The Fourth Ward
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Fourth Ward of Raleigh was a thriving African American community of more then 600 homes between Fayetteville Street and Boylan Heights. A product of Jim Crow laws forbidding African Americans from living in the surrounding areas, this was one of the few places where the dream of home ownership could be realized by Raleigh’s non-white citizens. The area included its own hospital, school, and a trolley that ran down a shop lined South Street. It fostered a unique culture which generated a number of nationally recognized African American educators, doctors, and lawyers. Unfortunately, the area fell victim to the urban renewal policies of the 1970’s and most of the homes where destroyed.
In 1914, a local shop owner named Aleck Rosengarten purchased the land at the end of W. Cabarrus Street and donated an easement connecting what was to become Boylan Heights to downtown. He then subdivided the remaining property and a created a neighborhood at the crossroads. He built modest homes on small lots, close to the narrow streets. The original resident’s occupations included laborers, carpenters, porters, and barbers. This small area remains as the last intact neighborhood of Raleigh’s once vibrant Fourth Ward.
The Neighborhood Restoration Project
Developers, builders, and residents are working together to restore this entire historic neighborhood. A specialized home owners association has been placed over more then 20 lots and homes, with others joining the association in the near future. The covenants require the restoration of each home or the creation of new homes of historic design on vacant lots. Each exterior space has been carefully planned to allow for private courtyards and off street parking. To help with the transition, rentals are prohibited during the first year of ownership and many other protections have been put in place to maintain the area’s special character.