Built on land that was originally part of the property of 1311 North Mangum Street, directly to the north, the International Style house at 1307 North Mangum Street was built by Mr. and Mrs. Howard Gamble in 1935. Mrs. Gamble's father, Richard E. Dillard, who owned 1311 North Mangum, subdivided his property and gave the southern portion to his daughter and son-in-law to build their house.
The Gambles who "took an active interest in modern art, architecture, and photography" worked with Asheville architectural firm Greene and Rogers to design the house. The house was an early example of an International Style house in the country, and particularly unique for being located in Durham - in North Carolina - in the South.
Per the historic inventory:
A celebrated novelty in Durham when built, the house integrates technology and aesthetics that combine metal, glass, and poured concrete in a design for a new open spatial vision boldly expressing the principles of the Bauhaus, the leading German school of design in the 1920s and 1930s. ... The flat, unadorned walls, which form the box-like sections of the house that truthfully reflect the floor plan, and bands of windows that often make a 90-degree turn at corners, are hallmarks of a style that was just beginning to appear in the United States in the 1930s but was never widely accepted, least so in the Southeast, for domestic architecture.
Emphasis throughout is on the horizontal. Undecorated surfaces of exterior walls and windows longer than they are tall enhance the effect of expansion along the ground. The many windows plus the frequent access to terraces on both levels increase the impression of large open spaces as the separation between indoors and outdoors is diminished. The floor plan is also unusual for its time as the communal living areas are at the rear of the house and the kitchen is at the front. A curved staircase, indirect lighting, fireplace surround of mirrors and black Belgian marble, and vivid color schemes highlight the interior.
In the decade after its construction, the house was featured in national magazines, and for many years was included in the Durham Chamber of Commerce's brochure "Points of Interest in Durham, North Carolina"
In the 1950s, the house had an unfortunate treatment with Permastone on its exterior, and slid into disrepair after conversion to a rental property.
Gamble house with a sheathing of Permastone, late 1970s.
1981 (Durham County Library)
In the late 1970s, the house was purchased by Gerard Tempest (who remodeled Fire Station #1 as an office building in the 1970s and would build "The Villa" in Chapel Hill out of parts of demolished Durham mansions.) Tempest refurbished the house in the late 1970s, adding it to the National Register in 1978.
The house remains in the Tempest family; it remains impressive on the interior, and enjoys a beautifully bucolic vista from the backyard, aided by the property's 0.66 acres and the fact that the middle of the block at the rear of the property trails back into lowlands and a powerline easement.