Wake Forest is a town in Franklin and Wake counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina; located almost entirely in Wake County, it lies just north of the state capital, Raleigh. The population was 30,117 at the 2010 census, up from 12,588 at the 2000 census. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the city’s population to be 34,752 as of July 1, 2013. In 2007, the town was listed by Forbes magazine as the 20th fastest growing suburb in America, with a 73.2 percent increase in population between 2000 and 2006. Wake Forest was the original home of Wake Forest University for 122 years before it moved to Winston-Salem in 1956.
The US Office of Management and Budget also includes Wake Forest as a part of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area, which has a population of 1,998,808 as of U.S. Census 2012 Population Estimates. Effective June 6, 2003 the Office of Management and Budget redefined the Federal Statistical Areas and dismantled what had been for decades the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, MSA and split them into two separate MSAs even though the region still functions as a single metropolitan area.
In 1832, Dr. Calvin Jones, originally from New England, bought 615 acres (2.49 km2) of forested land in Wake County, North Carolina. The sparsely populated area became known as the Forest of Wake, or Wake Forest. Jones sold his farm to the North Carolina Baptist Convention for $2,000, who opened the Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute, later Wake Forest College, on the site. The Raleigh & Gaston Railroad, completed in 1840, established a depot in nearby Forestville that stimulated the school and surrounding village. College leaders convinced the railroad to move the depot even closer to the college in 1874, leading to more economic development. This community was incorporated as the “Town of Wake Forest College” in 1880. In 1909, the word “College” was removed from the name of the town. The college moved to the much larger city of Winston-Salem in 1956. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary began offering classes on the original campus of Wake Forest University in 1950, and occupied the entire campus when the university completed its move.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 15.2 square miles (39.4 km2). 15.1 square miles (39.1 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2) of it (0.80%) is water.
Wake Forest 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 Wake Forest about three hours by car west of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, and four hours east of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The DuBois Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The W. E. B. DuBois School opened in 1926 for the African-American community in Wake Forest before racial segregation ceased in 1971. After the school outgrew the facility and moved to a new location, the building was vacant for a decade until the DuBois Alumni Association purchased the building and made it into a community center.
Other listings in or near Wake Forest on the National Register of Historic Places are the Bailey-Estes House, Downtown Wake Forest Historic District, Glen Royall Mill Village Historic District, Lea Laboratory, Oakforest, Powell House, Purefoy-Chappell House and Outbuildings, Purefoy-Dunn Plantation, Rock Cliff Farm, Royall Cotton Mill Commissary, South Brick House, Thompson House, Wake Forest Historic District, Wakefield Dairy Complex, and Wakefields.
Wake Forest Historical Museum, also known as the Calvin Jones Historical House, was built in 1820 and was the residence of the first president of Wake Forest College and the center of activities that took place at the school. The museum displays the history of the town of Wake Forest as well as Wake Forest University. The house contains collections of photos, books, college publications, furniture, documents, professors’ writings, and medical, law and sports memorabilia.
Wake Forest is home to the Falls Lake State Recreation Area. Falls Lake Park contains the 12,000-acre (49 km2) Falls Lake and 26,000 acres (110 km2) of woodlands.
Wake Forest is served by ten parks and community centers.