Historic Capital City Trail

The Capital City Trail, established in 1963, was a heritage trail highlighting 45 sites around central Raleigh. A printed guide mapped the properties, gave a thumbnail history of each, and suggested a driving route connecting them. “Capital City Trail” signage also marked each site, and the numbered signs matched numbered properties in the brochure. The Woman’s Club spearheaded the project, working with the Raleigh Historic Sites Commission (a predecessor to the RHDC), the Tourist and Convention Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the city’s Planning Department.

The State Capitol, fittingly, led off the tour. Historic sites like the 1769 Joel Lane House populated it, but the trail also noted cemeteries as well as cultural and educational institutions. The route directed sightseers past places like the N.C. Museum of Art (then located downtown) and the 1895 St. Augustine’s College Chapel. Several examples of high-style historic architecture made the cut, such as the 1879 Italianate/Second Empire-style Dodd-Hinsdale House on Hillsborough Street. The tour also noted a few examples of newer architectural gems, like the 1952 J. S. Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds.

The trail was an immediate and lasting hit. Nearly 20 years later, the Chamber of Commerce still got near-daily requests for the brochure. Unfortunately, it no longer worked so well. By the early 1980s, some buildings had been demolished, some roads had been re-routed. The trail needed an update.

Once again, the Woman’s Club stepped in. The second version expanded the tour to 131 sites and updated the signage. With more properties came a broader focus, highlighting more examples of high-style historic architecture. Many of the featured houses stood along N. Blount Street, like the Greek Revival-style ca. 1855 Lewis-Smith House, and in the nearby Oakwood Historic District, like the three ca. 1872 Second Empire-style Heck Houses. Other additions included buildings along Fayetteville Street, like the 1924 Neoclassical Revival-style Odd Fellows Building and other early skyscrapers. The new tour also added historic properties that reflected everyday life. It highlighted buildings related to shopping, like the Briggs Hardware Building and City Market; to transportation, such as the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Building; and to recreation, including the Chavis Park Carousel and the Pullen Park Carousel. A compact, 24-page booklet outlined the updated tour.

A third version prepared by the Planning Department, completed roughly another twenty years later, updated the list again and streamlined the format, going back to a pamphlet while keeping the longer length. This version added recently designated local landmarks like the Plummer T. Hall House and N.B. Broughton High School. Still, it didn’t neglect cultural institutions like Memorial Hall or some of the city’s new museums.

This Raleigh Historic tour of the Capital City Trail includes all the local Raleigh Historic Landmarks ever included on any version of the tour that still stand. They range in age from the 1769 Joel Lane House to the International Style 1966 G. Milton Small & Associates Office Building. The properties cluster in central Raleigh, spreading out to southeast Raleigh as far as Chavis Park and across West Raleigh to the NC State Fair Commercial & Education Buildings. This listing never composed an official Capital City Tour. Nevertheless, it remains true to the original intent of the tour, which was to highlight and encourage preservation of the important sites that help tell the story of Raleigh’s history and lend texture to its future.

State Bank of North Carolina

Raleigh's oldest surviving financial building housed the first state-sponsored banking institution in North Carolina. Architecturally, the building represents the transition between Federal and Greek Revival styles and features handmade brick as…

State Capitol

Built to replace the original capitol, which burned in 1831, this National Historic Landmark is one of America's most important neoclassical structures. Three outstanding nineteenth century architects, Alexander Jackson, Ithiel Town, and David…

Joel Lane House

The gambrel-roofed home of Colonel Joel Lane has been restored to its 1790-1795 appearance by the Wake County Committee of the Colonial Dames. Colonel Lane became known as the "Father of Raleigh" after he sold a thousand acres of land to…

Chapel, St. Augustine College

The chapel is one of the oldest surviving buildings on Saint Augustine's campus. Students built the irregular T-shaped chapel of native granite under the direction of Rev. Henry Beard Delany. The broad overhangs of the gable roof are reminiscent…

Dodd-Hinsdale House

The Victorian-era home of Raleigh mayor William H. Dodd and later of attorney and legislator John Wetmore Hinsdale features a variety of architectural details. The house combines an Italianate-bracketed cornice, a Second Empire mansard-roofed tower,…

J.S. Dorton Arena

The J. S. Dorton Arena features parabolic design that boldly combined architecture and engineering, earning the building its reputation as an exceptionally significant design. Polish architect Matthew Nowicki, who conceived the structural idea for…

Lewis-Smith House

The Lewis-Smith house is an excellent example of the Greek Revival style, featuring a two-story pedimented portico supported by Doric columns on the first level and Ionic columns on the second. Moved from its original location on North Wilmington…

Heck-Andrews House

Architect G. S. H. Appleget designed this house for Confederate Colonel Jonathan McGee Heck. A characteristic mansard roof caps the Second Empire house and a dramatic central tower adorns the facade. Patterned slate and ornate brackets, window…

Heck-Lee House

The Heck-Lee House is one of three distinct landmarks built in a variation of the Second Empire style by Colonel Jonathan M. Heck, a developer in the Oakwood neighborhood. Located on adjacent lots in the Oakwood Historic District, the Heck-Lee,…

Heck-Pool House

The Heck-Pool House is one of three distinct landmarks built in a variation of the Second Empire style by Colonel Jonathan M. Heck, a developer in the Oakwood neighborhood. Located on adjacent lots in the Oakwood Historic District, the Heck-Lee,…

Heck-Wynne House

The Heck-Wynne House is one of three distinct landmarks built in a variation of the Second Empire style by Colonel Jonathan M. Heck, a developer in the Oakwood neighborhood. Located on adjacent lots in the Oakwood Historic District, the Heck-Lee,…

Odd Fellows Building (Commerce Building)

One of downtown Raleigh's few remaining early twentieth-century skyscrapers, this ten-story building designed by the Atlanta architectural firm of G. Lloyd Preacher and Company is Raleigh's first 1920s tall office building. It is…

Briggs Hardware Building

The red brick Briggs Hardware Building is Raleigh's only late-nineteenth-century commercial building to survive essentially unaltered since its construction. Decorative lion heads distinguish the facade of Raleigh's first skyscraper, as do…

City Market

The best surviving example of a market house erected in North Carolina since the Civil War, this Spanish Mission-style complex designed by James Matthew Kennedy housed a complement of butchers, fish dealers, and vegetable vendors. Development of the…

Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Building

One of the city's earliest surviving office buildings, the three-story brick Seaboard Building served as railroad offices for more than a hundred years. The building, which has a restrained Italianate design, originally stood on N. Halifax…

Chavis Park Carousel

Thirty-six hand-carved, hand-painted horses--all jumpers--carry revelers around and around on the Chavis Park Carousel, a gem in the WPA-era park built for African Americans in segregated Raleigh. Before Chavis Park, African Americans had only…

Carousel at Pullen Park

This fine carousel, produced by Gustav A. Dentzel's Pennsylvania Carousel Company, originally operated at Bloomsbury Park; it was moved to Pullen Park in 1915. The carousel animals are thought to be the work of Salvatore Cernigliaro, master…

Plummer T. Hall House

The picturesque one-story frame Queen Anne cottage was built for Plummer T. Hall, the first pastor of the Oberlin Baptist Church, as a wedding present for his bride. The house, which remains in the Hall family, has a turreted porch and bay window as…

Needham B. Broughton High School

William Henley Deitrick received the 1930 American Institute of Architects outstanding school prize for the design of the Northern Italian Romanesque school. The ninety-five-foot-high tower marks the central entrance to the school, faced with ashlar…

G. Milton Small and Associates Office Building

Architect G. Milton Small designed this building to contain his own office. Small, who was a disciple of Modernist master Mies van der Rohe, incorporated several elements identified with Mies and his followers: the building elevated over a base, a…

N.C. State Fair Commercial & Educational Buildings

These Mediterranean Revival buildings, designed by the firm of Atwood and Weeks, are emblematic of the role of agriculture in the economy of North Carolina and the tradition of state fairs begun in 1853. A pair of towers flank the Baroque-arched…

Andrew Johnson House

Andrew Johnson, seventeenth president of the United States, was born in this tiny gambrel-roofed building with a loft. The building was the detached kitchen for Peter Casso's Inn as well as home to the four members of the Johnson family. …

Badger-Iredell Law Office

This one-room frame building typifies late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century office buildings. Two lawyers prominent in North Carolina politics shared the office: George Edmund Badger, a state legislator, judge, and secretary of the navy; and…

Yates Mill

Named for Phares Yates, whose family operated it from 1869 to 1948, Yates Mill is the only water-powered mill building remaining in Wake County. Remodeled at various times, its present size and configuration date to the 1850s. Prior to closing in…

Spring Hill/Theophilus Hunter House

Spring Hill was the home of prominent late-eighteenth/early-nineteenth-century plantation owner and lawyer, Theophilus Hunter Jr. The earliest marked grave in Wake County, that of pioneer settler Theophilus Hunter Sr., is in the yard. The dwelling…

Elmwood

Elmwood, a two-and-one-half story frame townhouse, has been home to many distinguished North Carolinians including two Supreme Court chief justices, an associate justice, an ambassador and a historian. The house displays many Federal-period…

White-Holman House

Also known as Whitehall, the original late Georgian/early Federal-style dwelling was built for secretary of state William White. The house has undergone major changes including the addition of a Victorian wing and an about face when the City of…

Haywood Hall

Built for John Haywood, state treasurer for forty years, Haywood Hall remained home to one of North Carolina's most distinguished families until 1977. The family bequeathed the late Georgian/early Federal-style house to the State Society of the…

Richard B. Haywood House

Richard B. Haywood, a founder of the North Carolina Medical Society, designed this Greek Revival brick townhouse, also known as Crabapple. Its outstanding feature is the superb Doric-order porch. The house is the last surviving dwelling in the…

Mordecai House

Joel Lane built the original dwelling, a frame house in the hall and parlor plan, for his son Henry. The house is named for Moses Mordecai, who married into the Lane family and provided in his will for the 1826 Greek Revival addition, designed by…

Old Raleigh Post Office (Early Office Building)

This small frame building is a rare surviving example of Raleigh's antebellum Greek Revival commercial architecture. The beaded siding, heart-pine flooring, and early mantels remain intact. Moved several times, the Raleigh Historic Districts…

Peace College, Main Building

Peace Institute, chartered in 1857, was named for William Peace, who contributed eight acres and $10,000 toward the establishment of a Presbyterian school for girls. The Main Building is an impressive Greek Revival structure with Italianate accents.…

First Baptist Church

Designed by English architect William Percival, First Baptist Church is a variant of the Gothic Revival style. The church is a symmetrical brick structure stuccoed and scored to give the appearance of stone. The building features an entrance tower…

First Baptist Church, 1904

African American members of the N. Salisbury Street First Baptist Church requested separation in 1868 to form their own church. At diagonal corners of Union Square, the two Baptist churches represent two different phases of the Gothic Revival style.…

Tabernacle Baptist Church

The picturesque appearance of this late Gothic Revival church stems from the combination of three square towers and two gable-roof blocks -- the result of six remodelings between 1881 and 1909. Raleigh architect James Matthew Kennedy, who designed…

Chapel, St. Mary's School

Designed by English-born architect Richard Upjohn, this small board-and-batten Carpenter Gothic chapel graces the campus with its beauty and simplicity. The main gable contains a cartwheel rose window above an entrance hood supported by curved…

Christ Episcopal Church

English-born architect Richard Upjohn, founder of the American Institute of Architects, designed this granite church in the early English parish style of Gothic architecture. The church features a Latin-cross plan and a stone bell tower, completed…

Smedes Hall

Smedes Hall is a three-and one-half story Greek Revival brick building. Originally built for the boys' school and called Main Hall, Smedes was renamed in honor of the Reverend Aldert Smedes, first rector and president of Saint Mary's…

East And West Rocks

East Rock (1834) and West Rock (1835) were built of stone discarded during the construction of the second State Capitol. The twin buildings flank Smedes Hall, the school's main building; enclosed walkways connect the three buildings. Date: …

St. Mary's School

Saint Mary's School, Raleigh's oldest private educational institution for girls, was founded in 1842, following the failure of an Episcopal school for boys established on this site around 1834. Today's campus covers approximately 160…

Rogers-Bagley-Daniels-Pegues House

This two-story Greek Revival frame building has distinctive Italianate accents. The house was associated with a series of leading figures in local, state, and national history including congressman Sion H. Rogers, legislator William Henry Bagley,…

Oak View

Oak View, a late-antebellum family farm of nearly a thousand acres, includes a mid-nineteenth century I-house with Greek Revival details known as the Williams-Wyatt-Poole House. The original two-story pedimented portico with paneled columns and…

Henry Porter House

This frame house, built for prominent mid-nineteenth-century merchant Henry Porter, features a two-story pedimented porch and a low-pitched hip roof, typical features of Raleigh's surviving Greek Revival dwellings. Private residence. Date: …

Early Store Building (Heilig-Levine)

The three-story Heilig-Levine Furniture store remains one of the few intact nineteenth century commercial buildings surviving downtown. Built as a hotel, it displays the heavily bracketed cornice and tall arched windows of the Italianate style. Two…

Free Church of the Good Shepherd

This board and batten Carpenter Gothic-style church, designed by Reverend Johannes A. S. Oertel, was constructed in 1874 and augmented in 1899 and 1914. Its modest design reflects the congregation's beliefs (which broke away from Christ…

North Carolina School for the Blind and Deaf Dormitory

Architect Frank P. Milburn designed this Chateauesque building that stands on Caswell Square, one of the five public squares in the original 1792 plan for Raleigh. The dormitory comprises a hip-roofed main block with parapeted gable projections and…

Latta House & University Site

In 1892, freed slave and teacher Rev. M. L. Latta founded Latta University, a coeducational institution established to educate underprivileged and orphaned children in Raleigh's African American community. Located in historic Oberlin, the Latta…

Holladay Hall, NC State University

Holladay Hall has an irregular H-shape plan with a three-story main pavilion flanked by two-and-one-half-story gable-roofed wings. It employs both Classical and Romanesque details. Originally called Main Building but renamed for the college's…

Water Tower

The City of Raleigh erected this octagonal brick tower to house its water supply in 1887; the structure included an attached two-story office building. Prominent Raleigh architect William Henley Dietrick removed the defunct tank in 1938 and converted…

Federal Building (Century Post Office)

The office of Alfred B. Mullet, supervising architect of the United States Treasury Department, designed what was to be the first federal project in North Carolina following the Civil War. The building, which contains federal offices in addition to…

Estey Hall, Shaw University

Estey Hall was the first structure built for the higher education of African American women in the United States and is the oldest surviving building on the Shaw University campus. Designed by G. S. H. Appleget, the building has a cross-gabled roof…

Tucker Carriage House

This rare surviving carriage house, which escaped the 1968 demolition of the Tucker Mansion, has unusually detailed features for an outbuilding. The patterned shingle walls and multi-colored slate roof are typical of the Queen Anne style. The…

Norburn Terrace

Designed by architect A. G. Bauer, Norburn Terrace is an excellent example of Victorian-era residential design. Originally sited on a fifteen-acre tract carved from the Mordecai Plantation, Norburn Terrace boasted picturesque grounds with meandering…

Lee House

This two-story frame house features details and characteristics of the Neoclassical Revival style. Slender Ionic columns support the wrap-around porch; the pedimented front entry is particularly noteworthy. Private residence. Date: 1899

Capehart House

Lucy Catherine Moore Capehart, daughter of a prominent state legislator, had this imposing brick house with elaborate wood and stone ornamentation built on then-fashionable N. Wilmington Street. Designed by A. G. Bauer, it is one of the finest…

Executive Mansion, Burke Square

Located on one of the five public squares provided in Raleigh's initial city plan of 1792, the governor's home is an unusually symmetrical Queen Anne dwelling designed by architect Samuel Sloan of Philadelphia and his assistant Gustavus…

Hawkins-Hartness House

According to tradition, this house was built as a surprise by Dr. William J. Hawkins for his brother and sister-in-law, Dr. and Mrs. Alexander B. Hawkins. Mrs. Hawkins had the ninety-two-foot Eastlake verandah added to soften the brick facade. Mrs.…

Gray-Fish-Richardson House

This two-and-a-half-story frame dwelling is an excellent example of a middle-class home of the late nineteenth century, and it is one of the few houses on Blount Street that remains on its original site. Although it features the Eastlake and…

Higgs-Coble-Helms House

The overall style of the two-story, wood frame Higgs-Coble-Helms house is Italianate but it has the asymmetrical composition typical of Queen Anne dwellings. Its second-story windows are capped by pedimented surrounds supported by brackets that are…

Andrews-Duncan House

G. S. H. Appleget designed this symmetrical Italianate home for Confederate Captain Alexander B. Andrews. Although much different than the Heck-Andrews House in its overall effect, there are similarities in the window surrounds, finely ornamented…

Raleigh Little Theatre/Amphitheater/Rose Garden

The Raleigh Little Theatre, organized in 1936 as an outgrowth of the Works Progress Administration's Federal Theatre Project, stands at the edge of the best-planned, best-integrated, and best-preserved of Raleigh's park spaces. William…

Capital Club Building

Architect Frank B. Simpson designed this skyscraper for the Capital Club, one of the oldest prominent men's organizations in the South. The building juxtaposes Art Deco motifs with a classically derived building form, and the twelfth-floor…

Sir Walter Hotel

Once known as the "third house of state government" because so many legislators gathered there, the ten-story Neoclassical Revival building was long a center of Raleigh's social scene. The hotel was renovated as apartments for the…

Montague Building

The Montague Building, a combination of the Neoclassical Revival and the emerging Commercial styles, was the first large retail building in the Moore Square area. This building, along with the Mission-style City Market, helps define a lively center…

Agricultural Building of the Berry O'Kelly School

Berry O'Kelly School is in the Method community, a freedman’s village established by former slave Jesse Mason and his family. The Agriculture Building is the oldest of only two surviving buildings from the multi-building school complex founded…

Washington Graded And High School

This was the first public high school for African Americans in Raleigh and continued as the only such school until 1953. Many influential members of the Raleigh African American community were Washington High School graduates. The building is an…

Agriculture Building

Designed by the Raleigh architects G. Murray Nelson and Thomas W. Cooper, this Neoclassical Revival building imparts a feeling of governmental strength with its Ionic colonnade on raised, striated basement. Both the south and east sides serve as…

Murphey School

Designed by architect James M. Kennedy, this three-story classically inspired brick building is the oldest standing public school building in Raleigh and one of the few remaining examples of this academic style. Murphey School played a significant…

St. Paul A.M.E. Church

The church building is an example of high Victorian Gothic Revival architecture with its abundance of ornamental and visual complexity. Founding members withdrew from Edenton Street Methodist Church in 1849 to establish the first separate African…

St. Agnes Hospital, St. Augustine's College

Fire severely damaged the original 1895 building, which housed a nurse training center. Under the direction of Rev. Henry Beard Delany, the first African American Episcopal bishop in North Carolina, students quarried the stone and started the current…

Old Masonic Temple Building

Charles McMillan designed the Masonic Temple building, Raleigh's oldest surviving steel-reinforced concrete structure, in the Sullivanesque-style. In addition to its design and construction, the building is significant as a major landmark in the…

Eliza Battle Pittman Auditorium, St. Mary's School

Resembling a Lorraine cross to maximize the interior space, the Neoclassical Revival auditorium is ornamented with classical motifs, rusticated piers, cast-iron Corinthian columns, and heavy window cornices that add interest and animation to the…

First Presbyterian Church

Located at the southwest corner of the Capitol facing Union Square, the church addresses its corner site with an angled entry and tower. The irregularly shaped red-brick building exhibits characteristics of the Romanesque Revival style with its…

Borden Building

This two-story red-brick building was the first of several erected in the Methodist Orphanage complex. Designed by architect Charles Pearson, it is a hybrid of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles and imparts a feeling of domesticity not usually…

Grosvenor Gardens Apartments

Owner-developer Sidney J. Wollman built this three-story brick Georgian Revival gable-roofed apartment complex. The building features three- and five-bay symmetric blocks with two-story openings filled with glass block that naturally illuminate the…

Bailey-Bunn House

This two-story brick house was built in the Georgian Revival style in the side yard of the Hawkins-Hartness House for Mrs. Hawkins's niece, Martha Hawkins Bailey. It is state headquarters for the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Date: 1922

Josephus Daniels House (Wakestone)

Wakestone was the home of Josephus Daniels, editor of the Raleigh News & Observer (1894-1933); Secretary of the Navy (1913-21) under President Woodrow Wilson; and Ambassador to Mexico (1933-41) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The house was…

Andrews-London House

The Andrews-London House is a fine example of the Georgian Revival style. Designed by James A. Salter, this two-and-one-half story brick house features extensive wainscot paneling as well as round-arched and pedimented molding at interior doorways.…

Dr. Hubert Benbury Haywood House

Located on the southeast corner of Pace and Blount streets, this house embodies the distinctive early twentieth-century Prairie style of architecture developed by Frank Lloyd Wright and characterized by horizontal lines, minimal detailing,…

Dr. Z.M. Caveness House

Designed by architect Harry P. S. Keller, the Dr. Z. M. Caveness House is a well-preserved brick foursquare distinguished by the low forms, strong horizontal lines, earthy materials, and overall sense of simplicity of the Prairie style of…

Garland Scott and Toler Moore Tucker House

The Garland Scott and Toler Moore Tucker House is an excellent, intact example of the Southern Colonial Revival style. With classical detailing and full-height porticos, the style conjures the idea of grand antebellum houses. Garland Tucker and his…

Montgomery House

Judge Walter A. Montgomery, a state supreme court justice, built this two-story frame house with classical detailing in the 100 block of E. Edenton Street. After its 1982 move to this New Bern Place location, renovations readied the house for use as…

Andrew Goodwin House

Dr. Andrew Watson Goodwin ran medical clinics, taught at Shaw University's Leonard Medical School, and served as chief physician at Saint Agnes Hospital. His grand, Neoclassical dwelling is significant as a vestige of what Hillsborough Street…

Marshall-Harris-Richardson House

Built by local businessman Joel K. Marshall, this house is among the most intact examples of the elaborately ornamental Queen Anne dwellings that reflect the Victorian era in Raleigh. The interior features excellent examples of early Colonial Revival…

John T. and Mary Turner House

The Turner House is an intact Neoclassical I-house in the African American community of Oberlin. The house was expanded by John T. Turner, Oberlin's major landowner, around 1900 from a three-room one-story house. While the I-house type is more…

Merrimon-Wynne House

The ca. 1875 Merrimon-Wynne House is a lovely example of both the Italianate architectural style and the Eastlake mode of decoration. Elongated windows, upright proportions, and modillions under the broad eave are all hallmarks of the style, popular…

Leonard Medical Hospital

Leonard Medical Hospital was erected in 1912 to support the neighboring Leonard Medical School in the education of black physicians at Shaw University. The hospital initially opened in an 1885 frame building behind the medical school. It provided…