Counties with the oldest homes in North Carolina

Written by:
September 12, 2021
Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

Counties with the oldest homes in North Carolina

There's an undeniable charm that comes with pre-World War II American architecture, characterized by high ceilings, crown molding, hardwood floors, and ornate details. In fact, 12.8% of all housing units in America were built in 1939 or before, showing the popularity of the preservation of these units. Owning a piece of history can sometimes come with a cost: Many old homes come with asbestos, lead piping, knob-and-tube wiring, and other outdated building styles that can rack up a hefty price tag to modernize. However, with more and more modernized pre-war homes on the market, generally located just outside bustling downtown metros, investing in property that has withstood the test of time is an attractive prospect.

Stacker compiled a list of the counties in North Carolina with the oldest homes using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by median year the structure was built, with ties broken by the most homes before 1939.

The country’s domestic architecture is perhaps best characterized by a rugged individualism as opposed to the hybridization of disparate architectural elements. As Maya Angelou once perceptively observed, "the ache for home lives in all of us," a phrase that has meant very different things to different people.

Modest or palatial, there is no shortage of noteworthy homes in the U.S. Log cabins constructed by industrious pioneers have dotted the landscape alongside traditional Native American dwellings ever since immigrant Swedes introduced them to the New World in 1638. The unprecedented personal fortunes amassed by the so-called "Robber Barons" at the close of the 19th century gave way to the construction of a staggering number of Gilded Age estates.

The ravages of time spared neither the sumptuous nor the humble. Stately mansions, often prohibitively costly to maintain in the modern era, were frequently neglected; simple structures were forgotten, discarded by their owners, and damaged by natural elements. However, the tireless efforts of architectural preservationists and local historical societies have saved many of these homes from demolition, leading to their inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and thereby safeguarding them for future generations.

Keep reading to learn more about which counties in North Carolina have the oldest homes.

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Theresaperry44 // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Bertie County

- Median year homes built: 1981
--- #2,073 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.8%
--- #1,960 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 9,812
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AlexiusHoratius // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Rowan County

- Median year homes built: 1981
--- #2,058 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 10.2%
--- #1,658 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 61,642
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gerrydincher // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Columbus County

- Median year homes built: 1980
--- #1,986 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.1%
--- #2,270 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 26,332
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OptimumPx // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Cleveland County

- Median year homes built: 1980
--- #1,985 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.2%
--- #2,260 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 43,614
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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#26. Forsyth County

- Median year homes built: 1980
--- #1,983 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.3%
--- #2,234 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 164,902
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Wasrts // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Yadkin County

- Median year homes built: 1980
--- #1,972 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.9%
--- #2,131 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 17,432
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Pollinator // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Vance County

- Median year homes built: 1980
--- #1,969 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.0%
--- #2,107 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 20,139
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Nolichuckyjake // Shutterstock

#23. Rutherford County

- Median year homes built: 1980
--- #1,960 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.4%
--- #2,036 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 34,401
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G Keith Hall // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Surry County

- Median year homes built: 1980
--- #1,956 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.8%
--- #1,963 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 34,160
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Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Wilkes County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,860 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.1%
--- #2,472 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 33,587
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Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Gaston County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,837 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.7%
--- #2,154 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 92,873
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David Byron Keener // Shutterstock

#19. Beaufort County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,836 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.8%
--- #2,138 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 26,081
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Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Richmond County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,826 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.5%
--- #2,020 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 21,585
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Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Northampton County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,818 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.1%
--- #1,927 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 11,666
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Tradewinds // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Jones County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,811 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.6%
--- #1,856 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 4,985
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Ron Reiring // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Burke County

- Median year homes built: 1978
--- #1,713 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.7%
--- #2,338 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 41,253
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Nolichuckyjake // Shutterstock

#14. Caldwell County

- Median year homes built: 1978
--- #1,705 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.4%
--- #2,212 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 38,067
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Bethbrownebooks // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Chowan County

- Median year homes built: 1978
--- #1,683 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.4%
--- #1,755 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 7,304
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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Scotland County

- Median year homes built: 1977
--- #1,603 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.4%
--- #2,216 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 15,312
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Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Lenoir County

- Median year homes built: 1977
--- #1,601 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.6%
--- #2,176 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 27,607
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Cecouchman // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Halifax County

- Median year homes built: 1977
--- #1,574 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.5%
--- #1,739 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 25,939
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HarmonyReignPope // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Tyrrell County

- Median year homes built: 1977
--- #1,564 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 10.5%
--- #1,636 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 2,119
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State Archives of North Carolina // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Edgecombe County

- Median year homes built: 1977
--- #1,558 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.0%
--- #1,581 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 24,990
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Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Mitchell County

- Median year homes built: 1977
--- #1,549 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.6%
--- #1,521 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 8,831
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Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Anson County

- Median year homes built: 1977
--- #1,538 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 13.2%
--- #1,388 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 11,622
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Boston Public Library // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Hertford County

- Median year homes built: 1976
--- #1,462 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.1%
--- #1,926 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 10,660
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Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Rockingham County

- Median year homes built: 1976
--- #1,440 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.1%
--- #1,577 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 44,113
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Alanteitleman // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Martin County

- Median year homes built: 1975
--- #1,329 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.4%
--- #1,882 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 11,584
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Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Stanly County

- Median year homes built: 1974
--- #1,216 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.2%
--- #1,560 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 27,805
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Ymblanter // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Washington County

- Median year homes built: 1973
--- #1,113 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 13.1%
--- #1,399 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 6,458

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