822 North Mangum Street, 1980
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection - CDS collection)
The 800 block of North Mangum Street, between Little Five Points and the renovated houses north of Geer Street, continues to experience significant transition. The busy intersection of Geer St. and Mangum St., with a large auto repair shop, forms a significant barrier between sections of the neighborhood. The 800 block retains more houses than the area of Mangum St. south of Little Five Points, but the area is not stable.
Moving north from Little Five points is a house (807 Mangum), that inexplicably has had its windows removed:
And in the vacant space next door, it had a twin. Prior to demolition and de-windowing, they both looked like this:
Moving north, there are several vacant lots, owned by a church with a Wake Forest address:
Which used to look like this:
Facing one another in what would have been the 820 range of the block are an apartment complex and a suburban-style cul-de-sac development. This is the east side of the block.
And these are two of the houses that used to be there:
824 N. Mangum
822 N. Mangum
822 N. Mangum, in particular, was a fairly unique house in Durham with its unusual clipped front gable.
Here is the west side of the block, across the street:
And an admittedly strange view of what used to be there, taken from the side yard of 822 N. Mangum, above. (Hey, it was the only one I could find; yes, that's a rabbit)
Photo courtesy of the Center for Documentary Studies
The changes in the 800 block of N. Mangum have removed life from the street. This is why I really dislike the cul-de-sac development above. Unfortunately, my dislike might be construed as a dislike of affordable housing; nothing could be further from the truth. My dislike comes from the fact that this development turns its back to the the street, and puts up a long, unbroken fence to treat the street as something untouchable. Unfortunately, this view was encouraged by the decision to turn Mangum Street into a two-lane one-way southbound highway in the 1960s. The street actually becomes less safe, less appealing, and the cars drive faster with this type of development along the 'roadside'.
The apartment complex is better (at least it isn't closed to Mangum), but still - where is the sidewalk entrance?
Unfortunately, although the 800 block of North Mangum is a part of the Old North Durham National Register Historic District, this provides no protection for the properties in the district, or oversight to be sure that the design of new construction is compatible with the historic architecture (it only allows tax breaks on renovation). Only certification as a Local Historic District provides oversight by the Historic Preservation Commission. The neighborhood certainly has the ability to seek Local Historic District protection, but they have chosen not to. This can occur, as it has in Trinity Park, where homeowners are afraid that the HPC might prevent them from altering the front of their house in a historically-inappropriate way. Maintaining this perogative comes at the expense of transitional areas of the neigbhborhood, such as the 800 block of N Mangum, and ultimately, of the entire neighborhood.