600 Foster St. was built circa 1958-1959 as a branch of the Home Savings and Loan. By the late 1960s, the building had been re-purposed as an appliance store known as Miller-Hurst.
Miller-Hurst, late 1960s.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)
By 1970, the building was definitely no longer selling dishwashers.
Paradise Lounge, 12.30.70
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun)
From the 2013 National Register Listing below in italics:
This well-preserved mid-century modern branch bank was constructed about 1959 for Home Savings and Loan Bank at the northeast corner of Foster and W. Corporation streets. It does not appear in the 1959 Durham City Directory but is listed in the 1960 directory. Although it is a simple one-story, flat-roof, rectangular brick building, the unknown architect's treatment of the original flanking drive-thru entrances for autos elevated it to a dramatic example of modern suburban commercial architecture. A metal canopy stretches across the west-facing façade and is supported at each end by a curved orchard stone wall with a planter at the base and by metal pipe columns. Autos originally pulled through the canopy on each side of the building to drive-thru porte-cocheres. The main block is faced with orange Roman brick in a running bond, with an angled concrete coping. At the front and south side are large fixed-pane picture windows. The front window is concave. Other side and rear windows on the main block are smaller, grouped, fixed- and sliding-pane windows with wide concrete surrounds. The south side drive-thru porte- cochere is a flat canopy supported by metal posts and the window and wall deposit box are still in place. The front half of the building contains a tall-ceilinged open banking room, while the rear half has two levels of office spaces.
[B]y the late 1960s the Miller-Hurst appliance store occupied the building. [B]y 1970 the tenant was the Paradise Lounge, advertising "go-go girls." Throughout these uses, the building retained its open canopy and two drive-thrus. Paul Tesar's article on the building, "Wings of Eagles," (www.spectatoronline.com, Jan. 26, 2000) traces the building's later history as Coman's Hardware and Building Supplies from 1979 to 1997. Coman added an addition of similar design to the north side, behind the curved stone wall, which created a secondary commercial space in place of the north drive-thru canopy. The concrete block addition blends harmoniously into the façade because its front wall has a similar brick veneer and a similar full- façade plate-glass window and door. A second, lower-height frame addition was added to the east rear elevation.
Architect Ellen Cassilly purchased the building in 1997 and converted the building to office space, including an office for her architectural practice.
600 Foster St., 06.07.08
The interior of the original main block retains the open character of a bank lobby. Although one of the two distinctive original drive-thru canopies has been replaced with an addition, the building still visually conveys its bold modernist branch bank design because the canopy and curved stone wall and planter of the north drive-thru remain in place and the front wall of the addition is nearly completely glazed, thus the missing drive-thru is visually implied. From the intersection of Foster and W. Corporation streets, the building’s principal viewshed, the surviving south drive-thru is visible and the building appears to be unaltered. The Home Savings and Loan Bank retains sufficient integrity of design and feeling to be a contributing resource in the district.
Like much mid-century modern architecture, this building demonstrates how architecture/landscape began to shift from orientation towards the pedestrian to the vehicle, most notably the advent of drive-through banking. But it also does so through the presumption that the primary entry to the building would be from the parking lot rather than from the sidewalk.
Nonetheless, this building demonstrates how mid-century modern architecture can be beautiful as well, with a bevy of intersecting 90 degree angles and sweeping wing-like canopy?(not sure what to call it) supported/cantilevered by stone-faced, curved walls. Unfortunately, I think good mid-century modern design has often been lumped into the same pile with much of the rubbish that began to be produced in the 1960s and 1970s. Although it's rarely been the focus of this website, you can read more about the loss of modernist housing in the Triangle at the aptly named Triangle Modernist Houses.