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This page is a "work in progress", changing as the Historic Downtown District evolves. Please check back to see new additions...

Downtown historic district shops and businesses

Most of the original downtown buildings have been preserved to reflect the style of architecture and how the business district of Apex looked many years ago. The stores in the downtown district now house new shops and businesses and many yet still have the same look and feel of times past.

A walk through downtown offers a glimpse of architecture from the 1940s and earlier and reveals an eclectic group of shops offering an an exciting shopping experience.

The following images reveal how downtown business sites continue to be be revitalized by new merchants helping to keep downtown Apex vibrant and serving as a destination for community residents and visitors. As older businesses from the historical downtown area fade away new ones emerge to continue offering goods and services for area residents.

Downtown buildings - then and now
In the early 1900s...

H. C. Benton Grocery

Benton's Grocery - One of the early downtown stores was owned and operated by Mr. H. C. Benton. The grocery store store was established around 1918 and served the community for most of Mr. Benton's lifetime. The store had a small three wheeled scooter fitted with a wooden cage to hold bags of groceries for delivery to customers homes - a service long gone from modern grocery stores.

Photos from a 1942 news article - source unknown.


North East Salem St Looking North

The downtown area grew from a time before the town was incorporated and the community was known back then as "Log Pond". The name was atrributed to a holding pond for timber waiting to be cut into lumber behind the current downtown fire station. This photo shows the north east side of Salem Street looking north in the early years of downtown's evolution. The photo is from the Apex Fire Department collection and is featured in the book "Pluck, Peseverance and Paint" by Warren and Toby Holleman.

The area past these buildings is where downtown Fire Station Number One stands today.

As it is today...

Anna's Pizzaria

Anna's Pizzaria, located at 100 North Salem Street, is one of the latest food establishments in the downtown district in Historic Downtown Apex. The busy, friendly establishment offers a broad selection of fresh made Italian cuisine to downtown shoppers and is a huge hit with residents and visitors alike!

The 1910 corner shop by the stoplight at Salem and Chatham Streets was once known as the Apex Rexall Drugstore during the 1940-1970 years. It was owned and operated by Margaret and Calvin Perry and was the favorite after school meeting place for local students until the pharmacy closed. It later became home of Basket Tree Florist Shop until that business moved to South Salem Street in late 2007.

The front section of the original downstairs pharmacy included a soda counter offering hand made ten cent orange-aides, twenty-five cent milkshakes, hand dipped ice cream and a variety of snacks appealing to merchants, residents and the after school crowd. The fountain area included a long sit-down eating counter typical of the time and a line of booths serving as a gathering place for local friends. The rear section of the store contained the pharmacy counter and drug dispensing area and along the aisle near the rear entrance was an old wooden AT&T telephone booth and coin operated pay phone that served as an after-school communications center for students making their after school stop.

In the 1940-1950 period the second floor was home to Protective Insurance Agency and Dr. L A Raynor's Optometry business and other businesses.

La Rancherita Restaurant
La Rancherita Mexican Restaurant - A festive, Mexican style restaurant located at 102 North Salem Street in the heart of the downtown Apex historic district. The restaurant is always crowded but the service is quick and great. The food is excellent, plentiful and affordable for family and friends.

The Rusty Bucket

The Rusty Bucket - This shop, occupying part of a restored 1925 building, offers stylish and affordable country home decor, antiques and antique reproductions and decorations for the home and items of interest representing the local community and its history. Located since 2004 at 104-A North Salem Street, it occupies the third business from the stoplight at Salem and Chatham. The building (including the space now occupied by "All Booked Up") was previously home to the old "Popes Five and Dime" store in the mid-1950s and was a favorite stop for economically priced merchandise.

The building was constructed in 1925 and for thirty years was the location of an automobile dealership and auto repair garage. In 1955 "Pope's Five & Dime" retail store occupied the address for the next 40 years. In 1995 the space was converted into a shop where Carol and Andy Kish operated "That Unique and Wonderful Place", an antiques and specialty toy store. When that shop closed in 2004 a printing business leased the north half and Pam and Mack Thorpe opened "The Rusty Bucket" in the south half of the building. After six months the printing business closed and Heather O'Sullivan Canney moved "Heather'O Realty" into the half of the building next to the Rusty Bucket. In 2007 Janice Monaco moved "All Booked UP" featuring used books from down the street into the north half of the building.

All Booked Up

All Booked Up - Gently used books, located at 104-B North Salem Street.

The shop occupies one half of the building that was home of the popular "Popes Five and Dime" store in the mid-1950s. The building was constructed in 1925 and served as an automobile dealership and repair shop for thirty years, then became home to an antiques and specialty store. When the antiques store closed in 2005 the building became home for a short while to a printing shop, then became home for The Rusty Bucket in the southern half and Heather O's Realty in the northern half.

Salem Street Pub

Salem Street Pub - The Pub located at 113 North Salem Street is a favorite gathering place offering a wide variety of beers and food, including great burgers and salads and a broad selection of beers and ales. It is a local favorite for breakfast and lunch, always crowded with merchants and residents. Furnishings follow the character of an old style soda shop including a lunch counter with bar stools, soda fountain, wooden booths and tables and displays of photos from early years in Apex and the area.

The previous resident converted the shop from its early years as a dry cleaning store and hat store and opened the downtown Salem Street Soda Shop. In 2008 he sold it to the current owners so they could open a "pub" style restaurant. The shop is in a restored 1920 building once serving as the town's dry cleaning business when it was owned by Wade Baker, Sr. It was originally a shop that "pressed clothes" and cleaned felt hats, and later became a dry cleaning service owned and operated by Mr. Baker. When the shop was opened as the Salem Street Soda Shop it was then owned and operated by Wade Baker Jr. who renovated the space formerly owned by his father.

Fire Station Number One

Apex Fire Department - Fire Station Number One - The Apex Volunteer Fire Department site, built in the 1950's, is located on Salem street adjacent to the old train depot and the Apex Historical Society Caboose.

In the years prior to 1850 a "log pond" (also the source of the early name Apex was known by) was on this site and was filled with logs that would be milled into lumber for the region. The pond also hosted large numbers of bullfrogs and other wildlife. Years later a Pure Oil gas station was built on the site and became one of the Town's early gasoline stops. The gas station was eventually torn down and the site became home of the fire station much as it looks today.

Apex Farmers Market
Apex Farmers Market - Once a dedicated parking lot for the Apex Union Depot in the 1940-1970 years, the parking area at 220 North Salem Street at Center and Salem now provides parking for the Apex Chamber of Commerce, hosts free summer downtown concerts for local residents and on summer Saturdays turns into the Apex Farmers Market where local farmers and gardners offer fresh grown vegetables, fruits and crafts to area shoppers.

Apex Historical Society Caboose

Apex Historical Society Caboose - A restored Seaboard Railroad caboose, provided by the AHS, now serves as a downtown downtown landmark offering a glimpse back into an era of the late 1860s and beyond when coal powered locomotives from times gone by pulled hundreds of freight cars through an early Apex. The caboose is located next to Fire Station Number One and the Chamber of Commerce site.

Apex Chamber of Commerce
Apex Chamber of Commerce - The historic Apex Union Depot , built in 1914 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, currently serves as the home of the Apex Chamber of Commerce. The building, located at 220 North Salem Street at the corner of Salem and Center, served as a train depot for early town residents and later became the town library prior to its current use. The parking lot provides space for the Apex Farmer's Market during summer months and hosts the Apex christmas Tree in December.

Buttercream's Bakeshop
Buttercream's Bakeshop - Delectible pastries and baked goods prepared fresh daily from the oven. Located at 101 North Salem Street, the bakery is the latest resident in the corner building that was once a bank, and later a downtown floral shop at the corner of Salem and Chatham streets.

The Creative Smile
The Creative Smile Center - Local dentist offering a range of dental services in the heart of Historic Downtown Apex. Located at 103 North Salem Street next door to Savory Bakery and Woomer Protective Insurance.

Mens Extras

Mens Extras - A men and Boys specialty shop in the upstairs suite at 103 N Salem Street (next to Savory's Bakery) offering hair cuts and related services. Shop includes ping pong, pool, darts and beverages while waiting.

The site was formerly occupied by Cari Long Photography in an old downtown office building.

Woomer Protective Insurance
Woomer Protective Insurance - 105 North Salem Street. A local agency offering insurance for families and businesses. The current owner aquired the business from the previous owner offering insurance services under the name Protective Insurance Agency, a downtown business dating back into the 1940s when it was started by J. M. Herndon, Sr., and later operated by his son James.

The Ice Cream Shop

The Ice Cream Shop is a Landmark in Historic Downtown Apex and is located at 107 North Salem Street. The Ice Cream Shop has been an integral part for eight years. The Ice Cream Shop offers 24 flavors of Hershey's Premium Ice Cream and a wide variety of Seattle's Best Coffee drinks, Espresso, Cappuccino and Lattes. Open Year round.

La Salon
La Salon - A full service salon located at 109 North Salem Street, open Monday through Friday. Located between The Ice Cream Shop and The Tea Room.

Pineapple Tea Toom

To be updated!

Pineapple Tea Room - 111 North Salem Street in the center of the historic downtown Area. The pineapple has traditionally been used as a symbol of warmth and hospitality traced back to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. In keeping with this historical symbolism, The Pineapple Tea Room provides customers with the same warmth and southern hospitality of bygone days by offering a variety of teas and gifts.

Ocean Grill Restaurant

To be updated!

Ocean Grill - Located at 121 North Salem Street. Seafood and steak restaurant offering a broad menu of seafood, steaks, sandwiches, salads and cocktails in fine dining style. Elegent dining in a comfortable setting in the Historic Downtown District.

The site was previously occupied by Ciao! Osteria restaurant.

Antiques on Salem Street

Antiques on Salem Street - 114 North Salem Street. The Antiques on Salem Street store offers shopping that includes antiques, furniture, collectibles, and home furnishings. Services include estate sales, certified appraisals, furniture refinishing, chair caning, rush and weaving.

The building was originally the home of Ralph Martin's Grocery, founded by Andrew Jackson Martin. The store offered general groceries and supplies, farm supplies, seeds and various general store merchandise. It later was owned by Ralph Hamilton Martin Sr. who operated the store for fifty years until it closed November 11, 1989.

Apex Gallery - Custom Framing
Apex Gallery - Ken Hite acquired The Apex Gallery in 2002 and now offers custom framing and elegant art in Historic Downtown Apex at 125 North Salem Street. Visitors to The gallery are charmed by the turn-of-the-century storefront's brick facade nestled among the historic district's specialty shops, restaurants, and businesses. Located in one of the preserved downtown buildings with original pressed tin ceiling and wide tin crown moulding, the gallery's early archetecture can immediately be seen when entering the door. The tall ceiling with its antique design is a historic treasure and a true conversation piece. The gallery offers visitors an opportunity to experience a look back at Apex history in an elegant and comfortable traditional environment.

The Red Canvas
The Red Canvas, located at 127 N. Salem Street, offers fine art and decorating services. The shop occupies a restored old building in the Downtown Historic District and is owned and operated by a local resident and artist.

Green Pea Baby

To be updated!

Green Pea Baby - The "green" baby shop at 106 North Salem Street carries baby furniture, cribs, baby strollers, diaper bags, baby clothes, crib bedding, infant carseats, nursery décor and more. A collection of green baby items includes natural baby products, organic baby clothing and cloth diapers. Classes in cloth diapering, breastfeeding and more.


Nativa - 108A North Salem Street. Upscale ldies clothing store in Historic Downtown District.

The site was previously occupied by Laura Kelly Designs and the Funky Monkey Paperie.

O P Lauren
O P Lauren - located at 110 North Salem Street in the Historic Downtown District, Apex, N.C. The store is a unique women's clothing and accessories boutique specializing in career wear, active wear, casual clothing and loungewear.


To be updated!

Tirza's - 112 North Salem Street - a gift shop specializing hand made items - Talavera pottery, Day of the Dead folk art, and Sterling Silver jewelry from Taxco along with locally made silver jewelry. The shop also carries locally made stained glass art, fused glass jewelry, hand rolled chocolate truffles, and natural organic skin cleansers and moisturizers.

The site was previously home to Marty Allen Photography and in the late 1950s was home for a Western Auto appliances and auto parts store.


Surcee - 116 North Salem Street in the historic district. Gifts and Jewelry.

The location was an alley since early days of the downtown district and the narrow building was constructed in the last part of the 1900s to fill the space formerly used to walk from parking behind the shops.

Yummy Yogurt

To be updated!

Yummy Yogurt is located at 124 N. Salem Street in the site of an old downtown general supplies store. Offering yogurt and ice cream in a variety of popular flavors in a soda shop setting.

In its early years the store was home to Beasley's Grocery, a popular merchant known for providing groceries and general supplies for home and farm customers.

Downtown Knits

Downtown Knits - Local shop offering knitting supplies, needles, hats, yarns, magaines and all things knitting! Located at 122 North Salem Street in Historic Downtown Apex.

The site is a restored old building once home to a local hardware store frequented by homeowners and farmers alike.

Peak City Grill & Bar

Peak City Grille & Bar - 126 North Salem Street, adjacent to Firehouse Number One. The upscale restaurant , owned by town residents Steve & Julie Adams, is located in a restored old building built by Apex's Seymore family in 1905. A brick in one of the structure's walls is stamped with the date "May 8, 1905" and is from those made on site during the original construction. The building has served as a hardware store, general store, feed and mill store and mules were once sold in what is now the parking lot. More on the building...

Salem Street Promenade

Salem Street Promenade - The 219 Salem Street structure, restored in 2007-08, is one of the latest of downtown restorations.

The original building was constructed in 1909 and was home to Apex Mule and Supply Company, then was an auto dealership, a retail shop and a church. It currently houses retail shops and office space.

Common Grounds Coffee Shop
Common Grounds Coffee Shop - The coffee shop in the Salem Street Promenade building at 219 North Salem Street provides a popular meeting place in an old building that once housed a mule and supply store. The shop offers coffee and a variety of drinks along with sandwiches and treats. Stay for a while and you can sit at one of the window seats and have a great view of downtown activities.

Halle Cultural Arts Center

Halle Cultural Arts Center of Apex - 237 North Salem Street at the junction of Salem and Center Streets. The new downtown cultural arts center is one of the latest buildings to be restored and is home to the new community arts center.

Built in 1912 to be the Apex Town Hall, the building served many other needs over the years including housing the Police Station, jail, farmer's market, the firehouse (in the rear), a ticket office and once provided a second floor gathering place for teenagers to meet and dance. The original building served as home for the Apex town government center for 65 years.

Apex Sales Company

Apex Sales Company - Located at 305 North Salem Street adjacent to the Apex Cultural Arts Center. The building is now home to a shop offering auto parts, lawn mowers, garden equipment and accessories.

In the 1940-1950 time period the building was home to Dewey Powell's Ford automotive dealership.

Queenie's Weenies

To be updated!

Basket Tree Florist Shop. While it is not in a historic building, it is located in the midst of historic sites and brings a new twist on fast foods to the near-downtown area.

Apex Professional Buildings

Apex Professional Buildings - "Recent" office space additions on South Salem Street serves needs of professional business needs with space for lease.

Apex Historical Society
P.O. Box 506
Apex, NC 27502

Copyright 2002-2008 ~ Apex Historical Society ~ All Rights Reserved

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