Fuquay-Varina is a town in Wake County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 7,898 at the 2000 census. In 2006, the population was estimated to be 13,669. The town is a 30 minute drive south of Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. Economically, the town initially grew due to tobacco trade and agriculture, but has seen recent population growth and real estate development due to its proximity to the Research Triangle Park.
Fuquay-Varina is located at (35.591969, -78.788746).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 6.9 square miles (17.8 km²), of which, 6.8 square miles (17.7 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.44%) is water.
Fuquay-Varina is located in the northeast central region of North Carolina, where the North American Piedmont and Atlantic Coastal Plain regions meet. This area is known as the "fall line" because it marks the elevation inland at which waterfalls begin to appear in creeks and rivers. Its central Piedmont location situates Fuquay-Varina about three hours west of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, by car and four hours east of the Great Smoky Mountains of the Appalachian range.
Fuquay-Varina enjoys a moderate subtropical climate
, with moderate temperatures in the spring, fall, and winter. Summers are typically hot with high humidity
. Winter highs generally range in the low 50s°F
(10 to 13 °C
) with lows in the low-to-mid 30s°F (-2 to 2°C), although an occasional 60°F (15°C) or warmer winter day is not uncommon. Spring and fall days usually reach the low-to-mid 70s°F (low 20s°C), with lows at night in the lower 50s°F (10 to 14°C). Summer daytime highs often reach the upper 80s to low 90s°F (29 to 35°C). The rainiest months are July and August.
William Fuquay first settled in the small farming town of Sippihaw, named for the original Native American
tribe that inhabited the area. His great-grandson, a tobacco farmer named Stephen discovered a spring
in the mid-1800s while plowing the fields of the family plantation. Originally used solely for drinking water, Stephen soon came to the conclusion that the mineral water
flowing from the springs had healing properties. As word spread, locals began to help the springs establish this reputation, which brought residents from neighboring communities and counties to its waters. The springs were eventually walled in to better serve the tourists coming to the area by road or rail.
In 1860, Fuquay sold the springs to a group of local investors who formed the Chalybeate Springs Company to market the attraction and its waters. At that time another Sippihaw resident, J. D. “Squire” Ballentine, was returning home from the Civil War. Ballentine had been the town’s schoolmaster before going off to fight for the Confederate Army. During his tour of duty, he had received letters from one of many southern ladies who wrote to the troops to improve their morale. Originally signing her name “Varina,” Virginia Avery would later meet and fall in love with Ballentine. He continued to call her Varina throughout their life together. When he became the first postmaster at the new post office in town in 1880, he named it “Varina”in her honor. A community grew just south of the springs, near the post office and the couple’s Varina Mercantile Company general store. In time, it adopted the same name. Ballentine’s business success allowed him to construct the local historic landmark Ballentine Spence House in 1910, the first house to have plumbing and electricity in the area. This house still stands today.
Growth at the turn of the century
The Fuquay Mineral Spring’s popularity grew toward the turn of the century, especially in the 1890s as local businessman John Mills developed the idea to offer “Moonlight Excursions” to the springs. He fitted flat rail cars
with seats and offered nighttime train trips to southern Wake County from Raleigh. As more guests came to the springs to “take the waters,” a group of small hotels sprung up in town, along with restaurants, barbecue
stands, and a dance pavilion with a player piano
. The town became a tourist destination and was the site of special celebrations on Fourths of July
Mondays. During these events, residents of Raleigh would take the train down to watch
the accompanying baseball games and participate in the dances and celebrations. Hotels like the Ben Wiley Hotel catered to the out-of-towners and became as much a center of town life as the
springs. In 1902, Sippihaw was renamed “Fuquay Springs” in honor of its founding family and was officially incorporated in 1909.
When it was incorporated, the new Fuquay Springs town limits included the Varina business district and the rail junction of the Cape Fear, Northern, Norfolk, and Southern Railroads, the core of the neighboring town. But Varina reestablished itself the following year when the Varina Union Station was erected and a new post office was created, spurred by the lobbying of
Ballentine. Four years later, the Bank of Varina was established. Several warehouses for the growing tobacco business were built in town over the next few years, capitalizing on the railroad connections. Another supply store and a knitting factory followed. As Varina came into its own as a hub for area agriculture, the Fuquay Springs Corporation was formed and began bottling and selling mineral water from the springs commercially. Area businesses continued to develop and, in 1927, US 401 was paved through town, shortening travel times to Raleigh and nearby communities.
Unification and the present
By this time, Fuquay Springs and Varina had become major trading hubs for southern Wake County as well as neighboring Harnett
counties. Yet improvements to automobiles and area roads caused a decline in tourism at the springs. Rather than visiting the springs, residents in the region chose to visit the coast as travel times decreased. During this time, however, the tobacco industry continued to drive the area economy, with five warehouses, a cotton buyer, and fifteen stores established by the end of the 1920s. The shared emphasis on agricultural and industrial growth brought the towns to a shared vision, and as their residents worked, played, and attended
church together, the eventual merger into Fuquay-Varina in 1936 was inevitable.
While development in the area today includes numerous residential communities and commercial sites along the major roadways into town, many of the older structures from its past remain within the town limits. The Victorian, Craftsman, and Colonial Revival homes constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s are contributing structures to the Fuquay Springs National Register Residential Historic District, while the downtown shops and businesses are part of the Varina National Register Commercial Historic District. Area landmarks located in these districts include the Ben Wiley Hotel, the Ballentine Spence House, and the Dr. Wiley S. Cozart House, built across the street from the springs by the original owner and proprietor of the Ben Wiley. The springs are now contained in a small park developed on the site in 1945 which was handed over to
the town in 1998 to maintain as a historic park.
From 1970 to 2000, the population more than doubled, growing from 3,576 residents to 7,898. Current estimates by the NC State Data Center show that Fuquay-Varina grew an additional 23% from 2000-2003 to 9,726 people, making
it the 26th fastest growing community in the state and the 11th fastest for those with populations over 5,000.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 7,898 people, 3,122 households, and 2,126 families residing in the town. The population density
was 1,156.0 people per square mile (446.5/km²). There were 3,375 housing units at an average density of 494.0/sq mi (190.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 70.63% White
, 24.40% African American
, 0.41% Native American
, 0.48% Asian
, 0.02% Pacific Islander
, 2.94% from other races
, and 1.15% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 7.38% of the population.
There were 3,122 households out of which 36.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.8% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the town the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 35.2% from 25 to 44, 16.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 89.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $42,903, and the median income for a family was $49,531. Males had a median income of $35,497 versus $28,551 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,268. About 9.0% of families and 11.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.3% of those under age 18 and 11.5% of those age 65 or over.
The town is served by five public schools
which are administered by the Wake County Public School System
. Public schools include Ballentine Elementary School, Fuquay-Varina Elementary School, Lincoln Heights Elementary School, Fuquay-Varina Middle School, and Fuquay-Varina High School. Hilltop Christian School is a private school
located in the town.
The area is served by Wake Technical Community College, which is located between Fuquay Varina and Raleigh. The current enrollment is approximately 57,000 and is projected to grow to 78,000 by 2015.
- I-540 is planned to be connected to the Fuquay-Varina area sometime in the next decade.
- NC 55, NC 42, and US 401 are the major roads in Fuquay-Varina.
Parks and recreation
The town is served by the following parks:
- Fuquay Mineral Spring Park - This park is the site of the natural spring around which the Fuquay Springs community developed. The facility includes picnic tables, a footbridge, restored spring house, park benches, granite historical marker, and memorial brick path.
- South Park - Facilities include a concession/scorekeeper building, scorekeeper booth, two baseball fields, one multi-purpose field, two soccer fields, multi-purpose area, community center, administrative offices, picnic shelter, playground units, grilling area, and a walking track.
- Falcon Park - Facilities include a youth baseball/softball field, picnic shelter, playground, charcoal grill area, concession stand, sand volleyball court and a gymnasium.
- Action Park - Facilities include two youth softball/baseball fields, one multipurpose field (softball, baseball, football, soccer), four lighted tennis courts, and a playground.
- Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Education Park - The park has nature trails and free teaching kits available for use. Lesson plans and supplies for grades K-12 are included in each kit and kits are available to be checked out from the community center. Facilities include 1.5 - of interpretive walking trails, overlooks, bridges, outdoor classroom, restrooms, and a picnic pavilion with tables.
- Ballentine School Park - Facilities include three youth baseball/softball fields and one multi-purpose field.
- Library Park - Facilities include a picnic shelter, playground area, and a charcoal grilling area.
- Honeycutt Road Park - Facilities include two lighted soccer fields, one lighted multi-purpose field, two tennis courts, playground, concession stand with restrooms, paved walking track, and paved parking areas.
- Kinton Soccer Field - Youth soccer field
- Randsell Soccer Field - Youth soccer field
- Fleming Loop Soccer Complex - Youth soccer fields
- Lawrence Street Park- Soccer Field (2 acres)