Town of Creswell
In the 1700’s, present day Creswell consisted mainly of plantations. Ome Woodley’s plantation extended from what is now the west side of main street and several miles west. Joe Phelps and Henry Phelps’ plantation covered what is now the east side of Main Street. The C. N. Davenport lot was part of the plantation that Hardy Phelps owned.

Creswell was first named Cool Spring because of the cool free flowing artesian spring that was in the area. It was located on the North side of Spruill’s Bridge, along the Scuppernong Trail. In 1826, a post office was established in the old Hilly Holmes store.

In 1874, Postmaster, William Atchinson, renamed the town Cressville in honor of President Grant’s Postmaster General John A. J. Creswell. The name later changed to Cresswell and finally in 1885, a legislative act corrected the spelling to Creswell.

Creswell was primarily as logging and farming community. Given its location on the Scuppernong River and proximity to the Albemarle Sound, it was also an important shipping center to which the following excerpt from the June 22, 1898 Roanoke Beacon attests:

“One of the most progressive little towns in North Carolina is Creswell, in Washington County. A few years ago, it was a growing forest and now the hustle of business and The hum of machinery gives the pretty little burg much air of a city.

Situated on the Scuppernong River, at the head of navigation, just five miles from the picturesque Lake Scuppernong (Phelps) its site could not have been better chosen for beauty or commercial advantage. There are now eight mercantile establishments, a large steam saw, grist mill, a handsome Missionary Baptist Church and several other churches in prospect. The street are broad and regularly laid off and every part of the town presents the air of neatness, order and thrift. Four steamers a week touch Creswell Wharf and the
business will likely demand more transportation before long. The outlook for the young town is better, more bright and substantial and we bid the place God Speed.”
The Historic District 2002
Penne Smith Sandbeck, Historic Preservation Consultant, was engaged by McMullan Consulting to prepare Creswell’s nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places.

The contributing buildings were single dwellings, secondary structures, hotel, post office, department store, bank, warehouse and churches. There are representatives of Gothic Revival, Italianate, Victorian, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Craftsman and Minimal Traditional architectural styles. Between 1874 and 1915, approximately sixty percent of Creswell’s contributing historic structures was constructed both in the commercial district of Main Street and the residential districts.

Charles Pettigrew’s plantation Belgrade and St. David’s Episcopal Church, both just outside the district, are the area’s earliest surviving buildings. The district’s period of historic significance begins in 1874, the year Creswell was incorporated. This period extends to 1951, after which there has been no significant development. The oldest building within the town, the A. G. Walker Store, was built in 1877. Walker was one of the first residents and business men in the town after its incorporation.

The district has a particularly strong concentration of turn-of-the-twentieth-century commercial frame buildings whose survival rate has been low throughout eastern North Carolina. These buildings – one and two-story front-gable weather boarded structures – have large store front bay windows, recessed entrances and some Victorian style sawn work decoration. Merchants of these stores constructed their large two-story Gothic Revival and Italianate style dwellings a short distance away, and many of these houses survive intact.

The districts perimeter follows that of the original town, as founded in 1874, with extensions to the west, north and east incorporating early twentieth-century development.

Creswell is located north of the Scuppernong River.
Creswell Points of Interest
  • American Turf Grass Corp. – Hwy 94 – grass for golf courses and building projects, enjoy birds here
  • Outer Banks Speedway – Benson Road – popular family entertainment features entries from eastern US
  • Davenport Homestead – Mt. Tabor Road – restored 1770’s home depicting a forgotten way of life
  • Rabbit Cross Sheep Farm – Rabbit Cross Road – see unusual breed of sheep grazing
  • Concord Primitive Baptist Church – Mt. Tabor/Cherry Road – only remaining meeting house of Washington County Primitive Baptists
  • Cherry Community – old country store from late 1800’s, the site and remains of Cherry Colored School building early 1900
  • Conman’s Hunting Guide Service and Vacation Cottage on beautiful Lake Phelps – Lake Shore Road - a sportsman’s paradise
  • Cypress Point – Shore Drive – NC State Park Service – family oriented fishing pier, picnic area, modern restrooms
  • Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
  • Lake Phelps – Lake Shore Road – pristine lake waters, boating, skiing, fishing
  • Pettigrew State Park – Lake Shore Road – family campground, group camping, picnic areas, trails, boat ramp, ancient canoe display, fishing, photographers dream scenery, bird watching, historic Pettigrew cemetery
  • Somerset Place Plantation State Historic Site – Lake Shore Road – unique plantation with realistic view of family life before the Civil War
  • Scuppernong River – Spruill Bridge Road - boat ramps, canoeing, kayaking, duck and bird watching, unusual flora and fauna
  • Town of Creswell – National Historic Register town, historic walking tour being organized
  • St David’s Episcopal Church and Cemetery – St. David’s Road – old church built 1803 by Rev. Charles Pettigrew to serve his plantation, Belgrade
  • Catfish Farms – US Hwy 64 – beautiful view look down from Hwy 64
  • CMX Creswell Motocross racing and training – Hwy 94