Sanford, North Carolina
The Lee County Courthouse in Sanford
The Lee County Courthouse in Sanford
Official seal of Sanford, North Carolina
Brick City
Location of Sanford, North Carolina
Location of Sanford, North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°28′52.8″N 79°10′39.2″W / 35.481333°N 79.177556°W / 35.481333; -79.177556Coordinates: 35°28′52.8″N 79°10′39.2″W / 35.481333°N 79.177556°W / 35.481333; -79.177556
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
 • MayorRebecca Wyhof[1]
 • City managerHal Hegwer
 • Total29.83 sq mi (77.26 km2)
 • Land29.57 sq mi (76.59 km2)
 • Water0.26 sq mi (0.67 km2)
365 ft (108 m)
 • Total30,261
 • Density1,023.33/sq mi (395.11/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code919
FIPS code37-59280[3]
GNIS feature ID1022497[4]

Sanford is a city in Lee County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 30,261 at the 2020 census.[5] It is the county seat of Lee County.[6]


Steele Street in downtown Sanford
Steele Street in downtown Sanford

Sanford was named for C.O. Sanford, a railroad civil engineer instrumental in the building of the rail lines through the area that formed the foundation of what became the city of Sanford.

Sanford is located in Lee County, North Carolina, which was formed from parts of the surrounding three counties in 1907. On creation of the new county, Sanford and Jonesboro were the major towns in the area. Rather than decide which would be the county seat, the decision was to place the county's new courthouse directly between the two towns. For decades, Lee County was the only county in the United States to have a courthouse with an RFD address. In the late 20th century Sanford had grown to such an extent that it eventually merged with Jonesboro. The town of Jonesboro became Jonesboro Heights, and the name of Sanford was kept for the town.

The general Sanford area played key roles in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, specifically regarding sites like the House in the Horseshoe and Endor Iron Furnace. Over the following decades, the Sanford area became an important source of coal, brownstone, and brick. In particular brownstone and subsequent brick production made Sanford a key provider of these building materials for areas throughout the United States.[7]

For seven seasons, 1941–42 and 1946–50, Sanford fielded a professional minor league baseball team. In 1941–42, the Sanford Spinners played in the Class D level Bi-State League. After the war, a new Spinners team was a member of the Class D level Tobacco State League from 1946 to 1950. Home games were played at Temple Park. Led by manager Zeb Harrington, the Spinners won the regular season pennant three times.[8]

On April 16, 2011, a large tornado ripped through Sanford, demolishing a Lowe's hardware store and a warehouse, and destroying multiple homes and buildings before moving into Wake County.

On October 21, 2014, Sanford established a formal sister city relationship with Yixing, China, under the representation of Sanford Mayor Chet Mann.[9]

The Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Cemeteries, Downtown Sanford Historic District, East Sanford Historic District, Euphronia Presbyterian Church, Farish-Lambeth House, Hawkins Avenue Historic District, Lee Avenue Historic District, Lee County Courthouse, Lee County Training School, John D. McIver Farm, Railroad House, Rosemount-McIver Park Historic District, Sanford High School, Former, Seaboard Milling Company, and Temple Theatre are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[10][11]


Sanford is 42 miles (68 km) southwest of Raleigh, the state capital, 57 miles (92 km) southeast of Greensboro, and 36 miles (58 km) northwest of Fayetteville.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.3 square miles (75.9 km2), of which 29.1 square miles (75.3 km2) are land and 0.3 square miles (0.7 km2), or 0.88%, are water.[12] Little Buffalo Creek, a tributary of the Deep River, flows northward through the center of the city. Big Buffalo Creek flows through the west side of the city, and the entire city is part of the Cape Fear River watershed. Lick Creek and its tributaries drain the east side of the city.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

2020 census

Sanford racial composition[14]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 12,785 42.25%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 7,138 23.59%
Native American 96 0.32%
Asian 448 1.48%
Pacific Islander 26 0.09%
Other/Mixed 1,220 4.03%
Hispanic or Latino 8,548 28.25%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 30,261 people, 10,418 households, and 6,723 families residing in the city.


As of the census[3] of 2009, there were 29,922 people, which was a 28.9% increase from 2000. The population density was 1,243 people per square mile (372.5/km2). There were 9,223 housing units at an average density of 383.2 per square mile (147.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 55.87% White, 29.19% African American, 0.50% Native American, 1.06% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 11.93% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 19.03% of the population.

There were 8,550 households, out of which 34.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 17.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 people and the average family size was 3.15 people.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 27.1% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,804, and the median income for a family was $39,447. Males had a median income of $30,527 versus $23,393 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,038. About 14.8% of families and 17.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.4% of those under age 18 and 13.0% of those age 65 or over.


Sanford is geologically located above the meeting of white beach sand and Piedmont clay, enabling the city to be a producer of clay bricks. In 1959, Sanford produced 10 percent of the bricks in the United States and was named "Brick Capital of the USA".[15] Brick production continues by manufacturers such as General Shale and Lee Brick and Tile.[citation needed]

Sanford produces textiles, and a Wyeth vaccine facility became the area's largest employer in 2006.[16]

Arts and culture


Performing arts


Sanford operates under a council-manager government. The city council consists of the mayor and seven council members, each with a four-year term. Five of the council seats are ward (district) representatives, and two seats are citywide representatives elected at-large.


The Lee County campus of Central Carolina Community College CCCC is located in Sanford. CCCC awards degrees, diplomas and certifications in a variety of programs.[citation needed]

Three high schools are located in Sanford: Lee County High School, Lee Early College on CCCC's campus, and Southern Lee High School. Southern Lee High School and Lee Early College both opened during the 2005–2006 school year.

There are three middle schools: West Lee Middle School, East Lee Middle School and SanLee Middle School. SanLee Middle School opened in the 2008–2009 school year. An alternative school, Bragg Street Academy, serves students in grades 6 through 12.

The Lee county school system has seven traditional elementary schools: B.T. Bullock Elementary, Broadway Elementary, Deep River Elementary, Greenwood Elementary, J. Glenn Edwards Elementary, J.R. Ingram, Jr, and W.B. Wicker. Elementary. Lee County is also the location of an optional year round elementary school: Tramway Elementary.

Montessori school, and Griffin Academy, are private elementary schools.[17] There are two private Christian schools, serving preschool through 12th grade: Grace Christian and Lee Christian as well as a charter school, Provisions Academy.



The city's newspaper of record is The Sanford Herald, which has published continuously since 1930. The newspaper is owned by Paxton Media Group, based in Paducah, Kentucky. The Herald is a five-day-a-week morning newspaper and is a member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations and of the North Carolina Press Association.

"The Rant"[18] was founded in 2008 by former journalists with experience at several print publications, including The Sanford Herald. Initially a radio show, it became an online news site in 2014. In 2019, it began publishing a monthly print edition.

Radio stations




Raleigh Executive Jetport (ICAO: KTTA, FAA LID: TTA), formerly known as Sanford-Lee County Airport, is located 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Sanford via U.S. 1. The airport opened in 2000, replacing the Sanford Lee County Brick Field, and provides both recreational and corporate services.

Designated routes and highways

Main Street (N.C. Route 78) passing through Jonesboro Heights
Main Street (N.C. Route 78) passing through Jonesboro Heights

Commercial rail service

Public transit

The County of Lee Transit System (COLTS) is a coordinated transit system that provides transportation services in Sanford and Lee County.[19]

Bicycle and pedestrian

Notable people

Sister city

Sanford has one sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International:[25]


  1. ^ "City of Sanford, North Carolina". City of Sanford, North Carolina. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  2. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "US Census Bureau QuickFacts, Sanford city, North Carolina". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  7. ^ "History of Downtown Sanford". Downtown Sanford, Inc. Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-11-06.
  8. ^ Holaday, Chris (2016). "The Tobacco State League; A North Carolina Baseball History, 1946–1950".. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-6670-9.
  9. ^ Trogdon, Kathryn (November 13, 2014). "Starting with pottery: Sanford delegation foresees fruitful relationship with Chinese sister city". The Sanford Herald. Archived from the original on December 30, 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  10. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  11. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 12/27/10 through 12/30/10. National Park Service. 2011-01-07.
  12. ^ "U.S. Gazetteer Files: 2019: Places: North Carolina". U.S. Census Bureau Geography Division. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  15. ^ "Brick Capital, USA". 2007-05-05. Archived from the original on 2007-05-05. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  16. ^ "Lee County Major Manufacturers (2012)". Lee County. Archived from the original on 29 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  17. ^ "About the Griffin Academy". The Griffin Academy. Archived from the original on 5 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  18. ^ "The Rant"
  19. ^ COLTS
  20. ^ Bill Briggs Stats. Pro-Football-Reference. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  21. ^ Bill Harrington Stats. Baseball-Reference. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  22. ^ Sanford gamer guns for a top prize in Major League Gaming event. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  23. ^ Rep. Robert Reives - Chatham County Democratic Party. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  24. ^ Akeem Richmond, East Carolina, Shooting Guard - 247 Sports. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  25. ^ Martinez, Logan. Mann: Community should run sister city program. Retrieved Jul 21, 2020.