Our Mission

The mission of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission is to identify, preserve, protect, and promote Raleigh’s historic resources.

Cameron Village Historic District

Developed 1947-1953

The state’s first mixed-used subdivision

Cameron Village was North Carolina's first planned mixed-use development. One mile northwest of downtown Raleigh, it was platted in December 1949 and included a combination of single-family homes, multi-family apartments, and commercial buildings. Although the eponymous retail center is excluded, eight blocks of surrounding single-family homes make up the historic district.

Residences in Cameron Village are set back from wide curvilinear streets and have deep front lawns. Driveways, attached carports, and garages are common and there are few sidewalks. The majority of homes are Ranch style with red brick foundations, hipped or side-gabled roofs with wide overhangs, and prominent chimneys. A variety of exterior materials—wood weatherboards, shingles, and sheathing, board-and-batten, asbestos, and brick or stone veneer—were used, although much has been replaced with vinyl or aluminum siding.

The district’s architectural continuity is a result of protective covenants placed on the development and the repetition of architect- and builder-designed plans. The covenants for Cameron Village controlled the neighborhood’s physical development, setting minimum lot sizes, regulations for the size, location, and design of homes, and parking and landscape restrictions. Architect Leif Valand, responsible for Cameron Village’s commercial and multi-family housing, also designed the Banks Kerr House on Smedes Place, whose basic form, a three-bay, side-gabled structure with a projecting wing on one end and a prominent exterior chimney, was repeated throughout the neighborhood. Additionally, the Wachovia Building Company erected homes on Woodburn Road and Smedes Place that employed a similar shape: a three-bay-wide, hip-roofed block with an attached garage on the left and grouped windows and an entrance on the right. Cameron Village’s design repetition suggests that some of the district’s homes were built speculatively using pattern books or that original plans were adapted for additional residences as the neighborhood grew.

History

Inspired by J.C. Nichols’ Country Club Plaza, the nation’s first “controlled neighborhood shopping development,” local developer Willie York partnered with Raymond Bryan in 1946 to develop a 160 acre tract adjacent to the Cameron Park neighborhood. York was optimistic that the land, once part of the Duncan Cameron plantation, would prove to be an ideal location for a mixed-use development in a quickly growing post-war Raleigh.

York faced some resistance to his idea; one Planning Commission member called it “ridiculous.” However, the plan for Cameron Village was approved in August of 1947 and construction began soon afterwards on commercial spaces, offices, garden apartments, and single-family houses. Free parking was available for the development’s retail center, but it was still within walking distance to housing, providing residents with easy access to jobs, entertainment, and shopping. Cameron Village experienced success from the start; commercial spaces filled up quickly and apartment homes maintained a wait list. 

York commissioned Seward Mott, director of the Urban Land Institute, for the project. A nationally-recognized planning authority, Mott believed that curvilinear plans provided greater privacy and visual interest and were more adaptable to topographic variations.

Mott’s plan received an award in 1947, and in 1953 the development itself won the National Award in the National Association of Home Builders' Development contest.

Early residents Cameron Village’s single-family homes were employees of York Construction Company and Cameron Village, Inc., including architect Leif Valand. Others worked in the shopping center’s retail establishments and lived in its adjacent homes, such as Village Pharmacy manager Banks Kerr and Arthur G. Nowell, vice-president of Nowell Clothing. Cameron Village’s proximity to downtown and the State College also attracted businessmen, government supervisors, and college employees.

Today the Cameron Village historic district is significant as the first mixed-use and first curvilinear subdivision in North Carolina. It is also an excellent collection of well-designed post-World War II Ranch homes and clustered modern apartment buildings.

Maps

Cameron Village in the 21st Century

Photo by hmwPreservationPhoto by hmwPreservation Photo by hmwPreservationPhoto by hmwPreservation

Links

Historic Overlay Districts (HODs)

Oberlin Village was designated a General Historic Overlay District (HOD-G) on February 6, 2018.  READ MORE

 

Raleigh Historic Landmarks (RHLs)

On October 3, Raleigh City Council adopted ordinances for 4 new Raleigh Historic Landmarks. READ MORE