Help Save the Hall and Graves Houses in Raleigh’s Historic Oberlin Village

Preservation North Carolina is working to acquire, relocate, and renovate the Rev. Plummer T. Hall House and the Willis M. Graves House, two of Raleigh’s most important African-American landmarks surviving from the freedman’s community of Oberlin, and use the two structures as its Headquarters Office. Both the houses are individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places and are Raleigh landmarks. Built in the 1880s, they vividly tell remarkable post-Civil War stories where former slaves optimistically embraced the importance of hard work and education as the means to provide a better life for themselves and their children. They and their descendants overcame relentless obstacles with remarkable achievements.

The preservation of these two houses will have significant and inspirational educational value as these stories are told and new information uncovered. Further, these houses help tell the story of Oberlin Village, which ran about twelve blocks from Hillsborough Street to what is now Wade Avenue. By 1880, it had about 750 residents and for decades was a thriving community with churches, schools, businesses and homes. When Cameron Village Shopping Center was built in the early 1950s and Oberlin Road became a major thoroughfare, the modest remnants of Oberlin village disappeared block-by-block, house-by-house. The Hall and Graves Houses are two of only five remaining landmarks in Oberlin and are stranded amidst new development.

The Hall House must be moved back on its lot because it encroaches on the public right-of-way, and the Graves House must be moved because its land has been purchased for development. PNC will site the two houses side by side on a 104’ wide lot adjacent to Oberlin Baptist Church. PNC will likely place its offices in the Graves House (the larger of the two) and utilize the Hall House as a more public space for social gatherings and business meetings, filling its walls with historic photographs and panels that tell the stories of Oberlin, the Halls and the Graves, and PNC’s own statewide preservation work. We will seek opportunities to do educational programs at the neighboring churches and draw added visitors to see these two important landmarks. The preservation of these houses will also support grassroots efforts to save other remnants of Oberlin, including historic Oberlin Cemetery.

The project will cost about $1.25 million. To date we have received more than $615,000 in commitments for this project, including a $500,000 challenge grant from an anonymous donor. Your support is needed to help us save what’s left of this important community. But for PNC and the generous donations that make our work possible, these houses – and the stories of the amazing people who lived in them – would be lost.

Having PNC’s Headquarters Office in two of the most important landmarks remaining in Oberlin will underscore our commitment to PNC’s mission of saving landmarks important to the diverse people of NC. Please click here to make a donation today that will be matched dollar-for-dollar by our challenge grant.

Please call Shannon Phillips at 919-832-3652 ext. 229 if you would like to discuss other donation options such as gifts of stock or pledge payments.

Click here for more details about the project.