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Lenoir is a city in Caldwell County, North Carolina. It is the county seat of Caldwell County. Lenoir is located in the Blue Ridge foothills. The city also contains the Brushy Mountains, a spur of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hibriten Mountain, located within the city limits of Lenoir, marks the western end of the Brushy Mountains range.
Indigenous Americans were residing in the Lenoir, NC area for centuries before the arrival of the first European settlers. On Bussell Island, which is situated across the Tennessee River to the south, archaeologists have found proof of habitation dating to as early as the Archaic Period (8000–1000 B.C.). The island as well claimed to have been the location of “Coste,” a village visited by Hernando de Soto in 1540. The Cherokee are known in the Lenoir area as “Wa’ginsi”, and believed it to be the home of a giant serpent that brought bad luck to anybody who saw it.
As of the Census of 2010, the population of Lenoir NC was 18,228. During the 2000 Census there were 16,793 people, 6,913 households, and 4,569 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,013.7 people per square. There were 7,461 housing units at an average density of 450.4 per square mile. The population was spread out with 22.9% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. The median income for a household in the city was $29,369, and the median income for a family was $37,280. Males had a median income of $26,122 versus $21,895 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,697. About 10.4% of families and 14.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.4% of those under age 18 and 12.7% of those ages 65 or over.
The city was named for Revolutionary War figure and early North Carolina statesman General William Lenoir, who settled north of present day Lenoir. His restored home, Fort Defiance, is a tourist attraction. Lenoir is one of the principal cities in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area. The City of Lenoir operates under a Mayor/City Council form of government. The mayor is elected on 4 year terms. The City Council is elected every 4 years.
Broyhill Furniture Company, one of the largest furniture companies in the United States and part of Heritage Home Group (KPS Capital Partners), recently closed its headԛuarters in Lenoir. Furniture in general has historically been one of the city’s largest employers. The Bernhardt, Kincaid, and Fairfield furniture companies are also located in or around Lenoir. However, in the 1990s, these companies began changing their business models to reflect consumer trends and they have closed several of Lenoir’s furniture factories. Recent consolidations of area furniture facilities (Thomasville, Taylorsville, North Wilkesboro, etc.) have netted modest gains in positions in the industry around Lenoir, NC. Now the medical and education sectors are the largest employers in the area.
Lenoir NC is traditionally spread out along US-11, west of the road’s junction with US-321. This section of the city still roughly follows a grid plan laid out in the 1890s. In recent decades, Lenoir City has annexed a 5-mile corridor of land along US-321 between its US-11 intersection and I-40 intersection. This corridor contains the city’s newer, commercial area that caters to the high volume of traffic brought to the area by I-75 and I-40.
Lenoir County officials organized county public health services in 1917. Lenoir County was the eighth county that established a local program that provided full-time public health services in the state. Dr. J. S. Michner was Lenoir County’s first full-time health officer. Joey Huff is the current local health director. The Lenoir County Health Department provides local public health services and programs to county residents. Services and programs include Adult Health, Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Health Promotion, Animal/Rabies Control, Child Health, Care Coordination for Children (CC4C), Childhood Lead Prevention, Environmental Health services, Family Planning, Immunizations, Laboratory Services, Prenatal Care, Pregnancy Care, Home Case Management, Public Health Social Work, Vital Records, TB/Communicable Diseases/STD/HIV, and WIC. The department was relocated to the current two-story, 19,000 square foot facility at 201 N. McLewean Street in December 1984 after a major capital improvement renovation was completed. The agency has 61 staff positions, the majority possessing a degree and/or a professional license or registration.
WNC Health Insurance is a health insurance agency that offers quality affordable health insurance to those residing in the cities and counties of Western North Carolina. Whether an individual can qualify for subsidies under The Affordable Care Act and enroll during an Annual Open Enrollment Period, or during a Special Enrollment Period, the experts at WNC Health Insurance are there to help. Since 1994, they have been helping individuals, families and businesses figure out the ins and outs of healthcare coverage. They help folks determine which health care plans make the best fit, whether it be Affordable Care Act insurance or private health insurance plans! There is one best healthcare plan for every situation.
By the early 19th century, an early East Tennessee pioneer, Judge David Campbell, had laid claim to part of what is now Lenoir, NC, in which he had constructed a log cabin and a gristmill. In the late 1880s, an abundance of financial capital, the popularity of social theories regarding planned cities, and a thriving coal mining industry in East Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau region led to the establishment of a number of company towns throughout the Upper Tennessee Valley, most of which were funded by investors from the northeast or Knoxville. In 1889, Knoxville railroad magnate Charles McClung McGhee and his friend and associate, Edward J. Sanford, formed the Lenoir City Company, believing the Lenoir estate would be the ideal location for such a town. The company incorporated in April 1890 with $800,000 in stock, and purchased the Lenoir estate — which then consisted of 2,700 acres — for $300 per acre. When the company issued the stock to the public, the investors each received stock in the company and a lot in the planned town.
Lenoir NC was laid out in a grid pattern with four quadrants, west of Town Creek and north of the railroad tracks. The city’s northwest quadrant would be a middle class and affluent residential area, whereas the northeast ԛuadrant would be for the city’s wage-workers. The southwest quadrant would contain blast furnaces, steel works, and other large factories, while the southeast ԛuadrant would contain woodworking, furniture, and canning factories. Influenced by late 19th-century reform movements that stressed health and temperance, several lots were set aside for public parks, and a large garden area was planned between the railroad tracks and the river.
The Lenoir City Company struggled due to a recession that froze financial markets in the early 1890s. By 1892, the company had only sold 144 of the town’s 3,448 lots. McGhee and Sanford persisted, however, and while it never developed in the grand fashion conceived, Lenoir City nevertheless survived. McGhee convinced a rail car company to open a factory in Lenoir City, and a short time later a knitting mill was established. Both establishments still employed several hundred workers in 1910.
Inhabitants are bussed to both the city as well as county schools. Due to the distance of the county schools to Lenoir City along with the proximity to the county high schools (Loudon High School and Greenback School), the majority of students who go to county schools within the city via elementary and middle grades (Kindergarten through eighth) end up transferring to the city school system upon becoming a member of high school.
Lenoir NC is a pretty little city with a temperate climate and lots of history. Do plan a visit someday.