The Town of Wake Forest will receive the Stedman Incentive Grant from Preservation North Carolina 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 $10,000 award will be presented on September 18 during Preservation North Carolina’s statewide conference in Salisbury.
The Ailey Young House, built as a duplex, is a 1.5-story board-and-batten, saddle-bag form on high stone piers.
Census records report the Young family in the house in 1880. In 1895, the house was sold to Ailey Young, an African American woman. 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 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 money 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.
Only one Stedman Incentive Grant is awarded annually to recognize and assist nonprofit organizations in their efforts to preserve the state’s architectural heritage. Originating in 1976, the grant 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.
The 2015 awards luncheon will honor four other recipients from across the state with awards of recognition: 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; and Heather Fearnbach of Winston-Salem, Robert E. Stipe Professional Award.