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Leigh Farm Park

Features

  1. Disc Golf
  2. Greenway/Trail Access
  3. Picnic Tables
  4. Restrooms
  5. Water Fountains
About Leigh Farm Park
Leigh Farm Park is located just north of N.C. 54 at the I-40 interchange on 370 Leigh Farm Road. The 82.8-acre property is anchored by a 7-acre historic core listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.


The historic area includes:
  • Leigh House (circa 1835)
  • An early 19th century dairy
  • A mid-19th century enslaved peoples cabin with notable stick-built chimney
  • A mid-19th century smokehouse and corn crib
  • A late 19th century well house
  • A late 19th century carriage house
  • The Leigh Family Cemetery
The property also features:
  • A 2nd mid-19th century slave cabin with a 1930 Rustic Revival log addition
  • An early 20th century tobacco barn and pack house
  • Several mid-20th century residences
  • Wooded acreage that was historically open agricultural land

Hours of Operation

The park gates are open daily, year-round, from 8 a.m. to dark.

Parking
To preserve the historic integrity of Leigh Farm, limited parking is available at the park. Parking is available at the entrance of the park and some walking will be required.

Activities
To learn about programs, activities and events available at Leigh Farm Park pick up a copy of the Play More Guide at any facility, the administration office or view it online.

Program Partners

Durham Parks and Recreation currently has 2 partners conducting programs, camps, classes, tournaments, and special events at Leigh Farm Park:
  • Piedmont Wildlife Center conducts year-round camps and classes
  • Durham Orange Recreational Disc Association manages the park’s 18-hole recreational and professional level disc golf course


History

The Durham County Historic Architecture Inventory notes: "The rambling frame Leigh Farmhouse and a number of well-preserved outbuildings, including a slave house with a reconstructed mud-and-stick chimney stand today on a portion of the 500 acres deeded to Richard Stanford Leigh by his father, Sullivan Leigh, on “the waters of Newhope Creek” in 1834...[Leigh] increased his holdings over the years until by 1860 he owned almost 1000 acres of land and sixteen slaves, measures of a very substantial yeoman farmer at the time."

Several Leigh sons served in the Confederate army. In 1865, Sherman’s army marched through the area and plundered the farm—losses that were never recovered. It was a cousin of Leigh, Nancy Bennett, who hosted Sherman and the Confederate general Johnston a bit further north in Durham County as the terms of that famous surrender was debated.

When Richard Stanford Leigh died in 1898, he left 19 children by two wives. The heirs subdivided the property and many Leigh descendants settled on small farms in the area of Leigh’s original farm site. The construction of I-40 in the 20th century further divided up the original Leigh property. 

Another resident of Leigh Farm in the 20th century was an African American farmer named General Roberson. He was born into slavery in Pitt County, North Carolina around 1844, and there is some evidence that his second wife was once enslaved by the Leigh family. In 1904, General Roberson was the highest bidder at auction for 87 acres, paying $600 – roughly the equivalent of $16,000 in today’s currency. General and three of his daughters – Rosa, Cora and Myrtle, along with their spouses – tended the land and in 1935, Cora’s six acres of tobacco was the largest amount planted by an African American farmer in Patterson Township.

By the time of his death in 1927, he had accumulated over 200 acres, more than twice the size of the average farm in the township during this period. The Robersons were among the minority of African American farmers in Durham County because they were land owners rather than tenant farmers. Eventually the property he and his family cultivated was sold for development and it is now part of the Palladian Corporate Center. 


In the period from 1992-1994, the City and the State, with the Triangle Land Conservancy, joined to acquire and preserve 90 acres of the original site, including the core of historic buildings. The State owns the core parcel, which the City leases and manages along with its portion of the property. The National Register nomination of the Leigh Farm complex in 1975 notes that the original house was constructed in 1834, though there have been numerous alterations and additions over the intervening years.