New research has revealed a previously unknown chapter of Oberlin's history—it is no ordinary freedmen town but an antebellum free Black enclave that grew into an African American municipality, built away from White supervision by former slaves freed during or after the Civil War. Because it was rooted in freedom, Oberlin Village provided a legacy of freedom and land ownership, creating an enduring Black settlement with an elevated degree of home ownership, artisinal pride, and an irreproachable reputation.

Little, M. Ruth. “Rooted in Freedom: Raleigh, North Carolina’s Freedmen’s Village of Oberlin, an Antebellum Free Black Enclave.” The North Carolina Historical Review, vol. XCVII, no. 4, Oct. 2020, p. 425.

Historical Timeline


Civil War Ends; Reconstruction Begins; Lewis Peck, wealthy white grocer, divided his farm into lots sold to African Americans at about $50/acre; Wilson Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church founded (later Wilson Temple)


Oberlin Village founded along old Hillsboro Road as “Peck’s Place”, nicknamed “Save Rent”


Raleigh Cooperative Land and Building Association provided financial aid to freed men to purchase land and build homes.


New Hillsboro Road renamed Oberlin Road


Oberlin community drafted letter to Daily News editor that their village should be known as “Oberlin.”


Wilson Temple United Methodist church building completed, presumably after James H. Harris’s alma mater Oberlin College in Ohio named in honor of Wilson Morgan, a Wake Co. State Representative and resident who donated the land. Oberlin Cemetery officially established according to oral tradition, the site was previously a slave graveyard.


(1) Wake County Referendum funds a new building for Oberlin Graded School. A wooden one room school house was built by 1882. The school was formerly housed in Wilson Temple United Methodist Church. (2)Reconstruction ends, marking the return of “home rule” in the South.


First Baptist Church of Oberlin formally established in the 2000 block of Wade Avenue, under guidance of former slave, Rev. Plummer T. Hall, and the church is often referred to as “Halls Chapel”.


Rev. Morgan L. Latta founds Latta University along Parker Street. The school provided industrial or vocational education, a night school, and orphanage.



(1) Present building of Wilson Temple United Methodist church constructed at 1023 Oberlin Road. (2) Plessy v. Ferguson: “separate but equal” doctrine 1911 established.


Halls Chapel and Mt. Moriah Baptist Church merge to form Oberlin Baptist Church at its current location, 806 Oberlin Road.


Oberlin School builds new, large brick building with eight classrooms.


Oberlin School builds new, large brick building with eight classrooms.


Construction begins on Cameron Village.


Shelly v. Kramer: discriminatory restrictive covenants illegal to enforce Raleigh neighborhoods like Cameron Park, Hayes Barton, and Oakwood all had restrictive covenants excluding black ownership.


(1) Wade Ave. Extension: Work begins to widen Wade Avenue and extend it east to Capital Boulevard. Oberlin Village homes along this stretch of Oberlin Road are demolished for the project. (2) Brown v. Board of Education: school segregation is unconstitutional


(1) Joe Holt, Jr. of Oberlin Village is denied admission to the all-white Josephus Daniels Junior High School. The 1st attempt to desegregate the Raleigh public schools. (2) New brick church built to replace Oberlin Baptist church building that was destroyed by fire in 1955. (3) Historic Oberlin Village pamphlet research and designed by Rebecca Ryan.


Oberlin Road overpass spanning Wade Avenue is built. Oberlin Village is split in two. Part of a larger trend of Urban Renewal in the country at this time. These programs disproportionately displaced black communities.


Civil Rights Act: outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.


The Raleigh School Board permanently closes Oberlin School. Oberlin School was the district’s sole black school in western Raleigh.


Community Grocery at 901 Oberlin Road begins as a small grocery store, one of many neighborhood stores along Oberlin, but the only one still existing.


Fair Housing Act: protects the buyer or renter of a dwelling from seller or landlord discrimination. (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) Built in front of the older wooden school at 1012 Oberlin Road, where Interact currently exists.


Vacant Oberlin School building across from Wilson Temple church is demolished, and a new YWCA building is erected in its place.


Large oce building is constructed across from Oberlin Baptist church (801 Oberlin Road), This construction displaced several Oberlin Village houses.

1992 – 1996

First wave of Oberlin Village houses receive Historic Landmark designation by Raleigh Historic Development Commission


The last remaining building of Latta University is destroyed by fire.


Friends of Oberlin Village is founded.