New census figures show Wake leading the way

March 3, 2011 5:22:33 PM PST
Eighty years ago Morrisville was a rural farming community with a railroad station. Today it's bustling with traffic, new shopping centers, subdivisions and new people.

Ken Sherman is one of the newest residents, having lived in Morrisville for about a day.

He says he and his wife moved from Apex because of a shorter commute, Morrisville's planning efforts and the still quaint, small town feel right at the entrance to their new subdivision.

That's part of the charm," Sherman said. "I think it does have a sense of place. And not everything has to be beautiful and new to be interesting."

Thanks to Sherman and many, many others, Morrisville has grown by 256 percent over the past ten years, according to census figures. The town has gone from over 5,000 residents to well over 18,000.

At one time, a little area right off Highway 54 was the center of Morrisville. It was the Red and White store when grocery stores were few and far between and people came from all over to see them. That place is now run by a guy who's a local and knows all about the old times.

Now, the bell over the door of the old Red and White leads to a treasure trove of the past -- Ben's Bargains.

And after living in the area for half a century, owner Ben Towson has had a long-term view of the explosion of new residents.

"They're trying to find, you know, a little small town," Towson said. "They want to be close to the big city of Raleigh and Durham but they just like the little suburbs."

He says a lot of the growth in Morrisville is spillover from Cary. For years, Cary was one of the fastest growing municipalities in the state.

"Cary's growing so fast 'til they're trying to get a little bit further out," Towson said as he laughed. "They're coming to Morrisville, and it's growing wild now."

One of those Cary transplants is Morrisville's Mayor Jackie Holcombe. She admits growth comes with problems.

"We're running out of school seating capacity," Holcombe said. "[It's] very, very important for families, for stability in assignment."

Towson also misses the stability of quieter days but is trying to embrace the future.

"I like the old hometown, small, you know," he said. "But, you know, like they say - you can't stand in the way of growth."

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