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NC Shopping Center Drops Link To Slaveholder

Kate Medley

An iconic North Carolina shopping center is changing its name to drop the connection to a family whose patriarch was a slaveholder before the Civil War.

Cameron Village, a destination for Southeastern shoppers when it was built northwest of downtown Raleigh in the late 1940s, will be known as Village District, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Regency Centers, based in Jacksonville, Florida, announced the change on Thursday.

The change will drop the connection to the Cameron family and to Duncan Cameron, who was one of the wealthiest people in North Carolina and one of the largest landowners and slaveholders in the South, according to historians.

James Wesley "Willie" York saw a newspaper story in 1946 about the advent of the suburban shopping center and decided to build one in Raleigh on a 157-acre tract northwest of downtown which was owned by Annie Cameron Smallwood.

The shopping center opened in 1949 and was the first built between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, according to a news release from Regency Centers. It has undergone repeated renovations and updates, survived two fires and experimented with underground bars and restaurants. York Properties, which still manages the property, sold the shopping center in 1964.

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