Aberdeen Historic District
The Aberdeen Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2012, The Gombach Group.
The Aberdeen Historic District is significant in the history of the town of Aberdeen and of Moore County, North Carolina as the relatively intact commercial, residential and institutional core of the town as it developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known as Blue's Crossing from the late 1870s through the mid 1880s, Aberdeen developed as a major railroad and commercial center in Moore County during the Aberdeen Historic District's period of significance. The first impetus for growth in the community was the arrival in the mid 1870s of the Raleigh and Augusta Air Line Railroad, followed soon thereafter by great expansion of the county's lumber and naval stores industry. The railroad was also instrumental in the development of two nearby resort towns, Southern Pines and Pinehurst. Aberdeen was called the "gateway to Pinehurst" for tourists. The Aberdeen Historic District contains an excellent collection of buildings — residential, commercial, institutional and railroad-related — representative of popular mainstream architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It encompasses a distinguished group of buildings designed and constructed by or under the supervision of local building contractor Teasley B. Creel, including three important railroad related buildings and numerous commercial and institutional buildings dating from the first two decades of the 20th century.
The Aberdeen Historic District represents the central core of the town as it developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the causes and effects of that development, containing as it does residential, commercial, institutional and transportation-related buildings. The heavily-traveled highway U.S. 1, which originally passed through downtown Aberdeen, is now located a few hundred feet west of the town's commercial center and is the site of intensive strip commercial development. However, the Aberdeen Historic District retains a sense of its small-town character largely because of the integrity of a substantial number of buildings in the district and of their relationships to one another.
The history of the Aberdeen Historic District is inextricably tied to the history of the town of Aberdeen itself. And, while the history of the town of Aberdeen may be said to date at the broadest level to the late 18th century establishment of Old Bethesda Presbyterian Church (National Register) about a mile northeast of the current business district of Aberdeen, the history of its development as a major commercial, industrial and transportation center for Moore County dates from the 1877 extension of the Raleigh and Augusta Air Line Railroad from Sanford to Hamlet through land owned by Malcolm J. Blue. [Richardson, p.26] Malcolm J. Blue was the son of Malcolm McMillan Blue (1802-1872), a prosperous farmer, who built a frame farmhouse about 1825 (Malcolm Blue Farm, National Register) near Old Bethesda Church on the Pee Dee Road, the main north-south highway in Moore County during the early 19th century. Old Bethesda, founded in part by the Blue family in the 1790s, was the focal point of a loose community of farmers primarily of Scottish descent. This tiny settlement had been known as Blue's since the early 1850s, by which time the elder Malcolm Blue had begun a lumbering and turpentine operation. [Richardson, p.26]
At this date (1850) the population of Moore County was 9,342 persons, relatively sparsely spread over the county with Carthage, the county seat, being the major population center. [Wellman, The County of Moore, p.213] Beside farming, the production of naval stores — tar, pitch and turpentine — from the nearly endless stands of Longleaf pines that characterized the Sandhills region, was the main industry. Naval stores were trans-shipped by way of Fayetteville to the east, travelling down the Cape Fear River to the coast. By the late 1870s, twenty-two turpentine distilleries were operating in the county, with 382 employees. The same number of cooperages employed 70 hands in the making of barrels, and 26 sawmills were run with 116 men. [Wellman, The County of Moore, p.90]
In 1877 the Raleigh and Augusta Air Line Railroad was extended southwest from Sanford to Hamlet, with the following Moore County stations: Keyser, Manly, Shaw's Ridge, Pinebluff and Blue's. The latter was also called Blue's Crossing, because an east-west road crossed both the railroad and Devil's Gut creek at that point. [Richardson, pp.36-38] The railroad increased the accessibility of the county's vital timber and naval stores industries.
The land around the station at Blue's Crossing was owned by Malcolm J. Blue, who promptly applied for, and received, permission to open a post office. Blue's was little more than a small railroad station serving the turpentine industry. [Richardson, p.38] Blue himself owned and operated a turpentine distillery in the area and built the first residence (312 South Pine Street) within the present town limits of Aberdeen. [Richardson, pp.36-38] Not surprisingly, the house stands on a low rise facing the railroad tracks.
The wait for men of vision to arrive at Blue's Crossing was short. In late 1879 Allison Francis Page (1824-1899), a Wake County native and founder of the town of Cary, arrived in the village; at the time, his prospects might have seemed fairly poor, as he was 55 years old and $10,000 in debt. [Wellman, The Story of Moore County, p.89] Allison Page, who had been an early leader in lumber production using the steam saw mill, managed to purchase 1,660 acres of timbered land west of Blue's Crossing in 1880 and acquired equipment and machinery for a lumber mill. [Wellman, The Story of Moore County, p.89; and Richardson, p.43]
As quickly as possible, Page got the mill into operation, and Blue's Crossing immediately began to feel the effects. The first real railroad depot was erected about 1881, and Dan McKeithen opened a general store in anticipation of a growing population. Page started another store to serve the employees of his lumbering operations; Robert Page (1859-1933) assisted his father in running this commissary. In 1882 the Pages dammed Devil's Gut (Aberdeen Creek) for a permanent sawmill, forming Aberdeen Lake. [Richardson, p.46] The Pages also built tramways to the more distant logging sites. [Wellman, The Story of Moore County, p.90] And in 1881, Allison Page made the final commitment to his new home, moving his family to Blue's Crossing from Cary where they had remained while Page established his business in Moore County. [Richardson, p.44] The house built by Page for his family survives in greatly altered condition well beyond the boundaries of the district. [Richardson, p.45]
The last two decades of the 19th century were an important period in the history of Moore County, as the largely agrarian economy underwent a rapid transformation. The arrival of the railroad and the growth of the lumber industry were the first signs of change and the impetus for others. In 1883 the town of Southern Pines was established by John Patrick, an Anson County native, as a health resort which drew northern clients to the more temperate southern climate. [Wellman, The County of Moore, p.92] Ten years later, in 1893, James W. Tufts of Boston purchased 648 acres of logged-over land from the Page family and engaged the services of nationally prominent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to lay out the town of Pinehurst as a second resort community emphasizing the area's healthful climate. [Wellman, The Story of Moore County, pp.97-98] Together, Southern Pines and Pinehurst put Moore County on the national map as a tourist mecca, particularly after the development of several championship golf courses. This was made possible in large measure by the availability of rail transportation, and Aberdeen was the railroad stop closest to Pinehurst.
The community at Blue's Crossing grew steadily during the 1880s. A new postmaster, N.A. McKeithen, was appointed in early 1882; McKeithen had moved to the village the previous year, purchasing Malcolm J. Blue's turpentine distillery and approximately 100 acres of land covering much of the present town. The post office was located in the back of McKeithen's small store; some time prior to October 1887, a determination was made to change the name from Blue's Crossing to Aberdeen, apparently after Aberdeen, Scotland, with the change made official on October 6 of that year. [Richardson, p.46]
The decade of the 1880s saw the rapid development of the naval stores and lumbering industries in Aberdeen. [Linder, p.9] Allison Francis Page continued to be in the forefront in seeking ways to improve the efficiency of operations in these industries. In the late 1880s, he joined with Daniel A. McDonald, owner of a turpentine distillery about 12 miles northwest of Aberdeen, in establishing a steam railroad line from Aberdeen westward. They called the line the Aberdeen and West End Railroad, and the community of West End in southwestern Moore County developed at the rail head. The line was chartered in 1890 with Allison Page as president, his son Robert as secretary-treasurer and another son Junius as general freight and traffic manager. It became the Aberdeen and Asheboro Railroad a few years later when the line was extended to the town of Asheboro in neighboring Chatham County. [Wellman, The Story of Moore County, p.96]
Although Page had moved to Raleigh shortly before his death in 1899, his children remained prominent in the affairs of Aberdeen well into the 20th century, with many important buildings in the district being associated with their endeavors. ["Mr. A.F. Page Dead"] When the town was incorporated in 1893, Robert Page became its first mayor, and his brother Henry was one of the first town commissioners, joining Neil McKeithen, T.A. Ordway and S.D. McLeod. [Wellman, The Story of Moore County, p.97] In 1905, Page family members were-among the major stockholders involved in establishing the Bank of Aberdeen (107 East Main Street), which became the Page Trust Company (113 West Main Street) in 1914. [Record of Corporations, vol.I, p.234 and vol.2, p.97]
Other important buildings in the Aberdeen Historic District associated with the Page family include the 1907 Page Memorial Library (102 South Poplar Street), for which Mary Page gave money as a memorial to her parents; the ca. 1906 Aberdeen and Asheboro Railroad Company Building (117 West Main Street); and the Eva Page Building (101-103 W. Main Street), a commercial building that Henry A. Page, Sr., is said to have had erected for his wife about 1906. The 1913 Page Memorial United Methodist Church (119 West Main Street), for which the family also provided the funds, is a splendid Neo-classical Revival building designed by Charlotte architect J.M. McMichael, who was known for his church designs.
A second important entrepreneur in Aberdeen's early history was John Blue (1845-1922), a native of Cumberland County and a veteran of the Civil War. Blue apparently moved to Aberdeen in the late 1880s after acquiring large tracts of land in Moore County and commencing the operation of a turpentine distillery. He also became active in the timber business and opened a mercantile establishment in Aberdeen. In 1892 Blue founded the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad, which extended from Aberdeen southeastward to Hope Mills in Cumberland County, crossing the Atlantic Coast Line just south of Fayetteville. [John Blue House National Register Nomination; and Ashe, pp.14 and 16] Blue's railroad is the only one of Moore County's early railroads still privately owned and operated. [Linder, p.9] The handsome Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad Building (corner E. Main Street and Railroad Tracks, built in 1904) survives as a prominent building in the Aberdeen Historic District, as does the ca.1888 John Blue House (200 Blue Street, NR).
The Pages and John Blue were not alone in establishing new enterprises in Aberdeen during the 1890s. The Tarbell Lumber Company began operations in 1890, soon constructing its own dry-kiln, planing mill and railroad tracks which ran through the area southwest of Aberdeen. [Richardson, pp.49-51] The Aberdeen Lumber Company, established in 1892, was reorganized two years later as Penn Lumber Company after a fire destroyed the former company's plant. With the numerous lumber mills and turpentine distilleries operating in and around Aberdeen attracting more and more workers to the town, other individuals arrived to open stores and small manufacturing concerns. The town's population grew at a rapid rate, increasing from 227 in 1890 to nearly 1,000 by the turn of the century. [Richardson, pp.49-53]
With the larger number of residents came the need for schools and churches. Until 1889, Old Bethesda Presbyterian Church northeast of town had remained the only church serving the white population of the area. In that year a Methodist congregation organized and built a frame Gothic Revival building at the corner of West Main and South Poplar streets, where its replacement Page Memorial United Methodist Church stands today. The Methodists were followed in 1894 by the Baptists who also erected a frame Gothic Revival structure; this building survives at 311 East Main Street in the district, although it has been converted to a residence. A Presbyterian church for Aberdeen's black residents was formed shortly after the Civil War; the current building of Faith Presbyterian Church (513 Bethesda Avenue) apparently dates from the last decade of the 19th century, although it does stand on or near the site of the earlier building. Old Bethesda Church remained a social center for the community, and its cemetery is the final resting place for most of Aberdeen's citizenry. [Richardson, p.51] In 1898, Levi Branson published the following description of Aberdeen in his Moore County Business Directory:
"There is a good academy and a prosperous school; also a good school for the colored people. There are three comfortable churches for white and five for the colored people, a town hall and public library, also a good library building, nine stores, three planing mills and dry kilns, one foundry and machine shop, one wagon and repair shop, one weekly newspaper; railroads enter here and run out in five different directions; two hotels — the Aberdeen Hotel and Powell. About 50,000,000 feet of lumber are shipped from this depot annually, quite a quantity of naval stores also. This is a very prosperous growing town..." [Richardson, pp.53 and 56]
A small number of houses (fewer than 15) survive in the Aberdeen Historic District from the last two decades of the 19th century, when Aberdeen was undergoing its most significant period of growth. They include the residences of Malcolm J. Blue (312 S. Pine Street), John Blue (200 Blue Street; remodeled ca.1903), and T.B. Creel (301 North Sycamore Street). Others include the Campbell-McKeithen House (609 Bethesda Avenue), a traditional frame house built by and for early Aberdeen contractor Alexander Campbell and remodelled in the Classical Revival style, and the (former) Methodist Parsonage (406 E. Main Street), a traditional frame house with Classical Revival details. Of the remaining 19th century houses in Aberdeen, the majority have undergone some degree of alteration, from the installation of synthetic siding to the removal of porches. For the most part, these renovations have left the basic character of the houses intact.
As the century drew to a close, the pine forests on which Aberdeen had been dependent for much of its livelihood were being rapidly depleted. New farm crops were introduced in the area, including tobacco and fruits such as grapes, dewberries, and peaches, which were able to take up some of the slack as the lumber business began to decline. In addition, the various non-lumber-related manufacturing concerns, the existence of several railroad lines at Aberdeen, and the business acumen of various enterprising individuals made it possible for the town to develop as Moore County's major industrial and trading center. [Richardson, p.53] Among the town's industrial concerns were the Aberdeen Sash and Blind Company, Burley & Sons Foundry, Sharpe's Machine Shop, several fruit canneries, a winery, and a sweet potato curing plant. Also contributing to the town's economy in the early 20th century were railroad repair shops, wholesale grocery firms, and several tobacco warehouses and prizeries associated with the local tobacco market. [Richardson pp.53-58]
Although its population remained relatively static in the first decade of the 20th century and experienced a decline in the second decade, Aberdeen increased its role as the commercial center of the county. As already noted, its first bank was established in 1905; in addition, various groups of local citizens formed such companies as the Aberdeen Wholesale Grocery Company (ca.1912), whose warehouse stills stands in the Aberdeen Historic District facing the railroad tracks (between Main Street and Maple Avenue), the Aberdeen Coca-Cola Bottling Company, formed in 1913 (203 West South Street), and the Aberdeen Tobacco Warehouse Company. [Record of Corporations, vol.2, pp.20, 249 and 271] The importance of the town as an early 20th century tobacco market is reflected in the survival of two tobacco warehouses in the district (between Main Street and Maple Avenue and between Main and South streets). These elements are all that survive of Aberdeen's late 19th and early 20th century industries.
As can be surmised from the list of buildings mentioned in connection with the Page family and with John Blue, the first two decades of the 20th century saw a substantial increase in construction of all types, with many of the buildings erected exhibiting a high degree of sophistication. This level of quality resulted from a remarkable conjunction of knowledgeable clients and an extraordinarily skillful builder/contractor who was also capable of producing polished designs for the buildings he executed. This builder was Teasley B. Creel (1855-1932), a native of Cary, in Wake County, and a brick mason, who moved to Aberdeen in 1891, at the same time that Allison Francis Page brought his family to the Moore County town. It may be assumed that Creel began his construction career in the developmental years of Cary, the town founded by Allison Francis Page. In his 1932 obituary, it was said of Creel that, "... growing up with the town, [he] identified himself with its various enterprises." ["T.B. Creel Dies at Home in Aberdeen," The News and Observer)
Five years after moving to Aberdeen, in 1896, Creel ran for county commissioner as a write-in candidate for Populists and Republicans. When the votes were counted, Creel seemed to have been defeated; but this decision was reversed in court when it was demonstrated that many people had misspelled Creel's name when voting and that those votes had not been counted in his favor [Wellman, The Story of Moore County, p.100). In the later years of his life, Creel ran a taxicab business in Aberdeen, presumably because of the downturn in the local construction industry during the 1920s. ["T.B. Creel Dies at Home in Aberdeen," The Pilot]
Creel first worked for other builders in Aberdeen, but soon established himself as a contractor. Local physician Dr. Alex H. McLeod stated after Creel's death that Creel was "the best brick mason I ever knew anything about." It was also said of him that, "He was so fast in his work that some contractors didn't like to employ him." ["T.B. Creel Dies at Home in Aberdeen," The Pilot] As a contractor, Creel was responsible for the construction of many of the most important buildings in the Aberdeen Historic District, particularly those of masonry construction. Buildings attributed to Creel's mastery include the (former) Bank of Aberdeen (107 East Main Street), numerous brick commercial buildings (104, 106 and 108 E. Main Street; 101-103, 105 and 111 W. Main Street; 101 and 105 N. Sycamore Street), the (former) Page Trust Company (113 West Main Street), the Aberdeen and Asheboro Railroad Building (117 West Main Street), Page Memorial United Methodist Church (119 West Main Street), Page Memorial Library (102 South Poplar Street), and the (former) Union Station (Main Street between Railroad Tracks and Sycamore Street). The Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad Building (corner E. Main Street and Railroad Tracks) has a plaque on an exterior wall with the following inscription "T.B. Creel Architect & Builder 1904." Also standing in the Aberdeen Historic District is Teasley Creel's residence (301 North Sycamore Street), a relatively modest frame dwelling.
In addition to the various commercial and institutional buildings erected in the first two decades of the 20th century, many houses rose in the area encompassed in the Aberdeen Historic District, exhibiting the popular architectural styles of the period. Exhibiting elements reminiscent of the Queen Anne style are the Graham-Thompson House (404 East Main Street) and the A.T. McFarland House (205 North Pine Street). John Blue's sons had houses constructed facing each other across High Street where it dead-ends at the front of their father's house; the Blue-Seymour House (201 Blue Street), built for Clifton N. Blue, is a frame version of the Classical Revival style, while the William Alexander Blue House (408 High Street) is characteristic of the Colonial Revival style. Charlotte architect C.C. Hook designed a remodelling of John Blue's house and stylistic similarities with these adjacent residences suggest that Hook may have had a role in their design, as well. Similarly detailed are the nearby John W. Graham House (300 High Street) and the F. Stewart Weaver House (104 South Pine Street).
As the town of Aberdeen entered the decade of the 1920s with a smaller but still vigorous population of 858 residents, Moore County's farmers had begun a strong post-World War I recovery. [Wellman, The Story of Moore County, p.115] In 1925, a Directory of Moore County provided the following description of Aberdeen's assets:
"A large crate factory, several bonded warehouses for tobacco and cotton, a peach exchange, one bank, two hotels, and numerous mercantile establishments. Some very fine church buildings and some very fine mansions, several miles of paved streets, electric lights, telephone service and most everything modern. This town is the gateway to Pinehurst for tourists. All Seaboard trains leave the tourists here and a short line takes them up to Pinehurst." [Directory of Moore County, p.60]
During this period, the central business district saw the replacement of a number of frame commercial buildings with masonry buildings, as well as expansion southward. The Gichner-Johnson Building (109-115 North Sycamore Street) is the most notable of the former, while the south side of W. South Street is the site of six buildings erected during the 1920s. When state highways were constructed in the 1920s, a major north-south route passed through Aberdeen. Known originally as North Carolina 50, it later became part of US 1, whose westward relocation in the 1940s had a negative impact on the town's business district.
Although residential construction in Aberdeen during the 1920s occurred largely in areas north and west of the original town limits, a number of houses were built within the area of the Aberdeen Historic District. The dominant residential form of this period was the Bungalow, with several fine frame, stuccoed and brick-veneered examples, including the C.J. Johnson House (307 East Main Street) and the McKeithen-Guion House (403 East Main Street). Also built in the 1920s was Lloyd Hall (Minnie B. Farrell House, 206 North Poplar Street), a large brick-veneered Colonial Revival house.
The decade of the 1930s saw the continuation of many of the patterns established in Aberdeen during the previous ten years. The population reached a high of 1,382 in 1930, but declined to 1,076 in 1940 largely as a result of the effects of the Great Depression.
Infill and replacement construction persisted in both the commercial and residential areas, although at a slower pace. Four of each type of primary building, commercial and residential, were built within the Aberdeen Historic District during the 1930s, all similar architecturally to buildings erected in the previous decade. Another occurrence of note during the 1930s was the conversion of several large houses within the district for use as tourist homes, including the Minnie B. Farrell House (Lloyd Hall, 206 North Poplar Street), to which a large wing was added on the north elevation, and the neighboring Julia Thagard Bryant House (214 N. Poplar Street), which became known as Lantana Tourist Home.
Development within the Aberdeen Historic District has been relatively limited since World War II. Fewer than ten houses have been erected in the area, mainly brick Ranch-style houses in scattered locations. A proportionately greater number of commercial buildings have been erected within the central business district, resulting in the elimination of some areas from the historic district. Within the Aberdeen Historic District, the north side of the 100 block of West Main Street, with the exception of one building, dates from the post-War period; much of this area had been occupied by the three-story Aberdeen Hotel, which was destroyed by fire in the 1940s.
The construction of a bypass route for US 1 during the 1940s skirting Southern Pines and Aberdeen has had a lasting effect on the latter community, an effect which has accelerated in recent years. Strip commercial development along the highway, which borders the town's main commercial district, has drawn trade away from that area, leaving a number of buildings vacant.
The boundaries of the Aberdeen Historic District are largely determined by the location of buildings whose dates of construction are later than the district's period of significance.
Substantial portions of two other Moore County communities have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places as historic districts; there are both similarities and vivid contrasts between these districts and the Aberdeen Historic District. The Cameron Historic District (NR, 1983) includes much of the small town of Cameron, whose development to a degree paralleled that of Aberdeen. The early impetus for Cameron's growth came from the 1850s construction of the Fayetteville Plank Road and later of the Raleigh and Augusta Air Line Railroad (ca.1875). Attracting entrepreneurs to Cameron were the turpentine and dewberry industries. Cameron has remained a "modest, isolated, concentrated village." [Cameron Historic District National Register Nomination, 1983] Its historic district contains only 45 principal buildings, including a small commercial area. Much of its development occurred prior to 1900, so that it has a greater total and proportionate number of late 19th century buildings than does the Aberdeen Historic District. Many of the houses in the Cameron Historic District exhibit characteristics of the Queen Anne style.
The impetus for the development of the model resort village of Pinehurst was quite different from that of either Aberdeen or Cameron, with the result that its appearance is also in strong contrast to those two towns. Planned as a "winter health resort for middle-class Northerners with 'delicate lungs,' Pinehurst was developed to a picturesque design provided by well-known landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted for philanthropist James W. Tufts of Boston. [Pinehurst Historic District National Register Nomination, 1973] Most construction in the village, including a large hotel, a casino, a store, boarding houses and a variety of residences, was completed in a period of seven months in 1896. Tufts introduced golf at Pinehurst in 1897; it quickly became the chief attraction, and an even larger hotel was built in 1899. Buildings in Pinehurst are examples of the more picturesque architectural styles of the late 19th century, with the Shingle style being dominant. [Pinehurst Nomination]
Two other Moore County towns established in the late 19th century, principally as resort communities, were Pine Bluff and Southern Pines. Pine Bluff has lost many of its early buildings, particularly the hotels and boarding houses, as a result of numerous fires. Documentary photographs indicate that much of its architecture was typically picturesque or rustic in character, with many Shingle style buildings and Craftsman and small Queen Anne cottages. [Pine Bluff, pp.17-31] Southern Pines is architecturally similar to Pinehurst, but reflects a broader selection of styles as a result of its longer period of development. Its commercial life was ancillary to the tourist industry, with the result that the buildings in the business district are on a much more modest scale than those in Aberdeen.
The town of Hamlet in neighboring Richmond County was established, as Sandhills, at roughly the same time as Aberdeen and was even more profoundly affected by the advent of railroad service. While Aberdeen developed where a major railroad, the Raleigh and Augusta, linked with smaller private lines, Hamlet was located at the junction of two major lines, the Raleigh and Augusta and the Carolina Central, the state's major southern east-west line which was completed from Wilmington to Charlotte in 1874. Hamlet became an important railroad terminal with five lines extending in various directions and the site of railroad repair shops in 1894. Known in the early 20th century as "The Hub of Seaboard," Hamlet has grown to be more than two times larger than Aberdeen, the former having a 1980 population of 4,720, while the latter numbered 1,945. [Huneycutt, pp.188-189] Hamlet also has a larger commercial district than does Aberdeen. However, the architecture of Hamlet's principal buildings is less individualistic than that seen in Aberdeen's principal buildings. Hamlet's handsome railroad station is a landmark largely because of its size and integrity; its design is relatively typical of railroad stations of the period as is that of Aberdeen's Union Station (Main Street between Railroad Tracks and Sycamore Street), whose plans were provided by seaboard Airline Railway, which had taken over the Raleigh and Augusta. Aberdeen's other major railroad buildings, the Aberdeen and Asheboro (117 West Main Street) and the Aberdeen and Rockfish (corner E. Main Street and Railroad Tracks), both built for private lines, are much more distinctive in character, reflecting the high level of skill in design and construction of their builder, T.B. Creel, and the sophistication of his clients, the Page family and John Blue.
The sophistication of these Aberdeen families, whose fortunes were made in the lumber industry, is further emphasized by their hiring prominent architects to design residences and other buildings. The homes of Page family members are not in the district, as they are located on Page Hill west of U.S. 1 about one mile from central Aberdeen, but Page Memorial United Methodist Church (119 West Main Street), designed by Charlotte architect J.M. McMichael and constructed by T.B. Creel is a splendid Neo-classical Revival edifice. John Blue employed the prolific Charlotte architect C.C. Hook to design a remodeling of his Aberdeen residence (200 Blue Street), and the houses of Blue's sons (Clifton N. Blue, 201 Blue Street; William Alexander Blue, 408 High Street) have design features which suggest that Hook may have played a role in drawing up their plans.
North Carolina in the last three decades of the 19th century underwent a major transformation as a result of the Industrial Revolution. According to Lefler and Newsome in their history of the state, "It produced a rapid increase in material wealth, in manufacturing development, in the number and size of banks, in the construction of railroads, and in the production of cotton, tobacco, and other crops. The movement of people from farm to factory brought rapid growth of towns and cities of centers of wealth, energy, culture, and political and social influence." [Lefler and Newsome, p. 512]
Aberdeen was one of many small communities across the state established during this period which owed its existence to the arrival of a rail line and the entrepreneurial spirit of a small group of individuals. The economic basis for development of these communities varied, with most piedmont towns owing their existence to textiles, furniture or tobacco.
The 1877 arrival of the Raleigh and Augusta Air Line Railroad provided the impetus for rapid expansion of the Moore County timber and naval stores industry which had been previously been conducted on a very small scale because of the difficulties of shipping quantities of the products. As the industry expanded, private rail lines were established to link this major rail line with the more distant locales where the timber was cut. The small community of Blue's Crossing became, as the town of Aberdeen, the county's major center for the timber industry as the meeting place of two of these private lines, the Aberdeen and West End and the Aberdeen and Rockfish, with the Raleigh and Augusta. It also became the location of several small industries, as well as numerous commercial enterprises. The importance of the railroad to its growth and the prosperity of the town are reflected in its buildings, particularly the Page Memorial United Methodist Church (119 West Main Street), the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad Building (corner E. Main Street and Railroad Tracks), the (former) Union Station (Main Street between Railroad Tracks and Sycamore Street), and the Aberdeen and Asheboro Railroad Building (117 West Main Street). In a state where the development of towns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries relied so heavily on a growing railroad network, Aberdeen is unusual in its retention of such a fine group of railroad buildings. Most communities of Aberdeen's size had frame passenger and freight depots, many of which have been demolished or moved, especially as passenger service was phased out in all but a few places. The three Aberdeen railroad buildings comprise one of the finest collections of early 20th century brick railroad-related buildings in the state.
Ashe, Samuel A., ed. Biographical History of North Carolina, vol.III. Greensboro, N.C.: Charles L. Van Noppen, 1906. pp.308-315, "Allison Francis Page."
________. Biographical History of North Carolina, vol.V. Greensboro, N.C.: Charles L. Van Noppen, 1906. pp.14-18, "John Blue."
Huneycutt, James E. and Ida C. A History of Richmond County. Rockingham, N.C.: privately published, 1976.
"Frank Page Library." Carthage (N.C.) Blade, 1 November 1905, p.2.
Lefler, Hugh Talmage and Newsome, Albert Ray. The History of a Southern State: North Carolina, 3rd ed. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1973.
Linder, Suzanne C. They Came by Train and Chose to Remain: The Importance of Moore County Railroads, 1850-1900. Hamlet, N.C.: Richmond Technical College, 1982. Unpaginated.
Moore County Register of Deeds. Deed records and Records of Corporations.
"Mr. A.F. Page Dead." Raleigh News and Observer, 17 October 1899, p.9.
Pine Bluff, North Carolina: 1884-1976. Pinebluff, N.C.: The Town of Pinebluff, 1976.
Richardson, Emma G.B. and Richardson, Thomas C. History of Aberdeen. Aberdeen, N.C.: Malcolm Blue Historical Society, 1976.
Sanborn Map Company. Sanborn maps, Aberdeen, N.C., series, 1924 and 1930.
Selders, A., comp. and ed. Directory Moore County. n.p., 1925.
North Carolina Division of Archives and History. Survey and Planning Branch. Cameron Historic District, National Register Nomination, 1983.
________. John Blue House, National Register Nomination, 1982.
________. Pinehurst Historic District, National Register Nomination, 1973.
"T.B. Creel Dies at Home in Aberdeen." The News and Observer, 19 November 1932, p.4.
"T.B. Creel Dies at Home in Aberdeen." The (Aberdeen and Southern Pines, N. C.) Pilot, 18 November 1932, p.1.
Wellman, Manly Wade. The County of Moore: 1847-1947. Southern Pines, N.C.: Moore County Historical Association, 1962.
________. The Story of Moore County; Two Centuries of a North Carolina Region. n.p.: Moore County Historical Association, 1974.
† David R. and Allison H. Black, Architectural Historians, Black and Black Preservation Consultants, nomination document, 1988, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.