The recorded history of Oak View began in 1829 when Benton Southworth Donaldson Williams purchased a tract of land in eastern Wake County from Arthur Pool for $135. The property included 85 acres and several outbuildings. Over the next 30 years, Williams added more and more land to his property, eventually totaling over 900 acres. In 1855, he completed the construction of a two-story Greek Revival I-Frame house, and Benton and his family began living there.

Though Williams was not considered a member of the planter class, he was a successful farmer. By 1860, just before the start of the American Civil War, the family owned 12 enslaved men, women and children, and the farm produced about 23 500-pound bales of cotton per year.

Benton was a Unionist, which means that he supported the North instead of the South during the Civil War. Benton believed that North Carolina should remain a part of the United States. After the war, he served as one of four representatives from Wake County at the 1868 North Carolina Constitutional Convention. This meeting allowed North Carolina to apply to re-enter the United States after the Civil War, and to change the State Constitution to make slavery illegal. Oak View is the only surviving homestead of the four Wake County delegates.

​Pictured above is the Oak View Farmhouse. The exact date of this photograph is unknown, but we believe it dates to the early 1900s. The farm house has yet to be renovated by the Poole family (1940) and the gazebo has yet to be built (1910s).   

When Williams passed away in 1870, his will indicated that his land be divided among his children and his wife, Burchett. Portions of the property were also sold to satisfy debts. Burchett passed away in 1886, and 178 acres of land, as well as the house and outbuildings, were auctioned off to Job P. Wyatt and Phil Taylor. Soon enough, Wyatt bought Taylor's half of the farm and the Wyatt family operated the farm. They experimented with different types of crops and seeds on the Oak View farm. In 1911, the Wyatts decided to diversify the farm, and they planted the pecan grove. While operating Oak View as a farm, they continued to operate the Wyatt-Quarles Seed Company, which was founded in 1881 and still does business in the Raleigh area today. The property was eventually named Oak View because of the four large oak trees planted around the main house.

This photograph was taken sometime in the 1910s, during a Wyatt family picnic at Oak View.​
Under Wyatt family ownership, Oak View was a manager-operated farm. The Wyatts hired a property manager to live in the main house and oversee the operations of the farm and the tenant farmers. Several tenant families lived in small houses on Oak View's property and were paid a wage for their work. Unfortunately, none of these tenant houses remain; however, a tenant house similar to those that once stood on the farm was moved to Oak View from Wendell in 2012. The Wyatts also built several more outbuildings on the property, including the Cotton Gin House, Livestock Barn and the Carriage House.
Pictured above is Quint Faribault (tenant farmer), George ​W. Williams (farm manager), and an unidentified man.


In 1940, Julian M. Gregory acquired the property and then sold the farm to James Gregory Poole, Sr. Although the Poole family lived at Oak View for only three years, they are largely responsible for the current appearance of the main house. Influenced by the trends of the day, the house was remodeled and expanded in the Colonial Revival style. Some of the changes to the home include the addition of an indoor kitchen, a sunroom, and a library. These additions briefly preceded more modern conveniences that the Pooles installed, namely electricity and indoor plumbing, which had never been present at Oak View before. During this time, the Poole family also expanded the barn and upgraded the farm's facilities. Shortly after all these renovations were complete, Gregory Poole sold the farm to James and Mary Bryan in 1944.

The Bryans didn't farm Oak View, but they did raise cattle and dig the farm ponds that remain on the land. In 1955, Chauncey and Ella Mae Jones bought the farm and rented some of it out to farmers for several years.

​This photograph is part of a panoramic series taken from the top of the Water Tower shortly after Wake County acquired the property in the mid-1980s. This particular scene shows a view of tenant houses and outbuildings, as well as the driveway winding through Oak View's Pecan Grove from Poole Road.

In 1984, Wake County acquired Oak View's 72 acres of farmland and developed the Wake County Office Park on a portion of the property. The county used the house and farm buildings for storage, but the 17 acres encompassing the remaining pecan grove and complex of farm buildings were slated for demolition. Upon hearing of the county's plan to destroy the old farm, interested citizens began efforts to save the property. The Wake County Historical Society formed a citizens committee to help raise money to save the property. Several Wake County Commissioners also became interested in the fate of Oak View and saw value in protecting the property. To get the project off the ground, the Wake County Board of Commissioners appointed a group of interested citizens and county staff to the Oak View Restoration Steering Committee. Headed by Commissioner Merrie Hedrick, the committee oversaw the campaign to restore the historic buildings and interpret the land as a historic site. Oak View was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1991, giving even more momentum to the project.

The Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Division took over operation at Oak View in 1995, making it the first historic site in the Wake County park system. Under the management of the county, staff members were able to further expand, promote and refine educational programming to reach a wide audience. The Farm History Center was completed in 1997 and serves as a visitors center and interpretive space where patrons can learn about North Carolina's agricultural development from colonial times to the present. Today, more than 100,000 visitors come to Oak View each year to learn about North Carolina's agricultural past through programs, events and exhibits.