Page, Allison F. (1824-1899)
Allison F. (Francis) Page (August 30, 1824-October 16, 1899) was an energetic entrepreneur whose numerous enterprises included a lumber mill and a contracting business. A founder of the railroad town of Cary, he is best known for constructing the Page-Walker Hotel there.
Page, generally called A. F. or Frank, was born in rural Wake County, N. C., one of ten children of farmer Anderson Page. Although several of his siblings graduated from college, according to his biographer Irma Ragan Holland, Frank Page had a “domineering, independent spirit [that] led him into the vast virgin forests of North Carolina to harvest naval stores and operate huge lumbering operations.” A large, strong man, he was a devoted Methodist and “a staunch prohibitionist.” He established two railroad towns, Cary and Aberdeen, and contributed to schools, churches, and other institutions there and elsewhere. He was also a founder of the Commercial and Farmers’ Bank of Raleigh and a substantial donor to the Methodist Orphanage in Raleigh. His role in construction seems to have been as a contractor who organized several building projects including at least two that he owned.
In 1849 Page married Catherine Frances Raboteau (1831-1897). Their eight children had distinguished careers, of whom the best known is Walter Hines Page, a scholar, editor, and U. S. ambassador to Great Britain during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Allison F. Page’s name is associated as developer and probable builder for a few buildings in Wake County, and he may have constructed others. He was best known as a lumber manufacturer.
In the late 1860s Page subdivided and developed about 300 acres near his Wake County lumber mill at the crossing of the North Carolina Rail Road and the Chatham Railroad. He soon built the large, brick railroad hotel in Second Empire style now known as the Page-Walker Hotel, for which he was the developer and presumably the contractor. The town was chartered in 1871, and Page named it for Ohio prohibitionist Samuel Fenton Cary. He and his family made their home in Cary for several years. In the United States Censuses of 1860, 1870, and 1880, Page identified himself as a farmer.
In the 1870s Page bought more than 14,000 acres of pine forests in Moore County, N. C., and constructed rail spurs into the woods, where he established a large lumber mill. Here his mills generated his fortune. By the 1880s, his mill was supplying lumber to build houses in the growing cities of Raleigh, Durham, and elsewhere. He also established the railroad that became the Aberdeen and Asheboro Railroad in that area. He and his family moved to Aberdeen in about 1881, and there he spent the rest of his life. Aberdeen’s Page Memorial Methodist Church (1913, designed by James M. McMichael, Charlotte) and the Page Memorial Library (1907) were named for him and his wife Catherine.
In the 1890s Page built two major buildings in Raleigh, both from designs by A. G. Bauer. William Bushong states in his article, “A. G. Bauer, North Carolina’s New South Architect,” that Page and architect Bauer collaborated on the designs for the Park Hotel and Academy of Music. Page’s obituary, re-published from a Raleigh newspaper in the Asheville Citizen-Times of October 18, 1899, and other newspapers, referred to him as “the Moore county lumber king,” and noted that he had “built the Academy of Music and the Park hotel, two of the largest and most costly structures in this city.” During construction of the hotel near the Raleigh railroad depot, the Raleigh State Chronicle of December 5, 1891, noted “with much pleasure” that bricks were being hauled to the location opposite Nash Square for the “new modern hotel, which Mr. Page will build on that site.” The same newspaper reported on May 1, 1892, that A. F. Page had been to Washington “to purchase pressed brick for the Park hotel.” Presumably Page was operating as contractor and acquiring materials and employing workmen to complete his project.
- Dates:1892Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:302-304 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NCStatus:No longer standingType:EducationalImages Puslished In:William B. Bushong, "A. G. Bauer, North Carolina's New South Architect," North Carolina Historical Review, 60.3 (July 1983).
Steven Stolpen, Raleigh : A Pictorial History (1977).
- Contributors:Allison F. Page, probable contractorDates:Ca. 1868Location:Cary, Wake CountyStreet Address:119 Ambassador St., Cary, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialNote:The Second Empire style brick hotel features a broad porch overlooking the railroad tracks. It is a beloved landmark of Cary, which was chartered soon after the building was constructed. Allison F. Page is said to have constructed the building as well as operating the hotel. He lived adjacent to it.
- Variant Name(s):Park Central HotelDates:1891-1894Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:S. McDowell St., Raleigh, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:William B. Bushong, "A. G. Bauer, North Carolina's New South Architect," North Carolina Historical Review, 60.3 (July 1983).
Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).Note:Allison F. Page is described as the developer and evidently the builder of the fashionable Queen Anne style hotel with its striking corner tower. It was located beside Nash Square and convenient to the railroad depot. Page's biographer said, "It is known to his intimate friends that he built the Park Hotel in Raleigh because he wanted to see in the capital of his State a first class hotel without a saloon." (J. N. Cole, "Allison Francis Page" in Ashe, ed., Biographical Dictionary of North Carolina.)