West Raleigh Historic District
The West Raleigh Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. 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 West Raleigh Historic District's history begins in 1886 — the year the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station Cottage (2714 Vanderbilt Avenue, National Register listed, 2001) was built — and extends to 1956. The end of the period of significance is just slightly less than fifty years ago to recognize the resources that date from 1953 to 1956, but which are consistent with earlier post-war resources in character and scale and which reflect the evolution of the district in the years following the war. Located just north of North Carolina State University and west of Oberlin Road, the locally-significant district contains an eclectic mix of nationally popular styles and vernacular forms common to suburbs that developed in North Carolina in the first half of the twentieth century. The West Raleigh Historic District contains buildings designed by prominent area architects including William Henley Deitrick, Milton Small, Thaddeus Hurd, and F. Carter Williams. Although the Agricultural Experiment Station Cottage, a grand two-and-a-half-story weatherboard house built in the Picturesque mode, is the West Raleigh Historic District's oldest dwelling, most of the resources date from the late 1920s into the post-World War II era. Dwellings executed primarily in the Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Period Cottage, Minimal Traditional, and Ranch styles are the predominant property types. Brick buildings constructed to house professional, retail, and light manufacturing concerns located primarily along Hillsborough Street are in the Moderne style and more utilitarian forms common in urban areas of North Carolina. The West Raleigh Historic District's historic churches are brick Gothic Revival style edifices.
The West Raleigh Historic District encompasses numerous platted suburbs that were surveyed and laid out for the most part in the interwar period, developed in stages in the next few decades, and almost fully built out by 1956. The West Raleigh Historic District — unlike other suburban developments in the city such as Cameron Park, Boylan Heights, and the neighborhoods around Five Points, all of which grew up along the streetcar line — developed in large part because of the rise in the popularity of the automobile in the early part of the century. (See: Early Automobile Suburbs: 1908-1945.) While the streetcar line ended just west of Horne Street and along the south side of the eastern part of the district, the automobile allowed residents to build houses further west in an area considered rural by most Raleigh citizens in the early twentieth century. In 1915, W.C. Riddick and Carroll L. Mann, engineering professors at State College, surveyed and platted the first development, Fair-Ground Heights, which was located northeast of the state fairgrounds that occupied a fifty-five acre parcel at the present site of the Raleigh Little Theatre. Additional subdivisions were platted beginning in the mid-1910s including Bedford Heights, Harris-Chamberlain, Bagwell, College Crest, and Blue Moon Ridge. In the 1920s, Carroll Mann, platted Wilmont, advertised at "Raleigh's newest and most modern subdivision development for the Ideal home," and Fairmont at the site of the state fairgrounds, which relocated to its present site west of Blue Ridge Road in 1926. These subdivisions and the extensions that were made to them developed slowly at first, but by the post-World War II period, a building boom was underway. The West Raleigh Historic District owes much of its growth to the North Carolina College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts, which was established in 1887 and became North Carolina State University in 1965. State College engineering professors Mann and Riddick were the first to survey plats in West Raleigh. Professors and others associated with the land grant college built and occupied houses here, while students rented dwellings and apartments throughout the neighborhood. Businesses and churches in the West Raleigh Historic District have enjoyed a close relationship with the school, its students, and faculty.
The West Raleigh Historic District encompasses 1,371 buildings, structures, sites, and objects, of which eighty-four percent are contributing resources. In addition to the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station Cottage, the G. Milton Small and Associates Office Building (105 Brooks Avenue) is already listed in the National Register in 1994.
Community Planning and Development Context and the Development of the West Raleigh Historic District
Raleigh began as a planned town, laid out on a rectangular grid with five formal squares in 1792. By 1880, just over 9,000 people called Raleigh home, and residential areas spilled beyond the city limits, first expanded a year later. The late nineteenth century also saw the development of Oakwood [see Oakwood Historic District], Raleigh's first residential suburb, located just northeast of the town's core. The electrified streetcar's 1891 arrival in Raleigh fostered residential development along its routes. The growing state bureaucracy, new textile mills, and the establishment of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (later North Carolina State College and now North Carolina State University) all helped swell the city's population. Between 1900 and 1920, the population increased by sixty-eight percent, growing from over 13,500 to nearly 24,500.
By 1907, Raleigh's second boundary expansion formed a square with edges one mile in each direction from the Capitol. By the late 1910s, developers had platted Boylan Heights, Glenwood, and Cameron Park subdivisions, all outside the city limits and each with streetcar access, and had laid out most of the neighborhoods around Five Points. In 1920, the city again increased its boundaries to envelop these residential areas and the State Fairgrounds west of downtown and north of State College. This expansion marked the first time the limits grew irregularly, deviating from a rectangular shape centered on the Capitol.
Raleigh was not alone its rapid growth, nor in the fact that much of the development was occurring in streetcar suburbs. The majority of North Carolina's cities saw their populations double or triple between 1900 and 1930, and many new citizens made their homes in freshly platted subdivisions. People came to Charlotte and Greensboro to work in the textile mills, to Winston-Salem and Durham for textile and tobacco manufacturing jobs, and to Wilmington for shipping and railroad work. In Raleigh, the major employer was state government and, increasingly in the early 1900s, State College. Following these primary economic engines were banks, construction firms, restaurants, and retail outlets that created even more opportunities for a regular paycheck.
Most people inundating towns and cities during this time were from rural areas: farmers and farm laborers tired of scratching a living from poor land. Newcomers had to adjust to the noise, pollution, and rigid working hours that accompanied urbanity. Furthermore, the ancient notion of the city as a "den of iniquity" and the countryside as healthy became more firmly entrenched every time a technological advance increased the pace of city life. In reaction, urban planning that idealized separation of commercial and residential uses — as well as the separation of classes and races — took on an unprecedented importance, particularly once it was facilitated by transportation improvements. Industry, commerce, and homemaking were each given their own sector of town, with homes preferably built along winding, tree-lined streets. Suburban lawns and shade were meant to create a sanctuary for the urbanite and bring a bit of the country to those newly relocated from a farm or crossroads town. Planners based "rural" residential retreats that were within or close to a city in large part on nineteenth century cemeteries and parks: their curving drives, trees, flowers, planned vistas, and sculpture were meant to provide relief from the city's gray stone, steel, and concrete. Towards the end of the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth century, the advent of streetcars and better transportation made it possible for developers to build houses in similar parklike settings carved from outlying open land previously inconveniently distant from downtown.
This planning trend separated homes from the noise and pollution of the city and facilitated more effective segregation of races and social classes. Thus, early subdivisions were exclusively residential and were exclusively intended for a specific race and economic class. In the Five Points neighborhood of Hayes Barton, minimum square-footage requirements and restrictions that fell along racial lines ensured that only well-off white Christians would live there; just across Fairview Road, in Bloomsbury Park [see Bloomsbury Historic District], white Christians of slightly lesser means built small bungalows and cottages in various revival designs. Cameron Park had similar restrictions indicating minimum house cost and prohibiting occupation by "negroes" unless they were employed by the household.
Unlike Hayes Barton, however, Cameron Park restrictions did not prohibit ownership by Jews. Suburban options for African Americans at the time included South Park, Battery Heights, or College Park subdivisions in southeast Raleigh.
Residential development began in West Raleigh during this period of newfound mobility and segregation. At the turn of the twentieth century, most of the land north of the growing A&M College was farmland, although a fifty-five-acre tract west of Oberlin Road and north of Hillsborough Street hosted the North Carolina State Fair each year. The North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station, established in 1877, occupied thirty-five acres west of the fairgrounds, using them as test plots for tobacco, cotton, rice, and peas. A model farmhouse, laboratory, plant house, and barn were built for the station in 1886. The model farmhouse (Paul H. and Lillian Kime House, 2717 Vanderbilt Avenue, National Register listed, 2001) doubled as the experiment station superintendent's home.
Before 1910, a streetcar line ran west from downtown along Hillsborough Street to the college. (An undated map of "NC State College Campus and Vicinity" drawn by Ross Shumaker shows the line extending just past Horne Street; Horne Street was part of the 1926 Fairmont Plat.) The streetcar encouraged people who worked downtown to move west; at the same time, the expansion of the college in the early twentieth century created more job opportunities and increased demand for more housing in the area.
In 1915, a 145-acre area immediately northwest of the fairgrounds was surveyed and platted by Riddick and Mann, professors of civil engineering at State College. In 1915, W.C. Riddick was head of the department of civil engineering, and Carroll L. Mann was just a year away from succeeding Riddick in that post. The 1915 plat divided land owned by R.W. Winston and T.B. Moseley and was named Fair-Ground Heights. The same year, Riddick and Mann subdivided the southeast corner of Fair-Ground Heights containing almost thirteen acres as Bedford Heights. No houses were built in Bedford Heights until the mid-1920s, however, with development continuing through the 1930s.
In the late 1910s, State College professor Joseph R. Chamberlain and farmer Hardy B. Bagwell had C.L. Mann survey sections of their land and plat the Harris-Chamberlain Subdivision and the H.B. Bagwell Subdivision in 1917 and 1919, respectively. Harris-Chamberlain, a triangular plat, was wedged between Maiden Lane and the fairgrounds; Bagwell was a longer, flat-topped wedge centered on Daisy Street. Neither subdivision was developed immediately: Harris-Chamberlain was mostly developed in the early 1920s, and Bagwell developed even more slowly. On Daisy and the west side of Dixie Trail, houses date from the mid-1920s, with development resuming again in the 1940s.
In the early through mid-1920s, about the time construction was going on in Harris-Chamberlain, C.L. Mann and others platted several more subdivisions. These included further subdivisions in 1921 and 1923 of Fair-Ground Heights, between Fowler Avenue and Mayview Road; in 1922, 1924, 1925,1926, and 1927 of College Crest, south of Hillsborough Street between Stanhope Avenue and Concord Street; in 1922 of H.B. Bagwell Subdivision No.2, including the east side of Dixie Trail and both sides of Bagwell Avenue, all south of Kilgore Avenue; the Crawford Property Subdivision in 1924, which consisted mainly of the area on the west side of Brooks Avenue south of Kilgore Avenue; in 1925 of Blue Moon Ridge, north of Mayview Road between Dixie Trail and Brooks Avenue; and a 1925 extension to Harris-Chamberlain along the 2300 block of Clark Avenue. Most of these plats were grid plans aligned with the four main cardinal points. A few roads, particularly preexisting roads like Dixie Trail (formerly known as Highland Farms Road), maintained their slight bends and curves. College Crest was the exception, being laid out in a crescent shape south of Hillsborough Street.
College Crest, soon renamed Stanhope, developed quite rapidly along the north side of the Seaboard Airline Railroad and Southern Railway tracks, and with a strong Craftsman architectural character. Despite the original name, most first residents were not associated with State College. The variety of residents' professions included mechanics, salesmen, laundry employees, and clerks. The other platted areas in West Raleigh developed more gradually from the late 1920s through the 1950s, with the rate probably accelerating as private automobile ownership increased.
At the mid-point of the decade, C.L. Mann created two substantial plats: Wilmont and Fairmont. The Wilmont plat subdivided a large section of farmland that lay immediately west of the Bagwell subdivisions completely outside the city limits. David Farrior sold the land to the Allen Brothers real estate firm in the early 1920s, and Mann and William Allen designed a plat that took its shape from the gentle topography of the land. Diagonal and slightly curving streets formed unconventional intersections, and small triangular parks filled the odd spaces sometimes created. Nearly five hundred lots comprised the plat, but, like neighboring subdivisions, Wilmont did not immediately see substantial development. Fewer than a dozen houses were built along Furches and Shepherd Streets and on Clark Avenue in the 1920s. Allen Brothers sold its assets in 1932 to Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company, and when sales did not increase, Jefferson Standard held an auction in 1938, advertising Wilmont as "Raleigh's newest and most modern subdivision development for the Ideal Home." The auction advertisement bragged about "'protected' homesites," "restricted lots," and the lack of city taxes and paving assessments. The publicity and the auction seemed to spur development: nearly eighty houses were built between 1938 and 1941. An expansion of city limits in 1940 brought Wilmont within Raleigh's western boundary.
The 1926 Fairmont plat was made possible by the relocation of the state fairgrounds to a two-hundred-acre tract farther west on Hillsborough Street. The fair's legacy was preserved in the new neighborhood's name and — less obviously — in its street names, selected to honor fair officials through the period. Another legacy is visible on the map: an oval race track occupied the northwest corner of the fairgrounds, and Mann preserved most of its shape in the plat, cutting off only the bottom curve with Clark Avenue. Lots were sold at auction in November 1926.
Land inside the racetrack horseshoe and in the irregular square immediately north were purchased by the city at the auction and apparently reserved for parkland but not immediately developed. In the late 1930s, the land inside the racetrack was earmarked for a city "drama center," to be occupied by a community theater group formed a few years earlier with assistance from the Federal Theatre Project. The building and site development was partially financed by the Works Progress Administration and partially by community fund-raising — despite some neighborhood opposition to the project as a potential traffic menace. The financial support from the neighborhood shows not only its interest in community involvement in the arts, but also that residents of West Raleigh weathered the Depression fairly well.
Prominent Raleigh architect William Henley Deitrick donated design services, outlining plans for a complex that included a spare theater building, an amphitheater, and a garden. Deitrick was unavailable during later stages of design, so architect Thaddeus B. Hurd finalized plans for the theater building, choosing the stripped classical style common to WPA projects. Landscape architect R.J. Pearce designed the stonework amphitheater elements and the stone pergola and pavilion in the sunken garden. Construction was complete by 1940; the sunken garden was replaced with the Rose Garden in 1948. The irregular block north of the horseshoe remained undeveloped. Today, it is part of Gardner Street Park, apparently improved in the last quarter of the twentieth century.
Deitrick's was not the only in-kind contribution to the project. Local businesses donated building materials and plants for the complex. The building's lone ornament, donated by North Carolina playwright Paul Green and centered above the entrance on the front facade, was a cast-stone sculpture of the masks of comedy and tragedy, fashioned by local artist James McLean. (This feature is unfortunately obscured by the most recent addition to the building.) The entire complex is historically significant for its association with the Works Progress Administration and its Federal Theatre Project and as a well-preserved example of an urban park with an intact landscape plan.
Fairmont's plat had over five hundred thirty-foot-wide lots, but, like Wilmont, the neighborhood as built is much less dense. Houses were erected on double or triple lots, and nearly one hundred lots were never developed residentially. The first wave of development in Fairmont occurred in the late 1920s and early 1930s when office workers, business owners, government workers and State College faculty built dwellings. Fairmont's restrictions, in effect until 1936, required that no houses be purchased or occupied by "negroes;" mandated minimum values for houses (the most expensive requirements were for Hillsborough and Clark Streets); and indicated that only the first three lots on the east side of Horne Street at its intersection with Hillsborough could be developed with "neighborhood business." During the post-Depression era, smaller homes were built in Fairmont as in fill. Low and middle-income families, assistant State professors, and government employees had houses constructed along Stafford, Everett, Kilgore, Vanderbilt, and Brooks avenues and Dixie Trail. More transient residents flocked to the apartment buildings constructed after the Depression.
The northeast quadrant of the West Raleigh Historic District was the last section to be developed. It did so piecemeal, like the platted areas between Fairmont and Wilmont, but the entire area was known as Forest Hills. Much of the land had been owned by Walter E. Jordan, a chemistry professor at State College who had purchased about fifty-five acres north of the fairgrounds as an investment. Carroll L. Mann drew the first Forest Hills plat in 1927; the plat began at the corner of Everett Avenue and Gardner Street, with "portal space" reserved in the two lots at the northeast and northwest corners. Stone portals were erected with small placards inscribed with the neighborhood's name.
Forest Hills extensions followed in 1937, 1938, and 1944. Forest Hills, like the other West Raleigh neighborhoods, was restricted to guarantee a middle-class white neighborhood. It was unlike the other neighborhoods, however, in that it was forested, which prospective homeowners may have found appealing. Along Rosedale and Brooks avenues, custom-designed dwellings were built, while speculative houses, typically in the Minimal Traditional style, were concentrated along the north and south sides of the 2700 block of Van Dyke Avenue.
By 1930, the population of Raleigh had jumped to over 37,000. Another 5,803 lived in Raleigh Township. The census for 1929 reflects the further expansion of the city limits that occurred in 1920 to include a large crescent-shaped addition on the north and west side of Raleigh. Raleigh remained a city whose residents worked mainly in retail and professional occupations although industrial growth had increased somewhat. While mill villages provided housing for its operatives, neighborhoods like the West Raleigh Historic District continued to attract educators from the city's colleges (namely State College) professionals, and retail workers.
The West Raleigh Historic District enjoyed its greatest period of expansion in the 1940s, particularly after end of World War II, when the GI Bill helped returning soldiers pay for houses and a college education. Across the city, the post-war population influx expanded neighborhoods leading to rapid growth in Raleigh's size and urban functions. The majority of properties in West Raleigh — roughly forty percent — were constructed during the 1940s, easing an apparently severe housing shortage experienced in Raleigh at the time. City directory research revealed that some families doubled up and shared single-family homes during the period. Nationally, housing shortages — common in this era — generally resulted from years of slow development during the Depression. In West Raleigh, however, a surprising number of dwellings had been built in the decade leading up to World War II, another indication that the middle-class segment of Raleigh's population, probably those employed in the government sector, did not suffer through the Depression as much as others. In addition to the housing boom, the city finally completed development of the parkland inside the old state fair racetrack, planting three thousand rose bushes in 1948 to create the Rose Garden north of the Raleigh Little Theatre Amphitheatre.
In the decades since, the character of the West Raleigh neighborhoods has remained remarkably stable, maintaining its mix of homeowners and renters, professionals and students. The relatively few buildings that postdate the period of significance are of the same type as those constructed during the period — houses, churches, commercial structures, and small office buildings — and have been rendered in compatible scale. Only the Hillsborough Street corridor has changed markedly, and even that only in sections, as a result of heavy commercial turnover and the constant development pressures of the growing North Carolina State University campus south of Hillsborough. The West Raleigh neighborhoods still reflect their early-to-mid-twentieth century suburban roots and maintain their strong association with the nearby university.
The Architecture of the West Raleigh Historic District
The dwellings, small outbuildings, commercial buildings, light industrial buildings, churches, and school in the West Raleigh Historic District represent the architectural styles and forms that occurred in Raleigh and throughout Piedmont North Carolina from the late nineteenth century to the post-World War II period. During this period, architecture reflected the social and economic changes occurring as Raleigh transformed from a relatively quiet capital and county seat to a bustling commercial, professional, and education center.
At the start of the twentieth century, 13,643 people lived in the city of Raleigh and another 5,836 in Raleigh Township. By this period the city limits had been expanded by several blocks on all sides from the original four hundred-acre plan devised by William Christmas in 1792. The western edge of the city limits — the side closest to the West Raleigh Historic District — ran along Boylan Avenue, one block east of St. Mary's Street and a little less than a mile from the district.
As the new century dawned, Raleigh, like the rest of the state, was poised for growth and expansion. Most residents in Raleigh worked in retail, service, and professional trades. Despite the opening of two textile plants in the 1890s — Caraleigh Cotton Mill in 1890 and Pilot Mill in 1893 — industry did not form a significant sector of the city's economy. By 1904, only forty-two industrial concerns employing a little over seven hundred people operated in Raleigh. The capital had fewer manufacturing businesses than the other six cities in the state with populations of ten thousand or more.
As the population of Raleigh grew and suburban neighborhoods adjacent to downtown filled, residents began moving farther from the central city. With the advent of the automobile in the twentieth century, development continued to move into more suburban areas of North Carolina's town and cities. In cities such as Raleigh, this push outward from the central downtown and beyond the streetcar line often translated into the construction of houses on streets only one or two streets beyond main arteries and commercial areas. Residential development in west Raleigh was only one block removed from Hillsborough Street, a major east-west corridor in the city. As the century got under way, it was common in west Raleigh for bank presidents and prosperous merchants to live only one street away from store clerks and carpenters. While professionals and workers continued to live in relative close proximity to their work places and each other, the differences in the two groups' income and social standing were made clear by the size of their houses and the lots they occupied.
The 1920 census reported that 24,418 people lived in Raleigh, with another 4,200 residing in the surrounding township. The census was taken a year before the city limits were extended to include a substantial portion of the eastern half of the West Raleigh Historic District. After the initial wave of subdivision development in west Raleigh in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and as the automobile allowed for increased mobility, national trends in architecture began to exert a greater influence on house styles in the neighborhood.
In Raleigh's suburban neighborhoods, including West Raleigh, the Colonial Revival was a dominant style from the late 1920s and into the 1940s. Houses in the style are weatherboard, brick, stucco, and stone. The Colonial Revival from this period harkened back to the Georgian and Adam styles of early America in its massing and detail. New methods of mass printing developed in the early part of the century allowed for the distribution of magazines that featured photographs of Colonial Revival dwellings and helped to popularize the style. In West Raleigh, the style began appearing in the late 1920s with substantial houses such as the circa 1929 Delta Sigma Phi House located at 2605 Clark Avenue. The two-story, brick dwelling with a side-gable roof displays a full-width front porch supported by Tuscan columns. More common were modest houses of the 1920s and 1930s that exhibited Colonial Revival elements such as a gabled portico with Tuscan or Doric columns. The Harry and Ruby Faulkner House at 2512 Stafford Avenue dates to circa 1929 and is a two-story, Colonial Revival dwelling with a hipped roof and a flat-roofed front porch with Doric columns. The circa 1928 Fannie Farrior House at 31 Shepherd Street is a two-story, brick Colonial Revival with fluted Ionic columns supporting an entry porch.
The Dutch Colonial Revival style with its characteristic gambrel roof proved popular in the West Raleigh Historic District in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In West Raleigh, the exterior materials are often different on each level. The first level of the circa 1929 Chi Alpha Sigma House at 2405 Clark Avenue is sheathed in cut stone, while aluminum siding covers the original weatherboard on the upper story. The Robert B. and Emma Stephens House at 2603 Clark Avenue, also from the late 1920s, is a stucco and brick cruciform-plan Dutch Colonial with a round arch surmounting a recessed entrance.
In response to an ever-growing population, developers erected duplexes and apartment buildings in the 1920s and early 1930s. Many carried Colonial Revival characteristics including the two-story stucco building at 220-226 Chamberlain Street with a hipped roof and Tuscan-columned porches. Other styles popular during the period appeared on buildings designed for multiple families. The Wilmont Apartments at 3200 Hillsborough Street dates to the late 1920s and is a four-story, U-shaped building displaying elements of the Mission Revival style. The circa 1924 Craftsman foursquare duplex at 17 Enterprise Street is a two-story, weatherboard building with hipped roofs and Tuscan columns.
During this period, middle-class families built bungalows throughout the district. The bungalow enjoyed national popularity in the late 1910s and 1920s and architects designed fine examples for clients from coast to coast. Scaled-down versions of the style proved immensely popular in towns and suburbs across North Carolina into the early 1930s. Building plans for these houses, with their wide overhanging eaves, open arrangement of rooms, and inviting porches, appeared in national magazines and catalogs. The bungalow was inexpensive and easy to build and appealed to families' desires for a modern house.
The West Raleigh Historic District contains a substantial number of bungalows distributed widely in the district. Post office clerk Bennett Utley occupied a stylish circa 1927 one-story Craftsman Bungalow at 3137 Stanhope Avenue. Narrow weatherboard wraps the exterior of the hipped-roof dwelling with clipped gables and arched openings along the hipped-roof front porch. The circa 1927 Monroe Evans Gardner House at 2708 Bedford Avenue is a one-and-a-half story brick bungalow with a side-gable roof first occupied by Gardner, a professor at State College. James Dickinson, an auditor at Sir Walter Chevrolet, and his wife Evelyn lived in a circa 1930 one-and-one-half-story fieldstone bungalow at 407 Horne Street. The house has a front-gable roof with clipped gables and a hipped-roof front porch that extends to the north to form a porte-cochere.
During the 1930s, despite the Great Depression, some construction occurred in the West Raleigh Historic District. Most buildings from the period were modest dwellings with classical or Colonial Revival nuances. The Jennings and Ella Long House at 2507 Vanderbilt Avenue, which dates to the late 1930s, is a two-story brick house with a side-gable roof and a classical entrance with pilasters and sidelights. Around 1936 Nelson and Florence Cruikshank built a modest one-story Colonial Revival house with a side-gable roof and three gabled dormers at 14 Bagwell Avenue.
The 1940 census recorded almost 47,000 residents in Raleigh in 1939 and an additional 8,338 in the surrounding township. As in previous decades, most employed people worked in sales and clerical occupations, while jobs related to automobiles (sales, maintenance, and repair) were almost as common. Government work and professional occupations were the third and fourth most-common livelihoods. Nearly nine hundred citizens worked for one of the many New Deal programs instituted to provide relief during the Depression, while textile mills employed only 400 people. Almost 1,200 people ages 18 to 24 were attending school, most likely at one of the city's colleges.
Period revival styles appeared in the 1920s, but became more popular in the district in the late 1930s and in the 1940s. Period or English cottages were typically small, side-gabled dwellings with steep front gables and front or side-gable chimneys. The Robert W. and Lillian Goodwyn House at 522 Dixie Trail, built circa 1937, is a one-story stone Period Cottage with an arched doorway and a tapered facade chimney. The circa 1938 H.L. Caveness House at 2742 Rosedale Avenue is a one-and-a-half-story, cut stone, side-gable Tudor-influenced house with two projecting front-gables, one containing a round-arched opening and sheltering a recessed round-arched door. The Miles and Myrtle Hart House at 3318 Clark Avenue is a two-story weatherboard Period Cottage with a stucco and half-timbered gable. Miles I. Hart, owner of Miles I. Hart Electrical Service on South McDowell Street, and his wife Myrtle had the house built around 1940. One of the most unusual of the crop of Period Revival style houses in the West Raleigh Historic District is the LeRoy and Angelene Medlin House at 3310 Pollock Place. The circa 1939 two-story brick dwelling features a projecting round tower surmounted with a conical roof and containing a single-leaf door. Like dwellings, developers built apartment buildings in revival styles.
Cape Cod houses were built throughout the district in the 1940s, especially in the early part of the decade. Cape Cod houses are one-and-a-half-story, side-gabled, rectangular houses usually constructed of brick, but sometimes sheathed in weatherboard or stone and with gable-front dormers on the front slope of the roof. Approximately fifty-four Cape Cod houses stand in the West Raleigh Historic District and almost all are brick. Dr. Emerson Collins, an agronomist at State College, built a brick Cape Cod house with a Colonial Revival style entrance and an east elevation side wing around 1940 at 2713 Rosedale Avenue. The family owned the house into the late 1970s. At 104 Shepherd Street, Eugene and Delores Jackson built a one-and-a-half-story, Flemish-bond-brick Cape Cod house with weatherboard gable ends around 1942. The Joseph G. and Claire Shannon House is a stone Cape Cod house with vinyl-clad gables and dormers built circa 1942 at 2407 Stafford Avenue.
When World War II ended, the city's population rose to 65,679 as soldiers returned home and ex-soldiers entered State College on the GI bill. As construction revived after the war, some families in North Carolina sought the comfort and reassurance of building in styles of the past such as the Colonial Revival. More commonly new houses took on a decidedly modern appearance. The Minimal Traditional style began appearing just before the war, but proved more popular in the last half of the 1940s. To meet critical housing needs during the post-war building boom, apartment buildings including duplexes were built in the style. In the West Raleigh Historic District, Minimal Traditional houses and multi-family dwellings — of which there are approximately 220 — took several forms including a side-gabled dwelling with or without a front-facing gable or a one-story L-shaped form. The circa 1942 George and Lena Tunstall House at 2814 Mayview Road is a one-story, brick, side-gabled house with a front-gabled wing. An example of the style sheathed in weatherboards is located at 2820 Mayview Road (Harvey and Clara Nichols House). It is a one-story, side-gabled house with eight-over-eight sash. An unusual group of stone-veneer duplexes stand at 3100 Raymond Street. These rental houses were built at the end of the 1940s and are one-story with side and front gable roofs. A group of identical U-shaped Minimal Traditional four-unit apartment buildings stand on the 2600 block of Kilgore Avenue. The one-story brick buildings feature eight-over-eight and six-over-six sash and a small gabled pediment over the entrance to each apartment. The Ralph and Zoie King House at 2723 Kilgore Avenue is a one-and-a-half-story, brick, side-gabled house with a front-gable bay built in the early 1950s.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Ranch house, with its low-pitched roof and open floor plan, enjoyed popularity in the city and the West Raleigh Historic District. The Ranch style originated in California in the 1930s and by the middle of the century it had been adapted to meet the needs of families who desired a low-cost dwelling with living area on one level and enough space for all its members to enjoy their privacy. Ranch houses in the West Raleigh Historic District have brick, weatherboard, and synthetic exteriors with broad chimneys, occasional bands of windows, spare to no detailing, rear patios, and typically lack a front porch. The circa 1950 William Martin Jr. House at 2712 Rosedale Avenue is a horizontally-massed, hipped-roof, brick and weatherboard Ranch house with vertical-light windows. Walter and Mary Anderson built a one-story, hipped-roof brick Ranch house at 3305 Ruffin Street around 1953. The Baxton and Alice Smith House at 817 Rosemont Avenue dates to 1953 and is a one-story, brick and synthetic-sided Ranch house with a low-hipped roof, large interior chimney, and wide overhanging eaves.
Like dwellings, the buildings constructed for businesses, professional, and industrial concerns reflect the trends of the period. The earliest of these buildings are typical of those built in cities and towns across the state. The commercial building at 3100-3106 Hillsborough Street dates to the late 1920s and is a one-story, brick building with a flat roof and recessed storefronts. The North Carolina Equipment Company (3101 Hillsborough Street), one of the best preserved commercial/industrial buildings in the district, dates to 1936 and is a two-story brick building with a flat roof and metal casement windows.
By the late 1930s and 1940s, some commercial and industrial buildings in the district began to reflect progressive ideas, expressed in the use of thoroughly modern styles of architecture. The circa 1937 Raleigh Nehi Bottling Company Building at 3210 Hillsborough Street with its Carrara glass facade, curved canopy sheltering the entrance, and metal-frame windows shows the influence of the Art Moderne style. The circa 1941 brick Raleigh Linen Service Company Building at 3301 Hillsborough Street also exhibits a Moderne influence in its curved facade and flat canopy over an aluminum-framed double-leaf entrance. In the post-war period, the Modernist idiom began to appear in the design of office buildings. The State Capitol Insurance Company built its headquarters at 2610 Hillsborough Street around 1948. The three-story, brick Modernist edifice has aluminum-frame windows with slate spandrel panels, and a three-bay stripped classical entrance. The most notable Modernist building in the West Raleigh Historic District is the G. Milton Small and Associates Office Building (105 Brooks Avenue). Built in 1966 and designed by the architect as office space for his staff, the modestly scaled building evokes the principles of Miesian architecture in its use of vertical steel beams supporting four metal and glass elevations hovering over a lower level parking area.
Of the West Raleigh Historic District's four churches, two are contributing resources. The two other churches post-date the period of significance. The circa 1927 West Raleigh Presbyterian Church at 27 Horne Street is a brick, Gothic Revival building displaying a prominent two-story square tower with a steeple, parapets with concrete coping, and stained glass in the pointed-arch windows. An attached circa 1950 U-shaped, four-story education building frames a courtyard visible from the street. H.N. Haines, a professor of architecture at Duke University designed the Gothic Revival style Fairmont Methodist Church that was built at 2501 Clark Avenue around 1950. The brick building features pointed-arch windows with stained glass and narrow brick buttresses with concrete caps. The education building was added to the rear of the church in 1957-1958 and is a two-and-a-half-story-on-basement brick building. The Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, (2723 Clark Avenue), although noncontributing because of age, is a most impressive Modernist building. Architects Fishel and Taylor designed the 1968 flat-roof tan brick sanctuary that features full-height stained glass windows. A glass pavilion with a metal roof dates from 1997 and connects the sanctuary to a Modernist education building constructed in 1959. The 1960 Forest Hills Baptist Church at 201 Dixie Trail is a more traditional red brick Colonial Revival style church with multiple additions. A towering portico with Corinthian columns dominates the Dixie Trail facade of the sanctuary.
Fred A. Olds Elementary School (209 Dixie Trail) is the only school in the West Raleigh Historic District and it is typical of consolidation-era schools built in the county in the 1920s. Constructed in 1927, the two-story, Classical Revival style, T-shaped brick building has a flat roof, a flat stone cornice, and a tetra-style portico with limestone pilasters. Additions in 1948, 1954, and 2001 have been built on the building's rear, but do not overwhelm the original school.
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† Cynthia de Miranda, Heather Fearnbach, Clay Griffith, Jennifer Martin, and Sarah Woodard, Edwards-Pitman Environmental, Inc., West Raleigh Historic District, Wake County, NC, nomination document, 2003, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.