The Leigh Farm Park is a 90-acre parcel abutting I-40 west of New Hope Creek between Durham and Chapel Hill. It is the site of a plantation that dates back to the 19th century. An antebellum house and a cluster of farm buildings have been preserved on the property, which is now owned jointly by the City of Durham and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. It is part of the City of Durham's Heritage Parks program. A long list of public and private organizations played a part in preserving the plantation, as described on the Triangle Land Conservancy website.
The site includes a farmhouse (above and left) that was built by Stanford Leigh in 1835. The diagram below shows the layout of the various buildings on the Leigh Farm property (you can click the diagram to enlarge it).
Photos of the dairy, smokehouse, and slaves' quarters are shown below, as well.
Leigh family descendant Curtis Booker has studied the history of the property and gave a tour at our 2006 Earth Day event. Click here to read more about that event and see some Earth Day photos.
The Durham Parks and Recreation Department is developing Leigh Farm into an historic park. The Department used initial funds to hire a consulting firm—Edwards-Pitman Environmental, Inc.—to identify priorities for site stabilization, particularly preservation of the main house and certain outbuildings. The firm published its initial report in October 2006. Funds approved in a recent bond issue will be used to implement preservation efforts, as well as bringing in water and sewer.
An update on renovation efforts was presented at our July 2007 meeting (see minutes). The Piedmont Wildlife Center is relocating some of its operations to the Leigh Farm site, and a nonprofit known as S.E.E.D.S. (South East Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces) is interested in helping to recreate the old garden.
As of April 2012, the owners of the large tract at the corner of Rt.54 and I-40 (entrance to Leigh Farm Park) are proposing to replace the office buildings (2 of 4 have already been built) with 310 apartment units. Setbacks, etc. will be as per previous plan. NHCCAC will attend a “neighborhood meeting” to learn more about the developer's plans.