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Wendell Town

Wendell Town Hall is located at 15 East Fourth Street, Wendell, NC 27591; phone: 919-365-4450.

Beginnings [1]

This rural area was first known as the Rhodes School House community and was comprised of small family farms and the Rhodes School. The school was established in 1861 on land donated by Ambrose Rhodes. In 1891 headmaster M. A. Griffin changed the school's name to Wendell Academy to reflect the name of the new post office.

Incorporated by the General Assembly in 1903, Wendell developed as a tobacco market and railroad town. Many of the town's residents made their living by tobacco; as warehouse owners, brokers, auctioneers, gentleman farmers, crop insurance agents or bankers.

A number of events contributed to the growth of Wendell from a rural community to a small town with a robust tobacco based economy. The fist event was the formal incorporation of the town by the North Carolina General Assembly on March 6, 1903. Then in 1906, the Raleigh and Pamlico Railroad line was completed, connecting Raleigh to markets in the eastern part of the state and passing through Wendell. Local lore holds that schoolteacher Mallie Asa Griffin gave the town its name. Griffin chose the name to honor American physician, historian and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes. However, the town's name is pronounced differently than that of its namesake. The vernacular pronunciation "Wen-dell" (with emphasis on both syllables) is said to mimic the call of the railroad conductors as they passed through town. While this story may explain the unique pronunciation of the name, it also attests to the importance of the railroad in Wendell's history.

  1. Ellen Turco, Circa, Inc., Wendell Boulevard Historic District, Wake County, NC, nomination document, 2008, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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