Diane Lea – Author, Speaker, Consultant

Education and Experience

Diane Lea has worked in architectural history and design for virtually her entire professional career.  Along with bachelors and masters degrees from Stetson University, Diane completed post-graduate studies in historic preservation and landscape architecture at Wake Forest and North Carolina State Universities.  As vice president of a city and regional planning firm, she co-authored architectural and historic studies and design guidelines across urban and rural North and South Carolina.  Early in her career, she co-authored the historic properties survey of coastal Hyde County, North Carolina, and participated in the initial historic survey of Ocracoke Island.

Diane served as Preservation Editor for Spectator Magazine from the mid-eighties to the early nineties and was Design Editor for METRO Magazine from 1999 to 2011.  She was a major contributor to the book A Richer Heritage: Historic Preservation in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Robert Stipe.  She served as lecturer to training programs sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and as a speaker to professional groups, community organizations and graduate school classes.

Representing and Marketing Historic Properties

Diane Lea joined the boutique real estate firm North Carolina Estates (NC Estates) in the early 1990s as Preservation Director.  Specializing in distinctive and historic properties located across the state, NC Estates was a charter member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Historic Real Estate Program and initially represented Sotheby’s International Realty properties as their affiliate in all 100 North Carolina counties.  Founder and Principal Broker Owen Gwyn recognized that Diane’s background in historic real estate was integral to his vision and growth strategy for NC Estates.  Centered on the philosophy of building a strong regional, national and international network, NC Estates enhances its marketing services as the exclusive member of the Estates Club, which publishes Leading Estates of the World magazine.

As Preservation Director of NC Estates, Diane has continued to concentrate on marketing historic properties.  With technical and brokerage assistance from Harry Branch and Owen Gwyn, she has successfully marketed many of North Carolina’s most significant historic homes, including the Lineberger Estate in Belmont, designed by Charlotte architect C.C., Hook; Belle Vue in Hillsborough, one of the region’s most interesting properties with a full façade Italianate porch and the earliest surviving brick kitchen in Hillsborough; the Kennette House in Chapel Hill, a distinctive Queen Anne House built in 1897; and the 1814 Hooper-Kyser House, one of the earliest homes in Chapel Hill.

From her vacation home on the North Carolina Outer Banks in Buxton, Diane writes a monthly blog.  She features Hatteras Island historic landmarks and the activities and personalities that give the coastal community its distinctive character and charm.


Over the years, Diane’s clients have expressed gratitude and admiration for her professional services.

When we bought this 1790 Federal house in 1994 Diane Lea was the real estate broker that handled the transaction.  About 22 years years later we decided to downsize and looked up Diane again because of the enjoyable experiences we had in 1994.  Diane is a total team player who leaves no stone unturned in listing, marketing and selling homes such as ours listed on the National Register.” — Wally Ewalt

“Diane’s wealth of historic and architectural experience coupled with her knack for inventiveness allow all her clients to become visionaries. Her exceptional abilities to communicate and share her ideas make properties come alive with possibilities. Most brokers cannot offer anything close to the caliber of Diane’s skill set” — Stacy Burkert

“I first met Diane Lea years ago when I was entrusted with the sale of a very significant, historic home in Benson, N.C. After doing my research I quickly found out that she was the valuable resource I needed to facilitate this challenge. I quickly learned of her knowledge and genuine interest in preservation, but more important she gained my trust. I have since worked with Diane on several other real estate deals through the years and will continue to. It is with great pride that I now consider this lady who totally understands and appreciates great historic homes my friend”– Jeff Stephenson

Contact Diane today.