Town of Wake Forest to Receive Historic Preservation Grant from Preservation NC

The Town of Wake Forest will receive the Stedman Incentive Grant from Preservation North Carolina on Sept. 18 during its statewide conference in Salisbury. The grant will be used to assist with the stabilization of the 1870s Ailey Young House, a rare example of Reconstruction-era worker’s housing, and the oldest African American house in Wake Forest and northern Wake County.

The Stedman Incentive Grant is awarded to recognize and assist non-profit organizations in their efforts to preserve the state’s architectural heritage. Originating in 1976, the $ 10,000 award is funded each year by the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation of Greensboro in memory of Mrs. Covington’s father. The grant encourages and facilitates the rescue of endangered historically and architecturally significant properties in North Carolina. Only one Stedman Grant is awarded annually.

The Ailey Young House, built as a duplex, is a one and one-half story board-and-batten, saddle-bag form on high stone piers. In 1895, the entire house was sold to Ailey Young, an African American woman.

Census records report the Young family in the house in 1880. Ailey and Henry Young’s oldest son, Allen, believed to have been born in the house in 1875, grew up to be one of the most significant historical figures in Wake Forest. In 1905, he began the first school for African American children in Wake Forest.

The school became the Wake Forest Normal and Industrial Institute and its largest enrollment was over 300 students.

The house, purchased by the Town of Wake Forest in the 1980s for cemetery expansion, was completely overgrown, damaged by fire, and largely forgotten when it was “rediscovered” in 2008 during research for a historic resource survey conducted by architectural historian Ruth Little. The Town of Wake Forest and the Wake Forest Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) recognized the significance of the Ailey Young House and worked to “mothball” the structure to prevent further damage. The house was designated a local historic landmark in June 2012 and in August of 2014, the HPC adopted a preservation plan for the house to rehabilitate it in phases. Once the house is stabilized, the National Register nomination will be completed and additional donations and funds will be sought for the full rehabilitation and interpretation of the house, the architecture, and the Young family legacy.

As one town employee said, “there’s a reason that house is still here.” After being abandoned, burned, overgrown and largely forgotten, the Ailey Young House has been rediscovered to tell the story of African American life during Reconstruction and the birth of African American education in Wake Forest.

The 2015 awards luncheon will honor five recipients of Honor Awards from across the state on Sept. 18 in Salisbury: R. Mike Leonard of Bethania, Ruth Coltrane Cannon Award; Loray Mill Redevelopment, LLC of Gastonia, L. Vincent Lowe, Jr. Business Award; Weymouth Center in Southern Pines, Minnette C. Duffy Landscape Preservation Award; The Town of Wake Forest, Stedman Incentive Grant; and Heather Fearnbach of Winston-Salem, Robert E. Stipe Professional Award. Tickets for the luncheon and other conference activities may be purchased in advance via Preservation NC’s website at

For more information, contact Senior Planner Michelle Michael at 919-435-9516 or [email protected].


About Preservation North Carolina 
Preservation North Carolina, founded in 1939, promotes and protects the buildings and landscapes of our state’s diverse heritage. Through its award-winning Endangered Properties Program, Preservation NC acquires endangered historic properties and then finds purchasers willing and able to rehabilitate them. It has saved more than 700 endangered historic properties, generating an estimated $ 350 million in private investment. Many of the saved properties have truly been community landmarks. Buyers have put these properties into a multitude of new uses, adding millions of dollars to local tax rolls and creating numerous jobs. More than 4,000 acres of open space have been placed under Preservation NC’s protective covenants, perpetually restricting their development. Preservation NC is supported by a membership of more than 4,000. Join today and help Preservation NC continue its groundbreaking work. Contact us at 919-832-3652 or


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