Penderlea Homesteads Historic District

Bounded by Sills Creek on the north ; Webber Rd . and Crooked Run Rd . on the east; Lake Rd . on the south; and Lamb Rd. and Raccoon Rd. on the west, Willard, NC


Penderlea Homesteads Historic District

National Register Database

View this photo at



The Penderlea Homesteads Historic District is a large rural historic district comprising farms, dwellings, outbuildings, and institutional buildings on approximately 4,250 acres in northwest Pender County, North Carolina. Penderlea is significant as the first experimental farm-city colony established by the United States government through the Department of the Interior's Division of Subsistence Homesteads, which was organized in 1933 under the National Industrial Recovery Act. Part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, the goal of the Division of Subsistence Homesteads was to create model communities where poor or landless farmers struggling during the Great Depression could live, produce crops to support their families, and generate cash income from off the- farm opportunities. The subsistence homesteading program stressed an agrarian lifestyle based on a simpler, back-to-the-land philosophy where community work and cooperation were key. Penderlea Homesteads developed from 1934 to 1943 under the direction of various federal agencies, but with local administration. The result was the construction of 142 weatherboard dwellings, each following standardized plans designed by the New York architectural firm of Stearns and Stanton. The homesteading program also built standardized outbuildings, and a community center, all set in a designed rural landscape. In 1943, the government began liquidating its subsistence homestead communities wh i ch allowed Penderlea residents to purchase their farms. In September 1945, the government finally finished auctioning off all of its remaining property at Penderlea Homesteads. After the government's involvement at Penderlea ended, the community did not disband, but in fact expanded. Men organized a Ruritan Club in 1949, a volunteer fire department was established in the 1950s, and farming, which was the principal occupation for Penderlea's first families, continued as a way of life at least into the mid-1960s. Social and civic organizations, school sports teams, church fellowship, and a shared history as a resettlement homestead has survived over time, sustaining a sense of community for this unincorporated place that began under the New Deal and continues to the present. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 9/27/2013.

Update Log 

  • August 21, 2014: Added by Michael Miller