Karen Adams lives way up Creedmoor Road, beyond the strip malls and fast-food joints of North Raleigh.
She’s an avid walker and has enjoyed strolling the area near Shooting Club Road since she and her husband moved here in 2006.
As Adams took in the rural scenery, she noticed other sights – abandoned houses and ancient-looking buildings. She began to wonder what history lay behind the wreckage.
So one day recently, I decided to take a walk with her and see what we could discover.
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Our first stop was a small shack sharing property with a house at the corner of Shooting Club and Old Creedmoor roads. Adams had been told it was the original shooting club the road was named for. That’s all she knew.
But along our journey, we came across a man who knew far more. Truett Ray owned an old dairy farm that was turned into a BMW repair service on Old Creedmoor Road, and his family has lived in the area since the shooting club was, well, a shooting club – a place where people came and shot guns.
The owners were a couple with the last name of Smith. Charlie Smith was the one who came up with the idea for the club, according to Ray.
“He was a great sportsman and had the idea that he would turn it into a game farm,” Ray said.
Smith raised pheasants and quail for hunting. His plan was to charge people for the privilege of shooting his birds. Ray said Smith had his grand opening in the late 1950s or early ’60s, but the club fizzled and ultimately went away.
Of course, it may live on in eternity as Shooting Club Road.
Oh, and one more thing. That little shack Adams and I thought was the shooting club – it was just a small garage on the Smith property. Not so significant after all, though it did lead us to the truth of the story.
Adams led me further along Old Creedmoor Road where we parked at a church. We crossed Old Creedmoor and walked through significant overgrowth to a small structure hidden from the road.
When I got close, I realized it was an old house. It was once two stories, but the second floor is now caving in. Inside you can see old coats hanging on the walls. And amidst the wreckage of the building’s skeleton lay kitchenware, bed springs, furniture and other items.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find out more information about the home. We went to a neighboring house and asked the occupant, but she had nothing further to tell us.
I asked Adams why she cared so much about these old places she encountered on her walks.
“How can someone abandon a house that looks like it had been lived in?” she answered.
The final stop on our tour was a white building at the corner of Old Creedmoor and Carpenter Pond roads. It sat across the street from Ray’s BMW repair service, so we went to him for the scoop.
Turns out he knew the building’s history pretty well. After all, it belonged to his family.
It used to be a general store, and Ray’s grandfather owned it until his death in 1953. Ray’s uncle took it over after that, moved it out of the intersection and added a second building onto it.
His uncle kept running it into the 1990s before shutting it down. As recently as 2006 or 2007, Ray said, a woodworker used it for a shop. Now it stands abandoned and will eventually disappear, along with much of Raleigh’s old history.
By the way, I wondered if Ray’s family was the namesake for Ray Road in North Raleigh. Short answer: He has no idea.
“I asked my father that and he said, ‘Well, there were some Rays that used to live on Ray Road,’ but he wasn’t sure which Rays it was,” he said.
Adams and I returned to her house satisfied at having a few answers, at least. And a few more questions.
How much more history is hiding out in plain site around North Raleigh? I’ll keep my eyes open and let you know.
Alex Granados writes about people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.