When we were in Raleigh, North Carolina, a couple of years ago for our nephew’s wedding, it was a treat to do a walking tour of Raleigh’s Blount Street Historic District and the Historic Oakwood District. This is a brief photo journal of some of the homes I loved in Oakwood. If you are like me, I find it educational and fun to view beautiful historic homes. We can always dream.
The Oakwood Historic District, designated by the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, is a collection of architectural styles built in the rolling hills and dense woods of Mordecai Grove primarily during the period of 1880-1930. Because lots were individually sold over time, the neighborhood is an evolution of architectural and topographical variety.
We raised our children in a Cape May, New Jersey, American foursquare, which, with its large, economical floor plan, suited our family of nine perfectly. The foursquare had been my favorite architectural style for a while, but since seeing these Raleigh Second Empires up close and personal, Second Empire has me under its spell.
New Jersey architect George H. S. Appleget designed three houses in Oakwood on speculation for Colonel Jonathan McGee Heck who made a fortune producing bayonets during the Civil War: 503 E. Jones St. (below) and 511 E. Jones St. (above), and 218 N. East St. (below). Each amazing house has a tower with concave roofs. Their main roofs are convex.
The mansard roof of the Second Empire style (aka General Grant style outside of the south) became popular after a new property tax was imposed based on the height of a structure. The height was measured only to the lower edge of the roof, so with a mansard roof, you could add an extra story without paying extra taxes.
304 Oakwood was built by Thomas Briggs for 34-year-old cotton trader Marcellus Parker in 1879. While the home’s double front door and arched windows are of the Italianate style, note the Second-Empire central tower with balcony and concave mansard roof.
406 East Street above (c.1879) was originally the carriage house for the William J. Hawkins estate, which stood at Blount and North Streets. The carriage house, (a mini me of the main mansion) was rolled onto logs and transported to its current location in 1913. Sadly, the mansion was torn down in 1967.
Other Victorian-era styles, including Queen Anne and Italianate, can be seen along Polk Street and North East Street.
518 North Bloodworth Street was the home of Louisa Bunker Haynes, daughter of one of the original Siamese twins, Chang Bunker. Chang and his co-joined brother Eng had 21 children between them, Louisa being one of them, “a deaf-mute lady of rare intelligence.” She and her husband, Zacharias Haynes, a teacher/administrator at the Colored Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind raised 10 children here.
516 North East Street, known as the Stronach-Bryant House was built in 1879 for butcher Thomas Bryant, his wife Martha who milked cows, and daughter Pattie, a seamstress. With its hipped roof and sawnwork on the porch, this North Carolina Victorian style home is a charmer.
500 Polk Street
500 Polk Street is the Parker-McDonald House built in 1898. The Queen Anne home features a steep gable-on-hip roof and scalloped shingles in the gables.
Later infill brought the bungalow, foursquare, Craftsman style, and the Minimal Traditional house styles to Oakwood.
706 North East Street is a craftsman bungalow built for W. Ernest Holland, chief of the Raleigh Fire Department. Called the “Avondale,” it was ordered from the Sterling Homes catalog and arrived with instructions and numbered pieces.