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Lenoir, North Carolina
Main Street in downtown Lenoir
Main Street in downtown Lenoir
"Where the High Country Begins"
Location of Lenoir, North Carolina
Location of Lenoir, North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Caldwell
Named for William Lenoir
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 20.82 sq mi (53.92 km2)
 • Land 20.81 sq mi (53.90 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
1,171 ft (357 m)
 • Total 18,228
 • Estimate 
 • Density 860.71/sq mi (332.33/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
28633, 28645
Area code(s) 828; Exchanges: 757,758,759
FIPS code 37-37760
GNIS feature ID 1021132

Lenoir is a city in and the county seat of Caldwell County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 18,228 at the 2010 census. Lenoir is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. To the northeast are the Brushy Mountains, a spur of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hibriten Mountain, located just east of the city limits, marks the western end of the Brushy Mountains range.

Lenoir is one of the principal cities in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The city was named for Revolutionary War general and early North Carolina statesman William Lenoir, who settled north of present-day Lenoir. His restored home, Fort Defiance, is a tourist attraction.

Fort Defiance-27527
Fort Defiance, home of William Lenoir

Nat'l. Register of Historic Places listings

In addition to Fort Defiance, the Caldwell County Courthouse, Lenoir Downtown Historic District, Lenoir Grammar School, Lenoir High School, Mary's Grove, and Edgar Allan Poe House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Lenoir was one of the recipients of the 2008 All-America City Award.


Lenoir is located southeast of the center of Caldwell County at 35°54′30″N 81°31′48″W / 35.90833°N 81.53000°W / 35.90833; -81.53000 (35.908438, -81.530012). It is bordered to the south by the towns of Hudson and Cajah's Mountain, and to the southwest by the town of Gamewell.

View of Lenoir from Hibriten Mountain

The city is at the intersection of U.S. Highways 64 and 321. US 64 leads east 42 miles (68 km) to Statesville and southwest 15 miles (24 km) to Morganton, while US 321 leads north 27 miles (43 km) to Boone and southeast 17 miles (27 km) to Hickory.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.7 square miles (50.9 km2), all land. The city is in the valley of Lower Creek, between the Brushy Mountains to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. Lower Creek flows southwest to the Catawba River valley.


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Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 446
1880 422 −5.4%
1890 673 59.5%
1900 1,296 92.6%
1910 3,364 159.6%
1920 3,718 10.5%
1930 6,532 75.7%
1940 7,598 16.3%
1950 7,888 3.8%
1960 10,257 30.0%
1970 14,705 43.4%
1980 13,748 −6.5%
1990 14,192 3.2%
2000 16,793 18.3%
2010 18,228 8.5%
2019 (est.) 17,913 −1.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
View of Lenoir from Hibriten Mountain

As of the census of 2000, there were 16,793 people, 6,913 households, and 4,569 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,013.7 people per square mile (391.3/km2). There were 7,461 housing units at an average density of 450.4 per square mile (173.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 80.88% White, 14.71% African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.67% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 2.27% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.25% of the population.

There were 6,913 households, out of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 22.9% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,369, and the median income for a family was $37,280. Males had a median income of $26,122 versus $21,895 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,697. About 10.4% of families and 14.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.4% of those under age 18 and 12.7% of those age 65 or over.


  • The 18-hole Lenoir Golf Club in Lenoir features 6,385 yards of golf, with a course rating of 71.3 and a slope rating of 125, on Bermuda grass. The course opened in 1928 as a nine-hole course, was redesigned by Donald Ross in 1945, and was expanded to 18 holes in 1961.


  • Hibriten Mountain shows a wonderful view of Lenoir and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The hike is 5.4 miles, climbing 740 ft. on a gated-gravel road.
Hibriten Mountain
City of Lenoir View from Hibriten Mountain
Top of Hibriten Mountain


  • US 321.svg US 321
  • US 321A
  • US 64.svg US 64
  • NC 18.svg NC 18
  • NC 90.svg NC 90
  • NC 268.svg NC 268


The Broyhill Furniture company, one of the largest furniture companies in the United States and part of Heritage Home Group (KPS Capital Partners), recently closed its headquarters in Lenoir. Furniture in general has historically been one of the city's largest employers. The Bernhardt, Kincaid, and Fairfield furniture companies are also in or around Lenoir. However, in the 1990s, these companies began changing their business models to reflect consumer trends, and closed several of Lenoir's furniture factories. Recent consolidations of area furniture facilities (Thomasville, Taylorsville, North Wilkesboro, etc.) have netted modest gains in positions in the industry around Lenoir. The medical and education sectors are now the area's largest employers.

Google, Inc. has a server farm, or "data center", in Lenoir. There was controversy over the nature, amount, and potential benefits of economic development incentives that the City of Lenoir, Caldwell County, and the State of North Carolina gave Google in 2007 to induce the company to build the server farm. The less celebrated benefits of the investment have been construction employment and spending, a small-time server farm investment just outside downtown, Dacentec, as well as local charitable and educational endeavors by Google.

Wholesale nurseries, shipping large balled and burlap plants to landscapers in metropolitan areas, have been a strong source of employment in Lenoir over the last 75 years. Companies such as Roger Coffey and Sons Nursery have seen an increase in sales over the last three years. Valley View Nursery is a third-generation nursery carrying on the tradition of shipping high-quality trees and shrubs directly to high-end residential homes across the East Coast and upper Midwest. Local nurseries employ around two percent of the local population.


High schools

  • Hibriten
  • West Caldwell

Middle schools

  • Gamewell Middle School
  • William Lenoir Middle School

K–8 schools

  • Happy Valley School
  • Kings Creek School
  • Oak Hill School

Elementary schools

  • Davenport A+ School
  • Gamewell Elementary School
  • Lower Creek Elementary School
  • Valmead Elementary School
  • West Lenoir Elementary School
  • Whitnel Elementary School

Alternative schools

  • Horizons Elementary
  • Gateway School


  • Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is the community college serving Caldwell County



  • US 321.svg US 321
  • US 321A
  • US 64.svg US 64
  • NC 18.svg NC 18
  • NC 90.svg NC 90
  • NC 268.svg NC 268

Notable people

  • Claude Baker, composer
  • Etta Baker, musician
  • Leonard Bolick, bishop of the ELCA North Carolina Synod
  • William Horton Bower, U.S. congressman from 1893–1895
  • Jim Broyhill, former United States congressman for North Carolina from 1962 to 1986 and a U.S. senator from July 1986 to November 1986
  • Ervin M. Bruner, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
  • Claudia Church, country music artist
  • Clinton A. Cilley, former mayor of Lenoir and Medal of Honor recipient during the American Civil War
  • Linda Combs, former U.S. government official
  • Nick Easton, NFL offensive lineman; played at Hibriten High School
  • Jan Karon, New York Times-bestselling author of the Mitford Series and the Father Tim novels
  • William Lenoir, soldier and statesman
  • Harry Martin, former North Carolina Supreme Court justice
  • Bob McCreary, former NFL player and entrepreneur
  • Kary Banks Mullis, Ph.D. biochemist and Nobel laureate; inventor of the PCR
  • William C. Newland, was the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina from 1909–1913
  • James Pritchett, actor who played the central character of Dr. Matt Powers on The Doctors soap opera for its entire 1963 to 1982 run
  • Mark Schwartz, former professional soccer player and college coach
  • Larry Smith, former NASCAR driver
  • Carl Story, influential bluegrass musician
  • Hassan Whiteside, NBA player; attended The Patterson School in Lenoir
  • Parker T. Williamson, minister and author
  • Louis Round Wilson, University Librarian and first director of the library school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1901–1932
  • George Younce, southern gospel musician, known for singing bass with The Cathedrals

Baseball players

Five Major League Baseball players were born or have been residents in Lenoir:

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