Wake Forest Historic District
Click on each photo in the slideshow above for the name of the house/building and the date it was constructed.
Historic District Overview
The Wake Forest Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 18, 2003 and has a period of significance from c. 1820 to 1953. It contains the historic core of the Town of Wake Forest, consisting of the original Wake Forest College campus, surrounding residences of college faculty, staff, and other community citizens, and other buildings. The entirety of the locally designated historic district is included within the boundaries of this one. The district is focused on the historic campus of the college, established in 1834 on the plantation of Dr. Calvin Jones. The central campus contains eleven, two and three story, large brick Colonial Revival and Classical Revival style buildings built between 1888 and 1952, except for three post-1956 buildings. A twelfth building, the 1913 Beaux Arts style Wake Forest Baptist Church, is located on a lot carved from the campus, but is not a college building.
The historic district retains an overall piedmont North Carolina historic character, created by a network of stone rubble walls and large hardwood trees. Along North Main Street, house lots tend to be large, with lushly landscaped front and side gardens. That street has an elegant fifteen-foot wide median landscaped with trees, shrubs, and flowers, creating a gracious atmosphere. Granite curbing lines the street.
Many historic houses in the district were constructed by faculty and staff of Wake Forest College between the late 1830s and 1956, when the college decided to relocate to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The largest houses line North and South Main Streets and have large, well-landscaped lots. Some of these are simple I-houses, while others are stylish Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival and Classical Revival style houses. The side streets have more architecturally modest Queen Anne, Craftsman, Colonial Revival, and vernacular houses.
The oldest building in the district, the Calvin Jones House, 414 North Main Street, is the c. 1820 two story Federal-style farmhouse of Calvin Jones, who sold his farm for the creation of Wake Forest College in 1832. The house was moved to this site in 1956 and is now, along with a new building behind the house, a museum of the history of the college and town.
Several of Wake Forest's institutional buildings are located in the district south of the campus. The former Wake Forest School and gymnasium, 136 West Sycamore Avenue, are Colonial Revival style brick buildings built in 1939. The Community House, 123 West Owen Avenue, a WPA funded Colonial Revival style frame community building with a swimming pool, was completed about 1942. Nearby, two recent buildings include the contemporary style addition to the Wake Forest Elementary School, 136 West Sycamore Avenue, and the large brick Boys and Girls Club of Wake Forest, 325 South Wingate Street. The district also includes churches, a repurposed train station, a limited number of commercial buildings and former municipal buildings that are currently used in other capacities.
The Wake Forest Historic District possesses a unique architectural character in Wake County. The buildings include examples of each historical period and style from the early nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, many of them designed by notable local, state, and out-of-state architects. The campus of Wake Forest College and the surrounding town constitute one of the most significant groupings of historic buildings in Wake County, outside of the city of Raleigh. The district's central significance is as a physical testament to the spirit of enlightened religious education that flourished at Wake Forest College, as well as to the elevated level of architectural taste manifested in residential design throughout the district.