A Look Back: History of the Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel

As told by Friends founder Anne Kratzer.

It is special to arrive at this point, when we can look back at the chain of events that brought us to today: enjoying the wonder of the Page-Walker and the enrichment it has given to so many as an arts and history center. When we spoke of the Friends’ journey at a recent Board meeting, Regina McLaurin, who has been involved in the preservation effort since our formation, remarked, “We were just children.” She is right. Most of us were still in our twenties when the seeds of the Friends and the hotel’s preservation were sown.

The effort to restore the hotel began as a result of a conversation that my husband, Jerod, and I had with Rachel Eaton Dunham at her home on Kildaire Farm Road, now Glenaire. In contrast, Jerod and I, like most Cary residents, are not native to the state. We chose to live in North Carolina because of its location and university system. In 1971, we crossed the North Carolina border listening to the sounds of James Taylor singing, “Carolina in My Mind.” A good omen!

Searching for teaching jobs, we discovered Cary on a trip from Chapel Hill to Raleigh. Amazingly, Jerod had flown in the Air Force in Vietnam with an officer who had mentioned that he was from this small town in North Carolina called Cary. The population was about 8,000, and Cary citizens were gracious. Curtis Westbrook, a local realtor, helped us find a home on Shirley Drive, and we became neighbors of the Dunhams.

During one of our conversations in 1974, Mrs. Dunham mentioned that there were boxes of papers and photographs relating to the earliest beginnings of education in Cary that were stored in the basement of Cary Elementary School. Accompanied by other concerned residents, we asked the Wake County Board of Education if we could preserve the papers. We were told that only a bona fide organization would be allowed to do so. In response, we formed the Cary Historical Society, Inc., categorized the papers and preserved them in acid-free materials and fireproof boxes. We then created committees to address other preservation needs. One of those committees was the Historic Sites Committee, and it laid the foundation for the effort to save the Walker Hotel.

Read the History of the Friends in the following Installments!

Making Connections

A Seed Begins to Germinate

A Seed Begins to Sprout

We're On Our Way

Beyond the Bake Sale

Our Mortar is in Order

The Groundbreaking

All Aboard, Full Steam Ahead!

Warm Memories, New Dreams

Although many individuals were involved in the formation of the Friends, these articles are dedicated to the first official Board of Directors (1986): Jim Allen, Mark Berube, Ann Burns, Barbara Brown, Dave Fischetti, Helen Haft Goldstein, Dave Grant, Sharon Hendricks, Myrick Howard, Irene Kittinger, Anne Kratzer, Sheila Lattner, Chuck Montgomery, Dick Paton, Harold Ritter, Judy Rysdon, Pati Schetzina, Becky Yates and Joe Zaytoun.

If you're inspired to learn more about the Friends of the Page-Walker or Cary's history, please contact us. History is an ongoing narrative, and we invite you to become a part of it.

By Mail: Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel, Inc., P.O. Box 4234, Cary NC 27519

By Email: info@friendsofpagewalker.org

The Page-Walker Arts & History Center is operated by the Town of Cary and is located at 119 Ambassador Loop on the Cary Town Hall campus. For questions about rental of the facility or about Town-sponsored programs, please call the Page-Walker staff at 919-460-4963.

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