Julian Carr was the original owner of the land that would become the Rockwood neighborhood, which he referred to as Cornwallis Heights. Dr. Lyle Steele Booker purchased the land and laid out a suburb which he called "Booker Heights" in 1925. The small development situated between the competing Hope Valley and Forest Hills, was not as successful. A March 1926 plat for the area northwest of University Drive shows that Walter Sharpe, better known as the co-developer of Hope Valley, was involved.
The Alamance Insurance and Real Estate Company took over the development, but sold only half the lots by 1929, when it went bankrupt and returned the unsold lots to Booker.
Like the other automobile suburbs of the 1920s, Rockwood filled in more completely during the 1950s and 1960s with mid-century modern and ranch housing, as more families moved out of the older Durham neighborhoods.