Search results for raleigh

Homegrown Raleigh Powerhouse, CP&L

A CP&L steam plant on Jones Street in Raleigh, circa 1925.
Image from the State Archives.

On July 13, 1908, the Carolina Power & Light Company (CP&L) was chartered.

The corporation, with a customer base primarily in Raleigh, was the result of a merger of the Raleigh Electric Company, the Central Carolina Power Company and the Consumer Light and Power Company. Within a few years, CP&L owned or controlled local power companies in Oxford, Henderson, Asheville and Goldsboro.

The interior of the Blewett Falls Hydroelectric Plant, circa 1920-1930. Image from the N.C. Museum of History

The interior of the Blewett Falls Hydroelectric Plant, circa 1920-1930. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

In the early part of the 20th century, electric streetcar systems operated by companies that would become part of CP&L were an integral part of the utility’s business and played an important role in the development of suburban neighborhoods in Asheville and Raleigh. After World War I, the company benefited from the demand created by the proliferation of electrical appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and stoves that were once were considered luxury items.

To generate power for electricity, CP&L used coal, oil and water until the 1960s, when the company built its first nuclear power plant in South Carolina. The company constructed costly nuclear plants in Brunswick and Wake counties before scaling back its production of nuclear energy.

In 2000, CP&L merged with Florida Progress Corporation form Progress Energy, and Progress in turn merged with Charlotte-based Duke Energy in 2012.

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Episcopal Bishop of Alaska Installed in Raleigh, 1948

On May 18, 1948, William J. Gordon Jr. was consecrated Episcopal bishop of Alaska. At the time, he was youngest priest in the United States ever elevated to such a post. The ceremony at the Church of the Good Shepherd was only the third consecration to take place in Raleigh.

Since 1943, the native of Rockingham County had served as a missionary in Point Hope, Alaska. In 1949 Gordon earned his pilot’s license and became known as the “Flying Bishop of Alaska.” Before he got a plane, Gordon had traveled about 6,000 miles by dogsled to minister to the Arctic Coast villages. His journey to visit all of the churches in his diocese was 3,500 miles long and took 3 months to complete by boat. Once he began flying to visit his churches he logged over a million miles in the small plane purchased for him with monies raised by the women of the Episcopal Church.

The Bishop was a strong believer in rights of Alaskan native people and fought for the development of native clergy. He is buried in Point Hope, Alaska, where he first ministered, in a grave marked with whale jawbones, a high honor in the Arctic.

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Raleigh Broadcaster Tangled with Former First Lady

On May 15, 1950, W. E. Debnam published Weep No More, My Lady, his response to former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s newspaper column earlier that year.

In her nationally-distributed “This Day” column, Mrs. Roosevelt, the liberal stalwart and defender of her husband’s legacy, wrote of her recent visit to North Carolina that she was “not so sure that there are not signs of poverty and unhappiness that will gradually have to disappear if that part of the nation is going to prosper.”

Debnam, a Raleigh native, had spent a lifetime in journalism, including several years at the Standard-Laconic, his family’s weekly in Snow Hill.  During World War II, he covered the war in the Pacific for Raleigh radio station WPTF, tagging each broadcast with “This is Debnam.”

Eleanor Roosevelt eats in Chapel Hill during her February 1950 visit to North Carolina. Image from the North Carolina Collection

After the war he stepped into his news commentary role. First on the radio and then in a widely-circulated 60-page softcover book, he took Mrs. Roosevelt to task. He attributed the South’s weak economy to Sherman’s destructive campaign during the Civil War and to the “tragic era” of Reconstruction. Race relations, Debnam contended, were better in the South than in northern cities.

Debnam’s book reached a ready audience, selling a half-million copies at 50 cents each.

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Ironclad Raleigh Ran the Cape Fear River Blockade

Capt. William F. Lynch. Image from
the U.S. Navy

On May 5, 1864, Flag Officer William F. Lynch decided to take the war to the enemy using the recently completed Richmond-class ironclad CSS Raleigh.

Built at J.L. Cassidey and Sons shipyard on Eagle’s Island in the Cape Fear River opposite Wilmington, the Raleigh measured 172 feet long. It was protected by two layers of 2-inch iron plate and armed with two 6.4-inch Brooke rifles and two 7-inch Brooke rifles.

After being commissioned on April 3, the ironclad was placed under the command of Lt. Pembroke Jones. After Lynch gave his orders on his on May 5, the Raleigh steamed out into the Atlantic and made contact with several Union vessels.

The ensuing engagement was shrouded in darkness and marked by confusion. The Raleigh made contact with several Union vessels, but because of its slow speed, it was unable to mount a serious attack. Flares and gunfire alerted the rest of the blockading squadron, but most commanders, unaware of the ironclad’s presence, assumed a blockade-runner had been cornered.

For the rest of the night, the Raleigh steamed blindly through the blockading squadron, unnoticed by the Federals. It returned to the Cape Fear River the next day, but ran aground shortly thereafter and was lost.

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Prelude to Attica: Prison Riot in Raleigh, 1968

Gov. Bob Scott visits Central Prison. Image from the State Archives.

Gov. Bob Scott visits Central Prison. Image from the State Archives.

On April 17, 1968, inmates at Central Prison in Raleigh began a riot.

The riot started as a peaceful protest, with roughly 500 inmates “sitting-in” in an attempt to get prison officials to listen to their grievances. They were upset about restricted visiting hours and poor living conditions in the aging facility.

When the prisoners were ordered to return to their cells, a violent riot began in an open yard. Inmates threw torches which started fires that damaged several buildings. Prisoners with homemade weapons attacked the staff. Riot-control officers were called in and ordered to open fire. Guards fired down from the walls. Six inmates were killed and more 75 people, including two state troopers and two corrections officers, were injured.

Today, Central Prison still houses male prisoners with sentences over 20 years. Major renovations in the 1980s included the destruction of the original castle-like building. The prison also now provides inmates with a mental health facility, therapy sessions, worship groups and educational opportunities.

The facility has not had another inmate riot since 1968.

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SNCC’s Raleigh Roots

A 1963 brochure for SNCC

On April 15, 1960, about 150 student leaders from 10 states met at Shaw University in Raleigh for the “Southwide Leadership Conference on Nonviolent Resistance to Segregation.” The meeting took place just two months after the Woolworth sit-ins in Greensboro had launched the protest effort.

The session was designed to consolidate isolated sit-in efforts and map strategy. It was organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference whose executive director, Ella Baker, was a Shaw graduate. The conference created the “Temporary Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee” headquartered in Atlanta.

The weekend’s keynote speaker, the Reverend James Lawson of Nashville, criticized established older groups such as the NAACP for moving too slowly and acting too conservatively. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a large group in Memorial Auditorium, urging students to adopt the nonviolent philosophy of Ghandi and face jail time for peaceful protest if necessary.

SNCC members were the “shock troops” and frontline leaders in the civil rights movement, especially in Mississippi in the summer of 1964. John Hope Franklin called them “probably the most courageous and the most selfless” of the civil rights workers.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Joel Lane, Key to Raleigh’s Establishment

The Joel Lane House in Raleigh

On March 29, 1795, Patriot, planter and prominent Raleigh resident Joel Lane died.

Born in Halifax sometime in the early 1740s, Lane is believed to have been a descendant of early settlers of Jamestown. After serving as justice of the peace and sheriff in Halifax County, Lane acquired several thousand acres of land in what is now Wake County and moved there sometime in the late 1760s.

After arriving in what is now Raleigh, Lane quickly established himself as one of the area’s leading citizens. He represented the area in the General Assembly in 1770 and 1771, introducing the bill that established Wake County as separate from Johnston County. He helped select the sites for the new county’s courthouse and prison, and it is believed that the first Wake County court session was held in his home in 1771.

Lane went on to serve more terms in the General Assembly, hold various local offices, fight under Gov. William Tryon in the War of Regulation and represent the Wake area at two constitutional conventions, but he is now perhaps best known for selling the land on which Raleigh would be built to the state in 1792.

His home is now operated as a museum.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Buckminster Fuller Developed Geodesic Dome Design at Black Mountain, Raleigh

Buckminster Fuller (far left) with colleagues at Black Mountain College.
Image from the State Archives

On February 23, 1983, Buckminster Fuller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, for his contributions as a geometrician, educator and architect-designer.

“Bucky” Fuller’s application of synergetic geometry to geodesic structures took root at Black Mountain College in Buncombe County. During the 1949 summer session at Black Mountain, Fuller erected, with his students and colleagues, the prototype “Autonomous Dwelling Facility with a Geodesic Structure.”

A geodesic dome at Black Mountain College.
Image from the State Archives

As a guest lecturer at the North Carolina State University School of Architecture from 1949 to1955, Fuller worked with his students to design uses of the geodesic dome for a cotton mill, military installations and the Ford Motor Company. He patented the structure in 1954. Fuller received an honorary Doctor of Design degree from N.C. State in 1954. After leaving academia, Fuller served as president of the Raleigh architecture firm Synergetics from 1955 to 1959, where colleagues and students created sustainable commercial domes.

The Buckminster Fuller Institute has now identified more than 300,000 geodesic domes around the world, ranging from shelters to radar stations to playground structures.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Raleigh Register, North Carolina’s First Daily Paper

A Lincolnton newspaper from the period. Image from the Gaston County Public Library.

A Lincolnton newspaper from the period. Image from the Gaston County Public Library.

On November 19, 1850, the Raleigh Register became North Carolina’s first newspaper to be published daily. The Register traces its roots to 1799 when it was founded by English immigrant Joseph Gales, who had already successfully published several newspapers in England. Gales ran the paper until his retirement in 1833.  Under his leadership it was one of the major publications in the state and was widely regarded as the leading political voice for the Republican Party.

Gales started publishing the paper semiweekly only when the General Assembly was in session, but eventually settled upon weekly publication. He brought his son, Weston, in as a partner, and Weston would eventually go on to be the paper’s publisher.

It became a daily under Seaton Gales, grandson of the founder, who enlarged the paper’s operation and added a telegraph service. His efforts, though, soon proved unsuccessful and by January 1851, the Register had stopped publishing each day. Gales tried to revive paper by retrofitting its offices with the latest technology, but it was sold at public auction by 1856.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Cameron Village Trend-Setter for Raleigh and the South

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Pulling up to the Wachovia Bank drive-through at Cameron Village in 1950. Image from the State Archives

On November 17, 1949, Cameron Village—one of the first shopping centers in the Southeast—opened in Raleigh. The shopping center was part of a larger, 158-acre planned development that also included single-family homes and several apartment buildings.

Some of the first shops to open in Cameron Village were Colonial Stores, the Village Restaurant, Roses 5-10-25¢ and PHR Cradle Shops. More than 65 stores—including a dry cleaner, shoe repair shop, butcher, beauty shop, two barber shops and a movie theater— and 112 professional offices were open at the complex within two years.

Cameron Village was enormously popular during the 1950s and 1960s, luring business away from downtown Raleigh, but it faced increasing competition from larger malls like Crabtree Valley in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the 1970s, “The Underground,” a below-ground area with popular restaurants and nightclubs was completed, though it was short-lived with most establishments there closing during the 1980s.

The complex underwent major renovations in the 1990s and 2000s, and remains a popular Raleigh shopping destination to this day.

Click here to see more images of the Cameron Village Underground from the State Archives.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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