North Wilkesboro

North Wilkesboro, NC

Our convener

Through grantmaking and community initiatives, The Health Foundation works to improve the health and wellbeing of residents in Wilkes County, North Carolina, with an emphasis on coalition building and collaboration. 

Heather Murphy

Executive Director

Jenn Wages

Program Director



230 Jefferson Street

North Wilkesboro, NC 28659


North Wilkesboro is a small, geographically isolated town located in rural Appalachia in northwestern North Carolina. It is on the north side of the Yadkin River, which separates it from the county seat of its sister city, Wilkesboro. Nestled in the verdant foothills of the Brushy Mountains, its physical beauty masks the economic hardships of its residents.


North Wilkesboro sprung up next to the tracks in 1891, around a newly-established stop on the railroad. The town soon became home to industry, producing mirrors, textiles, and furniture, as well as the first Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in 1946. The North Wilkesboro Speedway, the first NASCAR-sanctioned track, earned the town recognition as one of the birthplaces of the sport of stock-car racing. Beginning in the 1990s, the speedway, numerous factories, and major corporate offices either closed or re-located to larger markets– leading to a shift in the area’s economy and a large drop in the median income.


Community life in North Wilkesboro is tight-knit and revolves around family, church, and youth sports. An abundance of civic pride has contributed to a community theater, art gallery, greenway, and library. Within this predominantly (90%) white county, the town considers racial diversity a strength, and is home to 13% African-American residents, 13% Hispanic, and 70% White. Now in its 30th year, the annual MerleFest draws over 80,000 festival-goers for a four-day celebration of Americana music with proceeds benefiting the Wilkes Community College.


4,245 people


5.1 square miles

Our Design Team

The structure of each Raising Places Community includes both a convening organization
and a group of local leaders, called the design team.

Linda Cheek

Wilkes Chamber of Commerce

Susan Cogdill

Wilkes Community Partnership for Children

Debbie Ferguson

Town of North Wilkesboro

Greta Ferguson

North Wilkesboro Housing Authority

Junior Goforth

Town of North Wilkesboro

Kathy Kelley

BROC Head Start

Jeremy Parks

Communities in School

Julia Turpin

Wilkes County Public Library

Jenn Wages

The Health Foundation, Inc.

Sam Hinnant

Town of North Wilkesboro


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