Oh, the changes we have seen… The changing face of Brandywine in the last fifty years is a reflection of the explosive population growth in our county and the state of North Carolina. Carteret County, which was once a bucolic settlement on the eastern shore of North Carolina, dominated by the fishing and farming industry, has become a preferred retirement and tourist area in the last fifty to sixty years. The reputation of the Crystal Coast as a tourist attraction has helped to foster this dramatic growth, and not surprisingly, the state of North Carolina currently exceeds the growth rate of forty two of the fifty states of the Union. The population of our state has doubled to over 8,600,000 since 1960, and Carteret County’s population has also more than doubled since 1960 to over 62,600. The population growth of the county doesn’t even include seasonal population, which, if included, would more than double the permanent residential figures noted.
But some folks remember the Brandywine community when it was an undeveloped swampy tract of land with an ample supply of possums, rattlers and assorted wildlife. Gerald Murdoch, who is a familiar figure seen in the area, has lived in the county all his life and remembers hunting for squirrels in the Brandywine area during the depression days of the 1930’s. What is somewhat surprising is that squirrels which are prolific in the area today and are often considered a nuisance, were relatively rare in the wooded areas back in the ’30’s. There is an ecological law called the “Fringe Theory” that explains why feral animals like deer and squirrels tend to multiply more rapidly when living on the edge of a woods next to developed land. A number of families depended on hunting for squirrels in order to put food on the table during the depression days when food and money were scarce and there were very few nearby stores; and at that time squirrels were an elusive hunt. During the days when the land was being cleared for the Brandywine development, other natural wildlife was disturbed, and the presence of copperheads, rattlers, and water moccasins was not an uncommon sight. Gerald remembers on more than one occasion rescuing his favorite dog Blackie as it poked its head into the bushes where a large rattler was coiled and ready to strike before he pulled back his dog and lopped off the head of the rattler. Needless to say, before the land was developed and houses were built, you didn’t walk barefoot through the adjacent woods or grasslands.
Gerald’s father had a small tobacco, corn, and peanut farm with a few hogs on the side, as was the custom, located on the north side of Hwy. 70 across from Brandywine; and he also ran a grist mill where people came to get their corn ground into meal. He charged a nominal fee to small farmers to grind their corn for home use, and he sold substantial quantities of meal to restaurants in the county for the making of hush puppies. When price controls came into effect during World War II, most crops and the price of corn meal were capped, but ironically, corn was excluded from price controls; and as a result, the price of corn went “sky high”. The Murdoch family could no longer afford to buy corn to grind into meal to sell to restaurants but continued to grind corn for small farmers on what was known as the “ toll ” method. Families would bring their corn to be ground into meal in exchange for the mill operator keeping a small portion of the ground meal. In those early days Turner’s Dairy Farm was located in the general area where Hammock Place, Brandywine North, Chelsea Park North, part of Brandywine Boulevard and the Chevrolet dealership now lie. Hwy.70 was a one-lane road with only a dirt surface through Newport before the Hwy.70 bypass was built. This of course made it a bumpy and arduous trip for Raleigh residents who would often travel to the coast to vacation homes during the summer months.
From this swampy land of trees, brush, and thickets, a gated and prestigious community has grown that encompasses 639 homes and lots on the north side of Hwy. 24 under the aegis of the Brandywine Owners Association (BOA). Not included in these figures are the Sound side properties under the aegis of the Brandywine Bay Association (BBA). But it all started back in the mid-1970’s when Jim Gardner, one of the early franchisers of the Hardee’s fast food chain in the Carolinas, and his partner, Ed Rawls, took note of a wooded and swampy tract of land located adjacent to the water in a growing tourist area and saw the opportunity to build a golf course community. The land on both sides of Hwy. 24 was owned by Earl Webb, a wealthy New York lawyer who had relatives in the area and owned a number of large tracts of land in the county, purchased at an earlier date. In the 1930’s land in the county was often bought and sold for as little as $1.00 an acre.
Earl Webb contributed to a number of philanthropic organizations in the county and built the Webb Library in Morehead City. He built the large brick home, now familiarly known as the Webb Mansion, on the Sound side, as a summer vacation home long before Brandywine was ever envisioned as a golf community. Early BOA members remember renting the mansion during the 1980’s to hold cocktail parties, and even an occasional wedding, when it was later unoccupied and owned by Jim Gardner. A corporation headed by Gardner, who incidentally served one term as a United States Congressman from Carolina, was actively engaged in buying up numerous properties in the county; and through his corporation he bought the land that comprises the entire Brandywine community, including the Webb Mansion on the sound side, land across from the Golf & Shore office on Hwy. 70, land where the Carteret Lanes Bowling Alley was originally built, as well as other parcels in the Morehead City area. In addition to building a golf course community, he planned to build a series of projects in the Morehead area which never quite materialized. The initial project, built by the corporation in 1976, was the Oak Bluff Condominium complex, which is not part of the Brandywine Owners Association but is located on the Sound side of Brandywine and is a sub-division of the Brandywine Bay Association. He built a nine-hole golf course which was designed by Bruce Devlin, a well-known professional golfer and designer in 1976 -77. The nine-hole course was initially constructed just north of Hwy.24 and is today the back nine of the current course. Early golfers remember the trailer which served as the pro shop and the adjacent tree houses that were built as rental homes for visiting golfers.
Eugene McClung purchased the entire project, including the acreage on the Sound side of Highway 24, in 1979-1980 at bankruptcy proceedings. In 1981-82 he had the course redesigned by Elias Maples, another well known golf designer, and the course was enlarged to eighteen holes, reversing the layout by adding nine holes and making the additional holes the front nine of the eighteen hole course. As the course was laid out, man-made drainage ponds were formed to alleviate many of the wet fairways, and this simultaneously created course hazards which are conducive to challenging play. The course was enhanced by the building of the current clubhouse in 1983-84. The sale of building lots started earlier in 1980 after the platting of the lots was completed; and of course, an attractive incentive for buyers was the construction of a golf course. The golf course is privately owned and is part of the Brandywine Bay Country Club, which includes swimming and tennis facilities, and the course is open to the public. The country club is not under the jurisdiction of the Brandywine Owners Association. It is managed by Scott King, who has an option to buy, and under his professional experience and financial input, the course has been continually improved. His goal is to establish a course with a reputation that will be widely recognized as a challenging course to all levels of golfers. An important concept to understand, from a residential point of view, is that, while every resident is not a golfer, the beauty and scenic views of open fairways and the proximity of this popular sport in the area add to both the prestige and the property values of all residents.
The Brandywine Owners Association ( BOA ) is the governing body of Brandywine and all residents north of Hwy 24 are members of this Master Association.* The Sound side is comprised of various small sub-divisions, each with its own restrictive covenants and a single Master Association (The Brandywine Bay Association (BBA), consisting of 194 living units.) Both the BOA and the BBA communities share the boat and recreational vehicle storage area. The BOA was formed in 1980 after the platting of lots was completed and is comprised of several sub-divisions, each with its own set of restrictive covenants.** One of its first goals was to improve the roads, mostly dirt at that time, and to extend street lighting; this has been done on a continuing basis. The BOA maintains the roads, some of the utilities, and is responsible for hurricane cleanup, drainage, berm maintenance, beautification, gates, security, accounting, flood control, and insurance. Its volunteers publish the Sound Waves to provide up-to-date information essential to residents.
Two of the longest standing BOA members in the community are Albert Stakes and Sid Thrasher, both who served terms as President of the organization shortly after it was formed in 1980. They remember the earliest days in Brandywine when a Lots For Sale sign was on Hwy.24 and the only paved road leading to the development was at the entrance from Hwy. 24 extending to Lord Granville Drive and continuing on for 1/4 mile. All the other roads were either marl, dirt, or as yet undeveloped for traffic. When the properties were purchased by the McClung organization, one of the more serious concerns of the Board was to insure that the golf course remained intact within the community and was not developed into housing units, which was a viable alternative for the real estate developer. The Board negotiated an agreement with the developer on this issue and also planned for the extension of lighting and road pavement on a continuing basis.
There are numerous problems that come with population growth in a suburban area, usually compounded by the spontaneous nature of unplanned growth. Unlike modern developments today that are built and planned by a single builder or corporation, our community has developed piecemeal. This sporadic growth has not been within the control of the BOA but has been under the legal management of the land owner. When Gary Stakes, past-president of the BOA, was asked what the number one priority for the community is from the perspective of the Board, he indicated drainage and hurricane cleanup. Much of Brandywine becomes flooded with medium to heavy rainfall. The adjacent businesses which border us were built prior to county and state requirements when drainage pools, similar to the one at Wal-Mart, were not required. These businesses, with their limited legal drainage restrictions, which are grand-fathered in by law, and each additional sub-division, have created additional drainage volume as it traverses under Hwy.70 to the Hull Swamp collection area. The path of drainage doesn’t flow freely along this one mile corridor. Gary and the Board see the need for the eventual creation of a drainage district with assistance from the county and the state. This type of visionary thinking is a credit to the Board and its President; but to accomplish this, the county and the state would have to show an interest and provide financial assistance, something they have not been willing to do despite considerable urging.
The hybrid growth of our community has often been the source of disagreement on certain issues. Each sub-division has its own distinct restrictive covenants, but all of the sub-divisions benefit from the services of the Master Association. The Brandywine Owners Association is a strong advocate of restrictive covenants which bind the community together with a certain commonality. All residents need to enjoy the benefits of the privacy and security of community living; but as communities within the county become more populous, it’s a delicate balance between the rights of the individual and protecting community standards. Years ago, when the county was primarily in a rural setting, putting out yard goods and letting dogs run freely was an accepted practice and still is, in rural areas. But when we live elbow- to-elbow in crowded communities, we lose some of these rights in order to protect the rights and privacy of the majority. An analogous example of a community with lax covenants would be the progression from a rusty wheelbarrow left out front soon would lead to a rusty car tomorrow, and a year down the road the scene might include several rusty and unused cars. Eventually the standards of the entire community would deteriorate and the pride in the community would be lost. A neighbor’s house casts a reflection on our house, for better or worse. Everyone should take a pride in Brandywine – it’s our home, our community, and in most cases our most valuable financial asset.
But despite the sporadic development of Brandywine over an extended time, we have thrived and remain a coveted place to live. With all of the changes and difficulties that come with rapid growth, there are numerous advantages including the improvement of county and state roads, the influx of national companies for shopping and employment, the growth of technology and communication facilities, the improvement of educational standards. The cultural benefits, resulting from the integration of people who have moved to the county from every state in the union, bring a cosmopolitan flavor, added wealth, and various educational backgrounds to a growing community. While some local residents may have looked at this integration process with skepticism, because growth does bring change and problems as well as opportunities, it’s a fact of life that change is inevitable; the hands of time can’t be turned back, and it’s our responsibility to adapt to changes and plan for the future with a commonality of purpose and spirit. The key to our continuing status as a premier residential community is the election of Directors to The Brandywine Owners Association. The BOA is comprised of five Board members, each serving two-year terms. In order to maintain a continuity of leadership, two members are elected one year, and the following year, three members are elected. The strength of the community is provided by the Board, for they take the time to study and hopefully solve current common problems and plan for the future. Everyone doesn’t always agree with Board decisions; that’s the nature of any organization. There are times when financial or strategic decisions are made that don’t rest well with some; this is called democracy. But the current Board and past Boards have always had the best intentions in mind for the community, as seen through their eyes, of course. The bottom line is, as always – power rests with the people in any democratic organization; whether we make changes or whether we remain status quo is up to the residents. All of us live here by choice, and we are encouraged to attend Board meetings and to participate in elections, for it is the people who elect the Board members. And speaking of Boards, sometimes we aren’t aware of or we tend to forget the time and effort of those Board members who preceded us. To the current Board members and to all of those who have served on previous Boards, we express our appreciation for their work. We remain a prestigious and coveted place to live, thanks in large part to the time and leadership skills of those who have served before.
* Brandywine Owners Association (Total: 637 units) Brandywine Owners Association, Inc. (The Master Association) is responsible for managing the overall subdivision north of Hwy. 24 including road maintenance, hurricane cleanup, drainage, berm maintenance, beautification, gates, security, accounting, flood control, insurance, and legal expenses. The Architectural Control Committee (ACC) of the Master Association governs all of Sections I and II (177units), Oak Drive Extension (7), The Honours (130), The Honours II (2), Brandywine North (22), Chelsea Park (9), Chelsea Park North (2) and the Tree Houses (2) for a total of 351 units.
BOA Sub-divisions (Total:286units) Cedarwood Village (60), Hammock Place (70), The Reserve (14), English Turn (23), Reserve Green (36), Village Green (83). All have their own Covenants, By-Laws, Boards of Directors, and Architectural Control Committees and are self governing sub-divisions. All residents of these sub-divisions are also members of the Brandywine Owners Association and vote to elect the members who serve on the Master Association Board of Directors, the BOA.
Submitted by Bart Sheard