Time hasn't altered much on the pristine strip of beachfront property known as Ocean Ridge Drive. North Carolinians have been descending on this little Atlantic Beach enclave since the 1940s, when they came to escape the sultry heat of air-conditionless summers and catch the cooling saltwater breezes. Kids still chase the waves, and families linger on beaches and decks to watch cinematic sunsets--just as they did when A. Hobgood was a kid.
"I grew up on this street in the 1950s. My grandmother had a house here, which my brother and sister now own, and my father had one down the street," recalls A. "It was a very family-oriented place and still is. We mostly stayed out on the water and did water activities such as sailing."
The neighborly atmosphere and laid-back lifestyle remain much the same now that A. shares the beach with wife Deborah; his sons, A. IV and Holt; and Deborah's daughters, Miller and Maury. There are still genteel Saturday night dances at the Coral Bay Club, along with cookouts and beach barbecues. The boys go deep-sea fishing with their father just as they did as youngsters. A.'s sons are the fourth generation of Hobgoods to enjoy the natural beauty of this beach community.
A Cottage Is Reborn
What has changed is the family's beachside residence. "There are 80 oceanfront houses on this beach and 60 are still owned by the original families, so they rarely come on the market," explains A. When a humble beachfront property went up for sale in 1991, A. knew he had to act quickly if he wanted to acquire it and reclaim part of his boyhood memories. "It was just an old-timey beach house with no heat or air conditioning," he says. "I basically gutted it, took it down to the frame, and rebuilt it. The entire process took 18 months."