The Village District

February 16, 2024

Tim Clarke

Discover the magic of the Village District, an upscale community seamlessly blending historic charm and modern urban living in the heart of Raleigh
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Discover the magic of the Village District (formerly Cameron Village), an upscale community seamlessly blending historic charm and modern urban living in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Steeped in rich history and culture, the Cameron Village subdivision in Raleigh, North Carolina, offers residents a unique and vibrant living experience.

This picturesque neighborhood, originally known as Oberlin Village, boasts an eclectic mix of homes, top-notch amenities, acclaimed restaurants, shopping centers, and more.

Located just a few miles west of downtown Raleigh, residents enjoy easy access to various conveniences while maintaining a serene environment.

Let's delve into the rich historical background, geographical positioning, lifestyle offerings, and more to uncover why The Village District is a highly sought-after destination for homebuyers.

Prime Location

The community stands in an unbeatable location. The area is a 3-minute drive from the Glenwood South nightlife scene and 5 minutes from Downtown Raleigh.

The location and thriving dining and retail scenes make the Village District one of Raleigh's most sought-after communities.

Nestled a few miles west of downtown Raleigh, The Village District is conveniently situated for residents to enjoy the city's urban sophistication and suburban charm.

With easy access to major thoroughfares like Wade Avenue, Capital Boulevard, and U.S. Route 1, the area is ideally positioned for commuters and travelers alike.

The community is but a stone's throw from multiple established universities, including Meredith College and North Carolina State University.

Swift access to Highway i40 makes the Raleigh-Durham International Airport just a 10-minute drive away.

The Village District is an ideal location for frequent travelers, providing accessibility and convenience.

Fascinating Heritage

The Village District was the first land originally owned by the Cameron family, whose wealth was built upon a vast plantation estate.

After the abolition of slavery and during the period of Reconstruction, the landscape of Raleigh began to change substantially.

Originally known as Oberlin Village, this charming community was founded by freed African-American slaves shortly after the Civil War.

Through determination and hard work, the settlers created a thriving community that emphasized education, self-improvement, and religious values.

The area eventually evolved into Cameron Village in the mid-20th century when real estate developer J.W. York and his team of architects recognized its potential as a modern suburban community.

As the city modernized and expanded, former plantation lands, such as those owned by the Cameron's, gradually transitioned into new communities.

It was in 1949 that developer Selma Warren transformed a portion of Cameron-owned land into the revolutionary planned community currently known as the Village District.

This suburban development aimed to integrate residential living, shopping, and recreational amenities, marking a stark departure from traditional urban planning practices.

Though initially respected as an innovative, forward-looking landmark, the neighborhood's past, notably its connection to the plantation system, has often overshadowed its progressive present.

As the broader cultural conversation has shifted toward acknowledging and addressing systemic injustices, the Village District has similarly been prompted to confront its complex relationship with African-American history.

The renaming of the neighborhood in January 2021 serves as an essential step in reckoning with this past, leaving behind the name Cameron Village (formally Oberlin Village) in favor of the present-day Village District.

This new moniker not only represents a commitment to inclusivity and diversity but also acknowledges the collective journey of a community overcoming its past to redefine its identity for future generations.

Today, the Village District stands as an icon of resilience and progress in Raleigh, attracting residents from diverse backgrounds and popular US cities.

Boasting a unique story about overcoming adversity, the community has flourished with new opportunities and experiences, paving the way for an inclusive, interconnected future.

The Village District's bustling shopping center is a testament to this growth, offering a diverse spectrum of tastes and experiences.

As you explore the neighborhood, make it a point to visit the area's locally-owned eateries, celebrating the talents and contributions of the African-American culinary community.

The Village District's unique allure continues to draw individuals and families from major US cities seeking an urban haven.

History of The Village Subway

Situated beneath the Village District shopping center, the Village Subway, frequently referred to as Raleigh Underground, served as a prominent entertainment center during the 1970s and 1980s.

The lively venue housed a variety of nightclubs, restaurants, stores, and even an arcade, and was a hotbed for live performances and amusement.

Well-known establishments within the Village Underground included The Frog and Nightgown, The Pier, The Bear's Den, Elliot's Nest, and Cafe Deja Vu. Incepted in 1972.

The Village Underground closed its doors in 1984 due to fire safety concerns, substance abuse, and worries about visitor security.

Initially built as a Cold War bomb shelter spanning 20,000 square feet, the vast space was designed to offer refuge to civilians during an attack and facilitate government recovery operations.

Drawing inspiration from Underground Atlanta, a similarly structured entertainment and retail complex that remains in operation, the Village Underground shared a common blend of dining establishments, clubs, and boutiques.

The moniker "Village Subway" was inspired by the entrance bearing a likeness to a New York City subway station, featuring a lengthy stairway leading to murals depicting trains.

The walls were adorned with rectangular paintings of stores.

Renowned author David Sedaris, who experienced his high school years in Raleigh, recalls visiting the Frog and Nightgown, which left him with the impression, "This is what New York is like!"

Recent renewed interest in the Village Subway has seen artists who formerly graced the stage at one of the three subterranean nightclubs beneath Cameron Village sharing nostalgic tales.

Dave Adams, a musician who frequently performed at these underground venues, reminisces about a time when several artists gained fame following their Village Subway appearances over three decades ago.

Adams played both keyboards and sang for local bands such as Glass Moon and The Fabulous Knobs, which enjoyed regional recognition in the 1970s.

Adams describes the Village Subway's atmosphere as "eclectic and sweeping," catering to a range of musical genres, from jazz to international acts.

The venue hosted both renowned and lesser-known artists. The Frog and Nightgown, Raleigh's sole jazz club at the time, saw performances from jazz icon Paul Jeffrey, who was associated with Thelonious Monk.

During Jeffrey's 1970 Village Subway performance, excerpts from his set in Raleigh were played at a subsequent concert.

Actively promoting jazz music in Raleigh, the Frog, and Nightgown occasionally had to keep patrons on their toes regarding performers, as events were not always announced beforehand.

Jazz musicians Lenore Raphael and Peter Ingram, the latter being the club owner from 1968 to 1975, discovered their niche and often performed together, while other artists like Dave Adams were frequent fixtures at events such as the weekly "Rock Night."

The Village Underground hosted numerous emerging bands, including R.E.M. and Jimmy Buffett.

The venue was the filming site for R.E.M.'s first recorded concert footage in 1982 at The Pier.

Sonic Youth recorded their live cover of The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" at The Pier for their album 'Confusion is Sex.'

Having launched their careers here while living close to Cameron Village, The Connells regularly performed at establishments like Cafe Deja Vu as part of the Village Underground's lineup, often walking to the venue with their equipment in tow.

Despite its initial success, the Village Underground faced dwindling daytime traffic, security issues with drug distribution taking root in surrounding parking and service areas, and the consequential neglect of fire safety regulations which ultimately led to its closure in 1984.

Delightful Amenities Elevating Everyday Living

Residents of the Village District have access to an impressive range of amenities, making leisure time both enjoyable and fulfilling.

The neighborhood boasts green spaces such as Fred Fletcher Park and Jaycee Park, where nature enthusiasts can unwind.

For literature buffs, the Cameron Village Regional Library offers a sanctuary for leisurely reading.

The Village District stands out as a hub for upscale dining and shopping experiences.

The popular Village District shopping center, with over 100 shops and restaurants, serves as the heart of the neighborhood.

With a range of boutiques and fashion retailers, as well as renowned establishments like Fresh Market and Harris Teeter, there is truly something for everyone.

Residents enjoy easy access to various conveniences while maintaining a serene environment, including the recent opening of Goodnights Comedy Club in the area.

Culinary Treasures

The Village District offers an exciting dining scene to satisfy even the most discerning palates. For food lovers, The Village District's culinary scene does not disappoint.

Restaurateurs showcase their expertise and passion in various establishments, such as Ajasai one of Raleigh's top Japanese Restaurants.

With a diverse selection of cuisines, residents are spoilt for choice when dining out or celebrating special occasions. Enjoy a very tasty brunch at The Flying Biscuit Café.

Relish mouthwatering pizza and artisanal sandwiches at the beloved Village Deli & Grill, or explore one of the 100 beers on tap a the Village Draft House.

Explore Mediterranean flavors at Tazza Kitchen, and CAVA. You may be in the mood to savor contemporary American fare at Tupelo Honey.

With an enchanting array of options, the Village District is sure to delight any food enthusiast.

Shopping

As a preeminent shopping destination in Raleigh, the Village District boasts an open-air shopping center home to over 100 exclusive stores and boutiques.

Shoppers can browse upscale apparel and jewelry at retailers like Ivey & Leo and Bailey's Fine Jewelry, or explore popular brands such as Talbots and J.Crew.

This diverse shopping haven creates an unforgettable experience for Village District residents and visitors alike.

Healthcare and Education

Cameron Village residents enjoy seamless access to top-tier healthcare facilities such as WakeMed Raleigh Campus and Rex Healthcare.

Known for high-quality care and state-of-the-art medical technologies, these institutions provide peace of mind to the area's residents.

Education is a core value in Cameron Village, with proximity to esteemed schools like Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary School, Broughton High School, and Fred J. Carnage GT-AIG Magnet Middle School.

A Popular Destination for Out-of-State Transplants

The Village District, with its rich historical background, fantastic location, and astonishing proximity to the city's top dining and shopping, is undeniably one of Raleigh's most cherished neighborhoods.

Marrying excellent amenities, renowned dining establishments, remarkable shopping experiences, and easy accessibility to Raleigh-Durham International Airport, this community creates a balanced lifestyle for families, young professionals, and retirees.

Further enriched by the nearby healthcare and educational institutions and its diverse neighboring communities, Cameron Village stands as a testament to Raleigh's evolution from its storied past to a thriving, modern city that cherishes its historical and cultural narratives.

Listings in The Village District

**NOTE: If you're not seeing any listings, then currently there are no available homes in this community.**

Tim M. Clarke

About the author

17 years as a Realtor in the Research Triangle, Tim seeks to transform the Raleigh-Durham real estate scene through a progressive, people-centered approach prioritizing trust & transparency.

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