NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Many times when people think of the Grand Strand, they do not necessarily think of North Myrtle Beach.
"I don't think we get the recognition we deserve because regardless of where people come on the beach, whether it be Murrells Inlet or Calabash, they're at Myrtle Beach," Dick Hester, a former mayor, says.
Hester moved to the area in the 1950's and remembers it was not always a bad thing for all the towns to be grouped together. North Myrtle Beach leaders used to join others in advertising the area as a whole.
"The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce would form promotional trips up north and we'd go on those trips and promote our whole area," Hester says. "We'd all pull together and try to get people to come here."
In the early 1960's, four different towns made up the area known today as North Myrtle Beach. Those towns were Windy Hill, Crescent Beach, Ocean Drive and Cherry Grove. Hester says there were four different mayors, four town councils and four sets of laws, rules and codes. The leaders at the time decided the small towns needed to be more unified, and in 1968, the city of North Myrtle Beach was formed with Robert Edge serving as the first mayor. It was not long before the look of the beach started to change.
"Seeing those [high rises], I said, you know we're going to lose our identity as a family beach," Hester remembers. "We are now commercialized to the extent where families still come here but miss the old timey beach house they could go to."
With all the changes happening in North Myrtle Beach, Hester got an idea. He wanted to start a museum so stories and artifacts could be preserved. Even though the area was changing, he didn't want anyone to forget how far they have come. It took 8 years, but finally, the North Myrtle Beach Area Historical Museum is set to open Sunday, April 7, 2013. There will be a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting April 7 at 1:00 p.m.
Hester is hoping locals and tourists will enjoy seeing how the city changed over the years.
"We're losing the flavor of our beach and we need to preserve that history. Not just here on the ocean, but out in the communities of Little River, Poplar, Brooksville, Longs, even those areas are being affected by growth now," Hester says.
The North Myrtle Beach Area Historical Museum is located at 799 Second Avenue North in North Myrtle Beach.