Wake Forest has designated five local historic landmark properties, including:

  • I. O. Jones House (c. 1903)
  • Battle-Purnell House (1803)
  • Oakforest (c. 1807)
  • Purefoy-Chappell House (1838)
  • Heartsfield House (1803)


This Queen Anne style house at 538 South Main Street was designated as a local historic landmark on March 14, 1991. The I. O. Jones House is a large 2-story house with a pyramidal roof, interior chimney, and a front-gabled 2-story wing with a cutaway bay window. The pedimented gable has an oval Adamesque-style window. The 1-over-1 sash windows are apparently original. The wraparound 1-story porch has a gabled entrance bay, turned posts with sawnwork brackets, and a simple railing. About 1925 a Craftsman-style entrance vestibule was added in front of the original entrance, and a small sunroom above it, perhaps in place of an original open upper-story porch. At this time the side section of the porch was enclosed as a sunroom. 

The I. O. Jones House was constructed c. 1903 by Robert Freeman and his wife, Genoa Rox Hunter Freeman as a wedding gift for their daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Ira Otis Jones. Robert Freeman started the Wake Forest Supply Store in 1906, along with his son-in-law, I. O. Jones, and O. K. Holding. In 1915-1916, after the death of Robert Freeman and O. K. Holding, I. O. Jones moved the store to another location in downtown Wake Forest. In 1931 I. O. Jones’ son, Leland, entered the business and in 1931 they changed the name to Jones Hardware Company. Jones Hardware remained in operation, at a couple different locations, until it finally closed in 2005, one year short of 100 years!

I. O. Jones led an active life. He had ventured into the financial sector, opening the Bank of Wake in 1928, along with others. Not the best in timing for opening a bank, it closed in 1930, due to the economy.  He was a Trustee and a Deacon of the First Baptist Church of Wake Forest and was also active in several civic groups. Twice in the 1950s he was elected the Headmaster of the local Masonic Lodge and he was also active with the Rotary Club. He never ran to Town Council due to his belief that business and politics do not mix! 

The Jones House was always full of family, friends, or students from Wake Forest College, according to the memories of the grandchildren. Because there was limited dormitory space at the college, the family often rented rooms to students and many of the boarders became close family friends. 

One of Elizabeth Jones’ interests was gardening, perhaps why the business eventually took on a decidedly “garden center” flare. She had gardens on both sides of the house and a rock garden in the back. In the summer there was always fresh vegetables and also homemade butter from the cow they kept out back. Elizabeth (Lizzie) was interested in landscaping long before the average townsperson. She was a member of the Wake Forest Garden Club for many years and serve on several committees. Every spring she would allow townspeople to tour her immaculate lawn. 


The Battle-Purnell House, located at 1037 North Main Street, was designated as a local landmark historic property on August 20, 2002. This house was built by Josiah Battle in 1802-1803. It is a 2-story, T-shaped house, unusually large for its time. The house originally had 300 acres accompanying it. Josiah Battle was a local farmer and was a part owner of a local sawmill. After his death in 1826 the house passed to his son, John A. Battle. By 1854 the house and land was owned by John and Mary Purnell. In 1895 John Purnell died and the property was left to his wife and children. The house was rented out over the years. In the early 1900s the Jackson family purchased the property. They were also farmers and produced honey. The acreage decreased over the years until, at present, only nine acres remain with the house. The current owners purchased the house and nine acres in 1991 and did an extensive renovation. 

The Battle-Purnell House is perhaps the largest and best-preserved late Georgian-style dwelling in rural Wake County. Both the five-bay main block and the rear ell of the house are 2-stories tall. Set on a high stone basement, the house is clad in plain weatherboards and displays raised-panel doors with six panels, 9-over-9 sash windows, and window and door surrounds with three-part moldings. The three double-shouldered Flemish bond chimneys are handsomely finished with paved shoulders and glazed headers. The kitchen addition was built out of old materials in keeping with the original structure. 


Oakforest, located at 9958 Seawell Drive, was designated as a local historic landmark property on October 21, 2008. The house stands on a stone and cinder block foundation, and originally was a Federal style hall and parlor house.  The original south-facing porch with its hand-hewn columns is still in use. The slender, round columns are unique in that the capitals and bases were all carved in one piece with the columns. An addition in the style of Greek Revival gave the house a double-pile, center hall-plan. The architectural style was in vogue in 1830-1840s. At that time the front door was changed from south facing to west. The double doors were centered in a rectangle of horizontal boards, and the veranda was covered as seen in the 1887 photograph. The 1894 photograph shows an added portico. In 1895, a returned-eave pediment roof, four Doric columns, and a sawn work balustrade to the roof were added to the west porch.

The south facing, three-bay façade contains double-hung, 9-over-9 sash windows on the first floor and double-hung, 6-over-9 sash windows on the second floor. Some of the original glass remains. Most of the features on the Greek Revival main elevation have also remained, such as the flush boarding on the entrance bay; the 6-over-6 sash windows with molded surround and bulls-eye corner blocks; double front doors with single vertical panes; and multi-paned transom and sidelights also with bulls-eye corner blocks.

The rear, pine, 2-story ell was built circa 1865. The L-shaped, rear porch was added sometime shortly after the ell was built.  It was screened around 1950.  The kitchen wing was built by slave labor during the Civil War.  It consists of four rooms on two floors and a separate attic.  The rooms added on the second floor were intended for servants’ quarters.  The “new” kitchen was connected to the house by a pantry with a root cellar underneath.  The original kitchen, which was used as an office until it burned down circa 1899, was near the southeast corner of the house. 

The property also contains several outbuildings and a family cemetery.  Despite the fact that there was a cemetery connecting to Benjamin’s Smith house, John Smith created a cemetery at Oakforest.  John Smith was the first to be buried there in 1843.  Kenan Seawell was the last to be buried in the family cemetery in 1979.  It is surrounded by cast iron and brick fencing, but originally was stonewalls. Some of the original stone remains in the interior of the cemetery.  

The original owner, Benjamin Smith, acquired 66 acres in Johnston County in 1755 through a land grant. Through the years he subsequently acquired a great deal of more land. He acquired 274 acres in 1784 for his service for 36 months as a private in the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Smith gave a land deed for 200 acres to his son, John Smith in 1803. 

One of John Smith’s daughters, Elizabeth, married Wiley Daniel Jones in 1847. They lived at Oakforest and he became a prominent businessman in North Carolina.  Wiley D. Jones was both noted and notorious.  He was an astute businessman, a trustee on the Board of the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad, an officer of the Confederate Army, and a political leader in the Reconstruction.  During the Civil War, he was a captain of the Wake County Militia and was captured at Roanoke.  He spent most of his service as a prisoner of war in the North.

Elizabeth faced many obstacles during the war while managing the plantation in her husband’s absence.  On March 24, 1865, the Confederate Army requisitioned the carriage horses from Oakforest. Following this, Union soldiers from Sherman’s Army descended on the homestead and looted the place. Octavia was home from Saint Mary’s School at the time.  She managed to save the hams by hiding them under a blanket and sitting on them while the looting soldiers were flirting with her.  They did not take the hams, but did help themselves to the carriage, which was later found broken and abandoned near Crabtree Creek in Raleigh.

Despite his imprisonment, Wiley had enough influence to have Union guards stationed at the college and his home after his family suffered the looting. He also traveled with Governor Holden to see President Andrew Johnson. It is suspected that due to his involvement with the key players in the Reconstruction period, threats from the Ku Klux Klan expressing intent to burn a cross at Oakforest were a direct result of his political activities. In 1891, the statement that Wiley had a “moderating effect on Reconstruction” was written in his obituary. 

It was the Jones family that added the 2-story ell and a small porch to house in 1865.  Elizabeth and Wiley had two sons and one daughter. John Wesley Jones inherited Oakforest, his brother Hamilton was for a time the sheriff of Forestville, and Octavia who became an accomplished pianist and music teacher. A piano was bought for her after the war, and still sits in the parlor. She married Miles Edward Carver, son of Job and Elizabeth MacDonald Sanderson Carver of Forestville on January 17, 1872. Job was the first person buried in the cemetery at Forestville Baptist Church. John Wesley Jones added a pedimented second story to the west porch in 1895.

After passing from the hands of one family member to another the house came into the ownership of Speed Massenburg and his wife, Barbara, and they moved into the house in 1981, as the seventh generation of the family to own and live at Oakforest. 

Unfortunately, one of the most wonderful symbols of Oakforest is no more. In 1893, the Tryst Oak in the pasture was designated the best example of a white oak. Its picture was placed on glass with other North Carolina trees in the exhibit of the Chicago Exposition. In 1910, another picture of it appeared in the North Carolina Teacher Magazine, when the white oak was chosen by the school children as North Carolina’s tree. In the 1950s, it was saved by being filled with cement and was called the finest white oak in the Southeast, second only to the Treaty Oak of Maryland. In 1992, after the tree had survived two years of being struck down the middle by a lightning bolt, it gave up. Its origins as an acorn reportedly date to 1215, the year the Magna Carter was signed. The tree has served as excellent firewood for the hearth in the library, and its acorns are slowly developing into future tryst oaks.

The American boxwoods, however, are still growing. They also serve as a symbol for Oakforest. The alley of boxwoods lines the original front drive, and is assumed to have been planted prior to the Civil War. A picture taken in 1886 where they are shown to be quite existential provides conclusive evidence. There are also English boxwoods to the north that line a kitchen garden and pathway. They were planted in the 1930s.

Until 1950, Wake County was more rural than urban. Oakforest is one of the few reminders of that time left in Wake Forest’s jurisdiction. When Kelly A. Lally wrote The Historic Architecture of Wake County, it was placed on the North Carolina study list (see p. 250). In 1998, it was placed on the National Register based on its historical and social history significance. There are extensive archives of primary sources at Oakforest and other family homes as well as photographs in the North Carolina Collection of the Department of Cultural Resources.


The Purefoy-Chappell House, located at 1255 South Main Street, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 22, 2008 and designated as a local historic landmark property on December 16, 2008. The house and outbuildings, including the c. 1862 doctor’s office, are rare survivors of once common forms. The house and outbuildings are also survivors of the once flourishing Town of Forestville. As an early nineteenth century 1-room house with a rear shed room, the Purefoy-Chappell House represents an early common, vernacular regional house type found in North Carolina. 

The house is comprised of four major sections -– a c. 1838, 1½-story, side gable, single pile main block with a rear shed wing; a c. 1895, 2-story, side gable, single pile addition built onto the south gable end of the original house; a 2-room side gable kitchen/dining building dating to c. 1838 that was connected to the main block and the c. 1895 addition by a 1-story hyphen containing a modern kitchen added in 1974. A very small 1-story shed roof addition was built c. 1960 onto the rear of the c. 1895 addition to house a small bathroom. A 1-story was originally on the front façade, facing South Main Street but was removed prior to the widening of the street in 1966. The house stands on a stone foundation and has a metal roof. The exterior is covered by weatherboards and, in some places, board and batten siding. The windows in the original section have 9-over-9 sashes with smaller windows by the chimneys and the c. 1895 wing has 4-over-4 sash. Two parged stone shouldered chimneys run up the north side of the house, one for the original block and one for the rear shed. 

Contributing outbuildings include a c. 1838/c. 1900 smoke house and a c. 1862 doctor’s office. The smoke house sits south of the main house. The heavy timber frame building was extended c. 1900 with light frame construction and covered with weatherboard. The 2-room, hip-roof frame doctor’s office has a central brick chimney that served as a flue for a stove. This board and batten sided building has two 6-over-6 sash windows in the east room of the building, which served as the doctor’s office. The west room retains its shelves and served as the apothecary and storage room for medical supplies. 

The house was built on a lot purchased in 1837 by James S. Purefoy near where the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad had just been established. The increase in tax value as of January 1, 1839 suggests that the house was built in late 1838. James Purefoy was the son of John Purefoy, the Baptist minister and plantation owner who convinced the North Carolina Baptist Convention to purchase Dr. Calvin Jones’ 615 acre plantation as the site for what would become Wake Forest College. James and his wife, Mary, lived in the house, raising their two sons, John and Edgar, until 1853 when it was sold to Richard Ligon. James Purefoy joined the Wake Union Baptist Church, where his father was the pastor. He was ordained a Baptist minister in March of 1842 and served several churches in Wake, Granville, Franklin, and Warren counties until 1889, the year of his death. He also served as treasurer of the Baptist State Convention from 1842 to 1870, as the historian for the Central Baptist Association from 1876 through 1888, and as a trustee, financial agent, and benefactor of Wake Forest College. In addition, James Purefoy was a businessman and a farmer. At the request of the college board of trustees, in 1846 he purchased a lot on South Avenue across from the campus and built the Purefoy Hotel. He also purchased an adjacent lot and operated a general store. Purefoy served as the postmaster of Forestville beginning in 2839, most likely soon after he had completed building his house and moved to the village.

The Leroy Chappell family purchased the house in 1862, building the doctor’s office, and lived there until 1964. Dr. Chappell first studied medicine locally under a Dr. Johnson and then attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for a year. His first practice was in Shallotte in Brunswick County, NC and then moved to Kinston, Lenoir County. It was there that he met his wife, Eliza. The couple had two sons, Leroy and Henry. Little is known about Dr. Chappell’s career in Forestville, although it appears he was a successful doctor. G. W. Paschal, in the second volume of his “History of Wake Forest College”, states that Dr. Chappell was President Wingate’s physician when he died in 1879. 

By 1900, Dr. Leroy Chappell, 70 years old, and his wife Eliza, 69 years old, lived in the house with their son, Henry, his wife, Bettie, and their newborn son, Frank. It seems likely that the large 2-story wing was added to the original house during the late 1890s, when Henry started his family and both couples began to live in the house. Frank Chappell inherited the house and, after his death in 1964, his wife, Celera Chappell, sold the house in 1965. 


The Heartsfield House, located at 9737 Ligon Mill Road, was designated as a local historic landmark property on December 20, 2011. The property includes the home, several outbuildings and other structures, and a cemetery.   The well and well house, the historic road bed, and cemetery are considered to be contributing to the historic property. The storage building, horse barn and tennis court were all built during the 1990s and are not contributing. About 200 feet south of the house runs an old road bed which may be the remnant of an early road connecting “Powell Road”, now US1A, and Fall of Neuse Road. The small cemetery lies between the old road bed and the house.    

 Heartsfield House is one of the oldest and most prominent homes in the Wake Forest area. Built in 1803, it still has visible in the basement and attic the heavy mortise-and-tenon frame that is consistent with this date. The foundation was built of large stacked granite blocks, a material commonly used for foundations in northeastern Wake County. The Flemish bond double-shouldered chimneys rank among the county’s finest displays of early 19th century brick work. 

Originally, the house was built in the federal style, a two-story house with a rear 1-story shed. Then, around 1850 the style received a Greek Revival makeover, including the addition of the wide 1-story front porch, the interior floor plan was altered, and portions of the woodwork were replaced. The front porch was enclosed in the 1950s. Vinyl siding was installed in 1978. Another addition was added to the rear in 1987. Original window sashes remain in the 1803 section. 

Although Dr. Wesley Heartsfield was the first documented owner, based on documentary evidence the house may have been built by or for a member of the Dempsey Powell family.

Wesley Heartsfield was born in 1810, the second child of Andrew II and Siddie Heartsfield. Family tradition states that he studied medicine in Cincinnati and returned to Wake County to practice. He married Candace Smith in 1835 and they had nine children. Over the years he accumulated several properties. Then, in 1848, he acquired the 485 acre tract containing the 1803 dwelling on Ligon Mill Road. Physical changes to the house and Greek Revival makeover, such as the conversion to the center hall floor plan, change in interior woodwork, and the addition of the wide front porch, coincide with Wesley Heartsfield taking ownership. 

Family history states that between 1853 and 1863 the Heartsfields lived at the house on Ligon Mill Road so his sons could attend a local academy. The 1860 census lists Wesley Heartsfield with forty slaves, which was a very large number for Wake County. This would classify him as a “planter”. (Historian Kelly Lally describes a “planter” as a landowner owning more than twenty slaves.) Less than five percent of the county’s population was of the planter class. 

Three of Wesley and Candace’s five sons died in the Civil War. In 1866 Wesley Heartsfield conveyed 685 acres, including the Heartsfield House, to his son, Jacob Andrew. Other property was conveyed to his other surviving son. The deed for the Heartsfield House property conveyed the tract for the sum of $2.00 and “the love and affection of my beloved son”. Wesley Heartsfield died in 1880 at the age of 70. 

Jacob Andrew Heartsfield died in 1915 and in 1916 the house and 89 acres were conveyed to Jacob Andrew Hartsfield, Jr. The property then passed down to his son, Jacob Andrew III in 1934. After more than 100 years the house passed out of the Heartsfield family ownership in 1954 when it was bought by Cary Maupin. The Maupins enclosed the front porch and added a small bathroom on the second floor. The current owners bought the house in 1974. 

The house is significant as an example of high-style rural domestic architecture of the Federal period. The rear addition does not significantly detract from the property’s overall setting, architectural style, historic materials or association. 

Several early 19th century dwellings survive in Wake Forest and the Heartsfield House compares favorably to them. The Calvin Jones House on North Main Street, built prior to 1820, is a two-story Federal dwelling with a hall-and-parlor plan interior similar to the original configuration of the Heartsfield House. However, the Calvin Jones House is not on its original site and the shouldered chimneys and double-tier front porch are reconstructions. The 1803 Battle-Purnell House, also on North Main Street, reflects a more sophisticated design aesthetic than that of the Heartsfield House and is more closely associated with the plantation homes in Franklin and Granville counties than the more modest ones of northern Wake County. Its front porch is also reconstructed. The c. 1800 Carver House in Forestville retains its Federal proportions, chimneys, and windows, but has replacement siding and a 20th century front porch. 

The Heartsfield House is a rare surviving early 19th century dwelling of architectural and historical importance to the town of Wake Forest and merits designation as a Wake Forest Historic Landmark.