The year was 1981. Hill Street Blues was the hot new program on that 19-inch TV screen. Car radios blared the hot new single, “The Tide is High” by Blondie. Prince Charles got engaged to Lady Diana Spencer, and Walter Cronkite stepped down from CBS evening news, to be replaced by Dan Rather. Closer to home, enrollment at North Carolina State University topped 21,000, football coach Monte Kiffin was leading the Wolfpack to what would be a 4-7 season, and Raleigh was in the midst of a growth spurt that would increase the city’s population almost 38% between 1980 and 1990. Recognizing challenges of the surging growth, a band of homeowners directly north of the NCSU campus gathered to organize the University Park Homeowners Association. A key figure was of Isabella Cannon, the Scottish-born former mayor of Raleigh.
Founding member Jim Clark says, “I recall that meetings were held in Isabella’s home, with quite a lot of back and forth between Isabella, Tom Quay, Bill Hassler, and several other neighbors. The mood was not always happy, but civility prevailed. Tom Willis was the peacemaker if there was a need for one. A map that facilitated some of our discussions was mine to keep safely at my house for several years. I would pull it out and take it to meetings if called upon.
Isabella’s residence was an archive; no more, no less. One bathroom was used for storage. Even the tub was stacked neatly with papers from the careers and travels of her and her husband Jim.”