For the Tenant House Relocation & Rehabilitation at Historic Oak View County Park
Historic Oak View County Park is one of two historic parks in the Wake County park system. The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes five historic structures original to the property, including the c. 1855 farmhouse, c.1825 kitchen, c. 1900 livestock barn, c. 1900 cotton gin house with an eighth-acre cultivated cotton field, c. 1900 carriage house, and the family cemetery and Pecan Grove. The site is an excellent example of a nineteenth-century middle class farm in Wake County.
Oak View opened to the public in 1995 with a mission to preserve and explore North Carolina’s rural and agricultural history. In addition to self-guided exhibits that interpret the extant structures on the property, Park staff provides guided tours, elementary school field trips, and special events to interpret the agricultural history of Wake County and of North Carolina. Recent research has yielded information about enslaved African Americans and later tenant laborers who created a community of their own alongside the middle class landowners. Though tenancy was widespread on farms across the county, tenant houses were rarely preserved. As many as six tenant houses once existed at Oak View but all original tenant structures had been removed from the site by the 1980s. Due to the absence of tenant houses in the existing landscape, visitors missed the full panorama of Oak View’s history.
In 2008, as part of the county’s Open Space Program, Wake County acquired the Dean Property on Eagle Rock Road in Wendell, NC. While at one time, the property included a house, several outbuildings, and a number of tenant houses, at the time of the sale, only one of the original structures remained on the site – a small house strikingly similar to Oak View’s lost tenant houses. Originally slated for demolition, the house has been preserved thanks to the efforts of Wake County Park staff. In September 2012, the structure was moved to its new permanent location, occupying the original location of an Oak View tenant house.
Once the building had been stabilized, fundraising efforts began in earnest for its restoration. In the fall of 2012, Historic Oak View received a $20,000 challenge grant to assist with restoration costs from the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation; and, matching funds were raised over the following year. The tenant house restoration project was endorsed by Capital Area Preservation, Inc. and Preservation North Carolina, and private donors and organizations contributed significant financial support.
The restoration was based on historic photographs in the Historic Oak View collection and included rebuilding the chimney, siding, windows and doors, installing flooring, and reconstructing the front porch. Additional improvements included brick walkways, proper site drainage and fencing. The restoration was completed late in 2016, and the building opened to the public in January 2017. Expected to open later this year, a permanent exhibit is currently under development interpreting the history of Oak View tenant farming in the broader context of North Carolina’s history. The Oak View Tenant House will be one of only a handful in the US that are interpreted to the public; and, will help to place the history of tenancy into the broader story of North Carolina’s agricultural past.
The Board of Directors of Capital Area Preservation, Inc. is pleased to present a 2017 Anthemion Award to Wake County Government; Blake Moving & Rigging, LLC; Clearscapes, PA; Carothers Contracting Co.; John Kent Construction, LLC; Old North State Building Services, Inc. for the Tenant House Relocation & Rehabilitation at Historic Oak View County Park.