Monday, January 5, 2015

How do you name a neighborhood?

You hold a contest!

How DeGraffenried Park got its name.

Mack Lupton House, DeGraffenried Park. Historic Architecture of New Bern and Craven County.
By John B. Green III

The arcane methods that today's developers use to name new subdivisions are a mystery, but in New Bern in 1926 they held a naming contest complete with prizes.  The area where the future DeGraffenried Park would be located had been agricultural land for generations.  In the 1920s it was open fields owned by E.H. and J.A. Meadows and a pecan orchard owned by John H. Jones.  Jones and the Meadows contracted with J.S. Miller and Son and the Atlantic Coast Realty Company to develop and promote the property.  Beginning in November 1926 the development was touted as an exclusive, high-class residential area with large lots set among wide concrete-paved streets and sidewalks.  City water and sewer and electric and telephone service would be supplied to every lot.

The developers announced a contest to name the property and its principal streets.  The judges would be Mrs. Clyde Eby, Mrs. Richard N. Duffy, and Miss Bettie Windley.  Either the judges or the contest participants were in an historical mood, for when the results were announced, all the winners had picked names from New Bern's early history. 

Sun-Journal, 11 November 1926
First prize of $25 went to Miss Jessie Farrior who was the first of many to suggest the name of New Bern's founder Christoph De Graffenried for the new settlement.  The other winners, whose suggestions would be used for street names, were:  Miss Carlton Montford, $15, for Lucerne Way after the largest city in Switzerland;  Mrs. E.K. Bishop, $10, for Tryon Road after royal governor William Tryon;  Miss Gertrude Carraway, $5, for Queen Anne Lane after the English monarch at the time of the founding of New Bern;  and Virginius Kasey of Greenville, $5, for Chattawka Lane after the Native American village which had existed on the site of New Bern.

Sun-Journal, 8 March 1927
The new DeGraffenried Park was quickly laid out and the promised broad streets and sidewalks were paved.  Lot sales were initially brisk and a number of handsome residences were constructed but activity slowed and then all but ended as the United States slipped into the Great Depression.  The neighborhood survived, however, and today DeGraffenried Park is one of New Bern's loveliest areas with houses of the 1920s, '30s, and 40s set on pecan-shaded lots.

Intersection of Lucerne Way and Fort Totten Drive, c. 1927, looking east toward earthworks of Fort Totten.