Wake Forest Historical Museum

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How the Garden Club Made History

Annie Gill Harris led the fight to save the Calvin Jones House.

Annie Gill Harris led the fight to save the Calvin Jones House.

In June 1956, one month after Wake Forest College moved to Winston-Salem, a group of eleven women from the Wake Forest Garden Club decided to save the Calvin Jones House from a planned demolition.

Led by Annie Gill Harris, their petition said, in part:

“We, the undersigned chairman and committee appointed by the Wake Forest Garden Club to promote an interest toward restoring the oldest house in Wake Forest, make this appeal to all who can and will help to make this project a permanent success…. If the first administration building of Wake Forest College can be saved, we feel that it should be saved in a permanent and beautiful way, giving it all the prestige of antiquity in furniture and surroundings that would be true to the period of early days and it would require financial support.”

First known as the Calvin Jones Memorial Society, Inc., the Garden Club’s new nonprofit made plans to purchase the house, move it off campus, complete a full restoration, and open it to the public as a museum. In direct response to their efforts, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary gave the house to the Society, and Wake Forest College donated the lot on N. Main Street.

In 1959, the nonprofit changed its name to the Wake Forest College Birthplace Society, Inc.

Garden Club leaders Kathleen Mackie Lake, Ruth Snyder, Pauline Binkley and Carolyn Holding continued to blaze the trail—holding a July 1963 “Rock Party” to prepare the new lot for mowing, organizing the first membership drive in 1975, and collecting artifacts connected to the college.

 

Gathering Rocks at the House

 

Ever since, the Wake Forest Garden Club has continued to uphold its original promise to support our local history.

Today, the museum is honored to count the club and its members among our strongest, most valued supporters.

About wakeforestmuseum

This is the Old Well that stands beside the two-story Greek-Revival house in northern Wake County that was purchased by Calvin Jones in 1820 along with 600 acres of land. It is the oldest historic structure in the Town of Wake Forest. Initially used concurrently as a residence, doctor’s office, and post office, the property was sold in 1832 to the North Carolina Baptist Convention, which was seeking a suitable location to educate young ministers. What is now Wake Forest University opened here in 1834 and, under the guidance of first President Samuel Wait, began to develop a flourishing student body, advanced curriculum, and new brick campus. Today the Calvin Jones House is part of a four acre complex that includes gardens, pathways, and a state of the art museum. The house is furnished to reflect the period of its various residents, and the museum’s extensive displays depict the history of college and town.

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