Downtown Wendell is a picturesque and historical business district, centrally located within the Town's corporate limits. In 1998, this area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its unique heritage and historic qualities. Downtown Wendell is home to a wide variety of businesses ranging from restaurants and retail to light manufacturing and service-based businesses. The citizens of Wendell truly value the quality of life that Downtown Wendell brings to their community, and have taken great strides over the years to protect the integrity of this hidden gem.
In 2007 the Town of Wendell Board of Commissioners adopted a Comprehensive Plan, which outlines a long range planning strategy for the enhancement and expansion of the existing central business district. Included in the adopted Comprehensive Plan is a ‘Downtown Conceptual Plan’, which illustrates the town’s future vision of Downtown Wendell. A complete copy of the Comprehensive Plan is available on the Planning and Zoning page.
This plan acknowledges the value of the existing historic district while providing recommendations for improved access, additional open space, and development/redevelopment of underutilized properties. There are many opportunities within this area for redevelopment, new development, and utilization of existing commercial space.
As Wendell looks toward the future, it is imperative that the historic commercial district play an integral role in defining the town's identity.
Downtown Wendell Planning Initiatives
During the development of the Town of Wendell Comprehensive Plan, many recommendations were made regarding the downtown historic district. The complete Comprehensive Plan can be viewed on the Town of Wendell Planning Department page. As outlined within the plan, the following provides an overview of goals and initiatives defined for downtown:
- Take advantage of "great opportunities" to develop and redevelop mixed-use, office, retail, and residential uses, including conversion of old buildings.
- Provide higher-density residential options including upscale condos.
- Encourage more activities and destinations such as: restaurants (including those that serve alcohol), nighttime activity, entertainment options (theatre, galleries, live music, festivals).
- Protect the historic character of downtown: Town Square, historic homes and streetscapes, Old Post Office, horse stables, large trees, historic churches.
- Use models of development and redevelopment such as: downtown Selma, downtown Wake Forest, Glenwood South in Raleigh, Cameron Village, Meadowmont, Wilmington, and Newberry, SC.
Wendell Farmers Market
The Wendell Farmers Market operates within the central business district on Saturday mornings from 9 AM to 1 PM. The Farmers Market showcases local produce, arts, and crafts. If you would like to establish a booth at the market, contact the Wendell Chamber of Commerce at 919-607-7762.
Wendell Chamber of Commerce
Downtown Tours and Festivals
Independence Day Celebration
The Wendell Historical Society hosts an annual Independence Day celebration filled with red, white and blue fun. The event and activities are held downtown on Main Street and at J. Ashley Wall Town Square. The event is free to the public and is a great day filled with family fun. Many of our town's citizens, civic groups and organizations volunteer each year to make this event a huge success. The event is kicked off by a non-motorized parade down Main Street with bicycles, pets, and parade participants decked out in red, white and blue. After the parade, everyone gathers in the square to enjoy hot dogs, watermelon, cotton candy and lemonade. The event also includes red, white and blue balloon hats and face painting. This is a great family-oriented event hosted by the Historical Society as a way of thanking our town for their support and celebrating our nation’s independence.
Christmas Candlelight Tour
The Wendell Historical Society hosts an annual Christmas Candlelight Tour of homes. This tour of homes has approximately ten locations and consists of beautifully decorated homes along with important historic locations. This tour is one of the society's largest yearly fund raisers and the proceeds from ticket sales benefit historic preservation and recognition in Wendell. Homes are open to tour attendee's from 3pm-8pm and the tour is normally scheduled on the 3rd Saturday in December. Visitors will not only enjoy the beautiful decorations offered by our homeowners but will also enjoy delicious holiday refreshments and special music as they take the tour. Homes and tour locations are either a short drive or short walk from each other and every guest is given a map with details and histories for each home. This event is sure to get you in the holiday spirit as you stroll around Wendell and enjoy the wonderfully decorated homes and are greeted by the warmth and kindness of our residents.
For more information about downtown festivals and tours, and to find out more about historic downtown Wendell, please visit the Wendell Historical Society's website at www.wendellhistoricalsociety.com.