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Clayton Historic District

Clayton Town, Johnston County, NC

The Clayton Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]

The town of Clayton, located in western Johnston County, North Carolina, grew up around a stop on a stage coach route, which became the preferred alignment for the North Carolina Railroad. A railroad station was established here in 1853, and the town began to prosper. Clayton was incorporated in 1869, and from the late 1860s to the present, became the entrepot for the region. The commercial core of the town first developed along the two roads flanking the railroad, Front and First streets, but by the early twentieth century, Main Street became the mercantile center. Masonry commercial buildings from the 1890s through the early 1960s remain intact on First and Main streets. Dwellings for the town's occupants were located mostly at both ends of Main Street, on First and Front streets, and in a grid-pattern of streets just north and south of the commercial area. Residences include fine examples of popular and vernacular styles of single-family dwellings from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century. The town's early twentieth-century educational buildings for white children are intact within the Clayton Historic District, as are many excellent examples of ecclesiastical architecture, including Horne Memorial United Methodist Church (1912-1916), and the First Missionary Baptist Church (1924).

During the early twentieth century, a strong African American community developed in Clayton on the north side of the railroad tracks in response to the Jim Crow era of segregation, which became codified in North Carolina in 1900 with the passing of the Disfranchisement Amendment that took away voting rights from the state's African Americans. This neighborhood became a cohesive, successful, and self-sufficient African American enclave. This neighborhood is an integral part of the Clayton Historic District and retains residences, stores, and churches that were built in response to this change in laws and settlement patterns.

The Clayton Historic District, encompassing twenty-five blocks bounded by West Barnes, Mill, South Lombard, and Blanche streets, meets National Register criterion in the areas of Commerce and Ethnic Heritage (Black) and criterion for its collection of both popular and vernacular architectural styles. The period of significance, ca.1850 to 1959, begins with the date of the town's earliest extant buildings, and ends at the close of the last substantial building period during which new commercial structures and residences were constructed within the historic core of the town.

Historical Background, and the Commerce and Ethnic Heritage (Black) Contexts

The first town in the area of present-day Clayton, was a small village that grew up around Gulley's Store, which became a post office in 1845. Gulley's Store was adjacent to a community known as Stallings Station, which was a stop on the stage route from Hillsborough to New Bern. Travelers stopped for the night or to change horses at a house occupied by a widow named Sarah Stallings.[1] The North Carolina Railroad, along its route to connect Goldsboro and Charlotte, established a stop at Stallings Station in 1853, and the town developed around the station. Landowners in the vicinity were Mrs. Stallings, Captain J.B. Smith, and Benajah Horne.[2]

During the early years, Sarah Stalling's son-in-law, William Sanders, built a hotel in the town. Two stores were then built, one by Jule Nichols and the other by W.W. Cox. A turpentine distillery was established by Troy Bunn, and a barroom built and operated by Wesley Hicks. Despite this auspicious beginning, many of the early boosters of the area moved on to Mississippi and Alabama in 1859, including Jule Nichols, and Sarah Stallings and her two sons-in-law.

The Civil War and the economic downturn which followed, led to difficult times in the new town.[3] In 1867, Ashley Horne, who became one of the most successful merchants in Clayton, bought out the stock of goods of one of the town's stores. Branson's North Carolina Business Directory for 1867-1868 notes three merchants in Clayton: W.H. Cox, Maney & Durham, and J.M. White. The postmaster was Mrs. A.M. Noble. Soon thereafter, W.H. McCullers Sr. & Sons, and J.G. Barbour & Sons established businesses, and the town began to develop into a major trading center for the region.

Three theories about how Clayton received its name have been proposed: that the town was named for a school teacher who established an academy there; that it was named for an engineer who was one of the surveyors of the North Carolina Railroad; and that it was named for U.S. Senator John Middleton Clayton (1796-1856) of Delaware.[4] Regardless of how it received its name, and the most likely possibility is that it was named for Senator Clayton, the town was incorporated in 1869.

Ten years later, Branson's Directory noted a shoemaking manufactory and a turpentine distillery in town, as well as thirteen merchants. By the mid-1880s, the town boasted an attorney, a blacksmith and wheelwright, a boarding house, a druggist, two fertilizer agents, seventeen general merchants, two physicians, and three saloons.[5]

From the 1860s through the 1880s, the town developed along the streets of West Stallings, West and East Front, and West and East First streets, the area that is now the northwest quadrant of town. Due to the town's growth and promise, a town cemetery was established at the western end of West Front Street in 1881.

By 1896, the town of Clayton had a population of 675. The town supported two boarding houses, a restaurant, two blacksmiths, a carriage and wheelwright company, two shoemakers, a turpentine distillery, an undertaker, a druggist, seventeen merchants, a corn and flour mill, three cotton gins, a steam saw and corn mill, and three fraternal lodges.[6] With the mills, cotton gins, and distillery, Clayton had a solid industrial base to its diverse economy. None of the buildings associated with these early industries survive into the twenty-first century.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Smithfield, the county seat, was the largest town in Johnston County, but it primarily served as the entrepot for the eastern half of the county, where it is located. Clayton was the second most populous town in the county, and served as the commercial center for western Johnston and part of eastern Wake counties.

By the end of the nineteenth century, and into the twentieth century, Johnston County became one of the leading cotton producing counties in the state. Although cotton and tobacco were grown throughout all areas of the county, the western and central portions of the county were the primary cotton producing areas, with tobacco dominating the eastern portion. As a result, the larger tobacco warehouses were located in Smithfield, and the Clayton cotton market was a very prominent one in the county. The Clayton Cotton Market was a thriving operation, with early buyers being R.B. Whitley & Co., J.G. Barbour & Sons, Central Oil and Fertilizer Company, and the Clayton Supply Company. Local historians have noted that the Clayton Cotton Market was known as "the biggest little cotton market in the Carolinas."[7] In 1909, around 12,000 bales of cotton were sold in town and by 1935, Clayton buyers and the town's two cotton mills bought 24,084 bales of cotton. According to a local history, "A frequent sight in the fall of the year was that of huge bales of cotton, sometimes weighing nearly 500 lbs. each, stacked all around the warehouses, loading platforms and in the storage areas. These businesses were all near the railroad for easy shipping."[8]

The Clayton Cotton Mills building is located at the east end of the district, on the north side of the railroad tracks. The company, organized in 1900, was the first cotton mill in town, and was founded as a result of the town's status as a regional cotton market. A second cotton mill, the Liberty Cotton Mill, located west of the historic district on Main Street and south of the railroad tracks, soon followed. The Liberty Cotton Mill still stands, but has been altered. The work at both mills was primarily spinning cotton into thread. The Clayton Cotton Mills building survives as a reminder of the industrial base of the town. From the late nineteenth century into the middle twentieth century, cotton and the industries associated with it, dominated Clayton's economy and were an essential part of the town's identity and prosperity.

The railroad fostered another significant economic mainstay in the town, the B.M. Robertson Mule Company which was founded in 1898. Robertson had two mule stables, one on Lombard Street, which still survives, that could handle up to fifty mules; a second stable (operating under the name Tennessee Mule Company) was located near the freight yard and handled approximately seventy mules. Robertson purchased most of the mules from major cities in the South and Midwest, including Richmond, Atlanta, and St. Louis. The mules were shipped into town on trains, and then sold to local farmers who used them in both their cotton and tobacco fields. Benson, a town southeast of Clayton, and Clayton were two of the major towns in the area for mule sales. The company continued to sell mules after World War II, but began to sell tractors in 1946 or 1947. By the late 1950s, they were out of the mule business, and into the farm machinery equipment business.[9]

Other prominent businesses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century included the numerous stores for dry goods and general merchandise, as well as establishments that combined groceries with spirits. H.L. Barnes and J.W. Hanes each operated one of these businesses, "The White Rabbit" and the "Eagle," respectively. Barnes and Hanes sold rye, corn whiskey, bourbons, brandies, wine, beers, and ales by the bottle and by the jugs. W.A. Robertson and Dr. J.J. Young were the owners of the Clayton Drugstore during this time.[10]

In 1909, Main Street in Clayton was a dirt road lined with one and two-story commercial buildings that were of frame and brick construction. Major industries in town included the Clayton Cotton Mills, Clayton Foundry and Machine Works, the Clayton Oil Mills, and Liberty Cotton Mills. In fall 1909, the Clayton Tobacco Market opened for the first time, in two warehouses, the Liberty Tobacco Warehouse and the Star Tobacco Warehouse (both no longer stand). In the same year, Clayton supported over thirty-one stores, two barber shops, and four hotels/boarding houses.[11] J.G. Barbour & Sons had set up their grocery and dry goods business at 401 Main Street, in a two-story brick building, constructed in 1901, that still stands.

During the early years of the twentieth century, a strong African American community developed in Clayton on the north side of the railroad tracts. With the codification of segregation through the passing of laws and social codes that legalized segregation, African American communities were established in almost all North Carolina towns and cities that had even a small number of black residents. Legalized segregation in North Carolina coalesced in 1900, when the Disfranchisement Amendment took voting rights from African Americans.[12] An unintended by-product of segregation was the rise in black-owned commercial businesses to serve the African American neighborhoods. As noted by architectural historian M. Ruth Little who has studied African American neighborhoods in North Carolina: "In the harsh climate of the segregated South, blacks who had patronized white businesses and white doctors and other professionals in the pre-segregation years of the 1880s and 1890s turned to black businesses and professionals after 1900, producing a growing middle class of enterprising African Americans."[13]

On the north side of the railroad tracks in Clayton, a small African American commercial district developed on East Front Street and at the intersection of East Front and North Lombard streets. Three concrete block stores that were constructed for the community survive, at 432 East Front Street (ca.1945), and 201 and 203 North Lombard Street (both ca.1946). 203 North Lombard Street, from the 1940s through 1960s, also served as a kindergarten for African American children. These buildings served as a meeting place for the community both during the day and the evenings, and the stores offered the same merchandise as the traditional general store of the period — food, soap, cleaning products, cigarettes, candy, etc. This neighborhood is similar to those found in other small towns and cities of eastern North Carolina, such as the East End in Ahoskie, Hertford County, The Corner in Snow Hill, Greene County that developed around an early twentieth century African American school, and the East End Historic District in Wilson, Wilson County. All three of these districts include residences and commercial buildings associated with the African American communities in these towns.

In 1912, Clayton was electrified and running water pumped to the businesses and houses. The water was pumped in from deep wells. Highway No. 10 (later known as Old Highway No. 70) was built through Clayton in 1924, the first road improvement of many to come that would encourage growth and make Clayton more accessible to Raleigh. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, Clayton's major religious congregations built large and impressive churches, including Horne Memorial United Methodist Church (1912-1916), located in the Clayton Historic District at 121 Second Street East. Public education for white children was formalized and consolidated, and major brick institutional buildings were constructed, including the Clayton Graded School (1915) and Clayton Grammar School (1926), both within the Clayton Historic District on the 100 block Second Street.

The Clayton Banking Company was founded in the early twentieth century by Ashley Horne, J.T. Talton, R.B. Whitley, and D.H. McCullers, among others, and a large, brick bank building was constructed on 107 First Street (ca.1909). The Bank of Clayton soon followed, and in 1920, an ornate Neoclassical-style building was erected for the bank at 200 East Main Street. Automobile-related businesses also developed during the 1920s and 1930s, including gasoline stations, automobile service stations, and automobile dealerships. The first Ford dealership in Clayton was constructed at 114 West Main Street, ca.1920, (which still stands), and was operated by J.O. Vinson.

Civic Clubs were formed, including the Rotary Club (1925); the Halcyon (1912) and the Felecia (1928), literary clubs; the Music Club (1927); and the Woman's Club (ca.1910), whose handsome headquarters is located within the Clayton Historic District at 109 S. Church Street.[14] Clayton was a very wealthy and successful town in the 1920s, so much so that some local historians have described it as "the richest town per capita" in the United States during that decade.[15]

The economic downturn of the 1930s slowed growth in Clayton, but by the late 1930s, with the cessation of years of drought and corresponding agricultural disasters, the economy of the town began to improve. The railroad was still a strong presence, with numerous freight and passenger trains stopping at the depot. All of the streets within the Clayton Historic District had been laid out, with the exception of Clay Street, which developed in the 1950s. The growing, marketing and processing of cotton remained a major business, and a local slogan in Clayton was "Boost your cotton market and let your cotton market boost your town."[16]

In 1948 the first street in the town was paved, and five years later, Highway 70, which bypassed Clayton, was hard surfaced and opened to traffic. Two residential developments, outside of the town's historic center, were opened in 1955 and 1956, and growth moved away from downtown. The commercial core along East Main Street remained strong through the 1950s, but began to wane in the 1960s. The town's dependence on the railroad also declined, and its dependence on the automobile increased. Residents began to commute to Raleigh for work using Highway 70, rather than working in town.

Clayton's population, in 1980, was 4,091 and nearly doubled during the next twenty years, reaching just fewer than 7,000 in 2000. Over the next six years the town's population mushroomed, gaining about 6,000 residents. However, with this population explosion, interest in the town's history and its significant historic buildings increased, with more of the commercial buildings downtown being renovated, and the town's historic school buildings being converted into the Clayton Center (for arts and culture) and as offices for the town.

Architecture Context: Mid-Nineteenth through Mid-Twentieth Century Small Town Architecture, Johnston County, North Carolina

The buildings within the Clayton Historic District illustrate the full range of building types found in the small towns of Johnston County, North Carolina, from the middle of the nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. Clayton's earliest surviving buildings are primarily found on First, Front, Main, Fayetteville and Second streets, the streets nearest the railroad. The buildings in Clayton follow the popular styles of the time period, as well as the vernacular forms found throughout the region.

The two earliest buildings in Clayton are found at the northwest and southeast corners of the Clayton Historic District, the dwelling at 432 Kildee Street, which was constructed ca.1855, and the Durham-Ellington Compton House at 601 East Main Street. The Durham-Ellington-Compton House, ca.1850, is a handsome Greek Revival style dwelling that exhibits a form and finish that was popular in the 1840s and 1850s in Johnston County: a three-bay, double-pile two-story, hip-roof house with exterior end brick chimneys and classically-inspired woodwork. The house features a two-story portico that is has simply detailed octagonal columns connected by a slender balustrade and topped by a pediment. The house has a central-passage plan which is entered through a door flanked with sidelights and topped by a transom. The house at 432 Kildee Street is contemporary with the Durham-Ellington-Compton House, but is more vernacular in form. The house is a two-story, single-pile building with a hip-roof porch across the facade, a rear ell, and two exterior end chimneys. This house form is found throughout North Carolina, and was constructed in towns and in rural areas from the 1840s through 1910s.

The majority of buildings in the Clayton Historic District date to the late nineteenth through the early twentieth century. One popular style that is represented in the town is the Italianate style, which dates from ca.1880 through 1900. This style is characterized by ornate and fanciful wood trim on porches and surrounding window and door openings. Segmental arches and bay windows are often found on Italianate-style buildings. The best surviving Italianate-style dwelling in Clayton is the M.E. Yelvington House (ca.1895), at 104 North Fayetteville Street. Located just a block from the railroad, the exuberant house has tiered porches on the facade with turned posts, decorative spandrels, and elaborate drop finials. The house has an ornate entry hood with pierced brackets on the gable-front facade.

Just a block away, facing the railroad, at 121 First Street, is the Ernest L. Hinton House (ca.1900), which exemplifies the more diminutive Queen Anne style houses found in Johnston County's small towns. The Queen Anne style dates from the late 1880s through ca.1915 in Johnston County, and is characterized by an irregular floorplan, ornate and numerous porches, trim meant to evoke late medieval style dwellings in Great Britain (including windows with numerous small panes of glass, some colored, shingles, and heavy wood trim). The Ernest L. Hinton House has many of these characteristics, including several wood-shingled gables with elaborate scrolled spandrels, a projecting porch pavilion with a partial hexagonal roof, and a wraparound porch with turned posts. The house at 326 South Page Street (ca.1895) is a very good example of a smaller and simpler Queen Anne style house. The dwelling has the asymmetrical plan, a decorative wraparound porch, and shingled gables of the style, but is not overly elaborate. The John Mayo House, at 302 South Fayetteville Street, (built around 1915) is an example of the larger (and later) Queen Anne style dwellings in the town. The Mayo House has the characteristic asymmetrical massing, bay windows, and wraparound porch that defines the style. The house also has bracketed corners at the roof gables, roof cresting (made of wood), and corbelled brick chimney caps. David Barbour built his Queen Anne style house, at 307 South Lombard Street (ca.1905), and its numerous gables have decorative sheathing. The house also has several bay windows, a small central second-story porch, an asymmetrical plan, and an extensive wraparound porch.

A few examples of the Neoclassical style are also found in the Clayton Historic District. The Neoclassical style, dating from 1895 to 1950, uses classical forms which became popular again after the 1893 Columbian Exposition at Chicago's World Fair. It is widely used for public and residential buildings. Houses built in this style are usually two or two-and-a-half stories tall and have symmetrical facades, often with full-height porticos. The house at 330 West Stallings Street (ca.1915, 1920) is a two-and-a-half-story, hip-roof, frame house with a first-story wraparound porch and a second-story balcony sheltered under a colossal portico. The First Baptist Church of Clayton (1920, 1957, 2007), at 411 Fayetteville Street N., is an example of the use of the style for public buildings. This brick church is built on the Akron plan with a central rotunda covered by a low dome and features two identical porticos, one that faces Whitaker Street; the other faces Fayetteville Street. An angled wall with a paired window links the two porticos. The porticos are supported by Ionic columns and a heavy molded cornice adorns the building. Two, two-story, brick wings extend from the porticos.

A few examples of the Tudor Revival style were constructed during the late 1920s through the 1930s. The Tudor Revival style is characterized by steeply pitched roof, Gothic-arched openings, multi-light windows that are often casement or fixed in form. Some Tudor Revival style buildings also have false half-timbering and shingle or slate roofs. The most outstanding Tudor Revival style house in Clayton was constructed at 475 East Second Street, in ca.1925. This large, two-story brick building has multi-light casement windows, slate roof, and clipped gables characteristic of the style. A smaller version of the style is found at 217 West Stalling Street. This ca.1925 house has a Gothic-arched door on the facade. The house features a front entry with a steeply-pitched gable roof supported by brackets. The house retains its original casement windows with diamond-shaped lights that flank the front entry.

Vernacular dwellings built in town from the last decade of the nineteenth century and first decade of the twentieth century, are mostly one- or two-story, side-gable, single-pile, three-bay dwellings with exterior end brick chimneys, and often, a central decorative gable on the facade. The buildings also often have a rear gable ell that served as the kitchen and/or dining rooms for the dwellings. These vernacular buildings are found throughout the town. Two good examples are located at 331 and 339 South Page Street, both dating to ca.1900. Both examples have decorative shingled central gables, along with one-story porches across the facade. The Heartley House (ca.1910), at 257 East Stallings Street, has a shingled central gable, retains its early four-over-four light window sash, and is a good example of a small, and plain, example of the form.

The Colonial Revival style thrived in town, and was used as the predominant architectural style of both small and large houses throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Large, two-story Colonial Revival style houses with tripartite windows, elaborate door surrounds, multi-pane sash windows, and porticos with classical orders were built from the 1910s into the 1930s and are found mostly on South Fayetteville, East Main, and East Second streets. Notable examples include the Rudolph Barnes House, at 220 S. Fayetteville Street; the John T. Talton House, 311 S. Fayetteville Street; and the Swade E. Barbour Sr. House, 205 East Second Street. The Barnes House (1921) is a fine example of the Colonial Revival style, and features a one-story elliptical entrance portico The entry features an unusual leaded-glass transom that has an elliptical arch over the door. The front entrance is also flanked by sidelights; the first floor windows are tripartite and the original leaded glass transoms are intact but the lower window sash have been replaced. The John T. Talton House (ca.1925) is a two-story, three-bay, double-pile house that has a low hip roof, twelve-over-one sash windows, and a porch wraps around the facade and side elevation and extends to form a porte cochere that has columns are Tuscan style. The front entry is flanked by sidelights. The Swade Barbour House (ca.1934) is a well-preserved, two-story, side-gable, double-pile, three-bay Colonial Revival style house with an entrance featuring a leaded-glass elliptical fanlight, flanked by sidelights. The windows are intact and feature upper sash with diamond and pointed-arched lights over a single-light lower sash. The entrance portico features elegant Doric-style square posts holding up a flat-roof with balustrade. The Horne Memorial United Methodist Church (1912-1916), at 121 Second Street E, is an example of the use of the Colonial Revival style for public buildings. The structure, faced with Flemish bond brick, is dominated by a tetrastyle pedimented portico of fluted Ionic columns. A segmental-arched hood, supported by curved brackets, surmounts the transomed double-door entrance. On the side elevations round-arched windows are recessed into the plane of the wall and feature prominent cast-stone keystones. A continuous boxed cornice and a separate molded frieze encircles the church. Crowning the top of the church is a handsome mansard-roofed bell tower whose round-arched openings are flanked by pilasters. The church has stained glass windows and decorative brickwork. A transverse rear section with pedimented roof contains Sunday School rooms.

The other dominant early twentieth century form in Clayton was the Bungalow. Bungalows in Clayton are usually one-and-a-half story, front or side gable buildings with wide overhanging eaves, a porch across the facade that usually features short columns or pillars on brick piers, exposed rafter ends or simple brackets at the roof line, and multi-light sash over a single sash window. Most Bungalows are smaller in scale, and were built of both brick and frame. Examples are located on East Second Street, including the Col. C.H. Beddingfield House (ca.1923), at 211 East Second Street, and the Dr. Harry E. Brooks House (ca.1925), at 215 East Second Street. The Col. C.H. Beddingfield House has the triangular brackets and wide overhanging eaves, exposed rafter tails, and deep porch that is characteristic of the form. The Dr. Harry E. Brooks House also has the characteristic deep porch which extends to include a porte cochere, triangular brackets, and one-and-a-half story bungalow form. Two mail-order houses, from the Aladdin Company, were also constructed on the 200 block of East Second Street, the ca.1920 Lancaster House, at 206 East Second Street, and the ca.1920/1960 Ashley Horne and Sons House, at 210 East Second Street. Both were originally front-gable Bungalows with engaged front porches.

During the mid-twentieth century, two other styles dominated the residential buildings found within the Clayton Historic District, the Cape Cod and the Ranch house. Cape Cod style houses are small, three-bay, one-and-a-half story, double-pile dwellings that often have some Colonial Revival style elements, such as multi-light, double-hung sash windows (most popular types are six-over-six and eight-over-eight), classically influenced porticos over the primary entrance on the facade, and front-gable dormers. This style is called Cape Cod because the houses are said to resemble the small houses found throughout New England (most notably in Cape Cod) that date to the eighteenth through mid-twentieth century. Good examples within the Clayton Historic District include the dwellings at 316 South Barbour Street (ca.1940) and 318 South Fayetteville Street (ca.1950).

The house at 316 South Barbour Street is a one-and-a-half story, double-pile, side-gable building veneered in brick, and has the characteristic three-bays with a one-story side wing and a slightly projecting brick gable-end chimney. The house also has gable-roof dormers on the facade and six-over-six sash windows. The house at 318 South Fayetteville Street stands one-and-a-half stories with a steeply pitched side-gable roof, and has the characteristic three-bays-wide facade with eight-over-eight sash windows and two gable-front dormers are located on the facade. The central block is flanked by a one-bay side-gable roof wing and a one-story, flat-roof glazed porch.

Ranch houses began to be built within the district during the early 1950s, although they can date as early as the 1930s elsewhere. Ranch houses are usually one-story, side-gable, houses with a low profile and asymmetrical windows of different sizes (often including a large "picture" window on the facade) and a strong feeling of horizontality. They are often brick, and many have attached carports on one gable end. The houses at 130 Blanche Street (ca.1955) and at 210 North Fayetteville Street (ca.1955) are good examples of the style in the Clayton Historic District. The house at 130 Blanche Street is a one-story, side-gable brick Ranch house with eight-over-twelve sash windows, and has wide eaves that extend over the facade which adds to its feeling of horizontality. The house at 210 North Fayetteville Street has the characteristics of the Ranch house as built in Clayton; it is a one-story, side-gable Ranch house with a carport on the gable end. The brick house has eight-over-eight sash windows and a recessed entry.

Clayton has a remarkable number of commercial buildings that survive with good integrity from the early part of the twentieth century. Most are plain and one- and two-story buildings. The level of decoration varies, but most are simple brick buildings with little more than a decorative brick cornice. The Clayton Banking Company (1909), at 107 East First Street, has a recessed corner entry and a corbelled and dentiled cornice. Clayton's other early twentieth century bank building, the Bank of Clayton (ca.1920) in the 200 block of East Main Street, is a very fine example of the Neoclassical style applied to a commercial building. It features very elaborate neoclassical detailing, including swags and anthemion. Most of the commercial buildings are one or two-story flat roof brick buildings with storefronts comprised of a central door flanked by large plate glass windows. The J.G. Barbour & Sons Building (ca.1900), at 401 East Main Street has some of the most elaborate brickwork in town, although the storefronts have been altered. The brickwork features a curved parapet with decorative corbelling, and blind recessed brick panels with flat arches. Perhaps the most intact storefronts from the early twentieth century are found at 200 and 202 East Main Street (ca.1915); this two-story brick building has two storefronts, which retain their wood window surrounds, double-leaf wood doors, and transoms.


  1. Supporting this traditional local history is the listing of a Sarah E. Stallings, a widow, in the 1860 census for the area. She is listed as a "farmeress." Stallings owned real estate worth $3,000. She lived with her son, Isaac, and a servant. Stallings could not read or write; Federal Manuscript Population Census, 1860; ancestry.com; accessed June 20, 2007.
  2. J. T. Ellington, "Clayton, North Carolina, A Sketch of its Early History, and Some Recollections of Former Days" in John T. Talton, Illustrated Handbook of Clayton, North Carolina and Vicinity, (Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards and Broughton Printing Co 1909) 5.
  3. Ellington, 6.
  4. "The Rise of Clayton," in Heritage of Johnston County, North Carolina (Winston-Salem, N.C.: Heritage of Johnston County Book Committee, 1985) 32. The third reason was published in a 1905 bulletin by the U.S. Geological Survey.
  5. Chantaigne's North Carolina State Directory and Gazetteer, 1883-1884. Raleigh, N.C. J.H. Chataingne, 1883.
  6. Levi Branson, ed. Branson's North Carolina Business Directory, 1896,Volume VIII (Raleigh, N.C.: Levi Branson, Office Publisher, 1896) 363-370.
  7. "Clayton," Heritage of Johnston County, North Carolina (Winston-Salem, N.C.: Heritage of Johnston County Book Committee, 1985) 55.
  8. "Clayton," Heritage of Johnston County, North Carolina, 55.
  9. Doris Cannon, "Robertson Brother Still in Business At Clayton," Smithfield Herald, July 31, 1981.
  10. Clayton," Heritage of Johnston County, North Carolina, 56.
  11. Talton, 1909.
  12. M. Ruth Little, "The Other Side of the Tracks: The Middle-Class Neighborhoods That Jim Crow Built in Early-Twentieth Century North Carolina," in Annmarie Adams and Sally McMurry, Exploring Everyday Landscapes: Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture VII (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1997) 269.
  13. Little, 277.
  14. Talton, 1936.
  15. "Clayton," Heritage of Johnston County, North Carolina, 33.
  16. Talton, 1936.


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Glass, Brent D. The Textile Industry in North Carolina. Raleigh, N.C.: Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1992.

Heritage of Johnston County, North Carolina. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Heritage of Johnston County Book Committee, 1985.

Johnson, Todd and Durwood Barbour. Johnston County. Dover, N.H.: Arcadia, 1997.

Johnston County Deed Books, Johnston County Courthouse, Smithfield, N.C.

Lassiter, Thomas J. and Wingate Lassiter. Johnston County, 1746-1996: The 250-year Journey of an Early American Community. Smithfield, N.C.: T.J. and W. Lassiter, 1996.

Leffler, Hugh Talmage and Albert Ray Newsome. The History of a Southern State: North Carolina. Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1973.

Little, M. Ruth, "The Other Side of the Tracks: The Middle-Class Neighborhoods That Jim Crow Built in Early-Twentieth-Century North Carolina," in Annmarie Adams and Sally McMurry, Exploring Everyday Landscapes: Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture VII. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1997.

North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, Historic Resource Survey Files for Clayton, N.C.; Raleigh, N.C.

Powell, William S. North Carolina Through Four Centuries. Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

Sanborn Map Company. Fire Insurance Maps of Clayton, North Carolina. New York, NY: Sanborn Map Company, 1909, 1913, 1918, 1925.

Smithfield Herald (Smithfield, N.C.), 1981.

Talton, John T. Illustrated Handbook of Clayton, North Carolina and Vicinity. Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards and Broughton Printing Co., 1909 (1936, 1961).

‡ Nancy Van Dolsen, Clayton Historic District, Johnston County, North Carolina, nomination document, 2009, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
1st Street East • 2nd Street East • 2nd Street West • Barbour Street South • Barnes Street • Blanche Street • Central Street • Church Street North • Church Street South • Clay Street • Cooper Street • Fayetteville Street North • Fayetteville Street South • Front Street East • Front Street West • Horne Street East • Kildee Street • Lombard Street North • Lombard Street South • Main Street East • Main Street West • Mill Street • ONeil Street North • Page Street South • Smith Street North • Stallings Street East • Stallings Street West • Whitaker Street East • Whitaker Street West