A Page in Time
By Cheryl Capaldo Traylor
Photos courtesy of The Page-Walker Collection
Ghostly footsteps heard walking across empty rooms. The unmistakable sound of galloping hoofbeats—with no horse in sight. These are a couple of eerie occurrences that have taken place over the years at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center in downtown Cary. But ghost stories are only part of the Page-Walker’s long history. This year the center celebrates a very special milestone—150 years.
The year-long anniversary celebration culminates September 15th with Bygone Daze, an event that promises to provide good old-fashioned Victorian fun and a chance to learn more about the history of Cary. “Cary has a rich history, and it does not begin in the 1970s,” says Kris Carmichael, operations and program supervisor with the Town of Cary Historical Resources.
A Look Back
In 1868, Frank Page, businessman and founder of Cary, built a hotel to accommodate railroad passengers, mostly traveling salesmen passing through the town. Carmichael explains, “When Page got news that a second railroad line was coming through Cary, he saw an opportunity to build a hotel. This wasn’t too many years after the Civil War, and he was looking forward rather than looking back.” Over the years it also served as a boarding house for students and faculty of the original Cary High School and, for several decades, as a private residence. The building stood unoccupied and came on the market during the early 1980s. The years had taken their toll, and by 1985 the old hotel was in bad shape.
That’s when a group of citizens led by Anne Kratzer began working tirelessly to save the building. With the old hotel’s important historic link to Frank Page, preserving it was an urgent matter. The group later became the Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel and is still involved with local historic preservation. “Anne had the passion and ability to make others aware of the treasure that was sitting right here,” Carmichael says. Restoration was completed in 1994, and since then the Page-Walker has more than fulfilled the Friends’ vision of it being a place that is alive with both arts and history.
The Past Is Here, But So Is the Present
A typical summer day finds at least one of the galleries filled with lively youths blending art and history by creating scrapbooks or producing documentaries. Live music on the center’s lawn is a popular event for summer evenings. “The past is here, but so is the present,” Carmichael says. With approximately 30,000 to 35,000 annual visitors, the Page-Walker Arts and History Center serves the Cary community by offering a wide variety of youth and adult art classes, historic preservation programs, rotating art and history exhibits, and two seasonal concert series.
The Page-Walker has been a vital part of the Town of Cary for 150 years. Whether you want to learn about the history of Cary, take an art class, enjoy an evening of music, or listen for the ghostly galloping of grieving horses, the Page-Walker Arts and History Center is a good place to begin your journey.
For more information contact TownOfCary.org
A Spirited Walk
Want to learn more about the ghost horse whose hoofbeats have been heard
thundering down Ambassador Loop? Could the hotel’s ghostly footsteps belong to the young soldier who died while staying there during the Union occupation? Or maybe the footsteps are auditory vestiges of a strict Cary High School teacher from the boarding house years? Some say it could be Frank Page himself walking through the hotel he built 150 years ago.
Join the Cary Players for a Ghost Walk on October 27th, and listen as they tell these scary stories and other local legends during walking tours of historic downtown Cary. The eerie evening starts at beautiful Hillcrest Cemetery, where many of Cary’s notable citizens are buried. Be prepared to meet ghosts who tell the history of Cary through their own personal histories. “It’s storytelling with a haunted tour twist,” Carmichael says.
The Ghost Walk is planned for
Saturday, October 27th, with four evening tours: 7:00, 7:20, 7:40, and 8:00PM
Ages 10 and up. Tickets $15.