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Wake Forest, North Carolina
White Street
White Street
Location in Wake County and the state of North Carolina.
Location in Wake County and the state of North Carolina.
Country United States
State North Carolina
Counties Wake, Franklin
Incorporated 1880
 • Total 17.84 sq mi (46.20 km2)
 • Land 17.71 sq mi (45.88 km2)
 • Water 0.12 sq mi (0.32 km2)
387 ft (118 m)
 • Total 30,117
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,575.73/sq mi (994.52/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EST)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 919, 984
FIPS code 37-70540
GNIS feature ID 1023094

Wake Forest is a town in Franklin, Granville 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 in 2000. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the city's population to be 47,601 as of April 1, 2020. 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 U.S. Office of Management and Budget also includes Wake Forest as a part of the Raleigh-Durham-Cary Combined Statistical Area, which has a population of 2,106,463 as of U.S. Census 2020 Population Estimates. The Office of Management and Budget redefined the Federal Statistical Areas and dismantled what had been for decades the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Statistical Area. They have now been split them into two separate Micropolitan areas labeled Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill. However they still function as one Research Triangle (or colloquially The Triangle) 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.


Wake Forest is located at 35°58′24″N 78°31′8″W / 35.97333°N 78.51889°W / 35.97333; -78.51889 (35.973289, -78.518789).

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.


Wake Forest enjoys a moderate subtropical climate, with moderate temperatures in the spring, fall, and winter. Summers are typically hot with high humidity. Winter highs generally range in the low 50s °F (10 to 13 °C) with lows in the low-to-mid 30s °F (-2 to 2 °C), although an occasional 60 °F (15 °C) or warmer winter day is not uncommon. Spring and fall days usually reach the low-to-mid 70s °F (low 20s °C), with lows at night in the lower 50s °F (10 to 14 °C). Summer daytime highs often reach the upper 80s to low 90s °F (29 to 35 °C). The rainiest months are July and August.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 456
1890 858 88.2%
1900 823 −4.1%
1910 1,443 75.3%
1920 1,425 −1.2%
1930 1,536 7.8%
1940 1,562 1.7%
1950 3,704 137.1%
1960 2,664 −28.1%
1970 3,148 18.2%
1980 3,780 20.1%
1990 5,769 52.6%
2000 12,588 118.2%
2010 30,117 139.3%
2019 (est.) 45,629 51.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
2018 Estimate

2020 census

Wake Forest racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 32,087 67.41%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 7,480 15.71%
Native American 88 0.18%
Asian 1,751 3.68%
Pacific Islander 24 0.05%
Other/Mixed 2,402 5.05%
Hispanic or Latino 3,769 7.92%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 47,601 people, 14,732 households, and 11,104 families residing in the town.


As of the 2019 census, there were 47,602 people and 11,059 households in Wake Forest. Wake Forest had a 232% population increase from 2000 to 2019. The population density was 1,614.4 inhabitants per square mile (623.1/km2). There were 5,091 housing units at an average density of 652.9 per square mile (252.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 77.1% White, 14.7% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 1.6% from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.8% of the population.

There were 4,617 households, out of which 41.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.3% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.2% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.11.

As of the 2000 census, the population was spread out, with 29.7% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 39.3% from 25 to 44, 15.8% from 45 to 64, and 7.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $80,215. Males had a median income of $63,585 versus $47,862 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,746. About 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line.


Historical locations

The DuBois Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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.


The Wake County Public Library System operates a branch in Wake Forest.

Parks and recreation

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. They include the following:

  • Plummer Park
  • Joyner Park
  • Tyler Run Park
  • Holding Park and Wake Forest Community House
  • J.B. Flaherty Park
  • Taylor Street Park and Alton Massenburg Center
  • Ailey Young Park
  • H.L. Miller Park
  • Kiwanis Park
  • Smith Creek Soccer Center



  • Air: Wake Forest is served by Raleigh-Durham International Airport, which is located 20 miles (32 km) southwest of the town in northwestern Wake County.
  • Interstate Highway: Wake Forest can be accessed by I-85 and I-40. The town is located to the east of I-85 and north of I-40.
  • Wake Forest is not served directly by passenger trains. Amtrak serves nearby Raleigh.
  • Local bus: The Triangle Transit Authority operates buses that serve the region and connect to municipal bus systems in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.


  • Wake Forest is located off US 1 (also known as Capital Boulevard in northern Wake County), a major north–south U.S. Highway that serves the East Coast of the United States.
  • Other highways that run through the area include NC 96 and NC 98.


Primary and secondary education

The town is served by twelve public schools which are administered by the Wake County Public School System and Granville County Public School System. Public schools include:

  • Heritage Elementary School
  • Jones Dairy Elementary School
  • Mount Energy Elementary
  • Wake Forest Elementary School
  • Richland Creek Elementary School (opened August 2012)
  • G C Hawley Middle
  • Heritage Middle School
  • Granville Early College High
  • Wake Forest Middle School
  • Heritage High School (Wake Forest, North Carolina) (opened August 2010)
  • Wake Forest High School

Charter schools include Franklin Academy (K-12),Wake Forest Charter Academy (K-8), Endeavor Charter School (K-8), and Envision Science Academy (K-8). Private schools include Thales Academy, All Saints Academy, and St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School, serving grades K-8. Wake Forest is also home to two Montessori schools, Wake Forest Montessori and Children's House of Wake Forest.

2009-02-21 SEBTS campus
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Higher learning

Wake Technical Community College is an area two-year college with a north campus on Louisburg Road in Raleigh. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is a seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. It began offering classes in 1950 on the original campus of Wake Forest University and is commonly known by its acronym, SEBTS.

Notable people

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