Description: This tinted photographic postcard is 3 ½ inches high by 5 ⅜ inches wide. The photograph was taken by U.C. Ellis.
History: This postcard was donated to the Museum in 1982 by Laura Howell Norden Schorr (1902-1985). Mrs. Schorr’s family were longstanding Wilmington residents. At the time of President William Howard Taft’s visit, a then young Laura and her parents, Reverend Andrew J. Howell (1869-1974) and Gertrude Jenkins Howell (1867-1959), lived in town. It is not clear if one of the family members bought this postcard at that time.
The postcard shows the welcome arch that was built for the visit. At the time, the Wilmington Morning Star reported on the decorating efforts, and declared the streets were lined with “miniature pine trees, which carry out quite pleasingly the welcome borne upon the splendid welcome arch erected just in front of the Post Office, ’Welcome to the Land of the Long Leaf Pine.’” Water street and other areas were festooned with bunting, and electrical lights were lit at night to illuminate Front Street.
On the day of Taft’s visit, November 9, 1909, 10,000 visitors came to Wilmington, and 35,000 people thronged the streets. President Taft arrived outside Wilmington in his presidential train in the early hours of Tuesday morning. He was ceremoniously welcomed to the city at 8 AM, taken on an automobile journey to a breakfast hosted by James Sprunt . After this meal, the president and his party were taken on a steamer journey to Southport, with 80 accompanying state and local dignitaries. On Taft’s return, the president watched a military parade, reviewed local white and black children separately (the white children formed a “living flag”), and gave speeches to the gathered audience. According to the newspaper on the following day, “…the president was genial, jovial, and kindly; he liked Wilmington and Wilmington liked him.” Although presidential candidates have visited the area since 1909, President Taft was the last sitting president to visit Wilmington,