During the 1920s, racial segregation pushed Black entrepreneurs and professionals to move their businesses to East Hargett Street in downtown. The stretch between Fayetteville Street and Moore Square developed as a commercial district that became known as Raleigh’s “Black Main Street.” A handful of the original buildings that housed these Black businesses, from doctors offices and pharmacies to retailers and social hubs, still remain.
The Delany-Evans Building — now a Raleigh Historic Property — was founded in 1926 by Dr. Lemuel Delany and Dr. George Evans, the second Black dentist in Raleigh. In 1935, Mollie Huston Lee, the first African American librarian in Wake County, established the Richard B. Harrison Library in the same building, making it Raleigh’s first public library to serve Black people. You may remember this building as the now-closed Remedy Diner.
Across the street is what was once Hamlin Drug Store, the oldest Black-owned pharmacy in NC and the oldest drug store in Raleigh. It was founded by James Hamlin in 1904 as People’s Drug Store before it relocated to East Hargett Street in 1921. It closed in 2017, shortly after its 100-year anniversary.
The GoRaleigh Station used to be the site of the Lightner Arcade Hotel. Built in 1921 by businessman Calvin Lightner, it became a social and cultural hub for Raleigh’s Black community, housing a barber shop, restaurant, newspaper, and at one point, Hamlin Drug Store. The building burned down in 1970.
Mechanics and Farmers Bank, now M&F Bank, opened its first branch in 1908, becoming an anchor of Durham’s “Black Wall Street.” It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest Black-owned financial institutions. The Raleigh branch opened on East Hargett Street in 1923 — it remains open today in its original location, across from The Raleigh Times.
Bonus: As you walk down East Hargett Street, look for sidewalk murals highlighting several Black businesses that once lined the street.