Raleigh moves Carolina Pines hotel stone wall off Tryon Road


Workers began to move up the historic stone wall on Tryon Road in Raleigh.  The stone wall was built in front of the old Carolina Pines Hotel, which opened in 1933.

Workers began to move up the historic stone wall on Tryon Road in Raleigh. The stone wall was built in front of the old Carolina Pines Hotel, which opened in 1933.

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Workers hired by the city are building a stone wall along Tryon Road that is both new and almost 90 years old.

The three-foot-high wall was first erected in 1933 in front of the Carolina Pines Hotel, in the center of a resort town in what was then a remote area south of Raleigh. With a lake and swimming pool, tennis courts, horse stables and two golf courses, Carolina Pines aimed to be a Pinehurst for the middle class, with amenities to appeal to the wealthy but accessible to people of “ordinary means,” like The News & Observer says so on opening day.

The old hotel, which became a fraternity house in the late 1950s, is now a Raleigh landmark, which posed a problem for the city when it began planning for the widening of Tryon Road from two to four.

The building’s historic status includes the wall, so the city should avoid damaging it if possible, said Eric Lamb, the city’s transportation planning manager. That would have meant putting the new lanes across the road, where the Raleigh Golf Association operates two courses.

“It would have meant putting the road through the RGA clubhouse,” Lamb said. “And no one thought that was a defensible result, saving a wall and destroying a business.”

The city therefore arranged to move the wall from 275 feet to 60 feet from Tryon Road. As work on the road began last year, Custom Stone workers dismantled the wall piece by piece and returned them to the company’s yard in Durham.

Now the workers are back, picking up chunks of stone on pallets and putting them together with mortar. The wall is new, because putting every stone back exactly where it was isn’t really possible, said Tom Benner, founder of Custom Stone.

“To get it back in terms of style and shape and joint treatment and all of that, that’s really our goal,” Benner said. “To make it look alike and have the same basic appearance.”

The stone is a gray and rough granite. Benner says he sees stone like this on old Raleigh houses and he told her it came from a nearby quarry that closed long ago. He assumes that this is also where these stones come from.

The wall is basically two walls side by side, with mortar filling the space in the middle and between the stones, keeping it all together. The mortar is a mixture of Portland cement and sand, the same glueers used in 1933.

“It’s amazing how it held up,” said Benner. “It was not easy to demolish.”

The construction technique is essentially the same as in 1933. The workers keep an eye on the stones with sharp 90 degree angles to use on top, and they interlock the others so that there are no long ones. mortar joints that can crack over time.

“The strength is the lockdown, the overlap,” Benner said. “So we still want them to bridge the gap as best we can.”

Benner said it took around two weeks to dismantle the old wall and that it will take around a month to build the new one. The cost to the city is approximately $ 130,000.

From the resort hotel to the fraternity house

The Carolina Pines Resort and Hotel opened during the Great Depression and, despite its size and ambition, went bankrupt in less than a year. The hotel, a two-story colonial-style building set among the trees that gave the property its name, remained open under various owners in the 1950s.

He had closed by the time members of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity met him. The chapter at North Carolina State University was being reborn and needed a home, said Bob Kennel, who was chapter president at the time. So she bought the old hotel, even though it was several kilometers from campus.

“It was available,” Kennel said. “And there was no property available near the university.”

The fellowship retained the building and surrounding seven acres and requested that it be declared a Local Historic Landmark in 1999. The Wake County Historic Preservation Commission report in support of the designation made special mention of the stone wall and another made of the same granite near the front door of the building.

“These stone walls are both original to the hotel and for this reason and because of their maintenance in good condition (…)

Kennel noted that some of the same stone is on the golf course clubhouse, which was built around the same time. The front wall is pretty and historic, Kennel said, but the granite is worth saving.

“There is nothing magical about the wall except the stone,” he said. “The stones are the link between the golf course across the road and the brotherhood house itself on our side, which has a small stone wall at the entrance to the house.”

The fellowship is losing about half an acre of land due to the widening of Tryon Road. The city also felled several mature loblolly pines that were just behind the wall. After its reconstruction, the city will plant 25 loblollys in their place.

The widening of Tryon Road between Par Drive and Lake Wheeler Road is expected to be completed next spring. In addition to two new lanes for cars, the road will have bike lanes, sidewalks, turn lanes and a signposted crosswalk to help golfers get from the 18th green of the RGA to the clubhouse.. In total, the project is expected to cost $ 14.9 million.

Richard Stradling covers transport for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, as well as ferries, bicycles, scooters and quite simply on foot. Also, hospitals during the coronavirus epidemic. He has been a journalist or editor for 33 years, the last 21 of which at The N&O. 919-829-4739, [email protected]

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