There are few streets in Raleigh that have such a diverse array of inhabits as Enterprise Street has. Sadlack’s Heroes (above) and the North Hall Dormitory anchored on the Hillsborough Street end work with the North Carolina Nurses Association and Bank of America on the Clark Avenue side to sandwich together an unlikely group of structures and inhabitants.
I must admit I’m incredibly partial to this street, as I’ve lived in a neighborhood adjacent to it for the past 3+ years. Many nights I’ve taken my dogs for a walk to the patio at Sadlack’s for a few beers and enjoyed the view or traveled to the Bell Tower Mart to pick up a few beers for back yard drinking.
I can’t say this with certainty, but Enterprise Street is likely one of the shortest streets in the area that isn’t a dead end. It is the quickest route between what is arguably two of the most important entities near the downtown area: North Carolina State University and Cameron Village. One is the largest university in the state, the other is the first planned community in the city.
On more than one occasion I’ve pondered the various oddities or contradictions: The beautiful LDS Institute of Religion building (above) juxtaposed between a music venue and apartment building, the optimistic street names of the two that intersect it (Hope Street and Garden Place), the rooming house with James Dean peering out of the window, an optomistrist’s office that also serves as a living space, and the other apartment building with the address emblazoned in neon letters within the pediment.
The hidden Star Trek fan within me has also pondered the meaning of the name itself: Enterprise. Merriam-Webster defines the term Enterprise as:
- a project or undertaking that is especially difficult, complicated, or risky
- readiness to engage in daring or difficult action
- a unit of economic organization or activity
One can only speculate as to which of the above three definitions was in the mind of the individual who officially gave the street its designation.
According to the 1914 Sanborn Insurance Map the street was originally called “Post Office Street”, on account of the West Raleigh Post Office which was near the spot where Hope Street now intersects it. By 1950, the name was officially known as Enterprise Street, but still referred to as Post Office Street in parentheses. The 1914 map indicates the street was a dead end, but by 1950 it served as a connector to Clark Avenue, and most importantly, Cameron Village.
The 1950 map makes no reference to Garden Place, but the street and a few of the houses on it date back to at least the 1940s. A landowner who rents out a duplex at the end of it lived there when he was in college, and he is now in his late 80s. There is a rather large garden on Garden Place — sometimes it is tended to and sometimes not. Garden Place dead ends in to an area colloquially known as “The Sac”, as in cul de sac.
Despite being only a few dozen feet from Hillsborough Street, there are a few hidden places directly off of it, such as the tree house of Hope Street and the unorthodox living quarters or storage unit in the photo above.
One of the most recognizable is the rooming house/apartment building at 10 Enterprise. The neon light advertising the address is quite the uniquity, leaving no question as to the location.
Jasmin, a resident, was kind enough to show me around the house that dates back to the very early part of the 20th century. The owner of the house is also the former owner of the Fallout Shelter, a club that thrived downtown in the spot now known as Flex. He has several artifacts from the club in the attic, including the neon beer signs in the photo above.
Hidden from view is a balcony on the North side of the house, which provides a view of Enterprise Street not seen by many.
Until about two years ago, the one and a half story green house across from the Hope Street intersection sat vacant.
One day while walking along the street, I noticed boxes of mementos and other odd items sitting on the curb in front of the green house. It was being renovated and emptied of the belongings of the former resident, and piles of memories sat on the curb awaiting a trip the landfill.
Naturally I was curious as to why someone would discard so many photos. Unashamedly I started pilfering through the refuse, satisfying a weird and almost morbid sense of curiosity of the person who once lived there. It was mostly yellowing photos and postcards, showing people whom I would never meet and never know.
In addition to the images seen here (and others lost within my unorganized piles of old 35mm photos in shoeboxes), there was a WWII-era gas mask, a soldier’s utility belt, a field medical kit, among other millitary items. It struck me as incredibly odd that someone would leave such items in a box on the curb. Perhaps they couldn’t find the heart to dump them in trash bags.
At the other end of the street lies the North Carolina Nurses Association building. A set of stairs to nowhere on the Clark Avenue side lends a clue to the property’s past: likely a large house that fell in to disrepair and was demolished.
On the other side of the NCNA building lies a rather elegant stairway leading to the second floor. I’ve heard it’s rarely used throughout most of the year, as the large glass panels contribute to a greenhouse effect, making the space incredibly hot and humid.
Enterprise Street and the areas around it serve as a home to college students, professionals, familes, businesses, administrative divisions of NCSU, as well as providing a thoroughfare for those on their way to Cameron Village or to Hillsborough Street. Despite being a fraction of a mile long, it has more diversity, character, and charm to it than most streets several times its length. It’s one of the most often overlooked and underappreciated livable neighborhoods in Raleigh.