In 1914, Hamlet, North Carolina, entrepreneur Thomas Franklin Boyd, purchased Bald Head Island with plans to create a beach resort. Boyd was inspired by the novel beach communities at Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, just north of Bald Head Island in New Hanover County. His family spent summers visiting relatives at Wrightsville Beach and in 1909, Boyd purchased a home at Carolina Beach.
Boyd renamed Bald Head as Palmetto Island. By 1924, Boyd constructed the "Palmetto Island Inn" near this location. According to drawings within the New Hanover County Public Library's collections, the Palmetto Island Inn featured a large sitting room, dining room, and piano room on the first floor, with sixteen guest rooms on the second floor. The inn was constructed of wood and covered with cedar-shake. A spacious porch graced the front of the building overlooking the mouth of the Cape Fear River. A pier extended into the river, which served as a docking station for steamships bringing guests from Southport and Wilmington.
Shortly after the Palmetto Island Inn's completion, Boyd constructed a three-story hotel near this location. The remains of the Boyd Hotel's white bricks stand nearby on private property. Author David Stick interviewed Frank C. Payne about the Boyd Hotel. Payne lived in the Boyd Hotel in the 1930s. He remembered the hotel being three stories high, featuring eight or nine guest rooms on the first floor, and several guest rooms on the upper stories. The hotel’s basement, first, and second stories were constructed of brick, and the third story was wood.
Unfortunately, Palmetto Island never achieved the success envisioned by Thomas Franklin Boyd. Transportation difficulties, hurricanes, and finally, the Great Depression, doomed Palmetto Island. Hurricanes destroyed the Palmetto Island Inn and the Boyd Hotel. Today, all that remains is a pile of white-brick rubble from the Boyd Hotel. Early island resident Charlie Young preserved a brick press used to manufacture the hotel's brick. The brick press is on exhibit in the base of Old Baldy Lighthouse.