ERWIN BALLFIELD (1920s-1953)

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ERWIN BALLFIELD (1920s-1953)

,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1915-1930
/ Demolished in
1953
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

Comments

  • Submitted by eric on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 6:53am

    Dorder anyone know What year Ben & Jerry's opened?

  • Submitted by gary on Friday, June 7, 2013 - 4:10am

    eric - it was definitely in the 1990s. You could check the city directories at the Durham County Library to nail it down (if you can't find someone at the store who knows the answer.)

     

    GK

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Last updated

  • Sat, 08/20/2011 - 6:15pm by gary

Comments

,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1915-1930
/ Demolished in
1953
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 


Bird's Eye view looking west the Erwin Field at Broad and West Main Streets, ~1940.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

One of the early community assets created by the Erwin Cotton Mills and its principal, William Erwin, was the Erwin field, which hosted the Erwin Auditorium baseball team.


Looking east from 8th (Iredell) and West Main Sts., May 1938, showing a partial view of the batting cage.
(Courtesy Duke Forest Collection)


Looking northeast from 8th (Iredell) and West Main Sts., May 1938, showing a view of the batting cage.
(Courtesy Duke Forest Collection)

Below, images of the baseball team from the mid 20th century at the field.


(Courtesy Old West Durham Neighborhood Assoc.)


(Courtesy Old West Durham Neighborhood Assoc.)

In 1953, Erwin Mills converted the former Monkey Bottom lowlands to the south into a new Erwin Field; the field at West Main and Broad Streets was soon converted into a commercial development - a new A&P supermarket set back from Broad Street with what was, at the time, a massive surface parking lot in front, and a Phillips 66 gas station at the corner of Broad and West Main Sts.

Tops Drive-In was added to the south end of the A&P sometime in the 1950s. Per information sent to me by Bob Chapman:

"Tops was [one branch of] an 18 restaurant chain with all other branches in northern Va and the DC area including one on Wisconsin Av. in Bethesda. Their signature sandwiches were the Sir Loiner, the Jim Dandy, the Maverick and a tasty 'Hawaiian' ham sandwich with pineapple and secret sauce. Great onion rings and hot fudge sundaes. Juke box. In the early 70s the chain merged into Gino's (named after Gino Marchetti of the Baltimore Colts) They sold inedible hamburgers and KFC until they went under, then the location morphed again into a KFC store."


Tops Menu.
(Courtesy Sherry Handfinger)

He notes that there was an establishment in the basement below Tops, named the "Student Prince Hofbrau Haus."


Looking southwest from Perry and Broad Sts., 08.27.58
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Looking south on Broad Street from near Perry St., 08.27.58. The gas station is visible in the background.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

In the 1950s and 1960s, high school and college students would make a drive-in circuit that, in this little area, included Top's and the Blue Light.

The character of this corner changed considerably with the connection of Broad Street and Swift Avenue in 1964; neither crossed the tracks prior to that point, and Swift Avenue met the tracks at a point farther east than where Broad St. did


Looking south on Broad Street near its intersection with West Main St., 02.12.64.


Looking northwest from where Swift Avenue met West Pettigrew St., 02.12.64.

Below, the Phillips 66 station and "Ginos" looking west, after the connection of Broad and Swift, 03.10.70

By the time I got to Durham in 1988, I remember the gas station, which I believe was closed, the KFC, and the Hofbrau - although I never went in the latter. The A&P had one of those 1970s-era A&P signs on the facade, and it was definitely on the decline. By 1993, it had become a Sav-A-Center.

Sometime in the mid-90s, when I left Durham, before I came back in 1997, Wellspring grocery moved from their location at 9th and Hillsborough (which was later, until recently, George's Garage) to the Sav-A-Center, which involved a significant renovation of the entire building. It appears that the strip was expanded at that time as well.


Former A&P/Sav-A-Center under renovation, mid-1990s.

The former Phillips 66 gas station was also renovated to become a restaurant - Owen's Broad Street Diner, run by the 501 Diner folks in Chapel Hill. Ben and Jerry's took over the southeast corner, around where Top's was, and a pizza place moved in to the west of them - can't remember the name, but they had some insane list of toppings that included rattlesnake, jellybeans - you name it.

Since then, Wellspring has become Whole Foods, the pizza place became Cinelli's, the bike store that is now The Bicycle Chain moved in at the north end of the complex, and a local video store, Avid Video, moved in next to Ben and Jerry's. The Broad Street Diner closed (which depressed me - I always enjoyed it) and was replaced by the Mad Hatter, which moved from its prior location in Erwin Square. (They renovated the station extensively - enclosing the south 'triangle' awning.)

Primarily because of Whole Foods, this 1950s-era shopping center remains very busy, and a hub for commercial activity for a wide geographic area of Durham.


Looking southwest, 04.12.09

The former batting cage and Phillips 66 station, now the Mad Hatter Bake Shop:


Looking north, 07.19.09

Find this spot on a Google Map.

36.006885,-78.920524

Comments

Dorder anyone know What year Ben & Jerry's opened?

eric - it was definitely in the 1990s. You could check the city directories at the Durham County Library to nail it down (if you can't find someone at the store who knows the answer.)

 

GK

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