What’s in a Name?

Sometimes, everyone while driving down a street–like Haywood, Charlotte, Merrimon or Patton Avenue, names so common–stops and wonders about the name. “I wonder who Charlotte Street was named for? And sometimes, there are streets that wondering where the name came from is the last thing in the world anyone would think about. Like Page Avenue. And did you even know it is an avenue?” Everyone just says, “Page.” I would have guessed “Street.”

E.W. Grove, while creating his business block around the Battery Park Hotel, chose the name for Page Avenue for the publisher, writer and ambassador to Great Britain during World War I, Walter Hines Page. Page was born at what is now Cary, NC in 1855. He was one of the founders of the publishing house of Doubleday, Page and Company and served as American ambassador to Great Britain from 1913-1918. Although ill, he stayed on, barely making the voyage back home to his native sandhills to die, December 21, 1918.

Aerial view by John Caldwell, 1925 of Battery Park area, showing the creation of O. Henry (L), Battery Park (foreground), and Page Avenue (R) with Hotel (1924) at center. Residential areas to the north. Margo Terrace at left. Along Haywood St at right, St. Lawrence Church, the 1904 City Auditorium, and the Vanderbilt Hotel.

Page Avenue opened on June 1, 1924.

Since the holidays are upon us, it seems appropriate to also mention that we have a small book in the North Carolina Room book collection titled, Walter H. Page’s Christmas Letter To His Grandson. It was published by Doubleday, Page & Company in 1924, although he wrote it from London in 1915. It begins:

“For your first Christmas, I have the honour to send you my most affectionate greetings; and in wishing you all good health, I take the liberty humbly to indicate some of the favours of fortune that I am pleased to think I enjoy in common with you. . .You have discovered, and my experience confirms yours, that a perpetual self-consciousness brings most of the misery of this world. Men see others who are richer than they; or more famous, or more fortunate–so they think; and they become envious. You have not reached the period of such empty vanity, and I have long passed it. Let us, therefor, make our mutual vows not to be disturbed by the good luck or the good graces of others, but to continue, instead, to contemplate the contented cat on the rug and the unenvious sky that hangs over all alike.”

Click here if you’d like to read the whole letter.


Post by Zoe Rhine


  1. Lovely, lovely, lovely! Wish I could get a copy of this for a favorite grandchild or two! 🙆

    Becca Morris Pullease Sent from my iPhone


  2. Zoe,

    What a wonderful post about the history of such an important part of our downtown. And with the added delight of Page’s delightful Christmas letter! Thanks so much…

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