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Lexington, North Carolina
South Main Street
South Main Street
Location in Davidson County and the state of North Carolina
Location in Davidson County and the state of North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Davidson
 • Type Council-Manager government
 • Total 17.98 sq mi (46.56 km2)
 • Land 17.98 sq mi (46.56 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
809 ft (246.5 m)
 • Total 18,931
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,053.06/sq mi (406.59/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 336
FIPS code 37-38060
GNIS feature ID 0988406

Lexington is the county seat of Davidson County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 18,931. It is located in central North Carolina, 20 miles (32 km) south of Winston-Salem. Major highways include I-85, I-85B, U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 70, U.S. Route 52 / I-285 and U.S. Route 64. Lexington is part of the Piedmont Triad region of the state.

Lexington, Thomasville, and the rural areas surrounding them are slowly developing as residential bedroom communities for nearby cities such as Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and, to a lesser extent, Charlotte and its northeastern suburbs.


Dr William Rainey Holt Lexington North Carolina
Dr. William Rainey Holt built Lexington's oldest home, The Homestead, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lexington area was at least sparsely settled by Europeans in 1775. The settlers named their community in honor of Lexington, Massachusetts, the site of the first skirmish of the American Revolutionary War. Lexington was incorporated as a city in 1828. Silver Hill Mine, located a few miles south of Lexington, opened in 1838, and was the first operating silver mine in the country.

The oldest surviving house in Lexington is The Homestead, built by Dr. William Rainey Holt (1798–1868), a physician born in what is today Alamance County. The Homestead has windows, sidelights and other Palladian details characteristic of the pattern books of architect Asher Benjamin. The home's owner was a Pennsylvania-trained physician who practiced medicine after relocating to Davidson County. An ardent secessionist, Dr. Holt had three sons killed during military service for the Confederacy in the Civil War. His home was occupied by Union Army soldiers.

Following the war, Holt spent an increasing amount of time at his plantation Linwood, located southwest of Lexington, where he operated a scientific farm on his 1,600 acres (6.5 km2). As president of the North Carolina Agricultural Society, Holt was among the first to introduce purebred breeds of livestock to the state.

In addition to The Homestead, the Erlanger Mill Village Historic District, First Reformed Church, Grace Episcopal Church, Grimes Brothers Mill, Grimes School, Hedrick's Grove Reformed Church, Junior Order United American Mechanics National Orphans Home, Lexington Memorial Hospital, Lexington Residential Historic District, Old Davidson County Courthouse, Pilgrim Reformed Church Cemetery, Henry Shoaf Farm, Uptown Lexington Historic District, and John Henry Welborn House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



Lexington Barbecue Festival - more pigs
Pigs in the City and the Lexington Barbecue Festival bring in tourists from all over the country.

Lexington calls itself the "Barbecue Capital of the World". Since 1984, the city has hosted the Lexington Barbecue Festival, one of the largest street festivals in North Carolina. As of 2003, the city has over twenty barbecue restaurants, an average of more than one per thousand residents. In 2012, US News and World Report ranked Lexington as #4 on its list of the best cities for barbecue.

Lexington-style barbecue is made with pork shoulder cooked slowly over a hardwood fire, usually hickory. It is basted in a sauce (called "dip" locally) made with vinegar, ketchup, water, salt, pepper and other spices. The ingredients vary from restaurant to restaurant, with each restaurant's recipe being a closely guarded secret. While each is vinegar based, the taste varies widely from tangy to slightly sweet or spicy.

The most distinguishing feature of the "Lexington Barbecue Sandwich" is the inclusion of red slaw (sometimes called "barbecue slaw"). Red slaw is a combination of cabbage, vinegar, ketchup and crushed/ground black pepper. Red slaw is distinguishable from coleslaw because red slaw contains no mayonnaise. Many Lexingtonians (and visitors) consider red slaw a staple for a quality barbecue experience. Red slaw is commonly served as a side dish with barbecue, grilled poultry and other meats, and on hot dogs as a relish.

Pigs in the City

"Pigs in the City" is a public art initiative coordinated by Uptown Lexington, Inc., a non-profit organization created to revitalize the downtown (locally called "uptown") area of Lexington. People pay commissions to artists to decorate life-sized sculptures of pigs, which was installed throughout the city. The event includes an annual celebration held in the fall in the uptown business district. Pigs in the City began in 2003, and the event drew more than 40,000 visitors from all over the state in its first year. The cost to "sponsor" one of the 20 pigs on display was $1,000 during the first exhibition, which paid for the initiative. Since 2006, it has been established as an annual event.

High Rock Lake

The second largest lake in North Carolina, High Rock Lake is located a few miles south of Lexington. Its water surface covers 15,180 acres (61 km2), and it has 365 miles (587 km) of shoreline. It begins at the confluence of the Yadkin and South Yadkin rivers.

High Rock Lake has long been considered one of the best fishing lakes of North Carolina. It is the site of the Bassmaster Tournaments, including the Bassmaster Classic in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 2007 and frequently is used for other angling competitions. The lake is stocked with channel, blue, and flathead catfish, plus crappie and several different sunfish, such as bluegill, shellcracker and others. Striper and their hybrids, as well as white bass, are also abundant.

The lake is best known for its quantity and quality of largemouth bass, which attract anglers from all over the United States. This is likely due to the relatively shallow nature of the lake and the favorable habitat for the bass.


Davidson County NC Governmental Center
Davidson County Governmental Center

Lexington is located in the Piedmont region. It is centered at 35°49'0" North, 80°15'31" West (35.816768, −80.258643). Lexington is 11 miles (18 km) northeast of High Rock Lake, part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee chain of lakes in central North Carolina.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.0 square miles (46.6 km2), all of it land.

Interstate 85 Business passes north and west of the center of Lexington, and Interstate 85 passes to the south. The highways merge as the southwest end of the city. Additionally, four U.S. highways, U.S. Route 29, 64, 52, and 70, and state highways 8 and 47 intersect in the city.


Thunderstorms are common during the spring and summer months, including some severe storms. Located in central North Carolina, between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mid-Atlantic coast, Lexington has a humid subtropical climate, with moderate temperatures during spring and autumn and warm to hot summers. Winters are relatively mild and wet with highs typically in the 40s to 50s and overnight lows averaging just below freezing.

Climate data for Lexington, North Carolina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 49.6
Average low °F (°C) 28.6
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.06
Snowfall inches (cm) 2.4
Avg. precipitation days 10.2 9.3 10.2 9.0 10.0 9.5 10.4 8.4 7.7 6.6 8.8 9.6 109.7
Avg. snowy days 0.8 0.9 0.4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.3 2.4
Sunshine hours 170.5 175.2 229.4 246.0 260.4 270.0 269.7 248.0 225.0 220.1 174.0 164.3 2,652.6
Source: NOAA, HKO (sun)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 475
1880 475 0.0%
1890 626 31.8%
1900 1,440 130.0%
1910 4,163 189.1%
1920 5,234 25.7%
1930 9,652 84.4%
1940 10,550 9.3%
1950 13,571 28.6%
1960 16,093 18.6%
1970 17,205 6.9%
1980 15,711 −8.7%
1990 16,581 5.5%
2000 19,953 20.3%
2010 18,931 −5.1%
2019 (est.) 18,933 0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
Davidson County NC Courthouse
Davidson County Courthouse

2020 census

Lexington racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 9,094 46.32%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 5,419 27.6%
Native American 110 0.56%
Asian 586 2.98%
Pacific Islander 6 0.03%
Other/Mixed 963 4.91%
Hispanic or Latino 3,454 17.59%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 19,632 people, 7,448 households, and 4,607 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 18,931 people in the city, organized into 7,376 households. This represents a population reduction of 1022 persons, or 5%, when compared to the 2000 census. The median age was 37.4 years for all persons (39.4 for females, 35.2 for males).

Of the total population, 15.1% were at least 65 years old, 24.6% were under the age of 18, with the remaining 60.3% of the population being persons from 18 to 64. Males comprise 48.1% and females make up 51.9% of the total population. Caucasians make up 54.7% of the total population (including 16.3% who were Latino), African-Americans 28.4% and Asians represent 2.9% of the population. Fully 10.7% of the population identifies themselves as some other race, while 2.6% were of two or more races. Other races each represent less than 1% each of the total population.

Of the total 7,376 households, 4,581 were considered family households, including 2067 that had children under 18. The average household size was 2.44 persons, and the average family size was 3.08 persons. There were 8,938 total housing units, of which the 7376 were households, for an occupancy rate of 82.5%. 47.6% of these households were owner-occupied, while 52.4% were renters.

According to the 2000 census, The median income for a household in the city was $26,226, and the median income for a family was $32,339. Males had a median income of $25,555 versus $20,939 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,310. 21.2% of the population and 16.7% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 31.7% of those under the age of 18 and 18.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line. The global outsourcing of textile and furniture manufacturing has negatively impacted Lexington's economy.

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