2008 Preservation Durham Ghost [building] Tour: Hotels and Movie Theaters

2008 Preservation Durham Ghost [building] Tour: Hotels and Movie Theaters


Over Halloween weekend of 2008, Preservation Durham offered its inaugural Ghost [building] Tour.  That tour, in part inspired by the description in Endangered Durham of lost structures throughout downtown, invited participants to experience -- in situ -- historic streetscapes of downtown Durham.

While standing in the location of the original photographer, tour participants viewed semi-transparent photographs of hotels and movie theaters and saw contemporary life peeking through.  None of these buildings remain (hence, their "ghost" status); parking lots cover most of the parcels formerly occupied by these structures.

Excerpts from the tour booklet are listed below, along with the individually profiled Endangered Durham features.

 

MOVIE THEATERS IN DURHAM

Longtime Herald-Sun columnist Wyatt Dixon stated that the Dreamland Theatre, which opened in 1907 holds the distinction of being the first motion picture house in town.  The nation was swept by “nickel madness” as nickelodeon theaters sprung up in all sorts of converted storefronts.  Orchestras and organists filled the halls with accompanying music and sound effects to heighten the (silent) film-watching experience.  Films often lasted less than ten minutes and were rarely exhibited more than a day or two.

After 1915, theater owners began offering scheduled showings, reserved seating, improved heating and ventilation – and charged higher admission prices.  They paid more attention to drawing in customers by erecting wide canopies, electrically-lit vertical signs, and a box office right on the sidewalk.  The nickelodeons gave way to the movie palaces of the 1920s.  The elegant and elaborately designed Carolina Theatre and the black-owned Regal Theatre are indicative of this change.

By the late 1930s, theatre design became more streamlined and focused on technological advance.  The modern architecture of the Center Theater, one of the few new movie houses to open in downtown Durham after the Depression, reflects this sentiment.

Fast-forward two decades and urban movie theaters began to suffer as downtowns across the US emptied.  The 1950s and 1960s brought suburbanization, drive-in movies, and TV culture.  Nationwide attendance dropped dramatically, from 90 million movie-goers weekly in 1948 to 17.7 million weekly in 1970.  In Durham, Urban Renewal dealt the fatal blows, condemning the Criterion, the Regal, and the Rialto. 

The Carolina was spared a similar fate by the tireless work of visionaries like Monte and Constance Moses and Pepper Fluke.  Today, with its wide programming of live entertainment and acclaimed film festivals, the Carolina Theatre is a crown jewel of Durham’s architectural and cultural legacy – and has been the only venue to show films consistently during the last 30 years. 

 

HOTELS IN DURHAM

While a variety of boarding houses cropped up all over Durham, the earliest hotels were primarily located near the train station.   Robert Morris opened the first of these in 1858, shortly after the NC Railroad Company built a station on land donated by country doctor Bartlett Durham.  Julian S. Carr replaced Morris’ hotel first with the Claiborn, in 1885, and then the extravagant and Queen Anne-styled Carrolina, in 1891.

By 1905 Union Station had been built two blocks further east at the foot of Church Street – and many new hotels sprung up within easy walking distance to the new rail station.  For ten years, the Malbourne was the luxury hotel of Durham.  Conversely, the Lochmoor catered to the business crowd by providing space for traveling salesmen to display their wares, called sample rooms.

The arrival of the stately Washington Duke Hotel in 1925 heralded a new era for downtown Durham.  Described as the finest hotel south of Washington, DC, it was an iconic image of Durham for fifty years until its demise by implosion in 1975.  Meanwhile, in Hayti, the Biltmore was billed as “America’s Finest Colored Hotel” and was one of only a few hotels where African-Americans could stay in Jim Crow North Carolina.  It opened in the 1920s and was destroyed by Urban Renewal in the 1970s.

Suburbanization and the automobile changed the lodging habits of Americans during the 1950s and 1960s.  During this period, three motor inns were established in the downtown core, but soon more motels were appearing along the periphery of the suburbs.  Just as with the movie theatres, urban hotels were in decline.

Durham’s five bed and breakfasts have led the way back to downtown accommodations and will soon be joined by five new siblings in the coming months.

 

STOPS ALONG THE 2008 PRESERVATION DURHAM GHOST [BUILDING] TOUR:

arcadelochmoorYMCA_pcard.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/ymca_1890.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/YMCA_SW_pcard.jpgarcadelochmoorYMCA_pcard.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/emain_lkwfromrox.jpg

ARCADE THEATER

212
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1909
/ Demolished in
1910s
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Sun, 11/20/2011 - 8:42pm by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 38.0292" N, 78° 53' 56.6196" W
US

Comments

212
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1909
/ Demolished in
1910s
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

arcadelochmoorYMCA_pcard.jpg
Looking southeast from East Main St., ~1910.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The southwest corner of Roxoboro and East Main St. initially was the location of a home, although I don't know the original inhabitant. This house was still in place when the first courthouse was built immediately to its west.


Looking southeast from East Main St., 1880s. The first county courthouse is to the right.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

In 1888, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was established in Durham, with James Southgate as its prinicipal proponent, and the additional support of George W. Watts (its first local president) and EJ Parrish. The small group rented space on S. Church St. offered by EJ Parrish and began raising money for a building fund. However, opposition from local ministers (one of whom, unnamed by Boyd in his history of Durham ridiculed the organization, calling it the "XYZ") doomed the group. It disbanded in 1894.

However, through the First Presbyterian Church and George W. Watts, the YMCA was restablished. In 1905, a church-led organization called the "Covenanters Club" proposed a club-specific facility, and George Watts offered to help pay for the cost. A member of the club, JL Conrad, noted that the club would serve only Presbyterians, and what was truly needed was a social club to serve the needs of "Durham['s] large number of young men, members of other churches or of no church." He proposed that a YMCA would be more appropriate. Watts agreed, and consulted with the state officials of the YMCA about re-starting the organization.

The group purchased the lot at the southwest corner of Roxboro and East Main from Capt. EJ Parrish for 00. Watts financed a significant portion of the construction of a new YMCA building on the southwest corner of Roxboro and East Main, completed in 1908 at a cost of ,000 and supplemented with ,000 of additional construction several years later.


Looking southwest from Roxboro and East Main.

EJ Parrish retained the remainder of the land between the original courthouse and the YMCA. In 1909, he built a building containing shops, and in 1911, he built a hotel between this structure and the YMCA, which he also called the Arcade. He built an extensive complex with a glass walled dining room facing Union Station, 62 rooms and 24 bathrooms. Another expansion brought a wing extending behind the courthouse towards Church St., with enclosed gardens and sitting areas to entice travelers disembarking from the station. Parrish attempted to lure the luxury clientele who were drawn to a newer deluxe hotel across the street, the Hotel Malbourne.

Parrish couldn't compete with the Malbourne and sold the hotel, which was renamed the Lochmoor by its new owner, Hubert Latta, in honor of Parrish (whose large country estate, out Roxboro Road just north of where Duke and Roxobro now converge, was called Lochmoor.)

arcadelochmoorYMCA_pcard.jpg
Looking southeast from East Main St., ~1910.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


Looking west from Roxboro, ~1920. The YMCA and Hotel Lochmoor are on the left, the Hotel Malbourne on the right.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The Arcade theater/shops were torn down sometime in the 1910s. The hotel changed hands several times, and served as the public library while the new library was being constructed on East Main St.


Looking southeast, ~1940 at the Lochmoor and a bit of the YMCA.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The Hotel Lochmoor was sold to the Elks by 1919, who used the building for a meeting place until 1943, when they sold the building to the city, which tore down the structure.


The YMCA, looking southwest, ~1950, with the absent Lochmoor.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

By the late 1950s, the YMCA had tired of their downtown location and tore down the old Pearl Mill Lyceum (school) on the north side of Trinty Avenue near Duke St. to build a new campus. The facility is now a Duke diet facility of some kind.


Looking west, 1960.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In the early 1961, the YMCA sold this building to the county, which tore it down.


Looking northeast, 04.26.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Looking west, early 1960s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The building still present behind the courthouse had been used by the county as "Welfare offices", but may have been part of the original Hotel Lochmoor. By 1964, it was gone as well.


Looking southwest, 1964. The eastern portion of Union Station is visible, and the Austin-Heaton Co./Peerless Flour Mill is in the distance.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In 1966, the county built a new courthouse annex building on the location of the YMCA and Hotel Lochmoor.

courthouseannexconstruction_080166.jpg
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

Which would become the Durham County Office Building


Looking southwest, ~1970.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

And later, Durham County Social Services.


There are some odd similarities between the YMCA building and this building - most notably the arches at the cap of the building. I don't know if that was intentional.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this building with the upcoming construction of the new Human Services Complex. Presumably, the offices in this building will be moving to that structure.

As for the YMCA, after a stint away from downtown, having moved on from their Trinity Ave. location to the Lakewood Ave. branch as their sole Durham location, they moved back to downtown in the 1990s, first to a location at the northeast corner of Morgan and Foster Sts., and then, more recently, expanding into a second branch in the American Tobacco complex.

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Edward J Parrish, the first man in Durham to open a tobacco auction warehouse, built an arcade of shops beside the Union Station in 1909, and an adjoining hotel (the Lochmoor) two years later. Located on this site was the Arcade Theatre, a nickelodeon that stayed in business for only a few short years.

Between 1905 and 1914, the nation was swept by “nickel madness” as nickelodeon theaters sprung up in all sorts of converted storefronts. These theaters were often located in working-class neighborhoods, but in Durham they were prominently sited near the train station, hotels, and City Hall. While the exterior of these structures may have been embellished with art nouveau flourishes, the interior would have been sparsely decorated with rows of benches. Orchestras and organists filled the halls with accompanying music and sound effects to heighten the (silent) film-watching experience. Films often lasted less than ten minutes and were rarely exhibited more than a day or two.

Durham had several nickelodeons, including the Edisonia (125 E Main), the Paris (121 E Main), the Strand (110 E Main), the Dreamland (112 N Mangum), and the Electric (211-13 W Main). None of these structures still stands today, save the Electric, which was housed in the Jourdan building, currently occupied by the Main Street Pharmacy.

After the racially-inflammatory 12-reel The Birth of a Nation appeared in 1915, movie-goers preferred to watch feature-length films, not the shorter pictures. Theater owners began offering scheduled showings, reserved seating, improved heating and ventilation – and charged higher admission prices. They paid more attention to drawing in customers by erecting wide canopies and marquees, electrically-lit vertical signs and chaser lights, and a box office right on the sidewalk. The nickelodeons and their nickel-priced tickets gave way to the movie palaces of the 1920s. The elegant and elaborately-designed Carolina Theatre and the black-owned Regal Theatre are indicative of this change.

As for the Arcade, it was torn down. It had sat between the Lochmoor and the original County Courthouse. The County built a larger courthouse in 1916, and the Lochmoor was replaced by the County Social Services building in 1965. The ghost of the Arcade fits in the space between these two modern structures.

 

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CENTER THEATER

313
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1938
/ Demolished in
1967
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Wed, 11/07/2012 - 9:15pm by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 49.7184" N, 78° 54' 3.3588" W
US

Comments

313
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1938
/ Demolished in
1967
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

The Center Theater replaced half of an earlier structure, which half was replaced again 29 years later - moving from Mansard to Modern to Launch Vehicle.

The building at 313-315 East Chapel Hill Street was constructed around 1907 as the Corcoran Hotel, but did not survive for long due to stiff competition from the other downtown hotels. It became Mercy Hosptial, then the Durham Business School.


From the Washington Duke Hotel, looking northeast, likely mid-1920s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives, Wyatt Dixon Collection)


From the corner of Corcoran and East Chapel Hill St., looking northeast. Probably a little bit later than the above picture, but before 1934, when the Post Office was built.
(Courtesy Duke Archives, Wyatt Dixon Collection)

The entrance

(Courtesy Duke Archives, Wyatt Dixon Collection)

The business school appears to have closed by the 1930s. The "Tip-Top Tavern" was located on the first floor during this era.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

As seen from the east, looking west from Rigsbee, mid-1930s.

(Courtesy University of North Carolina / North Carolina Collection)

In the 1938, the 313 half of the building was torn down and replaced with a art deco/moderne movie theater known as the Center Theatre, built by general contractor George W. Kane.


Looking east, Foster St. in the foreground. The Center Theater is under construction, and 315 E. Chapel Hill perists to its east.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

Below, the completed Center Theater and 315 East Chapel Hill, 1940. This is the only picture I've seen with a complete Center Theater and an unmodified 315 East Chapel Hill.


(Courtesy Library of Congress)

Below, a closer picture of the Center from about 1948, going by the movie title.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In 1951, 315 East Chapel Hill St. was 'modernized' by removing the mansard roof, parging the exterior of the building, replacing the windows, and other changes that fundamentally changed the character of the building.

Above - being 'updated' for the demanding standards of the 1950s, 02.22.51
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Above, the Center Theater and 315 E. Chapel Hill from the Washington Duke Hotel, looking northeast, mid-1950s
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

Like all downtown movie theaters, the Center was segregated.  As a result, it was a focus of civil rights protests, like the one pictured below.


Looking east, 03.10.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Looking east, 03.10.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

By the mid-1960s, this incarnation of the Center Theater was reaching the end of its lifespan, short of 30 years old. I'm not sure if it ever de-segregated at this location.


(Courtesy The Herald Sun)

Above and below, the Center Theatre around 1965, again by the movie titles, looking northeast from Corcoran, near Chapel Hill St.


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

centertheater_fromccb_1960s.jpg

By 1966, the Center theater moved to Lakewood Shopping Center. The building was sold to the next-door neighbor, Home Savings and Loan, which demolished the theater.


Demolishing the theater, looking north, 01.09.67
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Demolishing the theater, looking south, 03.30.67
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

centertheaterdemo_color.jpg


Demolishing the theater, looking northeast, 03.30.67
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The building which replaced it, the Home Savings Bank, is what you get when you combine modernism with whimsical.


(Courtesy Durham County Library)


The Home Savings and Loan Building, 01.30.69
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

The same building today, now the Mutual Community Savings Bank

While I feel like I should dislike this building because of unclear openings for doors and windows, on most days I can't help but like it. Unlike a lot of stolid modernism, this just seems sort of irrepressibly geeky, in that Revenge of the Nerds/Napoleon Dynamite kind of way.

The building immediately to the east of the bank remains the original 315 East Chapel Hill St., albeit radically transformed. Visible around the window frames is brick, underneath the parged concrete exterior (on the sides.) Not much other clue to its origins, except for the general size and massing (minus the mansard roof.)

Looking northwest from East Chapel Hill St., 2007.

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In 1907, the Corcoran Hotel occupied this location. Thirty years later, half of that structure was removed to make way for the construction of the Center Theater. The architectural style of the Center was Art Deco/Moderne with large white facades and staircase-step profile along the ridge as well as vertical, striated corner façade ending in three-sided marquee. The theater was managed by Charles H. Lewis.

Nickelodeon theatres, which dominated the early years, were ephemeral and set up in existing storefronts. In the 1920s, elegantly-designed “movie palaces”, like the Carolina, were de rigueur. By the late 1930s, theatre design became more streamlined and focused on technological advance. “The continual emphasis on being „new-fashioned‟ was an integral part of motion picture theatre design from the days of the storefront and was one reason why each theatre type lasted only a few years.” [a] The modern architecture of the Center Theater, one of the few new movie houses to open in downtown Durham after the Depression, reflects this sentiment.

Fast-forward two decades and urban movie theaters began to suffer as downtowns across the US emptied. The 1950s and 1960s brought suburbanization, drive-in movies, TV culture, Urban Renewal, and social unrest, which eventually led to desegregation of the theaters. Nationwide attendance dropped dramatically, from 90 million movie-goers weekly in 1948 to 17.7 million weekly in 1970.

The owners of the Center Theater, subject to integrationist protests, decamped to the suburbs (Lakewood Shopping Center) in 1966. The following year, the Center was demolished and replaced by a bank, which also retains a modern architectural flair. This whimsical replacement is currently home to the joint offices of two of Durham’s oldest and esteemed black financial institutions (the Mutual Community Savings and Mechanics and Farmers banks), an ironic ending for the once-segregated movie theater.

[a] Maggie Valentine: The Show Starts on the Sidewalk: An Architectural history of the movie theatre, 1994.

 

/sites/default/files/images/2007_7/206-208NChurch-newcityparkinglotareaonChurchandParrishSt_011763.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_7/NE_Parrish_Church_196_.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_7/criteriontheater_070770.jpgcriteriontheater_1974.jpg

206-208 NORTH CHURCH STREET / CRITERION THEATER

206-208
,
Durham
NC
/ Demolished in
1970s
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Tue, 07/12/2011 - 3:48pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 42.3312" N, 78° 53' 55.644" W

Comments

206-208
,
Durham
NC
/ Demolished in
1970s
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

206-208 North Church Street was the location of the Criterion Theater. By the early 1960s, as downtown theaters struggled to find their audience in the midst of the urban diaspora, the theater had become an 'art house theater' - I'm not sure if that's what it would have been called at the time.


"New City Parking Lot Area on Church and Parrish St., 01.17.63"
(Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

Evidently that didn't work. Increased competition by the air conditioned theaters at the shopping centers put more pressure on the theaters to find a way to survive. So the theater, by the mid-late 1960s, had switched gears to, well, embrace the heat.


Looking northeast from N. Church and East Parrish, late 1960s.

I have to say that it was a relief to find an X-rated movie theater in a historic photo - from the bulk of the photographic archive out there, you would think that nothing lascivious or libertine ever happened in historic Durham, despite its written reputation as a town of ill-repute. My suspicion is that much of that history occurred during the first ~40 years of the town (and places like Prattsburg and Pinhook.) By the time the first photos showed up - 1890s - prohibition was in place, and much of the illicit activity had been clamped down.

So - in the 1960s, you could have caught "Daringly Different" or "Love and the Frenchwoman" at the Criterion, two doors down from Trinity Methodist. Perhaps by 1970, near its end, the forces that be had prevailed upon the theater to advertise a bit more chastely.


Criterion Theater, 07.07.70
(Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

criteriontheater_1974.jpg

Criterion Theater, 1974.
(Courtesy Norman Williams Collection)

The building was torn down for a parking lot in the mid 1970s.

Find this spot on a Google Map.

35.995092,-78.89879

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Located less than a block from the Trinity United Methodist church (which sits on the highest point inside the Loop), the Criterion was, in its later years, a skin-flick movie house. The City of Durham purchased the theatre and the adjacent property in 1963, causing some eyebrows to raise. When asked about the leasing arrangement with the theatre operator, then Mayor Wense Grabarek sanguinely replied that movies are viewed “with different levels of acceptability” (quoted in Morning Herald article of July 9, 1970).

Durhamite Howard Margolis recalled the 1957 showing of And God created Woman, featuring a young Brigitte Bardot and her bared breasts. Ticket reservations were quickly sold and the theater was packed tighter than if a Duke-Carolina basketball game had been scheduled.

The Criterion, or the “Crit” as it was known, had a less sullied reputation early in its life, when musicals were performed there. Still, it was well-known later for the X-rated films. In particular, visiting conventioneers used to find entertainment at the Crit. The 1970 management spokesman said, “We know they‟re conventioneers because they still have the cards on their lapels. We have more convention people than any other theater because more people are downtown and can just walk around the block.”

Durhamites had other movie-going options nearby, though, if a show like this was sold out: the Rialto was around the corner to the left (at 219 E Main) and the Uptown was around the corner to the right (at 121 E Main). None of these structures remains today. When the Criterion closed its doors in 1975, the last remaining place to see a movie in downtown Durham was the Carolina Theatre. That is still true today, over thirty years later.

What became of the Crit? She was taken by Urban Renewal when the City of Durham decided that they need more downtown parking near the government offices and agencies.

 

/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/orpheum_night_1920.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/nwcorner_emain_rox_1890.jpgorpheummalbourne_pcard_1920.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/orpheum_night_1920.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/200EMain_NW_1915.jpg

219 EAST MAIN STREET / ORPHEUM THEATER / RIALTO THEATER

219
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1916-1919
/ Modified in
1920s
/ Demolished in
1974
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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Last updated

  • Sat, 01/21/2012 - 9:34pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 38.6448" N, 78° 53' 55.5396" W

Comments

219
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1916-1919
/ Modified in
1920s
/ Demolished in
1974
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

-----


Looking northeast from Church St. and East Main St., 1890s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

Commercial development of the north side of the 200 block of East Main St. proceeded eastward from the commercial core. The western half of the block was developed by commercial structures by the 1890s, two of which are visible above.

The eastern half of the block converted to commercial somewhat later; the Malbourne Hotel and the Shevel Building were built in 1913. Between the two, a frame boarding house remained until sometime between 1916 and 1919, when the Orpheum Theater was built.

orpheummalbourne_pcard_1920.jpg
Looking northeast, ~1920
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


A nighttime view of the entrance to the Orpheum, looking north, 1923 (from the dates and days of the week.)
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

At some point in the 1920s, the Orpheum became a multi-story structure. Whether this coincided with conversion of the theater to "The Rialto" is unclear, but on 10.22.28, the Rialto theater (with Vitaphone!) opened.

With all the fanfare and Interest of an historical event. the Rialto theatre will introduce to the people of Durham today the invention that revolutionized the motion picture industry and enhanced the entertainment value of the scree, Vitaphone talking pictures.

The very same artists who thrilled a New York audience when Vitaphone made its debut in the center of the theatrical world will be present in the Vitaphone presentation program at the Rialto theatre where the device which had evoked the praises of scientists, editorialists, and artists will be displayed for the first time to the motion picture fans of this city.

Vitaphone, with its roster of famous artists such As Al Jolson, Fannie Brice, Gigli Martinelli, Talley, Carillo, Dolores COstello, Conrad Nagel. Irene Rich. Van Schenck, Winnio Lightner, Joe E. Brown, Lionel Barrymore, Mischa Elman, Rosa Raisa, Willie and Eugene Howard and Elsie Jamis has come to the Rialto theatre because the management desires to give local theatre goers the best that the amusement world affords. A new thrill never before known to local motion picture audiences awaits the people of this city when they see and hear Vitaphone talking pictures.
(From the Morning Herald, 10.22.28)


This photo shows the fire department is demostrating their new ladder truck in front of the Orpheum, ~1928. The structures visible in the 1890s photo can be noted further down the block in this picture. This may be from
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


Looking northwest, late 1920s
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


217 E. Main

rialto_032261.jpg

rialtotheaterblockofmainst_071568.jpg
07.15.68
(Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

The Rialto closed between 1968 and 1970.


05.27.70
(Courtesy the Herald-Sun)


05.27.70
(Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

These structures were taken by the city and demolished using urban renewal funds, along with the remainder of the block. To some extent, this entire block fell victim to the pipe dreams of an Oklahoma developer named - Barket, and the anxiousness of a city to do whatever it could to a attract a developer who promised a 40 story building to be constructed in downtown Durham on the block between E. Main, Church, N. Roxboro, and E. Parrish Sts.


Barket's rendering of the 40 story building to sit at 200 East Main St., 07.16.68
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun)

The on-again-off-again flirtation between the city and Mr. Barket persisted throughout the later half of the 1960s, until he finally pulled out, never to be heard from again.

In 1978, the city built a new courthouse on the block, which looms, Death-Star-like, over the street. It seems that they tried their best to emulate Barket's Folly, but could only afford the first ~5 stories.


Looking northeast, 2007.
 

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Herald Sun columnist Wyatt Dixon’s article from June 7, 1943 states, “It was in the Rialto theater that the first sound picture was shown. Conrad Nagle was at the height of his popularity as an idol of the cinema when he appeared in the history-making production, only part of which was in sound.”

Oddly, thirty years later (January 17, 1975), Dixon wrote that, the first “talkie” was shown in 1928, although the actual film is in question, either Al Jolson’s “The Jazz Singer” or his “The Singing Fool” – neither in which Conrad Nagle appeared. Dixon also stated the Orpheum had vaudeville shows before the talking movies supplanted them as entertainment.

Local historian and community activist R Kelly Bryant, Jr. recently told a story about the Orpheum theater. The theatre was segregated, but blacks were allowed to sit in the balcony – provided that they entered a structure on Parrish Street, crossed the roof, and entered the Orpheum from its back door. Kelly remembered watching The Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney, from this balcony. In one scene, Chaney turns to face the camera, revealing his hideous face for the first time in the film. Kelly fondly remembered all the white ladies gasping in horror – and he and his friends laughed from above.

Chapel Hillian Henry Thomas also remembers the Rialto. Thomas recalled that August in the 1960s meant back-to-school shopping in Durham, because Chapel Hill had a dearth of stores. Watching movies in the Rialto was another mainstay. He wondered, though, what his parents thought of him attending movies next-door to the Malbourne, which had acquired quite a seedy reputation. “Every 13-year old boy in Chapel Hill knew that one could find a prostitute at the Malbourne,” although he added that not every boy knew what that meant.

In the 1970, the Rialto (along with several other buildings on this block) was demolished using Urban Renewal funds, clearing the way for the third Durham County Courthouse.

 

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REGAL THEATER

324-328
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1927
/ Modified in
~1940s
/ Demolished in
~1975
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Wed, 06/11/2014 - 10:01pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 29.094" N, 78° 53' 53.8692" W

Comments

324-328
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1927
/ Modified in
~1940s
/ Demolished in
~1975
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 


Regal Theater, late 1930s or early 1940s.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

The Regal Theater was built in 1927 by George Washington Logan - providing a variety of entertainment, including musical performances by the likes of Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and others. By the 1930s, it seems that the theater had become predominantly a movie theater.


MGM Lion on a tour stop in front of the Regal, 1931.


MGM Lion on a tour stop in front of the Regal, 1931.


The Biltmore Hotel, Regal Theater, and Donut Shop, 1940s. The Regal has been remodeled to include two storefronts as well. The left storefront housed the Regal Barber Shop.


The Regal Theater at night, 1947.


The Regal Interior.


Regal Theater - 1940s.

Below, an excerpt from "Negro Durham Marches On" - 1949.

The later life of the Regal is a bit hard to piece together, as the city directories paint a fairly confusing picture. It does appear that the Regal existed in some form until at least 1968 - whether at this location or down the street.

This location housed the "Your Own Thing Theater" beginning in July 1969.

Photo from Carolina Times, July 26, 1969. Caption reads: "Early arrivals of 'first nighters' at the gala opening of 'Your Own Thing,' Durham's first and only theater devoted exclusively to the revival and presentation of the arts of black people."

Ervin L. of radio station WSRC was master of ceremonies at the opening night of Your Own Thing Theater.

An article in the July 26, 1969, Carolina Times covered the theater's opening:

The July 16 opening of the former Regal Theater, this time with a new name, new purposes, and under new management, marked the beginning of what promises to offer excitingly different entertainment for theater goers of Durham and the surrounding community. "Your Own Thing," as the new theater is called, opened last Wednesday evening to an enthusiastic audience which included fans ranging in age from "eight to eighty." The entertainment bill featured many local musicians including the "Lee Darvis" combo, as well as the famous Donald Bird modern jazz group imported from New York City, especially for the theater’s premier opening...

According to Miss Karen E. Rux, a 1969 graduate of North Carolina Central University and the director of "Your Own Thing Theater," the presentation marked the beginning effort to bring to the Durham community, a spirited revival of the black arts which have been existing somewhat "incognito."...

Tentative plans include daily classes, workshops, all phases of dramatic productions, and films to be shown at 1, 3, and 7 p.m. The theater will be run for a year on present funds received through an agency of O.E.O. Although the present building has been made available until urban renewal necessitates its razing, long range plans hope for the construction of a new theater building...

 

The theater, notably, was bombed on June 22, 1970.


Theater after bombing, 06.22.70


Theater after bombing, 06.22.70

The building appears to have been torn down by ~1975. The site has been some form of parking lot since that time.


Site of the Regal Theater, looking south from the railroad tracks, 08.20.08. The theater would have been located on part of the driveway and part of the landscaping to the right of the driveway.

35.991415,-78.898297

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George Logan built and operated the Regal, a 500-seat theater that offered films with all-black casts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and westerns on Mondays and Thursdays. [b] Logan was a competitor to Frederick “Movie King” Watkins, who owned 16 African-American theaters across the southeast region, and who had already opened the Hayti-based Wonderland and Rex Theaters.

Prior to becoming a movie house, the Regal had provided a variety of live entertainment and held performances by Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Count Basie. Along with its next door neighbor, the Biltmore Hotel, the Regal provided a place for Durham’s black community to engage in social and cultural exchange – with each other, and with traveling musicians and artists.

At 12:30am on Monday, June 22, 1970 this movie house was bombed with ammonia dynamite. The explosion “damaged the front of the theater building and shattered windows in two adjoining firms”, according to the following day‟s Durham Morning Herald. The blast also shook the car of two Durham officers and an SBI agent who were in the area on another investigation. No injuries were reported. The Morning Herald article included the following passage:

The Durham Chapter of the United Klans of America at their regular meeting Monday night voted to “offer a $100 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the party or parties responsible for the “bombing”, according to CP Ellis, chapter president.

Ellis said, “We do not agree with this type of destruction.

“We’re serious and there’s a hundred dollars waiting for anyone who comes up with the information,” he said.

CP Ellis would eventually resign his position as Exalted Cyclops of the Durham KKK in 1971, after working alongside and forming an unlikely friendship with Ann Atwater, a black community activist. This relationship is detailed in Osha Gray Davidson’s 1996 book, The Best of Enemies.

The theater was demolished in 1977 as part of the Urban Renewal plan for Hayti.

[b] Charlene Regester: “From the Buzzard’s Roost: Black Movie-going in Durham and Other North Carolina Cities during the Early Period of American Cinema” in Film History 17: 113-124, 2005.

 

/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Wonderland_19__.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Wonderland_HS_1926.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Wonderland_JohnAvery.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Wonderland_W_1960s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Wonderland_1960s.jpg

418-422 EAST PETTIGREW / THE WONDERLAND THEATER

418-422
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1920
/ Modified in
1940s
/ Demolished in
1970s
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Sat, 08/13/2011 - 7:50pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 26.07" N, 78° 53' 52.0512" W

Comments

418-422
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1920
/ Modified in
1940s
/ Demolished in
1970s
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 


Wonderland Theater, looking southwest from East Pettigrew and Ramsey Streets, 1922.
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection / Digital Durham)

The Wonderland Theater was built in 1920 by Frederick K. Watkins, self-described "Movie King" (his house at 1218 Fayetteville St. still bears this description) at the southwest corner of East Pettigrew Street and Ramsey Street.

Mr. Watkins built the "first [African-American] theater in Durham" in 1913, per the 1951 "Durham and Her People." (It isn't noted which theater this is, although I suspect it may have been the Rex or the Electric.) Per Andre Vann, Mr. Watkins initially shot his own films and screened them in public schools, charging students 5 cents each at showings.

His theater holdings grew to 16 theaters in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia during the 1920s.

The theater initially showed silent films with an accompanying musician (likely a pianist). Dorothy Phelps describes that Mrs. Hattie Shriver Livas would create music for each scene "for horror movies a creepy sound, playful tunes when children appeared, soft flowing tunes for the love scenes, and 'oh so many creations to follow the theme of the pictures.'"

The northeast corner of the building housed Dodson's Drug Store (the mortar and pestle sign can be made out hanging from the corner of the building in the picture above.)


Wonderland Theater, looking southwest from Ramsey St. and East Pettigrew St., 1926.
(Courtesy The Herald Sun Newspaper)

Mr. Watkins retired from management of the movie theaters in 1929, and delved into real estate soon thereafter (developing the former Durham Hosiery Mill No. 2 into a multi-tenant structure in the 1940s.) He married his wife, Parepa Bland Watkins that same year; she became principal of the East End School for ten years.

The theater appears to have shut down at the time of Mr. Watkins retirement, and was used as a union hall during the 1930s. The former drugstore portion of the building housed the Wonderland Barber Shop.

The city directories become quite confusing after this, primarily because the addresses seem to change as often as the businesses did. However, it appears that the building housed a Goodwill Store, and Papa Jack's package store for periods in the 1930s and early 1940s.

For some brief period during the 1940s, the building housed the John Avery Boys' Club.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)


418-420 East Pettigrew, 1940s.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

By the 1950s, the building seems to have housed Big Wheel Record Bar and Smith's Grocery, Fruit, and Produce Market. By the 1960s, the Triangle Barber Shop and an increasing number of apartments, as well as the Apter Cut Rate Food Store.


(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

By the mid-1970s, the building appears to have been abandoned.


418-420, likely early 1970s. Note the stucco cracking along the former arch.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

The building appears to have been torn down in 1977.

The parcel became overgrown and wooded for the next ~15 years before being converted into a gravel parking lot by Rick Hendrick Chevrolet.


Looking southwest at the site of the Wonderland, 09.04.08.
(The corner of Ramsey and Pettigrew was ~30-40 feet west of the corner of S. Dillard and E. Pettigrew. S. Dillard did not extend south of East Pettigrew. The present-day "East Dillard" is a post-urban renewal street. You can note in the mid-1970s photo above that the corner has already been 'moved' to the east. You can also note the manholes in the street and sidewalk in the 1970s image and present day to orient yourself the location of the building.)

Below, an overlay of Hayti streets on a 2007 satellite image.


Google Maps Link to this spot

35.990575 -78.897792

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Frederick K. Watkins, known as “The Movie King”, lived at 1218 Fayetteville Street (across the road from where the Stanford L. Warren library is currently located), and opened the first movie theater in Durham for African-Americans. Eventually, he operated 16 theaters throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

The Wonderland also offered vaudeville acts and dancing, and is featured prominently in Lewis Shiner’s 2008 novel, Black and White:

The crowd was mostly male, mostly in coats and ties, though there were some turtlenecks and open sport shirts. The main thing that struck him was the obvious care and effort that virtually every one of them had spent on his appearance: hats, slickly processed hair, brightly shined shoes, rings, cufflinks, tie tacks. Then there were the women. Some wore furs and broad-brimmed hats, others simple linen dresses and dime store gloves. They had an ease with their own bodies, no matter what size or shape, that Robert found both alien and appealing. And some of them were simply stunning.

Watkins retired from the cinematic career in 1929 and according to the City Directories, competitor George Logan (of the Regal) took over operations for at least one year. The theater appears to have closed by 1933 and was subsequently used for a variety of commercial and social purposes: the John Avery Boys Club, grocery stores, a package store, a barber shop, and apartments were all tenants of this building.

Like all of the Hayti structures along East Pettigrew Street, this one was also demolished as part of the Urban Renewal plan.

 

/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Biltmore_PC.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Regal_Biltmore_SE_1920s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Biltmore_PC.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Biltmore_Regal_Donut_1940s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_9/Biltmore_1950s.jpg

BILTMORE HOTEL/GRILL/DRUGSTORE

330-332
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1929
/ Demolished in
1977
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

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In tours

Last updated

  • Tue, 01/14/2014 - 9:05pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 28.716" N, 78° 53' 53.3904" W

Comments

330-332
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1929
/ Demolished in
1977
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

 


Looking southeast at the Regal Theater and the Biltmore, 1946
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Although Dorothy Phelps' book opines the the Biltmore Hotel was built in 1923 by Dr. Clyde Donnell, it seems likely, based on the city directories, that the hotel was built in ~1929. Dr. Donnell's 1951 biography makes copious mention of his various endeavors, but no mention of the Biltmore - an unlikely omission. So the beginnings of the Biltmore are a bit unclear, but it was decidedly the pre-eminent hotel in Hayti, and in the segregated era, one of the pre-eminent hotels catering to African-Americans in the southeast.


Biltmore Hotel, likely 1930s.
(Courtesy John Schelp)

Another version of this postcard has writing on the right side of the card which reads:

"The Biltmore Hotel, Durham, NC. Half block from Union Station. America's Finest Colored Hotel. All out side [sic] rooms. Running hot and cold water in each room. The last word in comfort. 'Do It the Biltmore Way'. Atlas Barbee, Manager."

Ms. Phelps describes the typical scene at the Biltmore:

"Artists, educators, and just visitors who came to see the 'big name bands' and Hayti would stay at this 30 room hotel when they came to town. 'It was the only such facility opened to Negroes,' according to Amelia Thorpe. 'Children would gather near the Biltmore to gape at the buses and famous people.'"

The Biltmore featured a drugstore and grill/coffee shop on the ground floor (the drugstore to the left when facing the front of the building, and the grill/coffee shop to the right.)


Biltmore, Regal Theater, and the Donut Shop, 1940s.

In the 1940s, the hotel was managed by Lathrop 'Lath' Alston and James Baylor; in 1944, Lath Alston purchased the hotel with Pedro Ward, who ran the dining room. Alston described the hotel as:

"one of the largest institutions of its kind in the South, catering exclusively to Negro patrons. It has twenty rooms with ample baths, a dining room serving an unexcelled cuisine and is operated on the European plan. Mr. Alston is a well and favorably known promoter of musicals, bands, etc. He enjoys a reputation as one of the big-time dance promoters in the South."
(I tend to believe the 20 room description rather than the 30 room further above.)

Below, an excerpt from "Negro Durham Marches On" about the Biltmore - 1949.

(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

And a brief bit of film on East Pettigrew, looking west towards the Biltmore ~1947.

York Garrett was running the Biltmore Drugstore by the 1940s, which was renamed "Garrett's Biltmore Drugstore."


Looking southwest, 1950s.

Hayti began to fade over the course of the 1950s; the progressive end of segregation meant less exclusive patronage of Hayti stores and businesses, and visitors to town could stay at hotels outside of Hayti. The general economic flight of the 1960s affected the African-American community as well as the white community. Those with means to do so began to move to suburban areas.

The language to describe Hayti in the 1950s is remarkably similar to the language used to describe structures in our historic neighborhoods today - 'blighted' 'obsolete' structures. The "What Is Urban Renewal?" public information pamphlet from ~1960 describes urban renewal as follows:

"1) The use of code enforcement and public improvements in order to prevent good areas from becoming blighted. 2) The removal of spots of blight and the rehabilitation of structures that can be saved. 3) The clearance and redevelopment of slum areas that cannot be saved."

Should sound familiar to those who follow the policies of our city administration.

Views of Hayti from the 1960s do not show a thriving area, but rather an area that was beginning to see economic difficulty - beautiful structures like the Biltmore looking more faded than fashionable.


Looking west on East Pettigrew Street, late 1960s.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

Structures to the east of Ramsey Street were torn down by the late 1960s. The Biltmore and surrounding buildings survived into the 1970s.


Biltmore and surrounding structures, early 1970s.

The use of the Biltmore seems to have, um, declined a bit by the 1970s. To recount the story one local told me.

"In the early 1970s, I was working to erect the radio tower for WAFR radio in a building two doors down from the Biltmore [ed note: WAFR was in the Donut Shop building]. We got permission from Dr. Garrett to tie our tower guy wire to the roof of the Biltmore Hotel."

"We went into the hotel and went upstairs - and it became very clear that we were in a whorehouse. Prostitutes, all white, were on the beds of the rooms, wearing only negligées, and there were several very large Black men who were looking at us as if to say 'what the hell are you doing here?'"

"I was 23 years old, and had never encountered anything like this before. We had to go back every day for two weeks and go through the rooms to get to the roof ladder, which was in the closet of one of the rooms."

Soon the Regal and the Donut shop buildings had been demolished, and the Biltmore was one of a few survivors.


Mid-1970s view of the Biltmore. The drugstore remains open while the hotel is boarded up.

1977 (Photo by George Pyne via Milo Pyne)


January 1977 view of the Biltmore from across the railroad tracks. Joel Kostyu wrote, in a rather odd passage accompanying this picture

"Biltmore Hotel reflects the change in the integrated south. Separate black hotels are no longer needed, so the old Biltmore will be demolished. It is reported that it will be torn down brick by brick and that these bricks will be cleaned by unemployed youth and resold." (From "Durham: a Pictorial History" by J. Kostyu)

Great. Wonder how that worked out?

The Biltmore was torn down in 1977. The spot has been some form of parking lot since that time.


Looking south at the site of the Biltmore, 09.04.08. The building extended from approximately the middle of the driveway left to the fire hydrant (notice the fire hydrant in the historical photos.)
 

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The Biltmore Hotel was built sometime between 1923 and 1929. It was located in the Hayti district (the African-American section of Durham) and half of a block from Union Station. During its time, the Biltmore Hotel was a destination for African-Americans and “America’s Finest Colored Hotel.” The hotel had approximately 20-30 rooms with hot and cold water running in each room. It also housed a drug store and a grill/coffee shop on the ground floor. As Atlas Barbee, manager of the Biltmore Hotel, would say “Do It the Biltmore Way.” According to Ms. Phelps, "Artists, educators, and just visitors who came to see the 'big name bands' and Hayti would stay at this 30 room hotel when they came to town.” “It was the only such facility opened to Negroes,” and “Children would gather near the Biltmore to gape at the buses and famous people.” according to Amelia Thorpe.

Starting in the 1940s, Lathrop “Lath” Alston managed the hotel with James Baylor. In 1944, Mr. Alston decided to purchase the hotel with Pedro Ward, who ran the dining room. The Biltmore was described as: “One of the largest institutions of its kind in the South, catering exclusively to Negro patrons. It has twenty rooms with ample baths, a dining room serving and unexcelled cuisine and is operated on the European plan. Mr. Alston is a well and favorably known promoter of musicals, bans, etc. He enjoys a reputation as one of the big-time dance promoters in the South.”

When progress was made toward ending segregation, the Hayti community began to fade due to less patronage of specifically black-owned stores and businesses, including the Biltmore Hotel. In the 1960s, when the economic status of the U.S. strengthened, the move to the suburban areas by the middle to upper class families emerged.  By the late 1960s and early 1970s, the City of Durham targeted much of the Hayti area for redevelopment under federal Urban Renewal funding.  The Biltmore Hotel was one of the last standing structures along East Pettigrew Street and thought to have escaped Urban Renewal, but it too was torn down in 1977. The former Biltmore Hotel is now a parking lot.

 

carrolina_NE.jpg

HOTEL CARROLINA

401-405
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1891
/ Demolished in
1907
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Thu, 08/04/2011 - 12:05pm by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 41.8992" N, 78° 54' 7.5312" W
US

Comments

401-405
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1891
/ Demolished in
1907
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

carrolina_NE.jpg

The corner of Ramseur St. and Corcoran St. is a historically significant corner - can't you tell? (Workers are installing new sidewalk around city-owned parking lot) On the property between Main St. and the railroad tracks, east of Corcoran St., stood Dr. Bartlett Durham's house, "Pandora's Box", a two-story frame structure in which Dr. Durham lived until his death in 1858. Original 1854 NC railroad survey, showing the future location of Durham's Station (Courtesy David Southern/Steve Rankin) As most folks are aware, Durham's raison d'etre came with the North Carolina railroad in 1854, and the desire to establish a train depot between Hillsborough and Raleigh. I've written previously about Mr. Pratt's high price / fear for his horses (arguably making him the first in a very long line of recalcitrant Durham-area landowners with an overly optimistic view of the value of their land/suspect improvements theron) that led the NCRR to seek out Dr. Bartlett Durham for land upon which to locate their depot. Dr. Durham sold 4 acres of land to the railroad for the establishment of a depot between Raleigh and Hillsborough - Durham Station. Some have concluded from the railroad survey above that Pandora's Box was located on the southern side of the tracks - I think not. I believe the house and tavern are the two buildings shown to the north of the tracks on the survey above. Louis Blount's 1923 map of Durham in 1865 confirms as much. Blount's map of Durham in 1865 - #17 is "RF Morris Home and Hotel" #21 is "Annex to hotel. Known as 'Pandora's Box' 4 rooms and attic (Logs), #10 is the depot. (Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection. Scanned by Digital Durham) Durham reportedly used his house was used as a hotel/guest house, and it continued to be used as such after his death. RF Morris evidently established a hotel of some additional significance to its west, on Depot Street - later Corcoran. This was supplanted by the Hotel Claiborn, which possibly incorporated Pandora's Box. On the 1881 map of Durham, this is simply noted as "Grand Central Hotel".

 

A view of the Hotel Claiborn from Depot (later Corcoran) and Peabody (later Ramseur) Streets

From the corner of Mangum and Peabody, looking west, during the 1880s- the far structure is the Hotel Claiborn. (From "Durham: A Pictorial History" by J. Kostyu)

Picture of the Durham Band at the rear of the Hotel Claiborn, 1887 (mis-labeled Carrolina.) (Courtesy The Herald-Sun) In 1891, Julian Carr replaced the Hotel Claiborn with the "Hotel Carrolina" (yes, Carr-o-lina) on this site, which may have also incorporated the two earlier structures. The Hotel Carrolina was a large, ornate Queen Anne Victorian building which the Historic Inventory calls "Durham's first luxury hotel" View From Corcoran and Peabody (now Ramseur), looking northeast (from Durham Historic Inventory)

From the railroad tracks looking north across Peabody (now Ramseur), showing reunion of veterans of the Spanish-American War (Courtesy Durham County Library)

Fire destroyed the Hotel Carrolina in 1907, and the corner was vacant until 1919, when the Durham Silk Hosiery Mill was constructed to produce silk stockings. By the 1950s, the company had taken the unfortunate step of removing the windows and bricking in the openings - not uncommonly done as a part of 'modernizing' (which seemed to involve an anti-window aesthetic for some reason). I would speculate that increasing automation led to fewer people on the mill floor as well, and when coupled with air conditioning/ac costs, bye-bye windows. Silk Hosiery Mill, 1950s (Courtesy the Herald-Sun) Knitting machinery, interior, 1950s. (Courtesy the Herald-Sun) I love the below picture: Executives at the DSHM, 1950s (Courtesy the Herald-Sun) Looking west, 1959 (Courtesy Bob Blake.) The Durham Silk Hosiery mill operated until 1969, when the plant shut down. The building stood on this corner until 1970, when it was demolished. Evidently, the building was so well-built, implosion of the building was unsuccessful and followed up by wrecking-ball demolition. (Courtesy Durham County Library) (Courtesy Durham County Library) As seen above, the birthplace of Durham is, perhaps fittingly, a city-owned parking lot. If we can spend ,000,000 on a 'performing arts center', maybe we can spare a hundred dollars for a plaque? How about a building to attach it to? Find this spot on a Google Map. 35.995031,-78.901805  

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In 1891, Julian S. Carr built the Hotel Carrolina to replace the Hotel Claiborn. The structure of the Carrolina may have incorporated the two previous structures on that site (Dr. Durham Bartlett’s house and Hotel Claiborn). The hotel was built for $85,000. Additionally, Carr expanded the hotel to have 73 rooms and a veranda. The Carrolina was considered to be “Durham’s first luxury hotel” and “one of the most attractive hotels south of Washington.” The hotel accommodated 350 guests, with rates $2.50 and up a day. Many Durhamites simply decided to live at the Carrolina. Howell Cobb leased the hotel upon its completion along with a chain of other hotels. Two years later, he was joined by his brother clerk and later manager Alphonsus Cobb. Alphonsus Cobb, proprietor at the time the Hotel Carrolina burned in 1907, became proprietor of the Hotel Corocran until 1912.

The corner of Corcoran and Ramseur was vacant until 1919 when the Durham Silk Hosiery Mill was constructed to produce silk stockings. The mill was in operation until the plant shut down in 1969. The Silk Hosiery Mill was demolished in 1970. Currently, the site of what formerly was hotel Carrolina is a parking lot.

 

HOTEL CLAIBORN

,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1875
/ Demolished in
1891
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Thu, 08/04/2011 - 12:11pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 42.1764" N, 78° 54' 7.2288" W

Comments

,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1875
/ Demolished in
1891
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

The corner of Ramseur St. and Corcoran St. is a historically significant corner - can't you tell?

(Workers are installing new sidewalk around city-owned parking lot)

On the property between Main St. and the railroad tracks, east of Corcoran St., stood Dr. Bartlett Durham's house, "Pandora's Box", a two-story frame structure in which Dr. Durham lived until his death in 1858.

Original 1854 NC railroad survey, showing the future location of Durham's Station (Courtesy David Southern/Steve Rankin) As most folks are aware, Durham's raison d'etre came with the North Carolina railroad in 1854, and the desire to establish a train depot between Hillsborough and Raleigh.

I've written previously about Mr. Pratt's high price / fear for his horses (arguably making him the first in a very long line of recalcitrant Durham-area landowners with an overly optimistic view of the value of their land/suspect improvements theron) that led the NCRR to seek out Dr. Bartlett Durham for land upon which to locate their depot. Dr. Durham sold 4 acres of land to the railroad for the establishment of a depot between Raleigh and Hillsborough - Durham Station.

Some have concluded from the railroad survey above that Pandora's Box was located on the southern side of the tracks - I think not. I believe the house and tavern are the two buildings shown to the north of the tracks on the survey above. Louis Blount's 1923 map of Durham in 1865 confirms as much.

Blount's map of Durham in 1865 - #17 is "RF Morris Home and Hotel" #21 is "Annex to hotel. Known as 'Pandora's Box' 4 rooms and attic (Logs), #10 is the depot.

(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection. Scanned by Digital Durham)

Durham reportedly used his house was used as a hotel/guest house, and it continued to be used as such after his death. RF Morris evidently established a hotel of some additional significance to its west, on Depot Street - later Corcoran. This was supplanted by the Hotel Claiborn, which possibly incorporated Pandora's Box.

On the 1881 map of Durham, this is simply noted as "Grand Central Hotel".

A view of the Hotel Claiborn from Depot (later Corcoran) and Peabody (later Ramseur) Streets

From the corner of Mangum and Peabody, looking west, during the 1880s- the far structure is the Hotel Claiborn.

(From "Durham: A Pictorial History" by J. Kostyu)

Picture of the Durham Band at the rear of the Hotel Claiborn, 1887 (mis-labeled Carrolina.)

(Courtesy The Herald-Sun)

In 1891, Julian Carr replaced the Hotel Claiborn with the "Hotel Carrolina" (yes, Carr-o-lina) on this site, which may have also incorporated the two earlier structures. The Hotel Carrolina was a large, ornate Queen Anne Victorian building which the Historic Inventory calls "Durham's first luxury hotel"

View From Corcoran and Peabody (now Ramseur), looking northeast (from Durham Historic Inventory)

From the railroad tracks looking north across Peabody (now Ramseur), showing reunion of veterans of the Spanish-American War (Courtesy Durham County Library)

Fire destroyed the Hotel Carrolina in 1907, and the corner was vacant until 1919, when the Durham Silk Hosiery Mill was constructed to produce silk stockings.

By the 1950s, the company had taken the unfortunate step of removing the windows and bricking in the openings - not uncommonly done as a part of 'modernizing' (which seemed to involve an anti-window aesthetic for some reason). I would speculate that increasing automation led to fewer people on the mill floor as well, and when coupled with air conditioning/ac costs, bye-bye windows.

Silk Hosiery Mill, 1950s (Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

 

Knitting machinery, interior, 1950s. (Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

I love the below picture: Executives at the DSHM, 1950s (Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

Looking west, 1959 (Courtesy Bob Blake.)

The Durham Silk Hosiery mill operated until 1969, when the plant shut down. The building stood on this corner until 1970, when it was demolished. Evidently, the building was so well-built, implosion of the building was unsuccessful and followed up by wrecking-ball demolition.

(Courtesy Durham County Library) (Courtesy Durham County Library)

As seen above, the birthplace of Durham is, perhaps fittingly, a city-owned parking lot. If we can spend ,000,000 on a 'performing arts center', maybe we can spare a hundred dollars for a plaque? How about a building to attach it to?

 

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All research indicates that this was Durham’s first real hotel. Located within walking distance of the Southern Railroad passenger station (which stood across from the American Tobacco Company Plant), the Claiborn was operated by A.B. Sites. It was depicted on an 1881 map of Durham and noted as the “Grand Central hotel.” Although the date of construction has not been determined, it was mentioned changing management in the State Chronicle on June 11, 1886.

The article read:

“Durham, N.C., June 9, 1886- On May 1st, this elegant establishment changed hands, having been leased for five years by Mr. W.J. Pogue, who is also a tobacco manufacturer at Durham, where he is associated in the manufacture of „The Queen of Durham‟ Smoking Tobacco with Mr. A.J. Cameron.” “Since entering upon his new duties Mr. Pogue has made many striking improvements in and about Claiborn. The house and premises have been thoroughly overhauled and renovated, gas and electric lights put in, a handsome suite of sample rooms for drummers, billiard parlors, bath rooms, etc., have also opened under the very best management. And a Northern barber (white) of long experience, will soon take charge of the elegant barbershop which the proprietor has recently arranged. “The beauty of the place surpasses any hotel in the State in point of natural advantages as well as general surroundings.” “Mr. Pogue challenges the South to beat his table, and the new management has met with a very flattering start, as the house is crowded all the time, and large additions will soon be made to accommodate the increasing trade. Mr. Pogue is an ex-drummer, having lived in the best hotels of this count for six or seven years, and his success as a hotelist proves conclusively that he profited by his observation and experience in hotel life. We cheerfully recommend the Claiborn as a delightful summer retreat, where efforts will be made to personally attend to the wants of either transient guest or regular boarded. An elegant library, complete, is a great attraction here. His rates are extremely moderate, and all those wishing a desirable place to recreate and enjoy the good things of life can find all they seek at the Hotel Claiborn.”

The site is now a surface parking lot at the northeast corner of Corcoran Street and the Loop. This hotel predated other significant buildings on the same site – the Hotel Carrolina and the Durham Hosiery Mill.

 

/sites/default/files/images/2006_10/313-315EChapelHill_pcard.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2006_10/corcoranandchapelhill002.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2006_10/corner_corc_echst_1920.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2006_10/hotelcorcentrance.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2006_10/313WCHS_1920.jpg

HOTEL CORCORAN / MERCY HOSPITAL / DURHAM BUSINESS SCHOOL / HOME SAVINGS BANK

313-315
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1907
/ Modified in
1938
,
1951
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Sat, 07/16/2011 - 9:27pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 49.6716" N, 78° 54' 3.0276" W

Comments

313-315
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1907
/ Modified in
1938
,
1951
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

At the northern terminus of Corcoran at East Chapel Hill Street, across CHS from the Washington Duke Motel, is the northeast corner of East Chapel Hill St. and Holland St., where we've moved from Mansard to Modern to Launch Vehicle.

The building at 313-315 East Chapel Hill Street was constructed around 1907 as the Corcoran Hotel, but did not survive for long due to stiff competition from the other downtown hotels. It became Mercy Hosptial, then the Durham Business School.


From the Washington Duke Hotel, looking northeast, likely mid-1920s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives, Wyatt Dixon Collection)


From the corner of Corcoran and East Chapel Hill St., looking northeast. Probably a little bit later than the above picture, but before 1934, when the Post Office was built.
(Courtesy Duke Archives, Wyatt Dixon Collection)

The entrance

(Courtesy Duke Archives, Wyatt Dixon Collection)

The business school appears to have closed by the 1930s. The "Tip-Top Tavern" was located on the first floor during this era.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

As seen from the east, looking west from Rigsbee, mid-1930s.

(Courtesy University of North Carolina / North Carolina Collection)

In the 1938, the 313 half of the building was torn down and replaced with a art deco/moderne movie theater known as the Center Theatre, built by general contractor George W. Kane.


Looking east, Foster St. in the foreground. The Center Theater is under construction, and 315 E. Chapel Hill perists to its east.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

Below, the completed Center Theater and 315 East Chapel Hill, 1940. This is the only picture I've seen with a complete Center Theater and an unmodified 315 East Chapel Hill.


(Courtesy Library of Congress)

Below, a closer picture of the Center from about 1948, going by the movie title.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In 1951, 315 East Chapel Hill St. was 'modernized' by removing the mansard roof, parging the exterior of the building, replacing the windows, and other changes that fundamentally changed the character of the building.

Above - being 'updated' for the demanding standards of the 1950s, 02.22.51
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Above, the Center Theater and 315 E. Chapel Hill from the Washington Duke Hotel, looking northeast, mid-1950s
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

Like most (all?) downtown movie theaters, the Center was segregated. Unlike the Carolina, which admitted African-Americans - but only through a side door to be able to sit in the balcony, separated from whites, I don't think the Center admitted African-Americans at all.

As a result, it was a focus of civil rights protests, like the one pictured below.


Looking east, 03.10.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Looking east, 03.10.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

By the mid-1960s, this incarnation of the Center Theater was reaching the end of its lifespan, short of 30 years old. I'm not sure if it ever de-segregated at this location.


(Courtesy The Herald Sun)

Above and below, the Center Theatre around 1965, again by the movie titles, looking northeast from Corcoran, near Chapel Hill St.


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

By 1966, the Center theater moved to Lakewood Shopping Center. The building was sold to the next-door neighbor, Home Savings and Loan, which demolished the theater.


Demolishing the theater, looking north, 01.09.67
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Demolishing the theater, looking south, 03.30.67
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Demolishing the theater, looking northeast, 03.30.67
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The building which replaced it, the Home Savings Bank, is what you get when you combine modernism with whimsical.


(Courtesy Durham County Library)


The Home Savings and Loan Building, 01.30.69
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

The same building today, now the Mutual Community Savings Bank

While I feel like I should dislike this building because of unclear openings for doors and windows, on most days I can't help but like it. Unlike a lot of stolid modernism, this just seems sort of irrepressibly geeky, in that Revenge of the Nerds/Napoleon Dynamite kind of way.

The building immediately to the east of the bank remains the original 315 East Chapel Hill St., albeit radically transformed. Visible around the window frames is brick, underneath the parged concrete exterior (on the sides.) Not much other clue to its origins, except for the general size and massing (minus the mansard roof.)

Looking northwest from East Chapel Hill St., 2007.

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When William Mangum passed away in 1905, he left a large property to his daughter, Miss Ella Mangum. Noticing a void in Durham following the loss of the Hotel Carrolina to fire in 1907, she decided to open Hotel Corcoran on a portion of the land. For her generosity, the side street was named Ella Street until it was renamed Holland Street when the Holland Brothers’ Furniture Store opened. Former Hotel Carrolina proprietor Aplhonsus Cobb managed Hotel Corcoran until 1912 when he left to pursue real estate ventures. Rooms on the upper two floors were reached through the small lobby, which connected to two small wings.

However, the hotel was not very successful. Stiff competition from newer hotels like the Lochmoor in 1911 and the Malbourne opening in 1913 caused it to be repurposed by 1914, when it became Mercy Hospital, superintended by Nurse Mamie H. Nunnally. This venture too failed by 1919. This trend continued with listings as a boarding house on the upper floors under Mr. & Mrs. J.T. Crisp, a stint as the Central Hotel, and as the Durham Business school operated by Mrs. Walter lee Lednum, Royall & Borden furniture Company, Paschall Plumbing Company, J.M.M. Gregory Real Estate, and “Tip Top Tavern” in first floor among others. Half of the hotel was torn down in 1938 to make space for the art deco/moderne movie theater, Center Theater. Harris Upham stock brokers modernized the surviving half in 1951 by removing the mansard roof, resurfacing the exterior of building, replacing windows, and other modern changes. The western portion of old hotel footprint was rebuilt with the Home Savings and Loan Building.

Interesting Fact: The plates bearing the Hotel Corcoran crest were made in England by John Haddock & Sons of vitrified earthenware.

 

/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/lochmoor_1940s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/ymca_1890.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/YMCA_SW_pcard.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/YMCA_firecrew_1910.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/200EMain_E_1915.jpg

HOTEL LOCHMOOR

214
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1909
/ Demolished in
1943
Construction type: 
,
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Sun, 11/20/2011 - 8:38pm by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 37.8204" N, 78° 53' 56.3028" W
US

Comments

214
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1909
/ Demolished in
1943
Construction type: 
,
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 


Looking southeast from East Main St., ~1910.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The southwest corner of Roxoboro and East Main St. initially was the location of a home, although I don't know the original inhabitant. This house was still in place when the first courthouse was built immediately to its west.


Looking southeast from East Main St., 1880s. The first county courthouse is to the right.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

In 1888, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was established in Durham, with James Southgate as its prinicipal proponent, and the additional support of George W. Watts (its first local president) and EJ Parrish. The small group rented space on S. Church St. offered by EJ Parrish and began raising money for a building fund. However, opposition from local ministers (one of whom, unnamed by Boyd in his history of Durham ridiculed the organization, calling it the "XYZ") doomed the group. It disbanded in 1894.

However, through the First Presbyterian Church and George W. Watts, the YMCA was restablished. In 1905, a church-led organization called the "Covenanters Club" proposed a club-specific facility, and George Watts offered to help pay for the cost. A member of the club, JL Conrad, noted that the club would serve only Presbyterians, and what was truly needed was a social club to serve the needs of "Durham['s] large number of young men, members of other churches or of no church." He proposed that a YMCA would be more appropriate. Watts agreed, and consulted with the state officials of the YMCA about re-starting the organization.
The group purchased the lot at the southwest corner of Roxboro and East Main from Capt. EJ Parrish for 00. Watts financed a significant portion of the construction of a new YMCA building on the southwest corner of Roxboro and East Main, completed in 1908 at a cost of ,000 and supplemented with ,000 of additional construction several years later.


Looking southwest from Roxboro and East Main.


The front entrance on East Main St., 1910.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


Looking east on E. Main St., ~1917. Note the third First Presbyterian Church building in the distance on the left.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


Looking southwest from Roxboro St., 1920.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

EJ Parrish retained the remainder of the land between the original courthouse and the YMCA. In 1909, he built a building containing shops, and in 1911, he built a hotel between this structure and the YMCA, which he also called the Arcade. He built an extensive complex with a glass walled dining room facing Union Station, 62 rooms and 24 bathrooms. Another expansion brought a wing extending behind the courthouse towards Church St., with enclosed gardens and sitting areas to entice travelers disembarking from the station. Parrish attempted to lure the luxury clientele who were drawn to a newer deluxe hotel across the street, the Hotel Malbourne.

Parrish couldn't compete with the Malbourne and sold the hotel, which was renamed the Lochmoor by its new owner, Hubert Latta, in honor of Parrish (whose large country estate, out Roxboro Road just north of where Duke and Roxobro now converge, was called Lochmoor.)

arcadelochmoorYMCA_pcard.jpg
Looking southeast from East Main St., ~1910.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


Looking west from Roxboro, ~1920. The YMCA and Hotel Lochmoor are on the left, the Hotel Malbourne on the right.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The Arcade theater/shops were torn down sometime in the 1910s. The hotel changed hands several times, and served as the public library while the new library was being constructed on East Main St.


Looking southeast, ~1940 at the Lochmoor and a bit of the YMCA.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The Hotel Lochmoor was sold to the Elks by 1919, who used the building for a meeting place until 1943, when they sold the building to the city, which tore down the structure.


The YMCA, looking southwest, ~1950, with the absent Lochmoor.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Looking west, early 1960s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The building still present behind the courthouse had been used by the county as "Welfare offices", but may have been part of the original Hotel Lochmoor. By 1964, it was gone as well.


Looking southwest, 1964. The eastern portion of Union Station is visible, and the Austin-Heaton Co./Peerless Flour Mill is in the distance.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In 1966, the county built a new courthouse annex building on the location of the YMCA and Hotel Lochmoor.

courthouseannexconstruction_080166.jpg
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

Which would become the Durham County Office Building


Looking southwest, ~1970.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

And later, Durham County Social Services.


There are some odd similarities between the YMCA building and this building - most notably the arches at the cap of the building. I don't know if that was intentional.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this building with the upcoming construction of the new Human Services Complex. Presumably, the offices in this building will be moving to that structure.

As for the YMCA, after a stint away from downtown, having moved on from their Trinity Ave. location to the Lakewood Ave. branch as their sole Durham location, they moved back to downtown in the 1990s, first to a location at the northeast corner of Morgan and Foster Sts., and then, more recently, expanding into a second branch in the American Tobacco complex.

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Built in 1911 by EJ Parrish, Hotel Lochmoor was constructed beside the Arcade, a movie house and set of commercial stores also owned by Parrish. The YMCA flanked the Lochmoor other’s side. The hotel had 62 rooms, 24 bathrooms, a glass walled dining room facing Union Station, and an expanded wing behind the courthouse towards Church Street. It also had enclosed gardens and sitting areas to attract travelers off trains. These luxurious features were included in the hotel to compete with the level of clientele staying at Hotel Malbourne across the street. However, Hotel Lochmoor could not compete and EJ Parrish had to sell it to Hubert Latta who renamed the Hotel Lochmoor to honor Parrish (Lochmoor is the name of Parrish‟s large country estate).

Everett I. Bugg (owner of the Malbourne across the street) purchased the Lochmoor when it went into receivership and managed the hotel along with the Malbourne. The Lochmoor later served as a public library while the city constructed a new library. In 1919, the Lochmoor was sold to the Elks, who used the hotel as a meeting place until 1943. Then, they sold to the city, which tore down the hotel to make way for Welfare offices. Part of Lochmoor, behind the courthouse, may have been included in this new building. In 1965, all that is left of the YMCA and the Lochmoor had been completely demolished and replaced by the new county social services building.

 

/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/HotelMalbourne_pcard_NW_1930.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/nwcorner_emain_rox_1890.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/malbourne_ne_1910_1.jpgorpheummalbourne_pcard_1920.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/hotelmalbourne_NW_1920s.jpg

HOTEL MALBOURNE

223-225
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1912
/ Demolished in
1966
Architect/Designers: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

The preeminent hotel in Durham when built in 1912, the Malbourne suffered after construciton of the Washington Duke Hotel in 1925. By the 1950s-1960s, it was seen as a 'seedy' hotel of faded baroque glory. It was unfortunately demolished in 1966.

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In tours

Last updated

  • Fri, 05/30/2014 - 3:00pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 38.3496" N, 78° 53' 54.7548" W

Comments

223-225
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1912
/ Demolished in
1966
Architect/Designers: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

The Hotel Malbourne was built in 1912 on the northwest corner of North Roxboro and East Main - land that had been occupied by residential structures in the 1890s - including a boarding house.


Looking northeast from Church St. and East Main St., 1890s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

In 1912, the Commercial Club, George W. Watts, the Merchants Association, BN Duke / Fidelity Bank raised the capital to construct a deluxe hotel on the site. Jean Anderson notes that

"'Taurus' was announced as the name for the new venture, but the town matrons objected."

The hotel was named after BN Duke's father-in-law, Malbourne Angier, as a second choice.


Looking northeast from East Main and Church, ~1912. Note the 2nd First Presbyterian Church across the street.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The Malbourne was made of brick with a granite base, an immense copper cornice, iron balconies, 125 rooms with steam heat, telephones, hot and cold water, and 50 private bathrooms.

orpheummalbourne_pcard_1920.jpg
Looking northeast, late 1910s.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The Malbourne was, for eleven years, the preeminent downtown hotel. Sunday dinner, in particular, was a signature event - in 1915, dinner cost 60 cents, unless you wanted the "sizzling steak with French-fried potatoes and tomatoes", which would bump it up to 75 cents.


Looking northwest, 1930.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The Hotel Malbourne's supremacy was usurped in 1924 by the construction of the Washington Duke Hotel, which became the downtown hotel. Nonetheless, the Malbourne continued to be a major downtown hotel.


Looking west-northwest, 1930s.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


Looking northwest, 1940s.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

 (Hotel Malbourne ad, 1960)

However, age caught up with the Malbourne. It's unclear whether its decline was gradual or more sudden, but by the 1960s, it was more of a boarding house, it seems, than a hotel.


Looking northwest 1966
(Courtesy Durham County Library).


Looking north, 1966.

malbourne_late1960s.jpg


Looking south from Roxboro, 1966.

malbournehotel_NW_1960s.jpg
Looking northwest, 1966

Using urban renewal funds, the city demolished the entire block bounded by Church, Parrish, Roxboro, and East Main streets, including the Hotel Malbourne.

(Photo by George Pyne, courtesy Milo Pyne)


Demolition, 1966.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


Where the block once was, 1975.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The county decided to build its new courthouse on the spot by the 1970s, designed by Archie Royal Davis.


Looking southwest from Roxboro and Parrish, 1978.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

This remains the 'new' courthouse, until another new courthouse gets built at Dillard and Mangum.


Looking northwest at the former Hotel Malbourne site, 2007.

By comparing the early pictures of the Malbourne to the courthouse, you can see how badly this building relates to the street - it's a fortress. Unfortunately, too many architects haven't advanced beyond this motif, still building long stretches of blank wall on the street, setbacks, etc., and we're building them again in our new structures. What's sad about the persistence of these design mistakes is that the examples of what worked as a part of the streetscape - like the Hotel Malbourne - are there. A little bit of Malbourne in our Human Services Complex, transit station, and 'new new' courthouse would be a plus, but it ain't gonna happen.

Can you imagine how much Greenfire would be selling the condos for in 'The Malbourne' if it were still around? Or how much these boutique hotel rooms would go for a night? Stupidity.

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The Malbourne Hotel opened on June 16, 1913.  The Malbourne was named after BN Duke’s father, Malbourne Angier, and was located across the street from Hotel Lochmoor. The first story of the building was completed when Mr. Everett I. Bugg purchased it from the Durham Hotel Corporation. The structure cost approximately $150,000 to build and took a year in construction. The Malbourne was brick with a granite base, a copper cornice, and iron balconies. The hotel had 125 rooms with steam heat and other amenities such as telephones, hot and cold water, and 50 private rooms. The rate started at $2.50 dollars per night.

Sunday dinner at the Malbourne once cost 60 cents, or a “sizzling steak” with French fried potatoes and tomatoes cost 73 cents. An ad described the high quality of the meals:

“The regular dinner on this particular day, costing 60 cents, began with crisp celery, stuffed olives, cranberry juice, fruit cup or vegetable or chicken soup. Then came the main course with a choice from a menu of fresh pork, with barbeque sauce, baked young hen with dressing, fried trout with tartar sauce, boiled tenderloin steak, fried spring chicken and broiled lamb chop. A choice of two vegetables could be made from seven items included on the menu- snowflake potatoes, fried egg plant, fresh spinach, peas and carrots, candied yams, steamed rice and congealed salad. A side selection of desserts was offered. Your choice could be steamed apricots, apple roll, baked apples, vanilla, pistachio or strawberry ice cream, apple or hot mince pie. Coffee, tea, and sweet milk or buttermilk were included also. “Specials for the day were: baked ham with sliced tomato and potato, 45 cents; sizzling steak with French fried potatoes and sliced tomato, 75 cents; stuffed tomato with chicken salad, 40 cents; corned beef hash with poached egg, 35 cents; fried oysters with cole slaw, 25 cents; country ham and eggs, 50 cents; and Spanish omelet, 45 cents. Drink butter and bread included.”

Helping Mr. Bugg run the hotel after World War I were his brother, E.B. Bugg, C.P. Trice, and Oscar Leath. The Malbourne expanded some years later to accommodate a thriving hospitality economy by leasing a portion of the Rialto Theater building next door. E.B. Bugg also purchased the Lochmoor when it went into receivership. In 1924, the popularity of Hotel Malbourne waned as the Washington Duke became the popular hotel in downtown Durham. In 1966, it was demolished with urban renewal funds.

 

/sites/default/files/images/2007_1/washingtonduke_ne_1950s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_1/academyofmusic_rendering.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_1/academyofmusic.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_1/FirstAcademyofMusic_1907.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_1/FirstAcademyofMusic_SW_1907.jpg

WASHINGTON DUKE HOTEL / JACK TAR HOTEL

,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1924
/ Demolished in
1975
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

The grand hotel of Durham for 50 years - and one of the worst architectural losses in Durham history

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In tours

Last updated

  • Tue, 12/23/2014 - 10:26am by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 47.9256" N, 78° 54' 6.624" W
US

Comments

,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1924
/ Demolished in
1975
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 


1950s shot, looking northeast from W. Parrish and Market.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun)

 

Just after the turn of the century, the City decided to replace the scattered offices of the city along Main St. as well as the old city market that was supplanted by Union Station with a new, impressive municipal building known as the Academy of Music, which would be located between East Chapel Hill St., Corcoran, Market, and Parrish Sts. The site cost ,000. The city commissioned architects Hook and Sawyer of Charlotte, who also executed the Southern Conservatory of Music and Fire Station #2, to design the structure.


Rendering by Hook and Sawyer, 1902.
(Courtesy University of North Carolina.

Completed in 1903-1904 at a cost of ,000, it contained the offices of the city government and a market on the first floor (thus Market Street;) the second floor was "almost entirely taken up" by a performance hall, the remainder being devoted to a "small city auditorium."


Academy of Music, looking northwest from W. Parrish and Corcoran.

Stokes Hall, at Corcoran and West Main Sts., had provided both performance and meeting space prior to the construction of the Academy of Music (including courtroom space prior to the construction of the courthouse,) but no longer operated after the opening of the new building. Wyatt Dixon relates:

"The Academy played a major role in providing entertainment for hte people of the community. Dramatic plays and musical comedies were regular attractions, and for a number of years, the theatrical season was opened by the appearance of Al G. Fields Minstrel. May concerts by prominent singers of the day were presented by the Durham Kiwanis Club and other organizations, and local talent shows attracted capacity audiences. Public meetings in the promotion of the city's interest also made use of the building a for a number of years the Elks' annual memorial services were held there."


Academy of Music, 1907
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection - Wyatt Dixon Collection)


Rear of the Building, looking south-southwest from East Chapel Hill St., 1907
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection - Wyatt Dixon Collection)

On June 17, 1909, the first Academy of Music was completely gutted by fire. The fire was discovered by employees of the Durham Morning Herald, whose office was directly across Market St. The walls remained upright immediately following the fire.

It was replaced with a very similar building, dubbed the "New Academy of Music." It was the city's primary performance venue - musical theater, orchestra, comedy acts - all performed at the Academy of Music. The market, however, was moved out of the building, relocating to the area between Corcoran, Morgan and Holland.


New Academy of Music, 1910s
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Next to the Academy of Music (on the west side) was a city park; this was the original Rotary Park with its bandstand, which had been established in 1916 as the first public gift of the Rotarians.


Looking south from East Chapel Hill St. and Market. The back of the post office and the Trust Building are visible, and the front of the Jordan Building is visible at the end of Market St.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


Herald-Sun employees in Rotary Park - note the Academy of Music in the background.
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection - Wyatt Dixon Collection)

In 1924, the decision was made to build a new performance venue (the Durham Auditorium, now the Carolina theater) and to move the city hall into the former high school. The New Academy of Music was demolished. The bandstand at Rotary Park was moved to Bennett Place, where it still stands.

The Washington Duke Hotel was constructed on the site between 1924 and 1925. It was designed by Stanhope S. Johnson of Lynchburg, VA. Standing 16 stories tall at a cost .8 million, it was one of the most impressive hotel structures of its era.

I put together a little 'video' consisting of existing still frames of the hotel construction. (sorry for this annoying, cycling graphic - I'm having trouble getting YouTube to work for this one. If you didn't see it cycle, reload the page, as I had it cut off after 4 cycles.)


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Below, near the completion of construction, looking northwest from Corcoran St.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

washduke_completed_1925.jpg

Completed, 1925. (Parnell)

Below, the Washington Duke in situ, soon after completion. Notable structures surrounding it include (moving, roughly, left to right) the Temple building, the Trust Building, the Wright Corner, the old Post Office, and the Geer building

(Courtesy Duke Archives)

It was part of an active streetscape - people have told me of regularly going to the newsstand on the first floor.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The main entrance - approximately 1950s.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The lobby was an impressive art deco interior.
wdukehotel_lobby_undate.jpg

The Lobby

(Courtesy Durham County Library - Parnell)

washduke_bar_undate.jpg
The downstairs bar (Courtesy Durham County Library - Parnell)

Late 1940s postcard

It's impossible to recount how many events woven through the lives of people occurred at the Washington Duke. I've seen hundreds of photos of group meetings, important speakers, dances, dinners, etc. The Washington Duke was, however, segregated up until the 1960s.


1950s Bird's Eye aerial, looking southeast.

Occasionally, the hotel was the site of tragedy as well. Warning, the below photo is very grim, but it depicts a scene that shows the centrality of the hotel to the city.

raleighmanleapsfromtopofwashdukehotel122652.140.jpg

"Walker, Raleigh Man, Leaps from the top of Washington Duke Hotel" - 12.26.52 (Herald-Sun) This is from the deck, ~2 stories up, looking east down West Parrish Street.

By the 1960s, the hotel had become the "Jack Tar Hotel" - evidently part of a chain. The impressive first floor was dampened by the decision to brick up the large windows - trying to give it that 'modern' look, I guess. It was later referred to as simply the "Durham Hotel".


Looking south on Corcoran from East Chapel Hill.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

As previously noted in the post for the Washington Duke Motel, the owners had attempted to keep up with the motel era by demolishing the buildings across Corcoran St. to build a motel structure with a rooftop pool.

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09.11.61- Preparing to building the motel across the street. (Courtesy Herald-Sun)

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09.11.61 - looking southwest from East Chapel Hill St.

It was connected to the older hotel via a skybridge across Corcoran.

Looking west on Parrish St.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Brad Bradsher, whose mother was the convention / sales manager for the hotel in the 1960s and 1970s told me about his experience of the hotel in that era:

"I spent many an afternoon roaming around the halls in the early '70's. I can remember staying there in the '60's when you could pull into the parking deck across the street and register via closed-circuit TV. Pretty cool for 1968!"\

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(Norman Williams Collection)

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From the CCB building, looking north. (Louise Hall Collection)

By the mid-1970s, the hotel was evidently no longer profitable and was no longer being used, pending needed repair work. As Mr. Bradsher recalls:

"They tried to sell it repeatedly...It just needed too much repair work (asbestos, etc.). At the end, they tried to give it away. They almost cut a deal with, of all things, the Boy Scouts of America, to use it as a national convention center of sorts--but the cost of fixing it up was too much. As I recall it came down to not even being able to GIVE the building away, and it was costing them a fortune just to let it sit empty."

George Watts Hill, the owner of the building, made the decision to demolish the building.

I rate the demolition of the Washington Duke Hotel as a tie (with Union Station) for the worst single-structure architectural/cultural loss for the city of Durham. The hotel was an icon - seemingly, among those I've spoken with, beloved by those who grew up here mid-20th century. George Watts Hill gets oddly reverential treatment in Preservation Society circles in Durham (with various awards named after him for big donors.) To me, that just about sums up what's wrong with traditional preservation societies. Tear down some of the best architecture in Durham (between this and Harwood Hall), but it's ok if you're a generous donor.

Below, the walkway being taken down in preparation for demolition.

(Courtesy Duke Archives)

In 1975, early one morning, the streets were closed and the hotel was imploded. I've made another little 'movie' of a few still frames below.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

A friend of a friend was in high school in Durham when this occurred, and made a movie of the event for school, which is below. It takes a bit to get to the the actual demolition, but very worth watching.


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

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From the present-day (2011) location of Durham Central Park/ the Farmer's Market, looking south (just north of Hunt St.)
(Courtesy Bob Blake)

(Photo by George Pyne courtesy Milo Pyne)

The more people I have talked to about growing up in Durham, the more I realize that this was one of those major life events that people remember with great clarity - just within the last month (May 2011) I've spoken to three people who were children at the time - all of whom remember with great detail where they were standing, what happened during, and what they did afterwards.

Below, the streetscape after demolition.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Inexplicably, the site became a longstanding surface parking lot, commonly referred to as "Bare Square."

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

When a 1980s push came along to build a hotel and convention center in downtown, Watts Hill made a push for his site, but the city, in its infinite wisdom, tore down the entire adjacent block (the 200 block of East Chapel Hill St.) instead.

The Bare Square remained a parking lot, owned by Oprah fan Ronnie Sturdivant, up until a couple of years ago. Under Nick Tennyson's administration and at DDI's urging, an important pillar of downtown revitalization became the construction of a direct connection between Corcoran Street and Foster Street. The benefits of a seamless north-south thoroughfare through downtown would evidently - well, I don't know what it would do, exactly. But it was Necessary.

This roadway (which I like to call the Kalkhof Konnector) now splits the former Washington Duke site into two pieces, one of which has become part of the block directly to the east. As a part of the streetscape work, these spaces are being turned into a brick plaza.

Looking north from Parrish, 2007.

I don't think this is the way to create public space - by chopping up space for roadways so as to move traffic more expeditiously and then primping the leftovers. I'd like to be optimistic about it - and the prospect of a place to sit and enjoy treats from Locopops on Market St. this summer sounds good. But it's an awkward space. Perhaps someday we'll get rid of the Washington Duke Motel ('Oprah') and build a new, trapezoidal building out to the new street-line. If that hypothetical building had the requisite first floor activity, it might create the kind of tight, active enclosure that feeds public spaces.

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In 1923, a drive to raise $1 million for the construction of a grand new hotel started. The Washington Duke was constructed between 1924 & 1925. It was 16 stories tall and cost $1.8 million to build. Its main floor featured a newsstand in a lavish art deco interior lobby, and a dining room all with glass walls. In the1960s, the hotel became part of the “Jack Tar Hotel” chain. The large windows on first floor were filled-in with brick in an attempt to modernize the hotel. With the advent of the motel age, a sky bridge connected the old hotel to a motel with a rooftop pool across Corcoran Street.

By the 1970s, The Washington Duke hotel needed too many repairs and upgrades. The owners tried to sell the building, but the cost of the repair work became too high (asbestos, etc.). The hotel almost became the Boy Scouts of America Convention Center, but, in the end, the deal fell through and the building could not even be given away. It was demolished in 1975 and the site became a parking lot, colloquially known as “Bare Square”, for more than thirty years.  Today, the site occupied by the Washington Duke Hotel is known as the CCB Plaza.

Note: The implosion was videotaped and can be seen today on You Tube and the Endangered Durham blog.

 

SOURCE MATERIALS FOR THE BOOKLET

[1] Jean Bradley Anderson, Durham County: A History of Durham County, North Carolina.  Durham: Duke University Press, 1990.

[2] R Kelly Bryant, Jr., personal correspondence.  Summer, 2008.

[3] Wyatt T. Dixon, How Times Do Change: A Series of Sketches of Durham and her Citizens.  Durham: Central Carolina Publishing, Inc., 1987.

[4] Durham City Directories and Sanborn Insurance maps, variety of publishers.  1887-1980.

[5] Durham Morning Herald, “Theater Marquee Said Point of Blast Origin” (B12).  23 June 1970.

[6] Durham Morning Herald, “City Theater Rental ‘Risque’ Business” (B10).  7 July 1970.

[7] Durham Morning Herald, “Ammonia Dynamite Blamed in Explosion Here” (A1).  24 Sept 1970.

[8] Janna Jones, The southern movie palace: rise, fall, and resurrection.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.

[9] Howard Margolis, personal correspondence.  Fall, 2008.

[10] David Naylor, Great American movie theatres.  Washington, DC: Preservation Press, 1987.

[11] Charlene Regester,  “From the Buzzard’s Roost: Black Movie-going in Durham and Other North Carolina Cities during the Early Period of American Cinema”.  Film History 17: 113-124, 2005.

[12] AK Sandoval-Strausz, Hotel: An American History.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

[13] Lewis Shiner, Black and White.  Burton, MI: Subterranean Press, 2008.

[14] Henry Thomas, personal correspondence.  Summer, 2008.

[15] Maggie Valentine, The Show Starts on the Sidewalk: an architecture history of the movie theatre, starring S. Charles Lee.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.