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Maiden Lane Historic District

Raleigh City, Wake County, NC

The Maiden Lane Historic District [‡] was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.


The Maiden Lane Historic District lies west of downtown Raleigh. The District occupies about two and three-quarters acres on the only block of its eponymous street. Maiden Lane is a residential, dead-end street that extends north from Hillsborough Street, the major east-west corridor that terminates on its east end at the North Carolina State Capitol. Maiden Lane runs parallel to Enterprise Street to its west and Ferndell Lane to its east. The district and its surrounding area are densely developed due in large part to the proximity of the university, which was established south of Hillsborough Street in the late nineteenth century. The parcels located at the intersection of Maiden Lane and Hillsborough Street were historically residential in use and fronted on Hillsborough Street. They now contain modern commercial buildings and are not part of the district.

The District contains domestic resources, several of which have been converted from single family residences to multiple-occupant dwellings. Large hardwood trees shade many of Maiden Lane's green lawns, and low shrubs grow along the foundations of the buildings. Concrete sidewalks extend along both sides of the street.

Most dwellings in the district display Queen Anne and/or Colonial Revival influences and are two stories with asymmetrical massing and weatherboard exteriors. Four houses, all on the west side of Maiden Lane, are single-story houses. The houses in the district have single-story porches. Three duplexes standing side-by-side on the east side of Maiden Lane have wraparound porches, while the other dwellings exhibit full-width or partial-facade porches or porticos. Synthetic siding covers five dwellings in the district; weatherboard and wood shingles sheathe the remainder.


The Maiden Lane Historic District illustrates the close association of residential development with the establishment of a nearby college and city park. Housing construction at Maiden Lane marked the start of a long residential building trend in West Raleigh, fed for half a century by demand resulting from two 1887 land grants by philanthropist R. Stanhope Pullen. These gifts enabled the establishment of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (later called North Carolina State College and eventually North Carolina State University) and Pullen Park. The Maiden Lane plat, dated 1892, was the first platted area in what became the substantial West Raleigh neighborhood by the middle of the twentieth century. Several professors built or occupied dwellings here, and the large park, also under development in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, offered an unparalleled recreational amenity to the new neighborhood. Additionally, the district reflects the Streetcar-Suburb settlement pattern that occurred in Raleigh during the first years of the 1900s. The streetcar line that extended west along Hillsborough Street encouraged families to live on Maiden Lane in what was then a rural area outside Raleigh. The district is also eligible in the area of Architecture for its fine collection of houses that clearly represents the transition in architectural taste from the exuberant Queen Anne style, seen in the twin cottages at 9 and 11 Maiden Lane, to the transitional Queen Anne-Colonial Revival style of the duplexes across Maiden Lane, which featured more restrained architectural elements applied to irregularly massed houses. The Maiden Lane Historic District's period of significance begins circa 1893, when the first house was built, and ends with the construction of the last house in 1923. The street continued to function as a neighborhood of owner occupied and rented houses where residents had a strong association with the college across the street into the 1950s. The locally significant district contains thirteen buildings, twelve of which contribute to the district's historic and architectural character.

Historical Background and Community Development and Planning Context

Raleigh began as a planned town, laid out in 1792 on a one-square-mile rectangular grid centered on the State Capitol at Union Square. The city's population, under five thousand in 1860, saw significant growth in the post-Civil War period. By 1870, the figure rose to 7,790 residents and continued climbing over the next decades: more than 9,200 residents by 1880; more than 13,500 by 1900, and nearly 24,500 by 1920.

During this time, residential areas began developing away from the city's core, some spilling beyond Raleigh's city limits, which had expanded a few blocks in each direction. The city's first exclusively residential district was Oakwood, named for nearby Oakwood Cemetery and located in and beyond the city's northeast corner in the late nineteenth century. Some of Raleigh's most prominent white citizens built elaborate Victorian-era houses on Oakwood's grid-plan streets. Another nineteenth-century neighborhood, Smokey Hollow, spread across the low ground surrounding the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad's shops and among other industrial concerns situated north of downtown, partly within and partly beyond the city's north boundary line. Both black and white working-class Raleighites lived and worked in Smokey Hollow. (The neighborhood was demolished in the 1960s to make way for industrial and commercial development.) African American professionals lived in neighborhoods southeast and southwest of the core: Idlewild, College Park, and Third and Fourth Wards. Meanwhile, the African American communities of Method and Oberlin developed as distinct villages well southwest and northwest of the central city and far beyond its nineteenth-century limits.

In the waning years of the nineteenth century, another suburban Raleigh neighborhood germinated. Located due west of downtown, well beyond the city limits but on the heavily traveled road to the Orange County seat of Hillsboro, the development would become another district for the white middle class. Fendol Bevers, a Wake County land surveyor, drew a plat in 1892 for Enterprise Street and Madenlane Street, each street extending one block north from the road to Hillsboro, just west of Oberlin Road. Bevers's plat shows a total of thirty-two lots on the two streets, with fifteen-and-a-half of the lots for sale at sixty-five dollars each. The lots closest to the Hillsboro road (eventually Hillsborough Street) were apparently reserved or had been previously sold, as they were not available for sale as part of this group.

Two substantial non-residential developments encouraged the platting of these two residential streets so far from the western edge of town. R. Stanhope Pullen's remarkable 1887 donation of land for a land-grant college and a public park would shape the development of the area that soon became known as West Raleigh. Both college and park were put into use almost immediately. The college was founded March 7, 1887. The earliest campus buildings faced east, overlooking what would become Pullen Park. The campus grew quickly at the turn of the twentieth century and expanded west along the south side of Hillsborough Street. The first graduating class numbered just nineteen, but by 1916 a total of one thousand scholars held degrees from the school. In 1917, the school changed its name to North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering and became commonly known as State College. Growth continued during the 1920s: single-year enrollment reached the one-thousand mark for the first time in 1921. In 1923 the college established a graduate school and separate schools of engineering and of science and business.

Pullen Park, meanwhile, featured a pavilion, a decorative reservoir with fountain, picturesque landscaping with shade trees, and bridges over the railroad and Rocky Branch Creek by the time Bevers filed his plat for Maiden Lane. City commissioners anticipated that the place would be a summertime resort for city dwellers, and the park soon drew the interest of the city's electric street railway system, which had converted mule-drawn streetcars into an electric railway in 1891. In 1893, the company agreed to extend its west-bound line as far as Pullen Park; by 1894, the route was operational.

The extension of the streetcar line increased the practicality of a Maiden Lane address. The western line eventually reached as far west as the college's 1905 Patterson Hall, located across Hillsborough Street from the terminus of present-day Horne Street, a few blocks west of Maiden Lane. The street railway likely brought that line as far as Patterson Hall in 1906, when the northbound line also pushed beyond city limits along Glenwood Avenue into the just-platted suburb of Glenwood. The streetcar access made Maiden Lane far less removed from the city by dramatically reducing travel time. In 1908, the street railway doubled the Hillsborough Street line to accommodate more traffic. By 1910, two more suburban streetcar developments Cameron Park and Boylan Heights—had been platted, but development along Maiden Lane was already well underway.

Primary source materials providing precise dates for the houses on Maiden Lane are scarce, but close approximate dates can be inferred from deed research, city directories, and the 1914 Sanborn map. Deeds show that B. Irby purchased the parcel at 4 Maiden Lane in 1892, the year the street was platted; his house likely dates from about 1893. The Isabella Morrison Hill House at 2 Maiden Lane dates from the mid-1890s; the Hill family is listed at Hillsboro' rd in the 1896-1897 city directory, which does not have individual street listings. Maiden Lane appears in the city directories' street listings without house numbers or residents from 1905-1908. The 1909-1910 directory lists eleven households by name only and the 1911-1912 directory lists twelve in the same manner. The 1913-1914 and 1915-1916 city directories go back to listing just the street with no information about individual households. The 1914 Sanborn map, however, shows the district nearly built out. Only the Frank Brown House at 3 Maiden Lane was constructed after 1920, according to the Sanborn map and listings in the city directories. The house is first listed in 1924; deeds show that Brown purchased the land in 1922.

Until the 1960s, the street featured a mix of relatively stable owner-occupants along with renters who came and went every few years. Most renters were professors, teachers, business owners, salesmen, or government workers. A few were married male students and their wives, and fewer still were single working women or, in the 1960s, single female students.

A couple of Maiden Lane residents associated with State College held prominent positions. Isabella Morrison Hill, the widow of Daniel Harvey Hill, a Civil War general and college professor, purchased the parcel at 2 Maiden Lane from Stanhope Pullen in 1894 and had a house built there around 1895. Mrs. Hill lived there with her daughter and her son D. H. Hill Jr. and his family. D. H. Hill Jr. was president of North Carolina A&M College at the time, a post he held from 1908 to 1916. The house remained in the Hill family until 1943.

Another resident with a strong State College connection was John Allen Arey, who was head of State's Dairy Extension Service for over thirty years and was known to North Carolina farmers as the "father of the progressive dairy program" Arey lived at 5 Maiden Lane from the mid-1920s through the mid-1960s.

A 1920 expansion of Raleigh's city limits embraced the white suburban developments that had been established over the previous quarter century. The new city limits diverged for the first time from square or rectangular city boundaries centered on the Capitol, this time billowing out on the north and west sides while retaining a sharp corner on the southeast border. This annexation brought Maiden Lane within the city of Raleigh, along with the other middle-class white neighborhoods of Cameron Park, Glenwood, and Boylan Heights.

Today, owners occupy none of the properties. Instead, students—often fraternity members—live in nearly all the houses, a demographic shift that happened over two decades beginning in the mid-1960s. Despite this conversion, all but one resource along Maiden Lane retain their architectural integrity. The William Hutt House, a circa-1914 house at 20 Maiden Lane, is the district's only non-contributing resource. Several alterations made in the 1970s, including the addition of a two-story apartment building and the erection of molded concrete-block walls used to screen the additions, overwhelm and detract from the original Craftsman-influenced dwelling.

Architectural Context

As the twentieth century dawned, Raleigh, like the rest of the state, was poised for growth and expansion. The city boomed, thanks in part to a rapidly expanding college and governmental bureaucracy. The architecture of Maiden Lane vividly illustrates this period of change and modernization as the fanciful Queen Anne style was updated with and eventually usurped by Colonial Revival and, later, Craftsman designs.

The rapid expansion of State College brought teachers, students, and staff to the farmland west of downtown Raleigh. Entrepreneurs built shops and restaurants to serve college students, staff and faculty; those businesspeople and their employees also needed homes in West Raleigh. Maiden Lane was one of the first subdivisions to accommodate this ever-expanding population and its architecture reflects a period of transition in which crossroads became towns, towns became cities, and an "A&M School" became State College.

Raleigh evolved from a relatively quiet capital and county seat to a bustling commercial, professional, and educational center, and the architecture of the era reflects these changes. Builders, architects, and homeowners began merging Queen Anne designs, known for ornamentation and complex massing characterized by cross gables, with cleaner, classically inspired edifices. Gable ends covered with shingles yielded to simple continuous cornices that alluded to pediments. Tuscan columns replaced turned or chamfered porch posts adorned with saw-work brackets as supports for porch roofs. Single panes of glass occupied window sash where two or six panes had been fashionable.

These Colonial Revival elements did not entirely or instantly replace the Queen Anne style during the first decades of the twentieth century. Particularly popular across the state during the first decade of the twentieth century was the retention of the asymmetrical massing of the Queen Anne design, usually expressed through a gable-front wing or wings projecting from a hip-gable or side-gable primary roof. Porches with Colonial Revival columns and pediments on a full-width front porch often shared facades with gable ends decorated with Victorian-era treatments such as stained-glass attic windows and elaborate saw-work, spindle-work, or decorative shingles. By the 1920s, Craftsman treatments, such as knee-braces, multi-light window sash above single-light sash, and battered porch posts on masonry piers were added to the mix.

In Oakwood, Raleigh's earliest residential neighborhood, such transitional houses were inserted among elaborate Victorian-era dwellings. Boylan Heights contains a large concentration of these transitional buildings. Farther from downtown, one or two Colonial Revival-Queen Anne houses along Fairview Road are among the oldest extant structures in Five Points. These transitional designs are important representatives of the move to modernize with the Colonial Revival style and later the Craftsman style while trying to retain familiarity from an earlier period within a landscape that was changing at an unprecedented pace.

Architecturally, Maiden Lane is an excellent representative of this era and its architecture. The street clearly reflects this transitional period as the city moved into the twentieth century and Queen Anne designs merged with Colonial Revival treatments. Maiden Lane was platted in 1892 and most of the houses on the street were built by 1914.

Among the earliest dwellings is the Irby-Brewer House at 4 Maiden Lane. B. Irby, a professor of agriculture at the college across the street, likely had the house built around 1893, having purchased the parcel in 1892. The two-story house is an eclectic Queen Anne dwelling, featuring chamfered porch posts with brackets, a projecting circular end-bay on the north side and an inset corner porch at the southwest corner. The Sarah Smith Houses I and II at 11 Maiden Lane and 9 Maiden Lane date to around 1897 and are basically identical. The dwellings are single-story, irregularly massed, Queen Anne cottages displaying elaborate shingled gables, spindled friezes, brackets, and sawtooth banding. The were likely built to provide rental income to Mrs. Smith.

By 1914 the street boasted a fine collection of dwellings that borrowed from the Queen Anne style. A common feature is the irregular massing exhibited by several dwellings, including two duplexes at 12-14 and 16-18 Maiden Lane. These twin buildings feature hip roofs with projecting gabled bays at the front and side elevations and hip-roofed wraparound porches. Each duplex also features two-over-two sash, gable-end returns, and transoms over the entry doors. Other houses displayed Colonial Revival elements applied to irregularly massed houses. The duplex at 8-10 Maiden Lane is an excellent example: it shares the same overall form and configuration as its neighboring duplexes but differs in details, featuring pediments and modillions at the gabled bays, one-over-one sash, and Tuscan porch columns.

The last house built on the street, the Frank Brown house of 1923 at 3 Maiden Lane, shows that the transition to the Colonial Revival style is complete. The main body of the house is perfectly symmetrical, featuring a centered gabled portico on Tuscan columns sheltering an entry door surrounded by sidelights and fanlight transom. Three-part window flank the entrance. The second-story fenestration echoes the order of the first story, with a centered three-part window flanked by single windows. A single-story, hip-roofed side porch is located on the south elevation, but the overall effect is of symmetry, leaving behind all traces of the Queen Anne style.

‡ Adapted from: Jennifer Martin, Sarah Woodard, Clau Griffith and Cynthia de Miranda, Edwards-Pitman Environmental Inc, Maiden Lane Historic District, Wake County, North Carolina, nomination document, 2005, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Maiden Lane