Hillsborough St. Timeline of History



The beginning of Hillsborough Street


1792 Raleigh Map
1792 William Christmas, Raleigh Plan - Image courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina.

In 1792 William Christmas drew the plan for Raleigh. Using a total of 400 acres, Christmas designated the axial center of the city as Union Square. It was composed of six acres and intended as the site of the future State House. Flanking the corners of the center square was to be four four-acre squares or parks reserved for public purposes. These were named Caswell, Nash, Burke, for the state's first governors and Moore, in honor of Attorney General Alfred E. Moore. The four main streets were named Halifax, Newbern, Fayetteville, and Hillsborough, judicial districts toward the north, east, south, and west. These streets ran from the four sides of Union Square and were to be 99 feet wide; the other 17 streets were to be 66 feet wide and were named for the remaining judicial districts, the points of the compass, the commissioners themselves, and several other prominent citizens, including the former owner of the land. The remaining 276 acres were marked off in one-acre lots to be sold at public auction, with the proceeds used to build the capital and other public buildings. 



1872 Raleigh map
Birds Eye View of the City of Raleigh, North Carolina, 1872, Photo courtesy of Library of Congres.

Sometime in 1800 the name of the street was changed to Hillsboro Street. 



1800 Raleigh Map
St. Mary’s founded in 1842

St Mary’s School was founded by Reverend Albert Smedes as a school for young ladies in 1842. The school has operated continuously on the same site on Hillsborough Street since its origination. Three of the present school buildings―East Rock, West Rock, and Smedes Hall―formed the original campus. East Rock and West Rock, the first two buildings, were constructed with remnant stones from the construction of the North Carolina state capitol.

The historic core of the school's 23-acre campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and The Saint Mary’s Chapel, designed by Richard Upjohn, is a National Historic Site, and five of the school’s 25 buildings are Raleigh Historic Properties.



North Carolina Fairgrounds In 1920s
North Carolina Fairgrounds in 1920, Image courtesy of the NCSU Libraries Rare & Unique Digital Collections

The State Fair moved to Hillsborough Street on 55 acres across the street from what is now NC State Campus. The fairgrounds included exhibit halls, a racetrack with a three-story grandstand, two hundred stalls for horses and cattle, and seventy-five pens for sheep and swine. The site remained the fair’s home until 1925, when, after a two-year break, the fair moved to its present location approximately two miles to the west.  More Details


Exposition of 1884 Image
1884 Exposition, Image courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina

The Exposition of 1884; The Exposition was held in Raleigh and this dining hall sat on Hillsborough Street. The exposition was held in October 1884 on the 55-acre tract on the site of the North Carolina State Fair from 1873 to 1925. The date of the North Carolina Exposition was selected to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the first of the Roanoke voyages. The exposition operated from 1 Oct. to 1 Nov. 1884, with the traditional North Carolina State Fair. On display were the finest products of the state's forests, farms, mines, and factories. Many North Carolinians gained their first introduction to electric lights at the exposition. It all constituted one of the most impressive displays in North Carolina history. The exposition was said to have boosted commerce and had inspired numerous North Carolinians, who returned to their communities with new enthusiasm for industrial development.



Tomkins Hall image
Tomkins Hall in 1911, Image courtesy of NCSU Libraries Rare & Unique Digital Collections

NC State Founded in 1887 as an agriculture and mechanics school. The school was built on land donated by Richard Stanhope Pullen. The college was known as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Classes started in 1889 with 72 students, six faculty members, and one building.


Hillsborough St. streetcar image
Hillsborough St. streetcar ca-1928, Image courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina

Trolley tracks are run west along Hillsborough Street out of downtown. The trolley continued to service the street through the 1930s.  History of North Carolina streetcars


NC State Memorial Bell Tower image
NC State Memorial Bell Tower, Image courtesy of the City of Raleigh

In 1921 work commenced on the NC State Memorial Bell Tower, but due to the Great Depression and World War II, the tower was not finished until 1949. Bell Tower


D.H. Hill Library image
D. H. Hill Library, North Carolina State College, 1926.

D.H. Hill Library Constructed. The original D.H. Hill Library in what is now Brooks Hall was built by Hobart Brown Upjohn and named for Daniel Harvey Hill, Professor of English when NC State first opened.


Wilmont Apartments image
Wilmont Apartments

Wilmont Apartments Constructed


Man-Mur building image
Man-Mur building, 1940, Image courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina

Hillsborough Street’s first commercial building is built The ManMur Bowling Center. The Name ManMur is said to be derived from the idea that this geographic location is half way between, the eastern and western extremities of North Carolina, Manteo, and Murphy North Carolina.


Image, Varsity Theater
Varsity Theater, Image courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina

Varsity Theater opens on Hillsborough Street


Hillsborough Street serves as US 64 (before shifting to Western Blvd and the beltline)


Players Retreat image
Players Retreat, image courtesy of the City of Raleigh.

Players Retreat opens


Dorton Arena image
Dorton Arena, Circa 1952, image courtesy of the NCSU Libraries Rare & Unique Digital Collections

The internationally acclaimed Dorton Arena is Completed


The  east wing of the New D.H. Hill Library Opens


The Student Union opens, now the D.H. Hill Library west wing


The ManMur Bowling Center fire, causing the Man Mur Shoe Shop and barber Shop to move to their current location.


In the mid-1960s, due to the work of a postmistress and the Town of Hillsborough’s Historic Society, the name of the street was changed back to Hillsborough Street. 


Western Lanes was built replacing the ManMur Bowling Center, the building was later renamed “The Alley.”


Velvet Cloak Inn opens on Hillsborough Street. Raleigh’s first hotel to open “outside” the downtown area, complete with a first-rate restaurant, an elegant lobby, well-appointed rooms with color TVs, gated parking, a glass atrium-enclosed heated swimming pool and a basement nightclub.


Hillsborough Street was the site of North Carolina's largest anti-Vietnam War marches, with 10,000 people, including UNC and Duke students.


The north tower of the D.H. Hill Library was built.


Sadlack’s Heroes opens for business


Mitch’s Tavern opens for business


Digitz opens for business


NC State wins 2nd national basketball championship over the heavily favored Houston Cougars.


The City of Raleigh develops a Community Plan for University Village, on Hillsborough Street. This document was established in 1985 but never took hold.


Gumby’s Pizza opens


The south tower of the D.H. Hill Library is built.


Cup A Joe and East Village Grill Open


College Beverage opens


Hillsborough St construction image
Construction along Hillsborough Street during Phase I, Photo Courtesy of the City of Raleigh

Construction starts on the Hillsborough Street Renwal Project, Phase I


Hillsborough St. image
Hillsborough Street, Phase I, Photo Courtesy of the City of Raleigh

The Hillsborough Street Renewal Project, Phase II is identified as number one streetscape priority


Hillsborough St. image
Hillsborough Street, Phase I, Photo Courtesy of the City of Raleigh

The Raleigh City Council approves the Hillsborough Street renewal Project, Phase II design contract


The Raleigh City Council approves the Hillsborough Street Renewal Project, Phase II plans


The Stanhope Center and Aloft Hotel Open

June 2016

Hillsborough St image
Hillsborough Street, Phase I, Photo Courtesy of the City of Raleigh

The Hillsborough Street Renewal Project, Phase II construction begins