BUILDING HISTORY: Coastline Convention Center
 

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's been a part of Wilmington history for more than 100 years.

These days it's a great place for a party, show or convention. The Coastline Convention Center has had to change to stay on track.

"In 1888 they built it from the Columbia-Augusta Railroad. They built Warehouse A, which we are standing on, and in 1900 they built Warehouse B. The train tracks were here in the middle," Coastline Center Customer Service Manager James Fowler said.

This convention center is the Coastline Convention Center, which didn't start out this way. In fact when the railroad left, they had to get creative

"They moved up to a thousand families to Jacksonville, FL, when the company moved and took up the railroads," Fowler said. "They still used the buildings for warehouses until the mid '80s."

Trucks could use the warehouse as well as trains. The old bays are still visible, as are the huge bay doors, still marked for the companies who stored goods here. When that business left, the place was in pretty bad shape; just dilapidated old buildings down by the river. But vision and money, brought it all back

"They built a hotel at the very end. We also have the conference rooms," Fowler said. "We do conference, parties, weddings. Everything from bar mitzvahs to concerts."

With the new use and new technology, it's still easy to see the past here in old, original brick and wood.

"One of the things I personally love is the beams in the ceiling -- each beam is one whole tree -- and the history and the architecture," Fowler said.

And don't forget the art work. On the side of the hotel by the Cape Fear River is an original Wyland wall. The artist painted 100 such murals.

With about 10,000 square feet of space the Coastline Convention Center serves smaller events, and the staff said the city's new convention center has not hurt their business

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