Wake Forest Historical Museum

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How Wake Forest was “beautified” in 1933

It was spring of 1933 when the Wake Forest Garden Club decided to implore residents to fix the place up. The plan was a community-wide landscape project, and the goal was to impress motorists traveling on the newly completed U.S. Route 1.

This received newspaper coverage, suggesting it must have been a novel idea for the town of just 5,000 citizens.

According to contemporary reports, approximately 2,250 automobiles were passing through Wake Forest daily. Concerned about the town’s appearance, Garden Club members compiled a list of improvements and hired residents who’d lost their jobs in the Great Depression to do the work.

So what did a highway beautification project look like 85-years ago?

This is the complete list:

  1. Remove from right-of-way signs not authorized by property owners.
  2. Collect and destroy trash, junk, brush, tree laps and wood cut from right-of-way and have them removed.
  3. Get property owners to destroy abandoned buildings and unsightly objects.
  4. Plant trees such as Lombardy poplars for screening lots where automobiles and other such junk have been collected.
  5. Bring out native trees, including cedars, mimosas, sweetgums, sycamores, and plant in groups and occasionally in line following the highway.
  6. Property owners can cooperate by planting their premises from the above list, adding crepe myrtle, sugar maple, and tulip poplar.
  7. Property owners are invited to do some foundation planting around buildings near highway, including homes, filling stations, schools, churches, stores, and garages.
  8. Underpinning of building with brick or latticework is necessary as a background for planting.
  9. When needed widen and improve entrance driveways leading from the highway.
  10. Encourage the planing of banks and terraces with vines such as honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, ivy, roses, and Bermuda or turf.

(Published in the March 25, 1933 issue of the Old Gold & Black.)

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