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Real Estate - Commercial

Developer Hugh MacRae II Dies At 93

By Cece Nunn, posted Oct 9, 2018
Longtime Wilmington businessman and developer Hugh MacRae II, who among his achievements led the development of Hanover Center and was involved in the creation of Independence Mall, died Oct. 8 at age 93.

MacRae II, born Nov. 24, 1924, was the grandson of Hugh MacRae, the businessman and developer for whom Hugh MacRae Park in Wilmington is named.

After his grandfather died in 1951, MacRae II took the helm of the family business, according to a Wrightsville Beach Magazine article on the MacRae family by Susan Taylor Block. He changed the name from Hugh MacRae and Company to Oleander Company, the article stated, which remains in business today. 

Wilmington architect Chris Boney of LS3P, who worked with MacRae II on numerous projects over two decades, including updates to Hanover Center, said, "Mr. MacRae was the consummate gentleman, always polite. . . He treated everyone around him with respect and dignity.

"He was always thoughtful and meticulous and very concerned with the experience of people in his buildings as well as the proper aesthetics of the architecture." 

Boney said MacRae II's love of architecture came from his experience attending Princeton University, where he took several architecture classes in the 1940s. Hanover Center was built in the 1950s.

"It was one of the first suburban shopping centers in North Carolina and very ahead of its time," Boney said of the center that today includes a Harris Teeter grocery store, Hobby Lobby, K&W Cafeteria, Books-A-Million and numerous other stores across from Independence Mall in the 3500 block of Oleander Drive.

"Much like Cameron Village in Raleigh, Hanover Center set the tone for the mid-century shopping experience for lots of North Carolinians," Boney said.

According to Block's article, MacRae II also built Independence Mall around 1976 as a joint venture with Strouse, Greenberg and Co., of Philadelphia.

A memorial service for MacRae II is planned for 11 a.m. Monday at St. James Episcopal Church, 25 S. Third St., in Wilmington.

According to his Andrews Mortuary obituary, MacRae II is survived by his wife of 51 years, Bambi; four children, Hugh MacRae III and wife Ann, Nelson MacRae and wife Liz, Marguerite (Meg) Bellamy MacRae. Rachel MacRae Grey; four grandchildren, Daniel MacRae, Annie MacRae, Nelson MacRae III, and Cameron MacRae; and one sister, Marguerite Boucher.
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