Joel Lane in 1792 sold property adjacent to his house to commissioners for the establishment of the permanent state capital of Raleigh. The transaction took place four years after the meeting in 1788 at Isaac Hunter’s tavern where the decision was made to place the capital within a ten-mile radius of Hunter’s establishment.
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Joel Lane (ca. 1740-1795), representing Johnston County in the colonial assembly, in 1770 sponsored a bill to create what would be Wake County, naming it in honor of Governor William Tryon’s wife Margaret Wake. Lane would go on to serve as a senator in the assembly for eleven terms. He was a delegate to the convention in Fayetteville in 1789 which ratified the United States Constitution.
Seventeen tracts were considered for the capital. Commissioners from each of the state’s judicial districts viewed the parcels offered and Lane’s 1,000-acre tract was the preferred site. Raleigh, like Washington, D.C., has the distinction of being a planned capital with deliberate and careful attention given to the street plan and public squares.
Lane completed construction on his one and a half story home prior to 1770. The gambrel roofed dwelling sits atop a low hill in the middle what was once a plantation and is now gentrifying urban Raleigh. The building is covered in beaded weatherboard, with a small front porch, a window on either side, and three dormer windows across the roofline of wooden shingles.
The home was moved from its original location to 728 West Hargett Street, and restored to its appearance at the end of the eighteenth century. The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America owns the house and opens it to the public as a historic house museum. The graves of Lane and family members, long lost, were discovered on Boylan Avenue in the 1970s and were moved to Raleigh’s City Cemetery.
Elizabeth Reid Murray, Wake: Capital County of North Carolina (1983)
James Vickers, Raleigh: City of Oaks (1983)
Jerry L. Cross, Chameleon on the Crabtree: The Story of Joel Lane (2001)
Linda H. Harris, An Architectural and Historical Inventory of Raleigh, North Carolina (1978)
Elizabeth E. Dickie, “The Private and Public Life of Joel Lane” (unpublished research report, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1973)
Joel Lane House website: http://joellane.org/