In 1906, the Raleigh and Pamlico Sound Railroad Company decided to bring the railroad through the Whitley and Horton family farms in western Wake County. Edgar B. Barbee and Falconer B. Arendell organized the Zebulon Company for development that same year. The company received its charter on February 15, 1906. Shortly thereafter, they began to divide up their forty-nine acres into lots, blocks, streets and avenues. On February 16, 1907 the town was officially recognized as Zebulon, North Carolina. The town was named after Zebulon Baird Vance, the Governor of North Carolina during the American Civil War. The first election was held in May 1907 and the first elected mayor was Thomas J. Horton.
Ninety years after its incorporation, Zebulon annexed the neighbor community of Wakefield. This most recent annexation, which took place on December 31, 1997, increased the total acreage inside the corporate limits to 2,115 acres and the population to 3,908. In the year 2000, the population has grown to 4,046.
The Town of Wendell started in the 1850s when tobacco farmers in Granville County were hit with what came to be known as the Granville County Wilt. The tobacco crop failed and farmers from Granville County moved into eastern Wake County looking for fertile land to plant their crops.
Ambrose Rhodes donated land for a school to be built. The school would be called the Rhodes School. It was located at the same site as Wendell’s present magnet school on Wendell Boulevard. The school continued to grow and in 1891, the name of the school was changed to Wendell Academy.
As this area grew, a small village was forming. The people in this area needed a name for their little town. They asked their schoolteacher, M.A. Griffin, to come up with a name for this area. Mr. Griffin loved the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes. He suggested that they call their town Wendell after the poet. However, the pronunciation of the town is different from the way one normally pronounces Oliver Wendell Holmes. After the train came to town, the porters on the train would call out “WENDELL.” They pronounced each syllable with emphasis. The townspeople picked up on this pronunciation, and it continues to this day.
This area obtained a post office in 1891 and this first post office has been restored by the Wendell Historical Society, and it presently sits at the corner of Oakwood and 4th Streets.
The oldest institution in this part of the county was Hephzibah Baptist Church, founded in 1809. The first newspaper for this area did not appear until 1911. The paper was the Wendell Clarion, and was succeeded by the Gold Leaf Farmer.
Wendell was incorporated in 1903. After the town was incorporated, more people and businesses moved into Wendell. Main Street was laid out by a man who drove a horse with a very wide plow up and down the area. That is why the street is so wide today. In 1911 the county built a new brick school in Wendell. The first graduating class was in 1915.
For list of things to do in Wendell, please visit the Discover Wendell Events Calendar.
There are a variety of events being sponsored by the Wendell Historic Society including The Wendell Farmer’s Market, Independence Day Celebration, and the Christmas Candlelight Tour.
Parks and Recreation
Its offices are located in Wendell Park at 601 W. Third Street, Wendell N.C. 27591. The Wendell Parks and Recreation department looks forward to providing you and your family with the most professional and enjoyable recreational experience possible. At Wendell Parks and Recreation you can find traditional sports programs, cultural and fine arts, community events and passive recreational opportunities for participants of all ages.
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Incorporated on Feb. 20, 1909, Wake Forest is a progressive community of over 27,000 residents. Located in northern Wake County, Wake Forest boasts a vibrant downtown featuring more than 100 businesses, including several outstanding restaurants and specialty shops. Mindful of its rich heritage, the downtown is also an officially registered historic district. Representative of its academic history, Wake Forest is the home of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Southeastern College at Wake Forest.
Wake Forest continues its emergence as a major player in the phenomenal growth and activity witnessed throughout the Triangle. Wake Forest maintains its small town character, however, by captivating newcomers and long-time residents alike with its incomparable warmth and charm.
Wake Forest is a unique community with a thriving downtown where you can walk just about anywhere to shop, eat or simply visit.
Situated less than 10 miles north of Raleigh and approximately 250 miles south of Washington, DC, Wake Forest is a prime location for anyone wishing to enjoy a quality way of life with all the benefits of city living. The community offers quick, easy access to the Triangle’s first class universities, the Research Triangle Park, Atlantic Coast Conference athletics, professional sporting events, and world renowned golfing events. In addition, the beach is just over two hours away, while the mountains are a three to four hour drive, so you are never very far from North Carolina’s most popular vacation destinations.
Several churches in the area reveal a strong spiritual value in the community, while the Wake Forest Chamber of Commerce actively promotes the area through family activities and programs that encourage businesses to prosper.
Come visit Wake Forest – a friendly town where neighbors know neighbors, people walk the streets and the historical district offers something for everyone.
In 1820, Dr. Calvin Jones, originally from New England, bought 615 acres (2.5 km²) of forested land in Wake County, North Carolina. The sparsely populated area became known as the Forest of Wake, or Wake Forest. Jones sold his farm to the North Carolina Baptist Convention for $2,000, who opened the Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute, later Wake Forest College, on the site. The Raleigh & Gaston Railroad, completed in 1840, established a depot in nearby Forestville, which stimulated the school and surrounding village. College leaders convinced the railroad to move the depot even closer to the college in 1874, leading to more economic development. This community was incorporated as the “Town of Wake Forest College” in 1880. In 1909, the word “College” was removed from the name of the town. The college moved to the much larger city of Winston-Salem NC in 1956. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary began offering classes on the original campus of Wake Forest University in 1950, and occupied the entire campus when the university completed its move.
Attractions and Activities
The DuBois Center
518 N. Franklin Street
Wake Forest, NC 27587
The DuBois Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the northeast area of Wake Forest, the community outreach center also serves as a site for Parks & Recreation basketball games and other community events.
Falls Lake State Recreation Area
13304 Creedmoor Road
Wake Forest, NC 27587
Hours of relaxation await you at Falls Lake State Recreation Area. Just moments away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Falls Lake is a great way to escape urban life. With a 12,000-acre lake and 26,000 acres of woodlands, Falls Lake State Recreation Area offers a choice of recreation areas—Beaverdam, B.W. Wells, Highway 50, Holly Point, Rolling View, Sandling Beach and Shinleaf. Fishing, boating and swimming are only a few of the activities awaiting you on the water. On land, you can enjoy walking, mountain biking or camping along a portion of the state’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail. From recreation to environmental education, no matter what you are looking for, you are sure to discover it at Falls Lake.
YMCA at The Factory
1839 S. Main Street, Suite 250
Wake Forest, NC 27587
The YMCA at The Factory was established in 2007 as a satellite branch of the Banks D. Kerr YMCA and is part of the YMCA of the Triangle, one of the largest YMCAs in the country. The YMCA at The Factory is a 21,000-square-foot facility that serves youth, adults and seniors in northern Wake County and Wake Forest through organized programs that promote good health, strong families, confident children and better communities.
Hill Ridge Farms
703 Tarboro Road
Hill Ridge Farms is the Triangle’s best destination for old fashioned, educational family fun, just 20 minutes north of Raleigh in Youngsville, North Carolina. Bring your children and grandchildren to relive our heritage and enjoy a day in the country!
Wake Forest University Birthplace
414 N. Main Street
Wake Forest, NC 27587
Wake Forest University’s roots are in the town of Wake Forest. It was here, in February of 1834, that the first class enrolled in Wake Forest College. The Calvin Jones House, built before 1820 and home to the first president of the college, was the center of activity at the school. Located in the Wake Forest Historic District, the house is “a lasting monument to the founders of Wake Forest College and the thousands of students who attended classes and graduated from the institution.” The Wake Forest College Birthplace collects preserves and displays the history of the town of Wake Forest as well as Wake Forest University. Visitors have access to an impressive collection of photos, books, college publications, furniture, documents, professors’ writings, medical, law and sports memorabilia.
The Wake Forest Parks & Recreation Department seeks to enhance the lives of the citizens of Wake Forest by offering a comprehensive system of parks, greenways, facilities, and open spaces coupled with cultural and athletic programs that promote education, health, and wellness.