jump in here too on this. We might want to tell the listeners then, or the readers, the historical significance of this area as well. I mean we’re in the Spront Building, right?

Reaves: Correct.

Hayes: Which isn’t casually named.

Murray: No.

Hayes: So what was the complex way back? What was it originally designed for?

Seapker: Well, it was a variety of things that if you’re looking at it from the waterfront, building on the left is the oldest, that’s the Harper <inaudible> Milling Company, which came along after the fire of 1886. But we- we’d suffered fires periodically, repeatedly in Wilmington, and there was a huge war fire in ’86 that got a- a great suave of buildings. So that was really the first building that was redeveloped in that- after the fire era.

Hayes: But the original building was a cotton factory? I mean, which says the cotton exchange is the term that’s used. Was it <inaudible>?

Seapker: I think it- I think it’s..

Murray: This- this building right here is the Spront Building, the Spront were extremely large cotton brokers.

Hayes: Brokers, right.

Murray: And they had offices in Paris, London, Toronto, New York, uh.. all over the country..

Seapker: Germany.

Murray: .. in Germany. And uh.. this was at the turn of the century, uh.. Wilmington was the largest exporter of cotton in the country. And they had five railroads coming in to the downtown area, at the time it was the largest street in North Carolina. And the cotton compress was right in back of us down here towards the water..

Reaves: On the waterfront.

Murray: .. and these railroad trains and barges would come down, and the- the cotton be compressed and put on sailing ships to be taken to all the- all over the world. And that’s- this is the building here it’s called the Spront Building because this was the office of the Spront people here in Wilmington.

Hayes: Of the corporation, and ..

Seapker: Ale- Alexander- Alexander Spront and Son, was the company.

Hayes: And so it was a privately held company.

Murray: Right.

Hayes: And brokers mean, for those who don’t know what that term is, what does a broker mean? I know it seems obvious, but I’m not sure everybody will know.

Reaves: Well I’m sure they- I’m sure they bought cotton, and then s- sold it to or transported to others who- who are involved..

Seapker: Bought it- bought it from the farmers.

Reaves: Bought it from the farmers, and shipped it out to wherever.

Seapker: And ship it overseas.

Murray: And it came in by rail as well as barge from uh.. up state.

Hayes: But they didn’t necessarily own the transportation system..

Reaves: No.

Hayes: .. they just put the connection together.

Reaves: Right, yes. And they have owned ships, I did not know that, but they- they shipped out a lot by uh.. by water.

Hayes: And so the big warehousing probably was a trans-shipment point for the cotton? Is that the sense of what that was or you don’t know?

Reaves: No. they had the- the compresses warehouse.

Seapker: <Inaudible> warehouses there.

Hayes: I mean this is a formal kind of a corporate looking office building.

Seapker: Right.

Hayes: Now the next large complex, it’s called the Cotton Exchange.

Reaves: J- Janet can uh.. go ahead with your rest of the story there on..

Seapker: Well the- the Cotton Exchange takes it’s name actually from this building..

Hayes: Oh, from this building.

Seapker: From uh.. the Spront Building which dealt with the cotton industry… market.

Reaves: That’s correct.

Hayes: But any sense of what the rest of the building was early on?

Seapker: Actually, as- as uhm.. one of you said Sutton Council was in ..

Reaves: Well that- that- that was- not- not- not an original, not an original.

Seapker: No, but in the buildings that are still here.

Reaves: Carrying off from the old starting point, on Nutt Street, the four story building was a grainery (ph).

Seapker: Right.

Reaves: And that was- that was the original use of it, and some of the equipment that’s still in the building. The next building, the story building, and they had uh.. some wholesalers and that thing. And upstairs uh.. at one time, I think tha was a- a ..

Murray: A dance floor.

Reaves: A- a- ladies of the evening had a special time upstairs, up there, back doing. But all the ships coming in..

Hayes: All the ships, oh, a little few sailors.

Reaves: That’s right. The next building is a newer building, and that building goes all the way from Nutt Street to Front Street, and that was Sears Roebuck Company.

Hayes: So what we now look at now, andact as if it is like a one building was really a series.

Reaves: Series.

Murray: Nine buildings, yeah.

Hayes: Nine buildings.

Murray: Correct.

Reaves: The building on the corner, I mean the vacant lot on the corner was an old hotel. And it was demolished along with a building that was on the corner of Nutt and Walnut. Those were demolished before we got in to the picture.

Hayes: So when you got in the picture, this was kind of a shambly group of buildings, right?

Murray: Old buildings.

Hayes: Old buildings.

Reaves: The next building that you come from Front Street, on the corner of Front and Grace, vacant lot which was uh.. which was uhm.. th- the site of the earlier old hotel, and at one time the YMCA.

Murray: The YMCA, right.

Jane Seeker: I was gonna say wasn’t that the…

Reaves: The YMCA. And it was- there was a uh.. a uh.. pool in the basement of that thing, we understand. But then coming northward, the next building is the Bear Building, which is a multi store, and that was a wholesale uh.. grocery- groceries, and uh.. all kinds of stuff.

Hayes: So was in- it was an industrial end would you consider it an industrial end of the city maybe?

Reaves: Yeah, uh.. yeah, well in- industrial or- or..

Murray: Warehousing.

Reaves: Warehouse and commercial.

Hayes: Commercial.

Reaves: The next building was uh.. it was uh.. uh.. African American group barber shop who catered to the personnel at the coast line.

Hayes: Interesting.

Reaves: And even at when we bought the property, there was one barber still operating the thing, as antique as it was. And the same building, and adjoining to the barber shop was a wood sea company.

Hayes: Now this is 1969, ’70.


Reaves: Well- well, they were out, this was ear- the original now we’re talking about, not- not the end of it.

Hayes: Right.

Reaves: Then the next building is this building, which is the Spront Building, which we’ve discussed.

Hayes: All right.

Murray: Interesting..

Hayes: How about across the street? Is that recent, all this..

Reaves: Uh.. not those building, I don’t think is old as anything on this side of the street.

Hayes: Yeah, yeah.

Seapker: No, they were- weren’t they mainly furniture stores across the street?

Reaves: There was a furniture store over there, what was it, Rose?

Murray: Rhodes.

Seapker: Rhodes?

Reaves: Rho- Rhodes Furniture up in <inaudible>.

Hayes: But was the community college here in ’70 when you..

Murray: Yes, yes it was. It was small.

Hayes: This main building?

Murray: Just that building right- right there is all it was.

Reaves: There’s a new- there’s new- new building.

Hayes: Now in the middle of..

Reaves: With this all this.. <inaudible> part of a renewal property, been rehabilitated.

Hayes: And the railroad, where was the railroad switching area and everything was..

Reaves: De- depot.

Hayes: Still down here.

Reaves: Two blocks down, where the bridge is.

Hayes: And was that pretty dormant or just..

Reaves: Yeah, that was..

Murray: Very much so because they all moved out. But the interesting fact that- that uh.. when they tore down the old hotel and YMCA, it appeared that when they built the Sears building in 1926, they used the wall of that hotel because we tore down, cleaned up the wall inside..

Reaves: Took the plaster off.

Murray: .. plaster off and everything else, here’s a big Wrigley’s gum sign on there- that was there before the Sears building was built in 1926.

Reaves: That’s- that is still o- on that if you’re going down to the corner to the shop, then you see that.

Murray: It’s s- it’ still there.

Hayes: That is great, that is great. Okay, I think that gives me some context of, you know, where the guys were coming from. But so now we’re back to the story.

Murray: Can we hit the tape for a bit?

Hayes: You bet.

Murray: I’ll go change my- move my car.

Hayes: Oh, good, good, good. We’re doing great. Okay, let’s get going now.

Seapker: Okay. One of my main interests in wanting you two interviewed was for you to tell the story of the cotton exchange, what motivated you when everybody else was leaving downtown to invest down here in a major way.

Reaves: Well, let me- let me just say one comment here. Janet Seeker, bless her soul, she was a- a real strong supporter and helper when we were getting involved in this operation back then.

Murray: She was still in Raleigh at the time.

Reaves: She was in Raleigh.

Hayes: Oh really.

Reaves: But working with the state. And uh.. she was really, well without se- Janet <inaudible> on our side, we- I don’t know what if we would have ever been able to go through with it, and bless your heart.

Seapker: Golly.

Murray: Well she’s the one that got nationally recognized as historic property. And this was before they had the state association or anything else. All the forms you had to go through.

Hayes: So you guys wanted to develop with a historic element involved, and did you see that as a tool, or did it just fall in to your lap, or..

Reaves: No uh.. Mal has s- said the first part of it. We were talking about building a- a mid rise apartments, and that didn’t work out proper. We were uh.. in the urban renewal office, the redevelopment commission office I think, that’s the proper name for it. On the top floor of the uh.. Murchison (ph) Building, which is up until recently was the first union building. Mal and I and Warren Sanders, who was executive director. And we told them, you know, about the thing of it. And he said, “Why do you go and buy all the property.” You know, he made some rash comment like that. “Why don’t you go and buy the rest of the property,” as if we had a flood with money. A- and so Mal and I said hmm, we like downtown, we think uh.. that we- we, of course M- Mal being from Boston area knows all about uh.. uhm..

Murray: Quincy Market.

Reaves: Quincy Market.

Hayes: Oh, that’s right, that’s right.

Reaves: He knew all about that.

Hayes: Highly successful.

Reaves: And so I think we wheels began to turn a little bit, didn’t it Mal.

Murray: Well this when you saw in the newspaper, they were advertising for bids to demolish all nine buildings.

Reaves: Yeah.

Murray: Bring their big ball in and just net- knock them all down.

Reaves: So they only tore down two buildings. A- and uh..

Murray: Yeah, and so that- Joe came up with that as a way we better get them to stop. So, we went before the u- urban renewal board, and said please don’t accept any bids, give us some time to look in to the situation, see if we can’t do something with the whole property.

Hayes: Interesting. So that’s the whole- almost the whole block.

Murray: Two blocks.

Reaves: Two blocks. Th- this block and the parking lot is another block.

Hayes: Is considered another block, okay.

Murray: And we can’t overlook the job that our wives did with this, I’ll tell you. Because we got traveling, and we traveled to theme centers because we thought it might make a good theme center. And we traveled to Savannah, underground, Atlanta, uh.. River Key in Kansas City, uh.. the west coast at..

Reaves: J.W. Square on..

Murray: J.W. Square..

Reaves: <Inaudible> San Francisco.

Murray: Uh.. the uh.. one in Ohio, uh..

Reaves: Quaker Square.

Murray: Quaker Square in Ohio.

Reaves: The old Quaker oats place.

Hayes: Interesting.

Murray: And uh.. to see these theme centers. There was even one in Hawaii, and it just dovetailed with a national real estate convention at that time, so we went- they had a very interesting theme center there as well.

Hayes: Now you use the term theme center, that’s no a theme park. What is in the real estate, what does that mean, theme center?

Murray: A theme center would be a group that you put together, it has no big anchor, and has a theme, like the Cotton Exchange. Uh.. same theme that has- Savannah has for the cotton exchange down there. It’s just a uh.. a way of having many, many small stores of unique description without having a big anchor.

Reaves: And also the utilization of some- of some old buildings which has some charm, in my opinion.

Hayes: All of these are historic?

Reaves: Yeah, historic.

Murray: Old buildings, right. Old- old areas that have been developed, and uh.. where- look like they’re pretty successful along with Quincy Market in Boston. Several others we.. but our wives played a big part in this because uh..

Reaves: Not only they made uh.. made- well I say, not only did they join us on that thing, but when it came time to signing notes and so forth, they had to- they had to give us support by signing those notes. Because uh.. so- so they were partners with us in that.

Murray: There were no question whether they were partners.

Reaves: They were partners <inaudible>.

Seapker: And Joe, you- you were married to Camille.

Reaves: And I was married Camille.

Seapker: What we her- what was her- her maiden name?

Reaves: Camille Long, L-O-N-G.

Seapker: And you still are married to Teddy.

Murray: Sixty, 62 years.

Seapker: Who’s real name is what?

Murray: Florence Kosh.

Seapker: Florence Kosh. I think Teddy’s..

Murray: Teddy’s a better name for her.

Reaves: Yeah, uh.. Camille’s father had the Cadillac agency here, uh.. not Cadillac, the Packard agency, Packard agency, back before the war.

Seapker: <Inaudible>.

Reaves: But anyway.

Hayes: So anyway, so now you’re thinking theme center..

Reaves: Well we- looked at the old buildings are tied in with Quincy Market in Boston, and we said well, you know, the wheels, let the wheels turn.

Murray: <Inaudible> Atlanta was the same thing.

Reaves: So uh.. but then after that, we uh.. did a little more detail. You want to pick up there with some of the architects and whatnot?

Murray: We tried to find an architect. We- we- then we got an option on the property, so we’re getting serious.

Seapker: Now what- before you go in to that, what did the urban renewal board think of your offer to..

Murray: Fortunately, we personally knew most of the people on the board. Isn’t that right Joe?

Reaves: Yeah, yeah.

Murray: And uh.. they were business men in town. And uh..

Reaves: I think they thought we were crazy.

Murray: No question about it.

Reaves: I said well, you know, it- it didn’t cost us anything to get the property, and we’re not going to get anything out of it. Uh.. I think the money would be able to go to the city. And so nothing in their pocket. So give the boys..

Murray: Give a chance to see what they can do.

Reaves: Look around, I think.

Murray: And uh.. oh, trying to find an architect, and we got an architect. We went through three architects locally. And uh.. it was just no sense. They- they wanted to put uh.. walnut cabinets in, and ..

Reaves: Paneling over the brick wall.

Murray: Mahogany paneling, and- and just change everything. And we were looking to use what we had here. And we finally found an architect in uh.. Charlotte that saw things the way we did, and he was excellent. But he had to work as a guide because when we started tearing the place apart, you didn’t know what you were going to find. One thing in particular when they had a bulldozer or backhoe, I forget which it was, Joe, clearing out all the rubble. Oh, uh.. I’ve gotten ahead of myself, they had a fire. And uh.. in 1974, June 20th I remember. And it burned up the whole middle of this whole block of buildings.

Hayes: Oh.

Murray: You tell the story about the Chief of the Fire Department next door. Well, and we did have uh.. Gladstone Associates from Washington, DC was making a feasibility study for us. And he called, and uh.. that day, and he said, “Do you want me to continue the study?” I said, “Why not.” He said, “The building’s on fire.” So we both came down and tears running watching this thing burn. And uh.. the next morning, the two of us came down, and the Chief of the Fire Department was here. He said, “You want to see what’s in the middle?” We said, “Sure.” And he had a ladder that was that big at the bottom.

Reaves: Well, the ladder on- well they had a fire truck there where they had that big extension ladder.

Murray: But it went up to and then we were at the lowest point of the whole property going to the highest point of all the property. And Joe and I climbed the ladder. We said, “Why <inaudible>.” Keep your arms right out straight. You start knocking your knees on those rungs and you’re going to fall.” No- no problem, we climbed up the ladder. Got the top, there’s a parrot up there, we climbed over the parrot. But and we did get a view of what we could do with the Cotton Exchange, there’s no question about that. But then we thought we were going to spend the rest of our lives there. Because that had- the top was that wide. And we had to climb over a parrot, but with nothing to hold on to get your foot on the <inaudible>. Yeah, we had to several tries. Uh.. we decided to stay there for the rest of our lives, but then we finally.

Seapker: I’m real good at going up, but I can’t come back down.

Reaves: Well then another similar situation, the Bear Building, which is the next building over, is three- was- was three stories. It’s still a three story facade, it’s only a two story building now. But uh.. the city blocked off Front Street for fear it was going to fall. And uh.. in order to determine the status of it, we had to get an engineer, a city building inspector, the contractor, and I think I was..

Murray: He was elected.

Reaves: .. I was elected to- to investigate it. So they brought a forklift down, put a piece of plywood on the forklift, and put in a little rickety 2x4 around it for a handrail. My handprints are still in the handrail. And then this was up three stories up and I- and I tell you I didn’t- I didn’t see any building of <inaudible>, all I can just see was falling. But the engineer did, and the city inspector did, came back down, and they said it looks solid. But right shortly after we had a storm, and it blew down the back wall.

Hayes: Oh no.

Reaves: And then there was a- a guy just transit guy r- running through town, he said, “I need a job.” And I said, “Here’s a hammer. Clean all this brick,” and he cleaned them up and put them back in the wall.

Murray: We put them right back up the way- the way the wall was.

Reaves: <Inaudible> use that to go back. But uh.. a few little things of that sort of very just uh.. <inaudible>.

Hayes: Well were you feeling pretty low at that point though?

Reaves: Oh, absolutely, yeah.

Hayes: I mean, you know, <inaudible> risk here, the whole thing was going to collapse.

Murray: I think that we got uh.. got low was- after the fire, the city did nothing about the property for a solid year, and the water was just soaked in there. And that increased the cost of what we had antici- anticipated by just about a quarter of a million dollars.

Hayes: Wow.

Murray: And uh.. which we didn’t have at the time.

Hayes: And in that time though, it was real money.

Murray: Look for this real money.

Hayes: That’s still real money. I mean, but what I’m saying is 1975 dollars.

Murray: But then you get going back then- that’s when I was saying when we were cleaning off, and this fella is pulling some stuff back, and here’s a grate. We looked down through the grate, and we can see inside there a very pretty door, and two pretty windows. And we <inaudible> clean it up, there’s a wall in front of it, what, about that thick?

Reaves: Yeah, yeah.

Murray: That thick, and the little area. So we clear up a big hole in the wall, and that’s how you get in that restaurant down there.

Reaves: To <inaudible>.

Murray: To <inaudible> restaurant. But then uh.. what developed in to a..

Reaves: Well that was- it- it was about half full of water though.

Murray: Oh yes.

Reaves: From the rain and- and the fire. So we had to pump out all the water.

Hayes: And you- you were forced to give up all your other development work or were you able to sustain some of the things during this time?

Reaves: Well, Mal with his son, he- he- he kept the home fires burning in the office, uh.. the real estate office. And uh.. I came down and uh.. uh.. we got a hold of Reagan Construction, Dick Reagan. And I said, “Dick Reagan, give us a good quality uh.. superintendent and three or four men. And uh.. let us have them and we’ll just settle up with you on the hour basis plus a- a fee and whatnot here.” And that’s the way we worked. And so we came down, we’d tear up something, look at it, and then ask what to do, and go with it. The architect, as Mal had mentioned, from Charlotte, he was a good guy to give us some overall guidance, but it came down to specifics and so forth we left him in Charlotte, and we went on our merry way here, tearing out and seeing what we had to do, and- and- and do our design work, and uh.. what not.

Seapker: Who- who was the architect, Joe?

Reaves: I ha- cannot remember- can’t remember, his name. Maybe- maybe we’ll find it somewhere along the line.

Murray: We’ve got files galore in here with pictures of everything, and all the promotion material.

Reaves: But he uh.. we flew in down two or three times from Charlotte to- to give us some guidance on our particular s- situation. But a- actually doing an ar- architectural drawings and so forth, he did very little. He made a little sketch for us one time, and that was about it. About the only thing that we have that doesn’t have the name on it.

Hayes: Well sometimes you have an architectural signature for some of the things, right?

Reaves: No.

Hayes: No? <Inaudible> the rules would require..

Murray: Because you need, because everything we started with, we didn’t know what was going to be there. When you threw something out you didn’t know what you were going to have.

Seapker: You were engaging in architectural archaeology.

Reaves: That’s right, that’s right. Uhm.. I have something on my mind, but..

Murray: It wasn’t the building inspector, was it?

Seapker: I was going to ask you about the building inspector.

Reaves: Well- well, I was going to say, well, the one thing about the building inspection, we had to fight a lot of things, you know. And- and we’ll talk about the financing in a few minutes. But getting back to fighting, the- the uh.. handicap code had just come in to uh.. it’s full glory. And uh.. we had to fight the building inspector because their overinterpretation of- of the code. There was a uh.. architect, a handicapped architect, confined to a wheelchair, and Fiddle, who was one of the principle writer of this uh.. handicap..

Hayes: American Disabilities Act?

Reaves: Yeah, for North Carolina.

Seapker: It preceded that.

Hayes: Yeah, yeah.

Reaves: I can’t remember his name.

Seapker: I don’t- I don’t remember.

Reaves: Nice guy, but he heard our stories and whatnot, and sided with us. And with that, what we were able to get a little bit of re- relief down here from our local building inspector.

Murray: Well, what the building inspector wanted us to put men’s and ladies handicapped toilets in a 600 square foot shop.

Reaves: Yeah, and you know, it would take the place up, you know, he- quarter of the size of this room here. And that was just uncalled for. But anyway, we had a lot of- of problems in that direction. Uhm.. up- upstairs in this building, you got little tiny st- where- earlier we didn’t stairs going up it. We loose more ha- little small stairs going up there, and a handicapped person couldn’t even get up the stairs. But upstairs you got to put handicapped bathrooms up there.

Hayes: Huh?

Reaves: Yup, <inaudible>. And uh.. well we had a lot of things up there. But also, there were a lot of areas in which uh.. they overemphasized, and we had n- made numerous trips to the Department of Insurance in Raleigh to get an override from the local building inspector because they were just too..

Hayes: You would think they would be grateful. You’re taking what is a worthless piece of property and trying to do something good with it.

Reaves: They- they would have- op- the opposite was, well, le- let- le- let’s delete that.

Hayes: All right, that’s about <inaudible>.

Reaves: Uh.. but uh.. we- now I say we had to tear out in some cases, and- and uh.. see what we had and then go from there. In the courtyard, you walked through a little small building going in to the Sears building. That was a vault for Sam Bears operation. That was a money vault, and we cut a hole in the side of it, and with a little f- flat top which we found real pretty, we put in a- a uh.. copula (ph) on top, which was designed from a copula of a house down on 5th Street. We got the idea of that and put it on top of that- that uh.. vault and gave it some character. And uh.. well, I think that’s probably the- the whole- the- the facade for the shops along the arcade coming off of Front Street came off of a uhm.. of the hotel, Ocean Forrest Hotel that was destroyed and torn down in Myrtle Beach, and we bought those doors, going in to the dining room..

Murray: Of course the facade..

Reaves: And the uh.. the- the..

Murray: The shops.

Hayes: Janet, I mean this is tremendous preservation stuff by some folks who never started with that game. I mean was anybody else now, you know, more systematic about this, I mean a preservation society? Was there any movement around here, or was it just these guys?

Seapker: Well, in 1966, the Historic Wilmington Foundation was established, as was the Board of Architectural Review.

Reaves: That was ’66?

Seapker: That- that board did not have anything to do with this area though, it was all residential. And then I’ve forgotten when Dare was established.

Murray: Oh, that was..

Reaves: That was later on, yeah.

Murray: That was later on. Joe served on the Mayor’s Committee to try and develop what would be good, and that became Dare for the downtown area.

Seapker: So, throughout the life of your- your uhm.. development here, and- and it took, well as a matter of fact, they just uh.. I think redeveloped the second floor of the Sears building within the last three or four years.

Reaves: Yes.

Murray: Right.

Seapker: So, this is a really long project.

Hayes: When did you feel like, when did you have tenants? I mean how long did it take you before you finally <inaudible>?

Murray: Well, that- that comes more or less in the financing <inaudible>.

Reaves: That’s ano- another story. Couple of other things <inaudible> maybe we go on about uh.. The uh.. big light fixture that’s in the entry way coming through off of Front Street, that came out of a church uh.. that was not being used- uh.. the chandeliers had been taken out of the church, and it was put in the basement. And we heard they had some, and so we approached them, do you want to get rid of them. “Oh yeah, we’d like to have them.” And so they sold it to us, and- and if I’m not mistaken, that Cameron family built that church at the corner of Fifth and Light Street I think it- it is now, and about ready to fall in. It’s a beautiful church, but they built a new church beside it.

Seapker: Emmanuel Presbyterian.

Reaves: It’s a- I think it was Presbyterian church, yeah. But anyway, they- they had taken out these big chandeliers, uh.. big- big chandeliers, and we bought that and hung that up. Then we’re down in Atlanta, we bought some things there. We won uh.. one was a brass doors on the front of the Sears building. And we brought those from Atlanta up here and put that in. The uh.. chandeliers just inside the uh.. Sears building, we found that in a big antique shop in Wilson, and it was a big box, and it was all in parts and pieces and so forth. And we put an assembly together, and that’s hanging in- in there. Uhm.. and uh..

Seapker: Great big light fixtures.

Murray: Big lamps.

Reaves: Like <inaudible> on Front. That’s a story in itself.

Murray: It sure is.

Reaves: I got a call one day from uh.. a man who was in chu- same church, St. Paul’s Lutheran church, Sixth and Market. He said, “Joe,” said “there’s a couple of lanterns out in the field uhm.. the Board of Education field out on 13th Street.” And he said that the uhm.. there’s uh.. vines growing all over it. And he said, “I’m afraid that somebody’s going to run over those things and damage them beyond repair.” And he said, “I think they’re too good be damaged.” He said, “Do you think you could use them? And if you can use them be put in to a public place, I think I can get permission for you get to use those things.” So Mal <inaudible>, “Well where are we going to put them?” So what, if we can get them, we’ll put them up on Front Street if we can get permission from the city. So I- I have a little Pinto station wagon. And I- I hadn’t seen the thing, so I took my Pinto station wagon, I had to pick them up. Gosh <laughing>, that was a rude awakening right there.

Hayes: How big are they?

Reaves: So uh..

Murray: Did you see them when you walked in? There about this big around.

Seapker: There as tall as a person.

Murray: They came- they <inaudible> off the old Custom House building that was torn down about 100 years ago.

Hayes: Oh my goodness.

Reaves: So uh.. then we had to get a- a uh.. forklift and a big truck to bring them down here after we got permission from the city, and uh.. then it turns out that this friend is deceased, but I married his wife, after my wife died. That was..

Hayes: But it seems to me like..

Reaves: Uh.. that was Jerry Beaver.

Hayes: .. weren’t you beginning to get worried about gifts like this? I mean it sounds like…

Reaves: Well no, they all weren’t gifts, but they- that was a gift. <Inaudible>.

Murray: And he made me go before the city council to get permission to take government property and put it on their sidewalk. <Laughing>. And but he had talked to all the city council first, so it was all right.

Reaves: But uh.. Jerry Beaver was uhm.. he was as- an assistant, a superintendent at the time, and he was very grateful to the- the- that was- use those things down here, provided it was put in to a public place. And so that’s where they are, in a public place <inaudible>.

Seapker: What a salvage.

Murray: <Inaudible>, make us run around all over the country to find out about theme centers, uh.. they came up with five points that you had to be- have to have a good theme center. And uh.. one was location near the water, another was uh.. past proven experience business experience, past experience. Uh.. another one was available transportation, have good highways coming in. <Inaudible> listed here some place. Accessibility, clean surroundings, and pro- proven business community. And this me- met all those factors. And that uh.. when we <inaudible> study the whole thing, and we found out that by the uh.. sailing ships on the river, and uh.. the- on the business side of it, they were turpentine, lumber, and ship stores. And then the cotton and the pass, so we had a wonderful experience to start working on as far as history was concerned. And Joe’s wife, Camille studied the history of all these areas, and the buildings, and came up with wonderful information. And uh..

Reaves: Ted- Teddy did her share also <inaudible>.

Murray: Yeah <inaudible>, and digging up. At Christmas time, our two wives decorating the whole place for Christmas. And uh.. it uh.. really made a difference. But what we found out we started, we had multi buildings, multi level, nine buildings on two and three stories, and at 16 feet between one street and the other. So to try and get around every place, you got handicap doors in every entrance. It was interesting. And uh.. but the interesting part of this whole project was nobody wanted to finance it. It didn’t have an anchor tenant. And uh.. so that we were- we were going to go ahead with anyway. And uh.. chairman of the board of Waccamaw bank.

Reaves: Yeah, but we had enough friends.

Murray: We had enough friends, the banks.

Reaves: <Inaudible> borrow money from.

Murray: Uh.. what was it, Barrows? Came down one day, he said, “My wife’s been down here.” And he walked around. And he turned to the local Waccamaw (ph) man, and he said, “These guys got something. Give them some help.” And they gave us our first good sized line of a quarter of a million dollars, which paid off all the 90 day notes we had with every bank in town.

Hayes: Oh, gee.

Reaves: Well that was it. His wife uh.. was very influential and- and the President of that bank up there letting us have a little money, right?

Murray: Yup, yeah.

Reaves: Yeah. Before you get further on that, two things that I need to bring up right quick at that. Tell them about Cot- Cotton Exchange. We got up with that Cotton, and Mal and I went up country up there looking for a cotton compressing outfit, and we found one up on the highway, up- upstate somewhere. Saw it one day, and there was a little one-man operation up there, and we told him what we wanted. And he said, “Well, I could think I could help you, but I’m not going to come press it as I would normally because I could take too much cotton out, c- compress it loosely, and it wouldn’t cost you quite as much. And I won’t put the new bands on it, I’ll put some old timing bands on it like it was then back in- in the turn of the century.” He did that, and we brought it on down to Wilmington, we had some that was displayed out front, and finally it uh.. that uh.. got moved away, and I think it’s still there. They <inaudible> it down here off of Nut Street in the wagon. Then the wagon we bought there..

Murray: A railway wagon.

Reaves: Yeah, and a ra- and rai- what a railway wagon, a- and we got that uh.. I think <inaudible> still around here somewhere. Uhm.. so the cotton was in, and their carts, and it was something else that we did and unique that we bought.

Seapker: You had a lot of barrels.

Reaves: Yeah, yeah, whiskey barrel, yeah, whiskey barrels, we had to have some of those around. But we uh.. went all around the countryside here looking for objects that would be appropriate for this thing here. And- and we bought a lot of these things and brought them in, uhm.. uh.. from all parts and uh.. I guess the most outstanding went down in to Myrtle Beach for those door fronts.

Hayes: You know, the Spronts were still going. Weren’t they willing to front you any money? I mean they were still- The Spronts were still around.

Murray: Oh, they- they- it was all part of the urban renewal project as far as that’s concerned.

Hayes: By that time they were, uh.. I just thought maybe they were still <inaudible>.

Seapker: I mean they’re- they certainly live here, and ..

Hayes: The family is here, but they weren’t involved.

Seapker: .. and in Houston, but not really involved in the cotton industry at all.

Reaves: But go ahead with your story about the..

Murray: I’m just going down the some of the obstacles we ran in to in the fire, and the architects. We came with a final plan of gross leasing area of 72,000 square feet out of a total of nine thousand, 90,000. Thinking about offices and shops. And our studies brought out that we had plenty of parking with a parking right next door, and 150 spaces to ourselves. Uh.. the size of the shops would be 600 and 1,500 square feet, the number of shops 25 to 28, and the variety of shops, which worked out very well when we were doing it, was 25 percent food, 25 percent apparel, 25 percent household goods, and 25 percent furnishing, 25 percent dry goods, and miscellaneous. And uh.. at that time we figured we would have the fresh phase leased up in six months, and projected sales were worked out, <inaudible> tax we were going to generate, and all that sort of thing. Going to employ about 200 people in here.

Seapker: What was the phase one?

Murray: Uh.. this- much of this office building, Courtley’s Restaurant, uh.. and ..

Reaves: The second floor of the <inaudible> toy story building.

Murray: .. the second floor of the two story building..

Reaves: That kind of a grander building. <Inaudible> is uhm.. he was a son of a- of the department store, and w- was a Rocky Mountain? W- w-

Murray: Goldborough.

Reaves: Goldborough, I believe it was. Anyway, he- he came down looking for a place to start a uh.. a New York style deli restaurant. And he wanted to go out of town, and not- we- we- we talked him in to coming down to Cotton, the Cotton Exchange. And it was Cortley’s, C-O-R-T-L-E-Y-S, after one of his children’s names. And he- he did some of the work, paid for some of that work, and we paid him some to work inside of the <inaudible>. And he was our, I guess our number one tenant. Our number two tenant was Lionel Warrick, CPA firm uh.. they uh.. they took this entire ground- this ground floor level right here.

Hayes: Oh, <inaudible>.

Reaves: And we didn’t have any money to do the work, so we let them- let them pay up upfront for the work, and we gave them free rent for X number of years, after which was amortized over, okay. So that’s how we got that.

Seapker: Talk about creative financing.

Murray: It was creative financing all right.

Reaves: Uhm..

Hayes: Were you developing other properties to keep going because I’m not seeing any cash flow, I’m not seeing any uh.. money..

Murray: And we didn’t see it either.

Hayes: <Inaudible>, I’m not saying ..

Reaves: Have you heard of Peter to pay Paul? That was uh.. that was the ultimate.

Murray: That was probably had- 90 days notes with everybody in town.

Reaves: Well, let me- let me give you another one, <inaudible>. Uh.. Reagan Construction, I told you about earlier, who was doing out work. Well, you know, he- he- he ran up a pretty good bill, and we were- weren’t leasing up as fast as we hoped, and so the money wasn’t there. So the- you want your money, and we want you to have your money. We- we were borrowed out at the bank. You go borrow the money, and we’ll make the payments for you. So he did that, we paid him, he got his money, he was happy, except when he was on- we were on a- we were on the note with him to guarantee for that. <Laughing>.

Hayes: <Inaudible> you guys, <inaudible>.

Reaves: And so with family and friends, and borrowing money around, we were able to keep the thing going. But it was difficult to get local people and residents and lease in here. Most of- I would say most of the people who- who became earlier tenants were people <inaudible>.

Murray: <Inaudible>. Well then we put together a- a..

Reaves: Pony show.

Murray: Pony- dog and pony show, and then uh.. <inaudible> briefcase about that wide, about that tall, and about that thick which housed the uh..

Reaves: Video.

Murray: Video, combination voice timed with the slides, and the first thing they had to do was sell Wilmington.

Hayes: Yeah.

Murray: So this was we put together to sell Wilm- Wilmington as well as the development of the Cotton Exchange.

Hayes: Did you have a sense of the mall, the mall was new and fresh.

Reaves: Oh, yes.

Hayes: So is that, in other words, old was never going to come back? Was that kind of the feeling you got from everybody? It’s like oh, old isn’t going to work, or..

Seapker: Well the- the mall actually didn’t get started till what, eight uh.. ’79?

Murray: Oh no, Belk’s out there in the early ‘60’s, uh.. early ‘70’s.

Reaves: Early ‘70’s.

Hayes: And who had, and what about the New Hanover (ph) Center, was that even before..

Seapker: Mm hmm, that was well before..

Hayes: <Inaudible> so I’m seeing I think a <inaudible> was moving to the mall.

Murray: That’s <inaudible>, moving out of downtown.

Hayes: Let’s go to the mall. And so you probably- well who are the customers that you were thinking? Was it tourists that was going to be your traffic? I mean what was <inaudible>?

Reaves: Well, we- we- our concept was to have products down here that would be good for the local people as well as for tourists. We had a- a nice ladies dress shop down her, high- uh.. real- real top quality stuff. They had been in the business before, a Jewish family, very knowledgeable. Uh.. we had uh.. R. Bryan, a men’s store which was upscale uh.. men’s clothing. We had a men’s shoe store, we had a ladies shoe store, uh.. we had the uh..

Murray: Book store.

Reaves: .. book store, we had a kitchen shop, which is still here.

Murray: A jewelry store.

Reaves: .. book store.

Hayes: Same kitchen shop?

Murray: Yup.

Reaves: No, no it’s a different one. Remember we had- they started out at the end of the <inaudible> basement.

Murray: Right. They were down in the basement, and they moved up <inaudible>.

Reaves: And they moved in the largest space, much larger. And uh.. so we had a variety there of things that would attract the local traffic. And when R. Bryan, the men’s store was down here, he catered to a lot of the attorneys, and other people and business people downtown..

Murray: He was the best men’s store that you’d find east of Raleigh.

Reaves: Yeah.

Hayes: And you folks have always done great tie-in’s to say the Azalea Festival, and the stuff on the- was that early on? Did you grab a hold of those kind of connections for traffic? I mean.. Winterfest, and you know..

Murray: Uh.. I can’t say the Azalea Festival helped us too much, we- but we took a big part in it.

Reaves: Yeah, we took the Azalea- I think the biggest <inaudible> was providing the toilet facilities. <Laughing>.

Seapker: Now, if I’m not mistaken, when the Cotton Exchange was first opened, Front Street was blocked off.

Murray: Yes.

Reaves: It was.

Seapker: In- in front of your complex.

Reaves: Well, we got a picture of that.

Seapker: And that was an urban renewal kind of..

Reaves: That was an urban renewal, they put in a uh.. a uhm.. flag pole at the corner of Front and Grace, and what look like a uh.. little ship thing at the uh.. it’s a base for it, and flags on it.

Murray: There.

Reaves: Well there- there- there.

Seapker: Big, big bollards.

Reaves: There it is, there it is, that..

Seapker: Big bollards that were in the middle of the street.

Reaves: Yeah, that’s what- and- and they were going to make it up <inaudible>.

Murray: That’s what the city decided they wanted th- there, and they never followed up on it.

Reaves: Yeah.

Hayes: So they were going to close you in and <inaudible> walking for <inaudible>..

Seapker: It was ped- pedestrian mall <inaudible>.

Murray: Yeah, which was all right at the time if they had followed on and done it, but they never followed the plan.

Hayes: And were the uh..

Reaves: And then uh.. wanted a pedestrian down here <inaudible>.

Hayes: Where you had tenants across the street, how <inaudible> viable or not at that point?

Reaves: No, it- it was a vacant property across the street, <inaudible>.

Hayes: You see, that was the problem <inaudible>.

Reaves: Yeah, yeah, <inaudible> no pedestrians.

Seapker: The Cape Fear Tech students were probably.

Murray: They were the biggest problem we had.

Seapker: I think that remains today.

Reaves: Well, uh.. we had the park- their parking selection.

Murray: So we been- we provide a parking place for them down here so that uh.. and uh.. then we find when we complained about that it wasn’t the students as much as it was the ..

Reaves: Instructors.

Murray: .. the instructors.

Reaves: Yeah, we ha- it- it cost us, we had to put in a person at the uh.. gate in order to- to ..

Hayes: To this day you have a person <inaudible?

Murray: Right.

Hayes: And I think that’s still probably the same folks. I mean now it’s five and six thousand students.

Reaves: Well, they’re good to have them because I mean then come up and eat lunch and things of that sort. They- they’re not great spenders, but they do come and have some refreshments and whatnot.

Hayes: Are you today still the owner of the Cotton Exchange?

Reaves: No.

Murray: No, no, we sold what, ten, 12 years ago.

Reaves: We were approached by John Bullock (ph) uh.. since he owns some property at Channa’s (ph) Wharf, and wanted to know if we would be interested in selling it. And we had been approached by others..

Murray: Right.

Reaves: But we didn’t we feel like they would have the interest to maintain the continuity in the project. So we said no to them. But when John came in, he got interested in downtown, he had a daughter who would be the leasing agent, and he would be involved in it himself..

Murray: Managing.

Reaves: .. oh, managing it, you’re right there. And he would be the leasing agent. We felt comfortable that they would leave continuity there. And so we took a sheet of paper out, real formal thing, and we said we hereby sell, and we hereby buy this, and we said bounded by certain- and we both signed it. And <laughing>, John- John took it to his attorney up there to start drawing up paper, and he said, “Where’s the contract? This uh..” He said, “You be kidding.” And he wasn’t kidding. But we had- we- we- we both had uh.. confidence in each other, and uh.. we could have gotten on without that, <inaudible> with a handshake and gone on without deal. We didn’t find anything in writing as far as I was concerned, you too I think.

Murray: Absolutely. It was intensive management. And uh.. nit-picking type of sense of management, and uh.. his daughter, Nancy, being on scene all the time could handle- well we were hiring people to do the same thing, and hiring promotion people, and everything else. Another little gadget we had, try and promote it. Remember that one?

Seapker: Oh, I don’t.

Reaves: We- we had a uh.. roving billboard.

Hayes: We’re looking at it. That’s fun. Big bus, huh?

Seapker: Oh, is that something you bought or..

Reaves: Oh yeah.

Murray: We bought it, yes.

Reaves: Yeah, we uh.. the uh.. guy who had the yellow cab over here, I don’t know what he bought the thing, but he bought it, and- and uhm.. he was uh.. I think he was from <inaudible> it all, maybe we had approached him about wanting to sell the thing. A- anyway, we bou- but anyway, we bought the thing from him, painted it up, and Cotton Exchange on it, and drove it around and parked it around, wherever as appropriate for a roving billboard.

Murray: You’d be surprised, when it ran out of gas or something, or wouldn’t work, we’d be on a street in Southport, uh.. at the time of the Fourth of July parade down there. <Laughing>. Or there was something going up the battle ship, uh.. we would be over there, and uh.. we had to get them <inaudible>..

Hayes: You guys have told us about the travails, but was there some point when you said this really has been successful? Like when you had a sense that this was an accomplished fact, that it was making money, and what you were hoping for? I mean was there ever that point?

Reaves: You know what, let- let’s co- let’s see if we both agree on this <laughing>. One- one night we picked up a- a news release, and they made some complimentary reports about it like it was- it was a success.

Murray: Uh.. when we saw what had happened to downtown, and ..

Reaves: Whether or not it was, but we rented it was.

Murray: It was the catalyst for the rest of downtown uh.. improving, so that we felt good about that. But..

Seapker: <Inaudible> often talk about having the Cotton Exchange and Chandler’s Wharf as two anchors on the waterfront..

Reaves: North- north and south.

Seapker: .. commercial area.

Murray: And just a little bit of informational reports all over country, US News, World Report, Southern Living had write ups on us.

Hayes: Excellent.

Murray: And uh.. all that sort of thing.

Reaves: <Inaudible> award, you got that list of awards?

Murray: We got a whole list of awards. There they are. Oh, here’s one.

Seapker: That’s great.

Murray: Both Joe and I got that, personally.

Seapker: Order of the Long Leaf Pine, oh.

Murray: By the governor.

Hayes: Oh, from the governor, wow. That is really fascinating.

Murray: And uh.. the Phoenix Award, which is given by the uh.. National Tourism Association.

Hayes: Excellent.

Murray: Uh.. the city of Wilmington, from the Historic- another one from the Historic Preservation Society of North Carolina, Historic Preservation Award Adaptive Use, uh.. American Institute of Ac- Architects for modernization excellence, and successful modernization of the Cotton Exchange, the Building Journal, uh.. National Building Journal, construction and building management <inaudible>, certificate of the Cotton Exchange for outstanding contribution of revitalization of downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, from Dare, certificate of recognition of the meaningful contributions to enhance the business to historic- in this historic and cultural life of Greater Wilmington, one of the- one from the Chamber Of Commerce, uh.. co-sponsors from the Better Homes and Gardens, and the National Associations of Home Builders, uh.. the Phoenix Award, and Long Leaf.

Seapker: And what is great about being able to interview you two today, I- I got this idea that you two ought to be interviewed, and I forgotten now who I spoke with first, but I guess I spoke with Joe first. And uhm.. there- I- I think you were somewhat reluctant to be interviewed together. And that made me think oh dear, uh.. has there been a riff between Joe and Mal, are they not talking to each other any more. And then I spoke with Mal, and he mentioned that you and Joe had been out fishing, that- that very morning. And I thought oh good, this is, I mean, you two have been through uhm.. in your communal life together a virtual marriage, and if this thing didn’t break you up, putting the Cotton Exchange together, I think you’re fast friends forever.

Reaves: Amen.

Murray: In some respects, this was easier than some of the other things we did.

Seapker: Really.

Reaves: Uh.. <inaudible>.

Murray: Involved in development of so many different places., so.

Hayes: Well if you hang on a second, I’m going to just change tapes.

#### End of Tape 1 ####

UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database
Found in:
Randall Library | UNCW Archives and Special Collections | Online Database | Contact Us | Admin Login
Powered by Archon Version 3.21 rev-1
Copyright ©2012 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign