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Another Overlooked Treasure: WRAL Studios

Much like Grosvenor Gardens on Hillsborough Street, the buildings and surrounding landscape of Capitol Broadcasting Company (WRAL/FOX50) are an overlooked but beautiful part of Raleigh.

A few weeks ago I was introduced to the Azalea Gardens that are a part of the property. A friend from back home was getting her bridal portraits made here (among other places), and I strolled about the area for the first time. I had visited the surrounding structures on more than one occasion (mostly admiring the architecture) but had never ventured to this hidden and beautiful flower garden.

The flower gardens are as old as the other parts of CBC Headquarters:

Capitol Broadcasting Company founder A.J. Fletcher created the WRAL Gardens as a service to the community. The WRAL Gardens opened to the public in 1959, three years after WRAL-TV went on the air as the first VHF station in Raleigh. The WRAL Gardens surround WRAL-TV’s studios on Western Boulevard in Raleigh, NC.

The WRAL Gardens showcase a full range of flowering and non-flowering plant materials that are typical in a Southern garden. Featured plants include azaleas, dogwoods, rhododendrons, deciduous azaleas and the beginnings of a new collection of hydrangeas.

— History the WRAL Azalea Gardens

The park on the grounds of WRAL’s corporate headquarters and broadcasting studio is by no means expansive, but there is quite a bit of greenery within the small space.

The sculpture in the image above is entitled “Eagle Against the Sun”, and is the work of Chris Navarro.

wral_50s1
CBC Headquarters in 1959*

To those familiar with local architecture, the buildings are unmistakably the work of Milton Small, who happens to be my favorite of area architects. The main building closely resembles his former office on the corner of Brooks Avenue and Hillsborough Street. Designed in partnership with Joseph Boaz, the new offices were completed in 1959.

In addition to the Azalea Garden, the buildings, water features, and landscape are intriguing as well. The tract of land that the office space sits on consists of several gentle slopes, which is something rather unique for the otherwise mostly flat area of Raleigh.

Located near the intersection of Avent Ferry and Western Boulevard, the area is incredibly quiet and can provide a nice retreat from noisy city life–something that is very uncommon for a Corporate Headquarters complex. It’s well worth the trip if you live nearby.

(the color visible on the water jets on the first image was added by me during the exposure. I’ve been told that the previous water feature did include color, but the current one does not)

*Image courtesy of Lewis P. Watson


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