2009 Preservation Durham Old Durham Home Tour: Morehead Hill

2009 Preservation Durham Old Durham Home Tour: Morehead Hill


 

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618 ARNETTE AVE.

618
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
,
Type: 
Use: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Thu, 11/24/2011 - 10:52pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 44.358" N, 78° 54' 52.3296" W

Comments

618
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
,
Type: 
Use: 

 

One meaningless, throwaway line I often hear when people are trying to justify why something needs be torn down is - "it's not worth saving." I heard it a fair amount about 618 Arnette Ave back in 2002.

618 Arnette Ave. was built in the early 20th century as one of several small Victorian houses ornamented with multiple sawnwork details and a wraparound front porch. It was originally the house of Sidney Bragg, a farmer.


Picture taken in 1978, looking northwest from the intersection of Arnette and Jackson.

The house was still in apparrently good shape when I lived across the street from it in the early 1990s. However, by the late 1990s, it had deteriorated significantly. The foundation had collapsed in spots, and the back of the house was laying on the ground. A new owner placed the house on a new foundation, but was unable to proceed with further repairs.


The house in Spring 2001.

I was working with the Historic Preservation Society's Endangered Properties Program at the time, and we identified the house as one that we wanted to try to save. We acquired an option to buy the property, and attempted to find a new owner to do a complete restoration.

The house in 2002 after a cleanup day. Unfortunately, this was the good side of the house. The back was wide open and rotted away.

We were unable to find someone to take it on. Meanwhile, Housing and Community Development was chomping at the bit to tear down the house. We met with them several times to ask them to delay demolition, which they did.

Eventually, we decided to purchase the house ourselves and begin renovation. Marty Hanks was the contractor, who worked very hard on this house to resuscitate it, and did a very good job. A core handful of dedicated volunteers in the Endangered Properties Program gave a lot of time and effort to this project.

Here was the house after many months of renovation. It had some structural integrity again, and although still fairly shell-like on the interior, was starting to take shape.

A second contractor crew completed most exterior work on the house; here it is in 2003:

In March 2004, we got the neighborhood out, and the Endangered Properties Committee got their hands dirty as well cleaning up the yard.

618Arnette_031304.jpg
03.13.04

The current owner purchased the house in - I believe - mid to late 2004. He completed the interior renovation, and did an amazing job with it.

Here is the house in 2006:

So, was it "not worth saving"? It was a lot of work, to be sure. But had this house been torn down, loss of history and architecture notwithstanding, it would have been a basically unbuildable lot, in a very prominent spot. Now it is occupied by a homeowner who is renovating two other houses in within 1-3 blocks and obviously cares deeply about the neighborhood. I'd call it a win.

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907 JACKSON--Davis-Dixon House

907
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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Last updated

  • Wed, 05/03/2017 - 12:10pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 43.08" N, 78° 54' 53.73" W

Comments

907
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

The house at 907 Jackson Street (the southeast corner of Jackson and Buchanan) is another of West End's small Victorian houses built in the early 20th century, characterized by a generous front porch and sawnwork details.

I noticed a few months ago that the house had been foreclosed upon, and it went on the market for ,000. It was bought fairly quickly, and I watched over the summer for signs that it might be gutted/vinylized. As work started on the house, I was optimistic, as it looked like they were taking pains to preserve the detail.


907 Jackson in August, 2006.

And they appear to have done a fine job with the restoration of the house (although it never would have had a railing like this, particularly unpainted.)

It's now back on the market for a pretty astounding 9,000. Considering that a house twice this size around the corner sat on the market for nearly a year at about that price, I don't think they'll get it.

Update: The property sold after ~3 weeks on the market.

History:

The single-story, late-Queen Anne-style was a speculative house and later the long-time home of the Louis and Anna Dixon family; the Dixon’s daughter, Clarice, also owned the house. It is a common dwelling style and type built in Durham—and across North Carolina—in the earliest years of the twentieth century. The front-facing gable and the gabled wing that extends to the side are common elements of the form, while the sawnwork brackets, cutaway bay, and decorative shingles in the gable are characteristic of the Queen Anne style.

Landowners in the area south of today’s Durham Freeway and west of S. Duke Street sold house parcels as early as the 1880s, kicking off development of what would become the Morehead Hill neighborhood. Speculative development was not uncommon, but the pace of development was slow until the early twentieth century. Gaston Vickers, who owned a farm along S. Duke Street, built several rental houses in the early twentieth century and also sold vacant lots to investors. J. O. Lundsford and W. J. Christian bought the parcel at the southeast corner of today’s Jackson Street and Buchannan Boulevard in 1904. The dwelling they erected is a typical spec house for the time.

John W. Davis and wife Katie are the first known occupants. They were living in the house by 1907 and purchased it from Lundsford & Christian in 1909. Davis was a cashier at the Seaboard Air Line Railroad depot on Dillard Street. The Davis’s children Margie and James were likely born while John and Katie lived in the house.

In 1918, they sold the house to Louis A. and Anna Dixon and Louis’s brother David W. Dixon. The brothers owned an eponymous grocery just four blocks away on W. Chapel Hill Street near today’s bridge over the Durham Freeway.  Louis and Anna lived in the house and raised their two children, Clarice and Thomas. In 1930, according to the census, their children were teenagers and the house value was ,000. After Louis’s death in 1947, his Clarice, in her early-thirties, and her husband J. Albert Taylor lived in the house until 1960.

A succession of shorter-term owners followed. The house eventually went into foreclosure in 2006. A local real estate investor purchased and renovated the house and sold it to an urban planner and his wife, who were looking for an older house in a bike-able neighborhood. They sold the house in 2010 to the current owners.

Vernacular Queen Anne-style cottages with the gable front-and-wing form seen here were commonly built in Morehead Hill and the West End—as well as in the mill towns that surrounded downtown—in the early years of the twentieth century. A few architectural details add elegance to the otherwise simple dwelling. Cutaway corners distinguish the projecting front wing, as do the decorative shingles in the gable and sawnwork brackets at the cutaway corners. The huge, original windows have two-over-two sash and molded hoods. A hip-roofed porch extends across the side wing and wraps around its side.

 

Changes in the twentieth century include a rear extension and the replacement of original porch posts and railings. The current battered posts on brick piers are a typical Craftsman-style element that was popular on bungalows but also a common upgrade to older houses in the 1920s. The porch went without a railing for decades; the current rail was installed in the 2006 renovation. That renovation also replaced much of the siding that wasn’t sheltered by the porch and updated interior spaces, but many original details and materials remain.

Inside, the gracious floor plan has a wide center hall and commodious rooms with 10-foot high ceilings. The flooring is heart pine, the ceilings are beadboard, and window and door trim have bulls-eye cornerblocks as well as unusual cornerblocks with incised cross marks (some are replacements). The three-sided bay that forms the front wall of the very pleasant living room offers an expansive view of the neighborhood to the north. The back deck, meanwhile, overlooks much of the streetscape behind the house, thanks to the change in elevation as Arnette Street extends to the south.

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807 Parker

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814 VICKERS AVE

814
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1890-1910
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Sat, 10/19/2013 - 12:39pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 34.9692" N, 78° 54' 43.7112" W

Comments

814
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1890-1910
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 


814 Vickers, 1970s.


Looking northwest at the south end of the 800 block, including 814 Vickers., 01.30.08.
 

From the 1984 National Register listing:

Ornamental bracing with a carved sunburst  motif in the front pedimented gable adorns this otherwise austere two-story frame house with wraparound front porch. The porch posts probably are placements. With the Lewter House, it is one of the very few surviving examples of the late Victorian houses that originally lined the northern blocs of Vickers Ave. Alphonsus Cobb, an officer of Durham Realty and Insurance Co. and a salesman with Durham Loan and Trust, built the house for his bride in the 1900s. Remained in the Cobb family, which later used it as a rental property, until several years ago.

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813 VICKERS AVENUE

813
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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Last updated

  • Sat, 08/27/2011 - 2:28pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 35.07" N, 78° 54' 41.724" W

Comments

813
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 


Looking northeast, 01.05.67
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

The four Craftsman-style houses at the northeast corner of Parker and Vickers (two on Parker and two on Vickers) remain essentially unchanged from the view of this corner in 1967. However, the major change occurred immediately to the northeast of these houses, and the Durham Freeway was contructed just behind them beginning in June of 1967.


Looking northeast, 01.27.08

The major visible change is in the re-routing of Vickers that occurred with the Freeway construction - notice in the top picture that Vickers heads straight north (and south). In the present day photo, Vickers no longer connects with its northern remnant, but turns to connect with Gregson Street. This converted Vickers from a minor two-way neighborhood connector to a one-way thoroughfare, significantly altering the character of the neighborhood.

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901 VICKERS AVENUE

901
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1920-1930
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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Last updated

  • Sat, 08/27/2011 - 2:31pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 33.8676" N, 78° 54' 41.6448" W

Comments

901
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1920-1930
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 


Looking northeast, late 1970s.

How did this Craftsman bungalow end up on one corner of the Stagg (Greystone) property? Per the Historic Inventory, when Stagg's daughter married JL Hackney, Stagg moved an existing two story house that had built at the turn-of-the-20th century off of this corner - to 914 Shepherd St. - and had this house built for the couple.

It still stands today, albeit at the entrance to the Durham Freeway rather than the quiet little Parker St. which ran down the hill to a low-lying intersection with Duke St. before the Freeway was built.


Looking southeast, 01.27.08

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908 VICKERS - YANCEY MILBURN HOUSE

908
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1920-1924
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
,
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
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Type: 
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Last updated

  • Sun, 09/23/2012 - 2:49pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 31.9992" N, 78° 54' 43.9524" W

Comments

908
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1920-1924
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
,
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 


Looking west, late 1970s.

Yancey Milburn built this Neoclassical Revival house in the early 1920s for himself and his wife. Milburn was the manager and architect for the architecture firm Milburn and Heister, which designed many of Durham's most notable buildings, including the Carolina Theater, the transformation of the old city high school into city hall, Union Station, the Alexander Motor Company, the First National Bank Building, the Durham County Courthouse, and (possibly) Fire Station #1 on Mangum St.

Later occupants included the Lloyd, Leggett, Henry, and Comans families, who added a wing to the rear of the house.


Looking southwest, 01.27.08

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COBB-TOMS HOUSE / MOREHEAD MANOR

914
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
~1910s
/ Modified in
2000s
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Mon, 02/13/2012 - 9:39am by gary

Location

35° 59' 30.6384" N, 78° 54' 44.1432" W

Comments

914
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
~1910s
/ Modified in
2000s
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

The property at the northwest corner of Morehead Avenue and Vickers was originally occupied by Mrs. WH Berry, who, when James Cobb bought her property in the mid 1910s, moved her house to 713 Parker St.

Cobb worked for as an executive for Liggett and Myers; like Stagg and George Watts Hill, he built his new home in Morehead Hills reasonable proximity to the Liggett (formerly Duke) factory.


Looking north from across Morehead Ave., 1944

Per the Historic Inventory, the Toms family lived in the house as well; Toms was also affiliated with Liggett. The importance of the two families to the tobacco company is probably best exemplified by the existence of a "Cobb Warehouse" and a "Toms Warehouse" amongst the Liggett buildings.


If you can block out the wrecked car in the foreground, a view of the front of the house, 01.14.56.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

(As an aside, notice the old street signposts - the white obelisk on the corner. These white posts with black vertical letters for the street name parallel to the face were the ubiquitous form of neighorhood street sign in Durham until the latter half of the 20th century. I only know of one still in existence.)


Morehead Manor, late 1970s.

The house was renovated and converted into a Bed and Breakfast several years ago, called Morehead Manor.


Looking west, 01.01.08

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1007Vickers_010108.jpg

1007 VICKERS AVE.

1007
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1952
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

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In tours

Last updated

  • Sun, 08/19/2012 - 1:44pm by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 26.5992" N, 78° 54' 41.8212" W
US

Comments

1007
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1952
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

 

1007Vickers_010108.jpg

01.01.08

Near replica of the St. George Tucker House in Williamsburg, Va., built in 1952 according to design by Archie Davis for medical doctor Hunter Sweaney. Interior in center hall plan features modillion crown molding, Georgian mantelpieces, sheathed wainscoting, and a study fully panelled in 16" beaded boards. Dr. Sweaney married Francis Foushee, whose parents built the house at 809 Proctor St. and reportedly deeded them this property.

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BUDD HOUSE - 903 S. DUKE

903
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1924-1926
Architect/Designers: 
People: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
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Type: 
Use: 

W. P. Budd, a partner in the Budd-Piper Roofing Company, commissioned Raleigh architect Murray Nelson to design this two-and-one-half-story Tudor Revival style house in the late 1920s. One of the first domestic projects by noted Durham contractor George W. Kane, the house exhibits handsome Tudoresque elements throughout. 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Wed, 06/26/2013 - 1:08pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 23.4564" N, 78° 54' 31.2084" W

Comments

903
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1924-1926
Architect/Designers: 
People: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 


Looking east, 1926

The Tudor Revival house at 903 South Duke was built for WP Budd, a partner in the Budd-Piper Roofing Company, then located near Five Points. (And still in existence on Ramseur St.)

The house was designed by Raleigh architect Murray Nelson and built by Durham contractor George Kane.

The national register nomination reads:

W. P. Budd, a partner in the Budd-Piper Roofing Company, commissioned Raleigh architect Murray Nelson to design this two-and-one-half-story Tudor Revival style house in the late 1920s. One of the first domestic projects by noted Durham contractor George W. Kane, the house exhibits handsome Tudoresque elements throughout. A variety of hipped, gabled and clipped gable rooflines, as well as applied half-timbering and a stone entrance surround, characterize the exterior. The interior features Tudor-arched doorways, irregularly shaped rooms, and an enclosed winding staircase. The principal first-floor rooms are decorated with rich door surrounds and crown molding. As the only Tudor Revival style house in Morehead Hill, the Budd House is an architectural focal point of the neighborhood. (W. P. Budd, Jr.)


Looking east, 1970s.


Looking southeast, January 2008.

buddhouse_040311.jpg

04.03.11

903SDuke_03.jpg

903SDuke_05.jpg

For Sale in 2012

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LIPSCOMB HOUSE

913
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1911
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Mon, 03/11/2013 - 1:36pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 21.354" N, 78° 54' 31.3992" W

Comments

913
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1911
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

The 2 1/2 story Colonial Revival house at 913 South Duke St. was built around 1911 by Mr. and Mrs. John Lipscomb. Mr. Lipscomb was a manager at the Durham Loan and Trust and vice-president of the Durham Realty and Insurance Co. His wife's father, Louis A. Carr (no relation to Julian Carr,) had lived directly across South Duke St. from this house.

In 1945, the house was sold to Will Carr (who was a nephew of Julian Carr) and his wife Louise Carr (who was Mrs. Lipscomb's sister.) Mrs. Carr lived here until 1967, when the house became the property of Dr. Ralph Baum.

The current owner has extensively renovated and restored the house, which up until about 5 or 6 years had a certain, ah, faded grandeur.

913SDuke_Lipscomb_SE_0108.jpeg
Looking southeast, January 2008.

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1013 SOUTH DUKE - THE ROUND HOUSES

1013
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1947
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Tue, 06/26/2012 - 3:00pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 16.998" N, 78° 54' 31.788" W

Comments

1013
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1947
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

Eclectic housing - particularly eclectic yet modest housing - is, for the most part, a lost form in America, sacrificed at the altar of mass production in the 1950s.

Right on the cusp of that change, Durham welcomed two of its more whimisical houses, the round houses on South Duke St. The houses were built, according to a nice writeup in the N&Os we'll-pay-attention-on-Saturday paper, the Durham News, by local architect Archie Royal Davis. He built the two houses out of cinderblock.


1013 S. Duke, under construction in April 1947.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


1009 S. Duke, late 1940s.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

The fact that these houses were built out of that most-lowly of materials, the cinderblock, says a lot. You don't need countertops made out of aggregated Eagle eggs or floors made from trees that were sung to every day by the logger in order to have an interesting house.

The round houses in the late 1960s:


1013 S. Duke

The round houses are still, er, around, causing drivers on Duke St. to turn their heads to get a better view - perhaps even circle back.


1013 S. Duke - with Bruce Mitchell's new, non-round addition on the back, January 2008.

Update May 2008: Bruce was kind enough to send me pictures of his completed renovation + addition of 1013 S. Duke.

1013sduke May 2008a 72dpi.jpeg
1013 S. Duke, May 2008

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1013 S. Duke, May 2008

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1212HillSt_1960s.JPG1212HillStreet_070311.jpg

1212 HILL STREET

1212
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1950
/ Modified in
1955-1960
,
1980
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Sat, 02/15/2014 - 1:28pm by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 17.3508" N, 78° 54' 40.1004" W
US

Comments

1212
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1950
/ Modified in
1955-1960
,
1980
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

1212HillSt_1960s.JPG

1212 Hill Street, likely 1970s

 

Per Triangle Modernist Houses:

The George Watts Hill, Jr. House: Sold in 1967 to Anton and Leopoldina Peterlin.  Sold in 1978 to current owners Joel C. and Christine J. Huber.  2474 square feet. the guest cottage was a demonstration house for General Electric, designed by students at the NCSU School of Design under George Matsumoto.  The project was underwritten by the Hills and the house moved to the property in the late 1950's.   The main house was renovated by Jim and John Webb in the late 1980's.

1212HillStreet_070311.jpg

07.03.11

 

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The tour booklet also included a 'virtual tour' of the "Lost Houses of Morehead Hill"

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GEORGE WATTS HOUSE - HARWOOD HALL

806
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1897
/ Demolished in
1961
Architect/Designers: 
People: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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In tours

Last updated

  • Fri, 04/11/2014 - 3:06pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 26.3004" N, 78° 54' 35.3808" W

Comments

806
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1897
/ Demolished in
1961
Architect/Designers: 
People: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

Harwood Hall, 1920s. (From "Favored by Fortune" by Howard Covington)

The title of Howard Covington's book about the Watts and Hills of Durham- "Favored by Fortune" - seems somewhat trite at first glance, but it is an apt description of George Watts' entry into the gentry of Durham. When your father buys you a 1/5 share in the Duke and Sons Tobacco company, you are certainly starting with a leg up in the world.

Watts came to Durham from Baltimore in 1878; after finishing at UVA, he went to work for his father, Gerard Watts, a Baltimore tobacco wholesaler. Gerard Watts, although he had sold the pre-eminent Durham brand of tobacco - Blackwell's Bull Durham, saw the uprising of Duke and Sons - as well as their need for capital to expand - as an opportunity to invest. That ,000 bought a 1/5 share of the company, and his son was on his way to Durham as an equal partner with Washington, Ben, Buck, and Brodie Duke.

Watts spent much of his first year on the road, including time in the Chicago office, but formed a collaborative friendship with another recent arrival to Durham - Eugene Morehead. Morehead had grown up in Greensboro - in the Blandwood mansion of his father, former North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead. Morehead and Julian Carr had been classmates at UNC, and Carr had been instrumental in persuading Morehead to come to Durham, where he was an agent of the Department of Internal Revenue, and began Durham's first bank -the Morehead Bank.

In the summer of 1879, the two men decided to establish their permanent residences on a promontory just south of downtown - separated from the ridge of West Chapel Hill St. by a small 'valley' between the current Morehead Avenue and ~ Jackson Street. William Vickers owned the majority of the land just southwest of downtown, and saw the opportunity to develop some of this land into what some researchers view as Durham's 'first suburb'. There is some evidence that he intended from the start for the land between present-day Vickers and Duke to be large lot houses for the well-to-do. Watts and Morehead were his first two customers. The legend is that Watts and Morehead flipped a coin to decide whose house would be closer to town, and that Morehead won. Watts wrote to Morehead from Chicago in July 1879:

"Anything you do towards the improvement of the lots we bought will be approved by me, but don't clear any of the woods on my portion. I would be well satisfied to find upon my return that everything there was in apple-pie order and two nice houses on our building sites." (Covington, p. 35.)

Both built strikingly similar Queen Anne Victorian houses side-by-side (perhaps Morehead chose one style with different embellishments?) between present-day Morehead Ave., South Duke, and Proctor St., completed in 1880.


Detail from Gray's 1881 map of Durham, showing development along West Chapel Hill St., the branch of Third Fork Creek that drained the low areas southwest of downtown, and Morehead and Watts' houses.

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

Lee St. (sometimes Lea St.) was the earlier name for Duke St. [Interesting to note that the 'river' at American Tobacco isn't entirely without historic precedent.] The map also shows the land ownership - much of the undeveloped land in this area belonged to the three Duke brothers and Vickers.


George Watts' original house, looking west from Duke St., 1895.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

Watts established full-time residence in Durham with his wife and daughter, Annie Louise, who joined him in 1880 having stayed in Baltimore until the house was complete. Watts' star was rising along with the fortune of Duke and Sons. He became involved in several additional ventures early on, including the Durham Electric Lighting Company, the Durham Literary Society, and the Durham Lyceum. He was a partner in the Durham Fertilizer Company with his brother in law Louis A. Carr, who had also come to Durham from Baltimore. He was an investor in Erwin Mills, along with the Dukes. He helped form the Interstate Telephone and Telegraph Company along with Julian Carr and Louis Carr.

However, Watts is most remembered for building Durham's first hospital - which would be named Watts Hospital, on the corner of Guess Road (now Buchanan Blvd.) and West Main St. The push had come for years from Dr. Albert G. Carr, Julian's brother and Durham's first physician.

By the 1890s, the American Tobacco Company ("the Tobacco Trust") had begun to dominate American cigarette manufacture, and the partners in the company became even wealthier. In, 1895-96, Watts moved his original house across South Duke St. to make way for Harwood Hall, a three-story chateau of pink granite.


Looking west, early 1900s.
(Courtesy John Schelp)

The house was designed by Rand and Taylor of Boston, who also designed other Hill family projects - Watts Hospital and the John Sprunt Hill house

Attic

2nd floor

First floor

Basement


Looking west from the 'front yard', early 1900s
(From "Favored by Fortune" by Howard Covington)


Harwood Hall in 1924.


The music room.
(From "Favored by Fortune" by Howard Covington)


The stair.
(From "Favored by Fortune" by Howard Covington)


The "smoking room"
(From "Favored by Fortune" by Howard Covington)

George Watts and his wife lived in Harwood Hall through the early decades of the 20th century. Watts remained intimately involved in the multiple businesses in which he partnered with the Dukes, as well as First Presbyterian Church.

For further reading about the Dukes and Watts business, I highly recommend "The Dukes of Durham" by Robert Durden.

In 1921, George W. Watts became ill and died - thousands of peeople evidently left work early to come to the service at Harwood Hall, where they stood on the front lawn in the rain to listen. Watts' widow (he had remarried after the earlier death of his first wife) remained on at Harwood Hall, and the estate was passed to his daughter Annie and her husband John Sprunt Hill.

Annie and John's son (and George Watts' grandson) George Watts Hill had helped his father design the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill while he was an undergraduate and law student. Soon after graduating, he married Ann McCulloch; after an 18 month honeymoon, they moved into Harwood Hall, which had been vacated by GW Watts' widow when she remarried in the interim.

It seems that Ann, who had been the daughter of teachers and worked as an artist - was not a fan of the ostentatiousness of the house (despite enjoying the ostentatiousness of an 18 month honeymoon, evidently) - calling Harwood Hall

"[a] fifty room monstrosity - the satisfied desire of dead ancestors." (Covington, p. 141)

Despite this, the couple moved into the house from 1926 until 1938. During that time, Watts Hill participated in his father's (John Sprunt Hill) banking business and a host of other community roles. He was quite involved in the management of Watts Hospital. In 1929, he embarked with Dr. Wilburt Davison, dean of the new Duke Medical School, on a plan to provide a "low cost hospital care plan for workers in the manufacturing plants." Health insurance was essentially unknown until the early 20th century, but employer-provided plans to cover the rising expense of hospital care had been implemented in nearby Roanoke Rapids. Much of the medical establishment in Durham endorsed the plan, and the Durham Hospital Association was announced in March, 1929. However, there was widespread resistance to the plan when it was announced, and the Depression helped seal its fate. However, the plan was revived in 1933 when a Raleigh insurer came to Hill to ask if Watts Hospital was interested in joining a new insurance plan, called the Hospital Care Association. The HCA succeeded where the DHA had not, slowly building subscriptions - at first mostly Morning Herald employees and Duke employees, but growing steadily. By the late 1930s, it had 62,000 members and was "qualified to carry the Blue Cross emblem."

Also during this time, GW Hill had acquired the old Quail Roost hunting club on Roxboro Road in northern Durham county and converted it into his own 'gentleman's (dairy) farm.' The couple prepared to move to Quail Roost full time in the late 1930s, not least because of Ann Hill's dislike of what Harwood Hall represented. When George Watts Hill left Durham during World War II, the couple had moved from the house. Watts Hospital, which always had had a nursing school, used it as a temporary home for nurses, but it was far from the campus - which was by then at Club Blvd. and Broad St.

After returning from WWII, GW Hill tried to find an alternative future for the house; in 1949 he tried to engage a hotel management company to Durham to turn it into a stylish (what we'd likely call 'boutique' now) hotel, after he'd encountered a similar house-converted-to-hotel on vacation at St. Simons Island, Georgia. He suggested that the large first floor rooms could be dining and living space, and the second floor could be used for "high priced accomodations" (Covington, p. 245.) Hill suggested that the company could build another 20 to 50 rooms in a modern annex behind the main house. He even offered to raise local investment and provide construction loans through his bank, Durham Bank and Trust. However, the deal went nowhere, and Hill "turned the building over" to Allied Arts of Durham in 1954. I'm unsure whether Hill retained ownership of the house during that time.


Harwood Hall, looking west, early 1950s

A multitude of visual and performing arts groups had come into being during the post-war era, each individually supporting their own particular medium. The president of the Theatre Guild called a meeting with the principals of the other groups (including The Art Guild, Civic Choral Society, Duke University Arts Council, Chamber Arts Society, and the Durham chapter of the North Carolina Symphony Society) to discuss forming an umbrella organization to provide mutual support in 1953. Their assent was the genesis of United Arts, which became Allied Arts of Durham in 1954. They moved into Harwood Hall in October, 1954. Allied Arts of Durham is now known as the Durham Arts Council.


Work on the driveway and house prior to occupation by Allied Arts, 8.31.54.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Opening of Allied Arts 10.08.54
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Opening of Allied Arts 10.08.54
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

Allied Arts used the building for performance and meetings until late 1960, when they moved to the Foushee House ("The Terraces") two blocks away.

Harwood_Hall032-65_1.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall027-65_2.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall029-65_3.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall030-65_4.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall028-65_5.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall026-65_6.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall024-65_8.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall023-65_9.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall022-65_10.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall021-65_11.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall031-65_12.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

Harwood_Hall025-65_7.jpg

(Courtesy Alice Girvin Raney via Milo Pyne)

It isn't documented how or why these events transpired, but Harwood Hall and the old Morehead House next door were demolished in January 1961 for the Hospital Care Association Building. I assume that Hill's association with HCA was the impetus for this, and that he likely retained ownership of the house.


Harwood Hall, December 1960
(Courtesy Donald Fluke)


Harwood Hall, December 1960
(Courtesy Donald Fluke)


Harwood Hall, December 1960
(Courtesy Donald Fluke)


Harwood Hall, December 1960
(Courtesy Donald Fluke)


Harwood Hall, December 1960
(Courtesy Donald Fluke)


Aerial of the block, 1959.

One Herald-Sun story notes that "artist Gerard Tempest" purchased the Watts house for 00. I assume this means that he purchased the house materials for 00. He dismantled the staircase and some other materials and used them to build a arts space on Franklin St. in Chapel Hill, which later became a restaurant called Villa Teo, and is now part of Whitehall at the Villa. (Tempest also used materials from Four Acres and the Morehead House to construct the villa. He also turned the old Fire Station #1 into the 'Tempest Building'.


Grading the property for the HCA building, 07.12.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Grading the property for the HCA building, 07.12.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

A large Georgian Revival building was constructed on the site of the two former houses. In 1968, the Hospital Care Association merged with with the Hospital Saving Association of Chapel Hill to become Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, which still uses the building today.


Looking west-northwest at the Blue Cross Blue Shield building, January 2008. The gap between the oak trees was the driveway entrance to Harwood Hall.


Aerial of the same area as 1959 in 2007.

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/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/EugeneMoreheadHouse.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/MoreheadDetail_Grays_Map_1881.jpgMoreheadHouse_1895.jpeg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/EugeneMoreheadHouse.jpgMoreheadHouse_1924.jpeg

EUGENE MOREHEAD HOUSE (SECOND)

804
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1900-1920s
/ Demolished in
1961
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In tours

Last updated

  • Sat, 07/23/2011 - 8:55am by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 28.2012" N, 78° 54' 35.0316" W
US

Comments

804
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1900-1920s
/ Demolished in
1961
People: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 


Morehead house - early 20th century.

Eugene Morehead came to Durham in 1878, having grown up in Greensboro - in the Blandwood mansion of his father, former North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead. Little history is available as to Morehead's pursuits prior to coming to Durham, although Boyd noted that he was "one of the promoters of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley railroad. Morehead and Julian Carr had been classmates at UNC, and Carr had been instrumental in persuading Morehead to come to Durham, where he was an agent of the Department of Internal Revenue, and began Durham's first bank -the Eugene Morehead Bank.


In the summer of 1879, Watts and Morhead decided to establish their permanent residences on a promontory just south of downtown - separated from the ridge of West Chapel Hill St. by a small 'valley' between the current Morehead Avenue and ~ Jackson Street. William Vickers owned the majority of the land just southwest of downtown, and saw the opportunity to develop some of this land into what some researchers view as Durham's 'first suburb'. There is evidence that he intended from the start for the land between present-day Vickers and Duke to be large lot houses for the well-to-do. Watts and Morehead were his first two customers. The legend is that Watts and Morehead flipped a coin to decide whose house would be closer to town, and that Morehead won. Watts wrote to Morehead from Chicago in July 1879:

"Anything you do towards the improvement of the lots we bought will be approved by me, but don't clear any of the woods on my portion. I would be well satisfied to find upon my return that everything there was in apple-pie order and two nice houses on our building sites." (Covington, p. 35.)

Both built strikingly similar Queen Anne Victorian houses side-by-side (perhaps Morehead chose one style with different embellishments?) between present-day Morehead Ave., South Duke, and Proctor St., completed in 1880.


(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection / Digital Durham)

Detail from Gray's 1881 map of Durham, showing development along West Chapel Hill St., the branch of Third Fork Creek that drained the low areas southwest of downtown, and Morehead and Watts' houses. Lee St. (sometimes Lea St.) was the earlier name for Duke St. [Interesting to note that the 'river' at American Tobacco isn't entirely without historic precedent.] The map also shows the land ownership - much of the undeveloped land in this area belonged to the three Duke brothers and Vickers, although Morehead purchased the land on the north side of his eponymous street as well.

MoreheadHouse_1895.jpeg
Eugene Morehead's house, looking west-southwest from S. Duke St. - 1895.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

Morehead partnered in forming the Durham Fertilizer Company (later the Virginia-Carolina Fertilizer Company) and worked to increase the railroad lines running through Durham, including the Durham and Richmond, Durham and Northern, and Durham and Southern. Carr, Watts, and Morehead formed the Durham Electric Lighting Company in 1885, and Morehead was active in establishing a "graded school" in Durham - the first graded school in Durham was named Morehead School in honor of his dedication to the cause. He served on the city council in 1884.

Morehead became suddenly ill in 1888, and travelled to Savannah to convalesce with his wife, Lucy Lathrop Morehead's family. He travelled to New Orleans and Baltimore searching for a medical cure, but none was forthcoming. He died in February 1889, leaving a strong mark on Durham in just 11 years.

His wife Lucy Lathrop Morehead continued to live in the house after his death for many years. Sometime during the early 20th century, the original dwelling was torn down and replaced with a Colonial Revival home, retaining the large circular drive in front.


Morehead house - early 20th century.

MoreheadHouse_1924.jpeg
Morehead house - 1924. This looks strange because it came from a montage of photos with the other photos obscuring the upper corners.

Morehead's son, John Lathrop Morehead, who had been born in 1882, lived in the house subsequent to his mother. He had studied law at UNC and worked for the Cotton Exchange in Savannah before returning to Durham, where he served as city attorney and alderman, and was a longstanding chairman of the city recreation commission. In 1917, he married Caroline Douglas Hill, who grew up in a house on East Main St. - and per Mena Webb's book "The Way We Were: Remembering Durham" went by Douglas. It appears that John Morehead had died by 1954, although his wife lived on in the house.


Aerial of the block, 1959.

In 1961, this house was demolished along with Harwood Hall next door to make way for the Hospital Care Building, later Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.


Looking west, 01.11.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Grading the property for the HCA building, 07.12.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Grading the property for the HCA building, 07.12.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

A large Georgian Revival building was constructed on the site of the two former houses. In 1968, the Hospital Care Association merged with with the Hospital Saving Association of Chapel Hill to become Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, which still uses the building today.


Aerial of the same area as 1959 in 2007.

Below, the view of Morehead's property today. The BCBS building is currently empty - rumor is (see the Harwood Hall comments) that it will be a new home for the Duke PA school.


Looking southwest, January 1st, 2008.

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518 MOREHEAD AVENUE / JOHN F. WILY HOUSE

518
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1900
/ Demolished in
1960s-1970s
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Last updated

  • Fri, 12/09/2016 - 7:04pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 30.2136" N, 78° 54' 37.8792" W

Comments

518
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1900
/ Demolished in
1960s-1970s
Architect/Designers: 
People: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
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1903 (Colonial Southern Homes by Barrett, Charles W.) Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/colonialsouthern00barr)

As Morehead Hill developed in the 1880s and 1890s, multiple large houses were built on the larger lots along Morehead Ave. and Vickers Ave. The houses of SF Tomlinson, John Wily, et al occupied this block, which was the 800 block of Morehead until after ~1920.

518 Morehead was built by John F Wily, a Virginian who came to Durham to work as a cashier at Fidelity Bank.  by 1907-08 was residing at his Morehead Avenue home.  By 1915-16, he was vice-president of Fidelity and by 1924 he was also vice president of Pearl Cotton Mills and secretary of Sneed-Markham-Taylor Co. By 1925 Wily was president of Fidelity.  J. F. Wily remained in the house until 1939 when he moved to Dover Road in Hope Valley.  Eugene Wily resided at 518 Morehead from 1939 to the 1960s.


518 Morehead Avenue, the John F. WIly House
(Courtesy John Schelp)

518Morehead_aerial_1959.jpg
Aerial of the block, 1959

This houses were torn down - most by 1972; it appears that the lots were used for parking, probably overflow parking for Blue Cross Blue Shield. They now serve as overflow parking for Greystone next door.


Looking east on Morehead Ave., 01.01.08


Aerial of the same area as 1959 in 2007.

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/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/TomlinsonHouse_512Morehead_1895.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/500Morehead_North_1910s.jpg512Morehead_aerial_1959.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/500Morehead_North_2008.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/HarwoodMoreheadAerial_2007.jpg

512 MOREHEAD AVE.

512
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1885-1910
/ Demolished in
1960-1978
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In tours

Last updated

  • Sun, 09/04/2011 - 11:56am by gary

Location

35° 59' 30.0408" N, 78° 54' 36.0756" W

Comments

512
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1885-1910
/ Demolished in
1960-1978
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
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512 Morehead Ave., 1895.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

As the remainder of Morehead Hill developed in the 1880s and 1890s, multiple large houses were built on the larger lots along Morehead Ave. and Vickers Ave. The house of SF Tomlinson, above is one example; after 1872, Tomlinsom was one owner of Durham's original tobacco companies, the RF Morris tobacco company, located here. Tomlinson's name appears with all of the other usual suspects in endeavors like the Fidelity Bank and serving as an original school commissioner.

Gilbert C. White came to Durham in the early 1900s -  by 1907-08 he was residing at 512 Morehead in the house of his mother-in-law, Mrs. S. F. Tomlinson.  He worked as a city engineer and continued to consult as a civil engineer forming the G. C. White Company around 1923.  He was also vice-president of the Southern Fire Insurance Company and was a partner in CE Boesch, GC White, CC Fulton.  The Whites continued to live here until their son Finley and his family moved to Hope Valley in 1950.  G.C. White’s grandson, G. C. White II remembers the tennis court, the back yard that sloped down to the barn, and going to Calvert School on S. Duke Street. 


Looking east on Morehead from just east of Vickers Ave., 1910s
(Courtesy John Schelp)

512Morehead_aerial_1959.jpg

Aerial, 1959

This houses were torn down - most by 1972; it appears that the lots were used for parking, probably overflow parking for Blue Cross Blue Shield. They now serve as overflow parking for Greystone next door.


Looking east on Morehead Ave., 01.01.08


Aerial of the same area as 1959 in 2007.

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506 MOREHEAD AVE.

506
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1890-1910
/ Demolished in
1960-1978
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Last updated

  • Sun, 09/04/2011 - 11:52am by gary

Location

35° 59' 29.9832" N, 78° 54' 34.3908" W

Comments

506
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1890-1910
/ Demolished in
1960-1978
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
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506Morehead_aerial_1959.jpg

506 Morehead aerial, 1959

 

The Alphonsus Cobb House was located at 506 Morehead Avenue.  He came to Durham from Hickory, NC and resided at the Carrolina Hotel where his brother Howell was proprietor.  Alphonsus Cobb became manager at the hotel in 1902 and by 1905 he was proprietor.  In 1911-12 he worked at the Corcoran Hotel.  By 1915 he resided at 714 (now 814) Vickers Avenue and was secretary-treasurer of Durham Realty & Insurance Company and Durham Loan & Trust.  As vice-president of Durham Realty & Insurance and West End Land Company in 1919 he moved to his new home at 806 Morehead.  In 1925 he served as secretary-treasurer of the Durham Real Estate Board.  He died tragically in 1935, but his widow Nellie remained in the Morehead Avenue home until at least 1955. 

 


Looking east on Morehead from just east of Vickers Ave., 1910s
(Courtesy John Schelp)

This houses were torn down - most by 1972; it appears that the lots were used for parking, probably overflow parking for Blue Cross Blue Shield. They now serve as overflow parking for Greystone next door.


Looking east on Morehead Ave., 01.01.08


Aerial of the same area as 1959 in 2007.

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502Morehead_aerial_1959.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/500Morehead_North_1910s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/500Morehead_North_2008.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/HarwoodMoreheadAerial_2007.jpg

502 MOREHEAD AVE.

502
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1890-1910
/ Demolished in
1960-1978
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Last updated

  • Tue, 09/06/2011 - 1:07am by gary

Location

35° 59' 30.1956" N, 78° 54' 32.9184" W

Comments

502
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1890-1910
/ Demolished in
1960-1978
People: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

 

502Morehead_aerial_1959.jpg

502 Morehead was occupied by Judge Howard Foushee, his family, and a nurse in 1910.  Unlike the other houses nearby, this was a single story house, referred to as a “cottage,” which sat on a slight elevation about four feet above the sidewalk.  In 1923 Wallace E. Seeman, son of Henry T. Seeman, bought the property.  Seeman lived here until 1926 when E. S. Yarbrough, president-treasurer of  Halloway, Calvin, Yarbrough, & Darnell Mills Inc. moved here.  In 1935, Dr. Arthur J. London and wife Janet B. bought the property.  In 1955 Southgate Jones, Jr. lived here.


Looking east on Morehead from just east of Vickers Ave., 1910s
(Courtesy John Schelp)

This houses were torn down - most by 1972; it appears that the lots were used for parking, probably overflow parking for Blue Cross Blue Shield. They now serve as overflow parking for Greystone next door.


Looking east on Morehead Ave., 01.01.08


Aerial of the same area as 1959 in 2007.

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619 MOREHEAD AVE

619
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
/ Demolished in
c. 1960s
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In tours

Last updated

  • Sun, 07/17/2011 - 3:03pm by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 28.7304" N, 78° 54' 41.9472" W
US

Comments

619
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
/ Demolished in
c. 1960s
Neighborhood: 
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I have a particular obsession with what I've referred to as 'urban tombstones' before - stairs, curb-cuts, low walls, etc. - the remnants of an old house that persist long after the house is gone.

In that vein, I've had a longstanding obsession with the empty lot, and accompanying stairs/wall, at the southeast corner of Morehead Ave. and Vickers Ave. The only clues I've had as to the house that stood there were outlines on Sanborn maps and a fuzzy aerial shot.

Fortuitously, I found a picture last week.


Looking southeast from Morehead and Vickers, 11.11.68
(Courtesy Herald Sun)


A slightly different view, looking southeast from Morehead and Vickers, 11.11.68
(Courtesy Herald Sun)

Searching the city directories, this house was owned by an HL Beal during the 1920s-30s and a Jennings Family during the 1950s. I don't have any more information about the families who lived here, but it appears that the house was torn down sometime during the 1960s.


Looking southeast from Morehead and Vickers, 1.1.08

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609 MOREHEAD AVE.

609
,
Durham
NC
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In tours

Last updated

  • Sun, 05/27/2012 - 9:37am by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 28.6008" N, 78° 54' 38.3904" W
US

Comments

609
,
Durham
NC
People: 
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Type: 

 

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/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/906Vickers_1970s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/906Vickers_01.30.08.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2013_8/balwinhouse_vickers_082413.jpg

906 VICKERS - RL BALDWIN HOUSE

906
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1910
/ Demolished in
1982-1986
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In tours

Last updated

  • Sat, 08/24/2013 - 1:57pm by gary

Location

35° 59' 32.8092" N, 78° 54' 43.8696" W

Comments

906
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1910
/ Demolished in
1982-1986
Architectural style: 
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Looking Southwest, late 1970s

RL Baldwin, who started his eponymous department store on West Main St. in 1911, built this house around 1910. The stately Neoclassical revival house features Renaissance revival and Mediteranean elements, with one of several tile roofs nearby.

The Baldwins' daughter and son-in-law lived in the house following her parents. While it was renovated in the late 1970s, the house was evidently heavily damaged or destroyed by fire, probably in the 1980s, and torn down.


Looking west-southwest, 01.30.08.

This lot was infilled in 2012-13

08.24.13 (G. Kueber)

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