The development of Forest Hills reflects the history of 20th-century America. This historic neighborhood contains some of Durham’s earliest houses, along with traces of the farms that once occupied this land. But the Carroll House and the Wells House at the north end of the neighborhood are all that remain of the 19th century. In the early 1920s, the New Hope Realty Company purchased farmland along University Drive to create new homes for the successful professional class arising in the city. To lure people away from prestigious Victorian-era neighborhoods closer to downtown, the developers put in a nine-hole golf course, a swimming pool, and a clubhouse.
Construction of suburban villas came to an abrupt halt, however, when New Hope Realty went out of business after the stock market crash of 1929, and the land was auctioned off. Individual buyers still wanted and could afford luxury homes, and hired architects, such as H. Raymond Weeks, Northup and O’Brient, and George Watts Carr, to design houses in popular revival styles. Colonial, Tudor, and English Cottage style homes characterize historic Forest Hills today, lining gracefully winding streets shaded by huge hardwood trees.
After World War II, the neighborhood saw more change, as University Drive evolved from a country road to a busy arterial street. The private club became a city park. The area was still desirable, however, and residential development continued. By the 1970s most of the lots were occupied. Despite the changes, Forest Hills remains a popular historic neighborhood.
Forest Hills Links