It was a cold, rainy day in Raleigh but it did not stop my little group of friends from heading to our much anticipated and long-awaited visit to the Historic Oakwood candlelight tour this past weekend.
Now, it seems like Christmas! Not to mention that any time I can manage to get into beautiful old homes that are decorated for the holidays, meet the owners and hear stories about their history...well, let's just say it is a really good day for me. Mix that with some good friends, breaks for hot tea and just being back in North Carolina, it it doesn't get any better than that.
In 1865, Oakwood was a campground for Sherman's Union troops. By the 1870s it was sold to developers and most of the houses were built in the North Carolina vernacular style out of heart of pine, tin roofs or wooden shingles. The dirt streets were lined with trees and most families kept livestock. By the 1890s it was a fashionable suburb. The streets were lit with gaslights and houses were built in the Queen Anne style with steep slate roofs, gables and towers, stained glass and a palate of paint colors.
As the years went on and various styles dominated, Oakwood fell into decline. The automobile had people heading to the suburbs and houses were converted into apartments and boarding houses. By 1972, it was considered of little value and the State considered demolishing it to make room for an expressway. I am happy that I did not see Oakwood then. It must have been very sad.
But this story has a happy ending. People began to appreciate Oakwood and cared enough about it to restore it to its former glory. They fought and won against the expressway. The old homes were restored one by one to their original charm. Today it is beautiful and a place that I love to visit. And dream about owning one of the inspiring homes. I could see myself living here.
Thankfully, the Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood was formed and in 1974 it was designated Raleigh's first National Register Historic District. It is a flourishing neighborhood with houses that are lovingly cared for. On this weekend, a dozen homes open for the annual candlelight tour. It is a gift to all of us to experience these beautiful historic homes decorated like Christmas presents. Filled with tons of great decorating ideas.
Thank you Oakwood. May you live for another hundred years.
Favorites from Oakwood Village homes...