Development Beat: Raleigh’s Spookiest Buildings

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James Borden

Brought to you by Rufty-Peedin Design Build

Friday, October 28, 2016

In honor of All Saints’ Eve, we here at the Development Beat decided to put together a quick list of some of Raleigh’s spookiest buildings.

We’re not talking about the most haunted sites or the buildings with the most tragic histories: instead, this is a list of five creepy buildings around Raleigh (and one right on the edge). No private residences were included, and you can catch a good look at all these sites without trespassing or getting dragged into the Upside Down.

5. The Bath Building: 306 N. Wilmington Street

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Where to begin? How about this: those ominous upper stories were originally designed to accommodate State-funded experimentation on dead animals. OK, OK, they were testing for rabies, but still. This 70s-era Brutalist style structure looks like it would fit in better on the streets of Soviet-era Russia than it does in the leafy City of Oaks. While the dead animal experimentations ended three years ago when the State Laboratory of Public Health relocated to West Raleigh, there’s something undeniably creepy about a windowless government building. Our only hope is that its newest tenant isn’t the Department of Energy.

4. The North Carolina Center for Mature Adults: 4200 Hilltop Needmore Road (Fuquay-Varina)

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So this one isn’t technically in Raleigh, but it’s right on the edge and when it comes to abandoned structures, there’s something extra-unsettling about a former retirement community. The structure was built in 1975, although we’re not exactly sure when the senior center itself shut down. The property, acquired by DJB Investments earlier this year, has really gone to seed in the past eight years, judging by historical photos. As if an abandoned nursing home wasn’t spooky enough, get this: in 1998, the NC Center for Mature Adults, Inc. signed the deed for the property over to Faiger M. Blackwell, a funeral home director who in March 2016 was sentenced to two years in federal prison. Blackwell, apparently a firm believer in vertical integration, owned a number of businesses, including funeral homes, assisted-living facilities and flower shops. Creepy!

3. King’s Motel: 1403 South Wilmington Street

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Built in the 1950s and now resting in the shadow of the outsized Cargill oilseed plant, this motel is probably the only place on our list that would be less creepy if it were simply an abandoned structure. Simply put: there’s something very off-putting about a one-story motel lighting up an otherwise desolate part of town. While this list could easily contain nothing but seedy motels, something about King’s location in a largely vacant, industrial area just outside the lights and bustle of North Carolina’s Capital City really sets it apart from the rest of Raleigh’s motels of last resort.

2. Carver’s Creek Steakhouse: 2711 Capital Boulevard

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Built in 1981, this former steakhouse shut its doors for good in 2008, and has sat vacant and neglected ever since. Situated on a property next to the Best Western Raleigh North Downtown on Capital Boulevard and a stone’s throw from the 440 beltline, its only means of ingress/egress appears to be a blocked-off driveway connected to the hotel’s parking lot. Although lacking in the kind of frightful histories found in some other locations on this list, it’s all too easy to imagine a Best Western guest who’s had three too many stumbling out to his car for a pack of smokes when he suddenly looks over and sees a shuttered, dilapidated wooden building that appears sunken into the nearby woods. The creepiest thing about this place is that despite its location off one of the region’s busiest highways and along one of the city’s busiest corridors, you’d hardly know the place exists unless you go looking for it. Interestingly enough, it was purchased earlier this month by an LLC owned by none other than Public Policy Polling’s Dean Debnam, an up and coming local real estate magnate.

1. Dorothea Dix Employee Housing: Tate Drive on the grounds of Dix Hill

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So wait: there’s something even creepier than the former “State Hospital for the Insane” and its accompanying chapel on the grounds of Dix Park? Yes. Drive around Dix at night and tell us there’s any buildings — the cemetery doesn’t count — that  give more goosebumps than the cluster of abandoned one-story single family homes along Tate Drive that were once used as employee housing for Dix Hospital. While the majority of the buildings on the sprawling grounds of Raleigh’s newest park, including some of these homes, have been re-purposed as State offices, the fact that many remain vacant only adds to their otherworldly allure. At this point, these overgrown and derelict structures seem more like the kind of place a truly deranged killer — we’re talking Ed Gein levels here — would use for a lair than they do a good fit for a government office.

Happy Halloween!


Locations seriously considered but not used: Capital Inn on Capital Boulevard, the old Bain Waterworks Building at 1810 Fayetteville (very cool place, went once years ago, but it’s now gated off by the City), the Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky at the NC Art Museum — it looks too much like a Hobbit house to really be considered creepy — and the Velvet Cloak Inn on Hillsborough Street.

Disagree with any of our entries? Think we missed something truly unsettling? Wish we’d done a list about haunted locations around the city instead? Let us know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Development Beat: Raleigh’s Spookiest Buildings

  1. You forgot what I’ve always heard called the “Witch’s House” off of W. Morgan near Goodnight’s Comedy Club. It is a shack with a fence around it. You can’t look down at it from Google Earth because it is covered with trees and even in the daylight you can tell it is not a place you want to be. I was over that way yesterday – a perfectly sunny day – and got the hebejebes. https://www.google.com/maps/@35.7799418,-78.6556631,3a,75y,192.6h,85.3t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1srSWKmlIjjv9rkricZQApQw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

  2. Bath building – good call on that one. Especially knowing that is where they sent the heads of animals suspected to have rabies. …RABIES!!!