Hickory Will Make You Believe in Time Travel

Weichert Realtors
June 11, 2015

A contemporary Southern city at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Life is well crafted in Hickory, NC

The very first thing you will notice when you arrive in Hickory, NC, is that time moves at a different pace. Visitors tend to be a bit surprised when strangers greet them at the grocery store or when cars pull off to the side of the road to let them pass. It's as if idyllic small town life has somehow found a way to thrive inside a contemporary Southern city at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains.

A Singular Climate

One of the biggest influences on why both life and the people of Hickory, NC, are so peaceful is the unusual climate conditions in this sheltered valley. The protective mountains to the west and the ocean -- just a few hours to the east -- creates a zone where the temperature stays in the comfort zone (in the 70 to 80 degree range) for most of the year. Nature lovers have plenty of time all year long to hike along quiet forest trails, picnic by waterfalls or paddle down a lazy river in one of the many state parks just a day-trip away.

The greater than average number of sunny days with moderate temperatures makes this a perfect climate for growing grapes, which is why a number of new wineries have sprung up in the area. In addition, some of the nation's top golf courses have been built in surrounding countryside, including the Lenoir Golf Club grounds, designed by Donald Ross, which has been attracting world class golfers since 1929.

The Road From Furniture to Data Centers

Traditionally, Hickory has been known as the place where furniture is born. Hickory Manufacturing has been producing original furnishings like rocking chairs and sofas continuously since 1902. Today, the greater Hickory metro area has embraced the 21st century by making it a home for futuristic data centers from Apple and Google. It's clear why these tech giants chose this community to house such an important part of their core business. There's more to the story than just all the abundant sunshine to run their solar powered facilities. Forbes named Hickory, NC, as the number one small metro area in the country with the lowest cost of doing business.

In fact, it's a bit ironic that this quiet community, with all of its 19th century covered bridges, primeval forest land and a host of antebellum mansions, lies so close to all of the futuristic tech coming out of the Research Triangle. Just two hours due east from Hickory, some of the world's most innovative technologies and advances in medical science are being developed by universities -- classified government contractors and tech startups -- that lie along the Raleigh-Durham corridor. Meanwhile, back in Catawba County, it's easy to simply slip into the past.

The Illusion of Another Age

Forgotten strands of history come alive in here, such as in the tale of the Waldensians. This devout and unique branch of Christians came from Alpine Italy to America in the late 1800s. They worshiped in caves and built a stone fortress in the area that still stands today. You can even visit their homes, which have been carefully preserved for more than 100 years. It's a fascinating and little-known piece of history and it's all here waiting to be investigated by history lovers.

On the other side of town, the Harper House & Hickory History Center, alongside the intricately preserved Bonniwell-Lyerly House, recreates the region's 18th- and 19th-century high society in stunning detail. Picture homes appointed with coffered ceilings and delicately crafted stained glass. Parquet floors in the Victorian grand parlor are set off by a magnificent sweeping staircase and multiple sets of pocket doors. Ancient silhouettes on the walls complete the illusion of another age. It's hard to believe, but it's very real.

The People and Real Estate of Hickory

When Google and Apple moved into Hickory, NC, people around the country began to grow curious about this quiet valley haven. Over the past few years, the price of homes for sale in Hickory, NC, have risen to around $199,000, just a bit higher than the state average. Here are some facts about the area that explain why:

  • The population of 40,000 has been growing slowly, but the metro area is so spread out that each neighborhood retains that small town feeling.
  • People want to put down roots here. Although renting is an option, the overwhelming majority (70 percent) of residents are homeowners rather than renters.
  • The highly educated populace (31 percent have at least one degree) enjoy an average commute of less than 20 minutes.
  • This makes an excellent place to escape the pressures of the working world, as evidenced by the fact that over 5.5 percent of the population here are executives - twice the number in the rest of the state.
  • The Hickory Crawdads are a Class A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, giving their 187,000 fans a window on the new talent coming to major league baseball.

Hickory, NC, is like no other place in the country for its combination of easy access to nature, sampling of small town life and investment in futuristic technology. Hickory makes it easy for you to find your own place in history.

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