We travel on them pretty much every day, but almost never give any thought to why the streets of Sanford have the names they do. This week, our Throwback feature sheds some light on the history behind some of the city’s most notable thoroughfares. As may be the case in a lot of other communities, the names of Sanford’s streets fall into 4 general categories — notable citizens (and statesmen), local landmarks, nearby communities (that are often linked by road), and natural expressions.
Here is a brief categorization of many of Sanford’s best known roadways:
Citizens — Hawkins, Steele and Gordon Streets are named for railroad executives at the time the city was formed. Weatherspoon, Wicker, Chisholm, Dalrymple, Buchanan, Watson and Cross were prominent families and landowners in Sanford’s formative years. Lee and Vance were Civil War leaders. Alexander McIver and William Horner were civic leaders who also held prominent positions in the state.
Landmarks — Academy Street recalls the 19th century’s Jonesboro Academy, while Baptist Street recognizes the Jonesboro Baptist Church and is the only street in the original Sanford – Jonesboro street plan that is named for a specific religious church and denomination.
Communities — Fayetteville and Carthage Streets are modernized versions of long-standing roads that traveled between Sanford and those communities. Gulf, Charlotte, Greensboro, Goldsboro, New Bern and Jonesboro are avenues that recognize other North Carolina communities. Moore and Chatham Streets were named in honor of the counties whose original boundaries were modified to create Lee County.
Nature — Sanford is also home to many tree-themed thoroughfares, including Maple, Oakwood, Hickory and Linden. City planners felt names such as Juniper, Primrose, Pinehurst and Rosemary were pretty names that also reflected the area’s natural beauty.
What’s in a name? When it comes to the streets of Sanford, the answers as are diverse as the roads themselves.
Editorial content, pictures and research background, compliments of Jimmy Haire and Images of America: Sanford and Lee County, by Jimmy Haire & W.W. Seymour, Jr, available here for purchase. All proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to Sanford’s Railroad House Historical Association, Inc.