2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour

2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour


Building the American Dream: Durham Homes of the WWII Era –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– The Bull City's pre- and postwar housing boom is at centerstage in this year's Preservation Durham home tour, Saturday, April 27th and Sunday, April 28th. Click the banner image below for tickets and read up on the history of the fantastic houses featured in this online companion guide. Bring your friends and family along, and stay tuned for more on accompanying events!

Welcome to the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour!  Whether you're reading up in advance, plotting your route, or navigating the stops on the tour days, this is your digital starting point.  Be sure to buy tickets for everybody in your group (available here), get a few extra and invite some neighbors along!  Word to the wise, they're cheaper in advance - $20 vs. $25 day of!

This year's theme, Building the American Dream: Durham Homes of the World War Two Era, takes us back to an earlier but somehow familiar phase in our city's complex history.  Development was booming, but how it played out raised questions about who it was for.  The unprecedented increase in housing stock during those years has left an unmistakable mark on Durham's streetscape, along with lessons for the next chapter in the Bull City story.

Let's start off with a map - here is the wide view of where you're headed (and where some fantastic homeowners have agreed to host you!):

 

 

Now that you've got your bearings, take a few minutes to read through the tour introduction below (copied from the official booklet with a few added links and images).  If you've already got a sense of the context, you can skip down to the pages for the individual houses.

Owning a home has long been considered a cornerstone of the American Dream, the surest means of building wealth and passing it along to one’s children, but the U.S. wasn’t always a nation of homeowners. In the first part of the 20th century, residential mortgages were unregulated, available only to those who could afford a fifty percent down payment and a five year payback period on a high, variable rate loan. Fewer than half of American homes in 1934 were owner occupied.

The Great Crash that began in October 1929 reduced worldwide GDP by fifteen percent, triggered a daisy chain of mortgage loan defaults and bank foreclosures, and by 1933 caused the failure of one-third of our nation’s financial institutions. The US home ownership rate dropped to around forty percent.
 
In order to stabilize the banking industry, Congress and the Roosevelt Administration enacted the National Housing Act of 1934. This key New Deal legislation created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Federal Savings and Loan Corporation, and tasked them with designing and overseeing a nationwide mortgage insurance program. The Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) was also established to help struggling homeowners refinance to longer- term fixed-rate mortgages.
 
Although much of the American South had been crippled by a severe downturn in agriculture and textiles since the early 1920’s, Durham was an exception. Insulated by the growth of the tobacco industry and the construction of Duke University’s West Campus, Durham’s population soared 277 percent between 1920 and 1940. The pent-up demand of 60,000 residents crammed into some 14,000 housing units met with the sudden availability of 30-year mortgages backed by the United States government.  Although the diversion of materials to the war effort continued to hamper construction, the number of building permits issued in Durham rose from 236 in 1932 to 1,689 in 1953.
Plat for portion of Glendale Heights near Northgate Park, one of dozens of developments laid out and built in Durham after World War Two. (County Register of Deeds)
With new home construction essentially at a standstill during the Depression, advances in residential design stopped as well. One of the few things happening that captured national attention was the ongoing restoration of Colonial Williamsburg funded largely by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Exploration of “Early American” styles appealed to an isolationist nation reluctant to get involved in the affairs of a world in turmoil. When home construction began again just before and again after World War II, many architects and homebuyers turned to Williamsburg for inspiration. The resulting homes were comfortable colonials. Many had just simple colonial references, but others were near reproductions of 18th century tidewater Virginia originals. In Durham, architects like George Watts Carr and Archie Royal Davis design elegant examples of the Williamsburg style for their clients.
 
The impacts of federal lending policies in place during this period of remarkable growth are still evident throughout Durham. The FHA not only placed controls on mortgage rates and terms, but also established highly specific criteria for loan eligibility in order to mitigate risk. The FHA advised lenders to invest only in traditional home styles in already stable areas. These policies reduced the likelihood of default but increased the disparity between healthy and declining neighborhoods.
 
Among the better known FHA Technical bulletins, Principles of Planning Small Houses encouraged the economy found in simple floorplans and standardized building materials. Efficiencies could be found by using the kitchen or living room for dining space, for example, or by placing windows at building corners to increase cross ventilation without giving up wall space. First floor utility rooms were affordable and convenient, while basements were costly and required floor area for steps.
Guidelines for economical construction in the 1940 FHA manual Principles of Planning Small Houses.
Two new housing forms emerged. Minimal Traditional Homes were usually small and single-story, with simple low–sloped roofs and little exterior ornamentation. They could be built quickly and affordably, and became the defining style of countless postwar subdivisions. Ranch Homes were often broader, with picture windows, deeper roof overhangs, and a more open floorplan. Often advertised as “traditional outside and modern inside,” the “casual family- oriented style” of the ranch was embraced by magazines of the period such as House Beautiful and House and Garden.
 
Colonial, Minimal Traditional, and Ranch homes began to infill undeveloped lots among the bungalows, and tudor homes of Durham’s older middle class neighborhoods, and to define entire blocks on their outer edges. Older examples predominate in a radial belt 2 to 2.5 miles from Five Points – the northern edges of Watts Hospital, Trinity Park, and Duke Park, the Rockwood area southwest of downtown, and the College Heights neighborhood south of NC Central.
Photo labeled "Modern Cottages, Northwest Durham." Looking northwest from Carolina Avenue across Sprunt Avenue in the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood, 1945 (Durham County Library, North Carolina Collection).
The profound effect of Residential Security Maps is also still felt in Durham. Developed by the HOLC, Security Maps were meant to indicate the level of risk of real estate investments in more than 200 surveyed cities. Based on input from local brokers and appraisers, neighborhoods were assigned letter grades, with FHA guaranteed loans made almost exclusively in the A and B zones. C zones were considered to be in decline and D zones high risk, due in large part to their racial composition, and “obsolete” housing stock. These areas were outlined in orange and red on the HOLC maps, or “Redlined.” It was nearly impossible to get a residential mortgage in a C or D Zone.
 
In Durham, the D neighborhoods were often the lowest lying areas topographically, the poorest, and almost exclusively African American. Wall Town north of Duke’s East Campus, the areas surrounding Maplewood Cemetery, Hicks Town (since eradicated by the Durham Freeway) and the Hillside Park and Grant Park neighborhoods north of NC Central were all D zones, as were the Morning Glory mill village east of Golden Belt and the East End to its north. Investment in these areas between 1934 and 1968 was almost nonexistent due to the scarcity of capital.
HOLC redlining map of Durham from 1937 (Courtesy of the Mapping Inequality project, University of Richmond) 
Although the use of Security Maps became illegal with the Civil Rights Act of 1968, many of the redlined areas in Durham and across the nation continue to display significantly lower property values, lower rates of home ownership, lower credit scores, and higher rates of economic and racial segregation that their neighbors. Federal policies conceived to stimulate the economy and stabilize the banking industry helped many Durhamites realize their American Dream of homeownership. They also ensured that it remained beyond the grasp of others.
 
And now, without further ado, the homes themselves! 

2012WClub_081811.jpg

2112 WEST CLUB BLVD. – FORD-SWARTZ HOUSE

2112
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1948
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
,
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Tue, 04/09/2019 - 6:09pm by gary

Location

United States
36° 1' 3.7524" N, 78° 55' 35.2164" W
US

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2112
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1948
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
,
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

 (Courtesy of Lappegard Photography, March 2019)

Featured in the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour (text in italics below from the tour booklet):

The house was built in 1948 for Willard C. and Maude Ford.  Willard Ford operated the Ford Metal Molding Company, a successful metal fabrication business with offices in Manhattan and a plant in New Jersey.  The Fords lived in Teaneck, New Jersey, a commuter suburb north of New York.   Ford’s company made stainless steel sinks and other metalwork for homes and a host of other applications.  In 1948, the firm leased land near Louisburg, North Carolina, and began to build a new factory.  In June of that same year, the Fords purchased the lot at 2112 West Club and began construction on their new, North Carolina, home.  At the time, the government was only beginning to loosen controls on building materials after the war.  Small homes were still favored by government housing programs and lenders.  That suited the Fords.  They did not need a large house.  Their only child, Reed, was in college.

[...]

The house the Fords built at 2112 West Club is one of Durham’s earliest Ranch Style houses.  It differs from later ranches in a number of ways.  Its street face is organized symmetrically.  Later, larger ranches are famous for their rambling form, but this small house presents a perfectly balanced facade to the street.  This balance gives the design a compelling clarity not always present in other houses.  That clarity is enhanced by the house’s uniform limestone cladding.  Stone accents on Ranch Style houses are not unusual, but stone is expensive and people who can work with it are hard to find.  An all-stone Ranch is very unusual.  

Another unusual feature of this house is its Art Moderne decoration. [...] The big picture window at the rear is a feature of Ranch Style houses. [...] On the other side of the house are the remarkable kitchen and generous pantry and utility areas.  This kitchen is at the front of the house.  It is not a service area.  It is meant to be seen.  [...]

The Fords lived in their Durham home only one year.   A legal dispute over the lease on the new factory site in Louisburg was resolved against the company.  The Fords sold their house in 1949 and returned to New Jersey.  The sales price was ,750 – at the time an impressive sum for so small a house. In 1954, the house was purchased by Max and Sarah Swartz.  Max Swartz and his brother Henry were partners in Swartz & Sons, the scrap and junk business their father Sam Swartz started in Durham in 1904.

 

 (From the 1950 Durham city directory, the Swartz scrap business was on the site of the former Commonwealth / Morven Cotton Mill)

 

The house at 2112 Club was their home for nearly forty years.  Sarah died in 1991 and Max died in 1992.  They are buried in the Hebrew Cemetery at Maplewood in Durham.

Seventy years of successive owners have recognized that the little Ranch house at 2112 West Club Boulevard was built to be a modern showplace – a model of its style.  They have loved and cared for the house as they found it and passed it on unchanged.

A previous version of this page referred to information collected in the Watts-Hillandale National Register Historic District application to name this house after Mrs. Iolene Roush, based on her listing in the 1950 city directory.  Mrs. Roush was indeed the owner of the house between the Fords and the Swartz family, from about 1949 to 1954.  She is listed as proprietor of a Textile Store at 105 N Mangum - in the row of shops that once stood on the west side of Mangum between Main and Parrish.

2012WClub_081811.jpg 08.28.11

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2120Sprunt_Lustron2_082811.jpg

2120 SPRUNT AVE. – KEIR LUSTRON HOUSE

2120
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1949
/ Modified in
1957
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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Last updated

  • Tue, 04/09/2019 - 6:12pm by gary

Location

United States
36° 1' 18.3972" N, 78° 55' 36.462" W
US

Comments

2120
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1949
/ Modified in
1957
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

(Courtesy of Lappegard Photography, March 2019)

Featured in the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour (text in italics below from the tour booklet):

This little house on Sprunt Avenue is a truly rare American architectural gem.  It is a “Lustron” house – made entirely of enameled steel inside and out.  The house was prefabricated and sold by the Lustron Corporation of Columbus Ohio in 1949-50....Henry and Louise Keir first learned about Lustron Houses from a 1947 article in Life magazine.

 Part of a Lustron ad in Life Magazine, October 11, 1948, p.93.  For more on Lustrons in Durham and as a trend in architecture, click here.

At the time, they were living around the corner on Oakland Avenue.  Henry Keir came to Durham as a soldier During World War II.  Here he met Louise Murray and they married in 1943.  When the war ended, the Keirs decided to stay in Durham and build a home and raise a family.  In 1947, Henry had a good job as a bookkeeper with the Miller-Hurst Company in the tobacco market district downtown.  The firm sold Goodyear tires, did auto repairs, and sold appliances, especially when farmers were in town.  Louise Keir worked in the business school at Duke University.  With their steady jobs and Henry’s G. I. Bill benefits, the Keirs could afford to buy a Lustron House.  They selected a lot on Sprunt Street and ordered a two-bedroom “Westchester.”  The local Lustron agent was the Keirs’ neighbor, Eileen Johns.  Johns was one of the first women real estate agents in Durham and was also among the first women contractors in the region.  The Lustron truck arrived at the Keirs’ lot in 1950 and the house went up in a little more than a day with an audience of curious neighbors watching and cheering. [...]

The Keirs’ Lustron house is very nearly original condition.  The walls still gleam.  All of the built-in shelves, chests, and closets are still in place.  It’s hard to believe that this house is nearly 70 years old.  The Keirs lived in the house for fifty of those years.  Here they raised their two sons.  Henry Keir died in 1985.  Louise lived on the house until 2000 when she moved to Croasdaile Village.  She died in 2006.  In 1957, the Keirs added a den and storage room on the back.  Louise designed the addition herself to fit with the original building as nearly as possible.  By then, Lustron was no longer available so the addition is made of traditional materials using traditional building methods. This addition does not interfere with the fabric of the Lustron house or its original layout.  Over time the original Lustron appliances and furnace serving the house have been replaced, but in a way that preserves the Lustron concept and lifestyle.

Today, it is estimated that only 1,500 Lustron houses are still standing.  Many of these have been modified beyond recognition.  The houses have a huge following and have become something of an architectural collector’s item.  There are five in Durham.  Two are in Watts-Hillandale.  There is one in Duke Forest and another two in Duke Park.

2120Sprunt_Lustron2_082811.jpg(08.28.2011)

NCModernist.org features some nice pictures of respectful renovation done since the original owners sold 2120 Sprunt - removing the carport and updating the addition done by the Keirs.  There's even a jazzy before and after video.

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1911 MEETING ST. – FRANCES HILL FOX HOUSE

1911
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1940
/ Modified in
1940-1950
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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1911
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1940
/ Modified in
1940-1950
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

(Courtesy of Lappegard Photography, March 2019)

Featured in the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour (text in italics below from the tour booklet):

            The lovely Colonial Revival house at the center of the Hillandale Commons development was not, despite its surroundings, ever intended to be a suburban house. It was instead designed and built to be the country “honeymoon cottage” of the Drs. Herbert and Frances Fox, who married in Durham in 1937.

            Frances Faison Hill Fox was already a graduate of both Duke University and the medical school at the University of Pennsylvania when she married Herbert Junius Fox, also a physician. Dr. Frances Fox served on the faculty at the medical school at the University of North Carolina from 1939 to 1941.  Dr. Herbert Fox worked at Duke Hospital. Their house is said to have been a gift from Frances’ father, Durham banker, and philanthropist, John Sprunt Hill.  The house was designed in 1938 by local architect Archie Royal Davis.  Completed in 1940, the house stood in the shade of acres of pine forest along the north edge of Hillandale Golf Course.  Carved from Mr. Hill’s large real estate holdings, the course was originally laid out by Donald Ross in the early part of the century. With Hill’s support it was expanded and became associated with Durham’s first country club on Club Boulevard.  The course was the perfect setting for the Foxes’ new home and the house was oriented to look out over its manicured fairways.

            Archie Royal Davis studied architecture at North Carolina State College and trained with architect Arthur C. Nash. Nash moved from New York to Chapel Hill in 1922 to work at UNC and designed Georgian Revival-style buildings for the school. Davis absorbed lessons in the style from Nash and was also influenced by the massive restoration and reconstruction of Colonial Williamsburg funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  The project received a great deal of press attention during the Depression years and sparked a new wave of interest in Colonial America. In the 1940s, in fact, Davis and the Chapel Hill Town Planning Commission encouraged business owners on Franklin Street to remodel in the Williamsburg style. The appetite for Williamsburg Colonials was great in Chapel Hill and Durham and Davis was in constant demand.  The house at 1410 Gregson, also on today’s tour, is another Davis design.  Davis was a favorite of the Hill family.  He designed Quail Roost in northern Durham County as a Williamsburg style country retreat for Frances Fox’s brother, George Watts Hill.

            For the Foxes, Davis delivered a commodious cottage, with two bedrooms in the dormered attic story and a gracious arrangement of living room and dining room flanking a center stair hall. A large butler’s pantry leads to an even larger kitchen; perhaps these honeymooners entertained often. A paneled den with Georgian fireplace mantel balances the kitchen wing on the other side; both have three-sided bay windows. The roomy garage immediately east of the house has a butler’s apartment in its attic story.

            The Williamsburg style was never perfectly accurate historically. In Davis’s hands it was a merger of rich details from the past and comfortable modern living. Davis’s version for the Foxes employs historical details like flush-board sheathing under the porch and beaded weatherboards elsewhere. Doors and shutters have raised panels, as was typical of the Georgian style. The balanced façade with smaller flanking wings and gable-end chimneys are common elements of Davis’s Colonial Revival-style dwellings. The vertical paneling in the den, on the other hand, is characteristic of the 1940s.

            The Foxes, it is said, never meant to stay long in this house, despite its charms. Their permanent house was being built north of today’s I-85, on Rose of Sharon Road at the Croasdaile dairy farm that they managed in addition to their medical careers. Still, they lived in their starter home long enough to add two bedrooms and a bathroom at the west end of the house, in a wing that balanced the garage to the east. The added bathroom has hand painted delftware tiles over the sink that look as though they were meant for children.

            The Foxes sold their honeymoon cottage and eighteen surrounding acres to Dr. Daniel Toms Carr and his wife Annie Hogan Carr. Dr. Carr was from Duplin County and came to Durham after completing his orthodonture training. The Carrs moved from Englewood Avenue to the Fox’ house in 1950 and remained there for the next four decades. Their daughter Frances Carr Dickerson, had her wedding reception at the house and in the pine-dotted yard surrounding it soon after her parents bought the house. She and her husband built the plan-book brick Ranch that stands just east, at the end of the cul-de-sac created with the Hillandale Commons development.

March 2000, Plat for Hillandale Commons development showing the incorporation of the Frances Hill Fox House - just below the circle - and the Dickerson home to the southeast into the new street plan (County Register of Deeds).

            Frances, her husband William Dickerson, and their children sold the eighteen acres to Robert and Gloria Haywood in 1997. The Haywoods realized upon entering the Fox house that it needed to stay in their new development. They rehabilitated the house and sold it to Dr. Kerri Robertson, an anesthesiologist. She had admired the exterior of the house before it was for sale but really fell for the interior. Her attention to detail in caring for the house extended to having bathroom tile custom made in New York to match the original when repairs were needed. Unsurprisingly, the house won a Pyne Preservation Award in 2001.

            Even in its new suburban setting the beauty of the Fox house is undiminished.  It still inspires owners to care for and preserve it.  It still wows visitors.

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616 COLGATE ST. – EDITH ADDERTON HOUSE

616
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1946
Architectural style: 
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Type: 
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616
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1946
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

(Courtesy of Lappegard Photography, March 2019)

Featured in the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour (text in italics below from the tour booklet):

            Among the very first homes built and sold in Glendale Heights was 616 Colgate Street.  Built in 1946, the house embodies the Minimal Traditional style described in the 1940 Federal Housing Administration’s booklet, Principles of Planning Small Houses, which served as the manual for economical residential design. The materials to build the house were purchased through the Civilian Production Administration Priorities Regulation 33 which allowed medium to low price houses to be built with the stipulation that they be available for rent or purchase at affordable rates to veterans.           

            The exterior design of the house at 616 Colgate is simple to give the small house the appearance of maximum size.  Government publications cautioned against multiple gables and fussy architectural features that give houses a “restless appearance.” At this house, and with nearly all the other homes nearby, there are no roof overhangs at the eaves or gable ends.  There are no columned porches or attached garages.  The developers of Glendale Heights used four or five standard Minimal Traditional plans which they repeated throughout the neighborhood with minor variations to exterior appearance. The entries at either end of this house allow the house plan to be rotated depending on practical factors like lot size and environmental factors like sunlight and prevailing winds.  There are three houses of similar plan within the same block, including the house at 2118 Ruffin, also on today’s tour.

            In the seventy years since the house was built, slight changes to exterior at 616 Colgate have been made.  The original wood siding has been covered with vinyl to resemble wood.  Although the original wood windows have been replaced, the six-over-six divided light fenestration pattern of the new windows is true to the originals and the Minimal Traditional style. Also common to the architectural style, and very popular within the Glendale Heights neighborhood, are the original metal awnings and decorative use of non-operable shutters. The FHA encouraged the use of sun protection through trees, window blinds, and awnings in the south for livability. 

            The interior of 616 Colgate retains much of its original character.  The “traditional” part of Minimal Traditional homes is reflected in the layout of interior spaces.  This house, though small, has a living room, dining room, and kitchen, each separate from the other.  The archway dividing the living and dining area was enlarged at one point.  The change is revealed in the barely noticeable variation in the floor boards. The original fireplace mantel is a simple colonial design.  The paneling in the bedrooms is original. Elsewhere, the original floor plan is intact with only a few modifications, namely the bathroom suite added to the master at the rear of the house. The back-to-back arrangement of the kitchen and original bathroom is another sign of an economical building plan, isolating the original plumbing installation to a single chase.

            The first purchaser of 616 Colgate was a woman veteran of World War II.  Edith Adderton enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps at Camp Butner in June 1943 and served for the duration of the war. She had grown up in Durham.  Her father, Edgar Adderton, sold Ford cars for Alexander Motor Company downtown.  In civilian life, Edith worked for Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company.  She purchased the house from the Rental Realty in 1946 and lived at the address with her parents, Edgar and Iona, and her brother, Robert E. Adderton.  Edith married John L. Brown in November of 1958 and they sold the house shortly thereafter.

 

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2118 RUFFIN ST. – TOMMY & BONNIE HAY HOUSE

2118
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1947
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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2118
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1947
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

(Courtesy of Lappegard Photography, March 2019)

Featured in the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour (text in italics below from the tour booklet):

            Construction on the house at 2118 Ruffin Street was begun in 1946 and it was completed in early 1947.  It was one of more than a dozen houses being built at the same time by the developer of Glendale Heights, Rental Realty Company.  Like all the early homes in the subdivision, it was built for Word War II veterans in the Minimal Traditional style.  Although this house and its neighbors were all built to strict standards developed by the Federal Housing Authority to qualify for government loan programs, there was no contemporaneous name for their architectural style.  Later, when the shared characteristics and social history of the houses became the subject of study, the collective term “American Small House” was used for a time.  That name proved to be insufficiently descriptive, however, and Architectural historians eventually settled on “Minimal Traditional” term we use today.

            For its Glendale Heights subdivision, Rental Realty Company used stock house plans drawn without reference to lot sizes or site conditions.  Instead, the lots were laid out to receive the houses.

1946 Plat showing the subdivision of properties in this part of Glendale Heights.  2118 Ruffin is the wedge-shaped lot near the bottom left (County Register of Deeds).

In the early phases, like the one that includes 2118 Ruffin, just four or five plans are evident.  The company clad this house with wood and that one with brick, but no expert eye is needed to see the repetition in design.  Regardless of plan, all of the houses are one story.  All have simple massing.  There are no deep roof overhangs, no elaborate front entries, no wraparound porches.  To the extent that there is any historical reference at all, the tendency is toward American Colonial Revival.  The front doors are paneled.  The sash windows are divided in a six-over-six pattern. 

            Small size and simplicity in design did not mean cheap materials or cut corners.  The houses were built to high standards.  They had oak floors, plaster walls, up-to-date appliances, central heating, and modern plumbing and electrical services.  The government demanded high quality as a condition of making materials available.  The construction industry chafed at the standards and the price limitations the government imposed.

            The house at 2118 Ruffin was something of a wedding present.  Thomas “Tommy” Hay bought it on March 27, 1947.  He had married his sweetheart, Bonnie Blalock, only two days before.  Like all the early purchasers in Glendale Heights, Tommy was a veteran.  He enlisted in the U.S. Army soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served in the South Pacific.  When he was released from service in 1946, he returned home to Raleigh where he and Bonnie met.  Tommy opened a real estate business in Durham and quickly rose to prominence.  He was president of the Durham Board of Realtors by 1952.  He bought and sold blocks of lots in later phases of the Glendale Heights subdivision, including those on the side of Ruffin Street opposite his home. 

            The Ruffin Street house is a three bedroom Minimal Traditional similar in plan to the house at 616 Colgate – also on today’s tour.  Where the house on Colgate was sided with wood, the Ruffin Street house is clad with brick.  The house was designed with the entrance on the end so that the plan could be rotated 90 degrees to fit on a narrow lot.  The massing is simple.  The façade is unadorned.  In the main block of the building, two pairs of sash windows are arranged symmetrically.  On the right, a subordinate wing extends eastward. A screened porch in a similar wing balances the western end of the house.

            The plan of 2118 Ruffin is little altered from the time the house was built, but the interior finishes and fixtures of the house have been renewed.  The original six-over-six sash widows have been replaced with modern windows in the same pattern.  More recent owners have done away with the original window casings.  The fireplace mantel, though a replacement, is in a traditional style like the original.  The original doorway between the kitchen and the dining room has been opened up.  The kitchen itself has been remodeled.  The bathroom also has been remodeled, but it retains the original steel tub.  The utility room addition on the back of the house is connected by the original back door.  Throughout the house, the oak floors are original.  In the hall you can barely tell where the original floor-furnace grates were removed and floored over.

            The Hays lived at 2118 until 1955.  They sold the house to Brantley and Margaret Brock.  Brantley Brock was a chemical engineer at Liggett & Myers.  During the war he had served with the Army Air Corps.  John and Pauline Gregory purchased the house in 1964 and lived in it until 1981.  Mr. Gregory was a superintendent with General Telephone.  After the Gregorys, the house was occupied by a succession of rental tenants until the current owners moved in in 2017.  That the house remains so little altered after seventy years is a testament to the durability and practicality of its original design.

 

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1418 DOLLAR AVE. – EDWARD J. EVANS HOUSE

1418
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1940
Architectural style: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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1418
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1940
Architectural style: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

(Courtesy of Lappegard Photography, March 2019)
 
Featured in the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour (text in italics below from the tour booklet):
 
            Formerly part of the estate of Miss Demerius Dollar, the land in the northern part of Trinity Park sits was divided into lots for sale in 1925. Development stalled with the onset of the Depression, however, and the 1937 Sanborn Insurance maps show only one house along the unpaved 1400 block of Dollar Avenue at that time.  In the late 1930s, as the effects of the Depression began to recede and more money became available for construction loans, interest in these parcels for investment purposes began anew.
 
            In January 1939, C. C. Wilkerson and his wife Mattie bought the property at 1418 Dollar Avenue.  Wilkerson, son of the well-known Durham building contractor W. Albert Wilkerson, was the sales manager at Johnson Motor Company on Main Street downtown.  His brother, A. Ernest Wilkerson, was also a builder in Durham at this time.  Mattie was the longtime office secretary for the builders Thompson and Cannady.  Though we do not know who designed and built the house at 1418 Dollar, we see that it was built at the behest of a couple who knew the building trade inside and out.

            The house they had constructed is a one-story brick cottage with Minimal Traditional and Tudor Revival design influences.  The house has an unusual form consisting of a pyramidal main block with a front gable wing. The entrance is set between the two, sheltered by a half-timbered gable supported by a decorative cast-iron post.  The original windows in the main block had six-over-six wooden sashes, and the front gable contained large metal casement windows often used at this time.

            The Tudor cottage enjoyed a last blush of popularity in Durham in the late 1930s, with architects and builders influenced by the construction of Gothic and Tudor architecture on Duke University’s recently built west campus.  Many notable examples of Tudor cottages were designed by local architect George Hackney and can be found in the northern part of Trinity Park, notably on the 1000 block of West Knox and Demerius Avenues [including one for himself at 1012 W. Knox].  

            Building handbooks from this period stressed the importance of layout in planning small houses.  Main living rooms were to be placed to receive maximum sunlight and cross breezes.  Kitchens were to be placed on the northern side of the house to keep them from receiving the heat of direct sunlight. Halls were to be minimized to save space, and eating areas could be placed in kitchens to save space as well.  Bathrooms and bedrooms were to be placed away from the main living area to maximize privacy.  

            All of these concepts were incorporated in the building of 1418 Dollar Avenue, whose most unusual feature is the large living room which was originally accessed only by the one door near the entrance and thus set off completely from the main block of the house.  The original large metal casement windows would have further “modernized” and differentiated the space.

            The tidy, attractive, and well-built house appealed to the newly married and upwardly mobile Duke University graduates R. Lynwood Baldwin Jr. and his wife Betty Pyle Baldwin who rented the house just after it was built.  Baldwin’s father had opened Baldwin’s department store on Main Street in 1911, and the younger Baldwin had grown up in the family home in Morehead Hill at 904 Vickers Avenue.  He served as the department store’s comptroller at the time the couple lived on Dollar Avenue and would eventually assume ownership of the store.  The Baldwins had three children while living at 1418 Dollar Avenue.  They put their two young daughters in the second bedroom and their baby boy slept in a crib in the dining room. When their fourth baby was on the way, the Baldwins moved to a new, larger home of their own in Hope Valley.

            In late 1949, Edward J. Evans and his wife Frances C. Evans bought the house at 1418 Dollar.  Evans and his first and later second wife made this house their home for the next fifty-seven years.  Evans grew up in Oxford, North Carolina, and moved to Durham as a young man to work for Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company.  He was a supervisor in the maintenance department when he retired after forty-five years.  His second wife Alice Lee Canada Gearhart Evans also worked for Liggett & Myers, retiring after thirty-four years.

            The home’s current owner has been in the home for over ten years, continuing to care for it and make it her own. She added a door opening in the wall between the living and dining rooms, connecting the spaces and bringing more light into the dining room. She replaced the original appliances and white wooden kitchen cabinets with a modern kitchen and has added (or will be adding) new tile in the bathroom.  She recently had the interior freshly painted.  Though most of the original windows have been replaced, the original wood floors remain and the home retains the quality and character with which it was built.

 

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1412 DOLLAR AVE. – CLAIBORNE & FRANCES MONTGOMERY HOUSE

1412
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1938
Architectural style: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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1412
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1938
Architectural style: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

(Courtesy of Lappegard Photography, March 2019)
 
Featured in the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour (text in italics below from the tour booklet):
 
            For at least nine Durham families, the unassuming home at 1412 Dollar Avenue has been the stage for their realization of the American Dream.  A young florist, a rising bank employee, an entrepreneurial service station worker, a war hero – all among those for whom this property was not simply a place to lay their heads at night, but a key investment in their financial well-being and that of their families.         

            The land upon which the house now sits was once part of the 80-acre farm of Hampton Dollar, whose father and uncles had fought in the American Revolution.  Dollar’s land passed to his daughter Demerius and then to her nephew C.L. “Monk” Markham.  In 1926 The Dollar and adjacent Markham lands were subdivided into 143 lots and platted as “the Southern Part of the Estate of Miss Demerius Dollar.”  The development included parcels along Watts, Dollar, and Gregson, between Demerius on the south and E. Street or North Road, now Club Boulevard.

 (County Register of Deeds)

            Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, people bought and traded lots in the subdivision and here and there houses were built. This was still pretty far out of town at the time and during the Great Depression, very few houses were built.  Many parcels remained vacant, especially those to the north.  Lot 62, a mid-block parcel on the east side of Dollar Avenue, changed hands several times during this period.  First the lot went to the Security Finance Corporation of Durham, then to local orthodontist and speculative developer Dr. Daniel Carr, and eventually to the Cary Lumber Company which most likely built the home which now occupies the property. 

            In August of 1938, Claiborne Montgomery purchased the new home.  Montgomery, twenty eight years old at the time, worked at the flower shop owned by his parents on Corcoran Street, now the location of the Jack Tar Motel.  The following month Montgomery married Francis Stephens, a secretary with the City of Durham, and they became the first residents of 1412 Dollar Avenue.

            The Montgomerys' home is a Minimal Traditional Style house, undoubtedly built to be eligible for the new Federal Home Administration loan program.  Part of a the New Deal package of programs created by the Franklin Roosevelt administration to get the banking and home-building industries back on their feet, The FHA program was the first to guarantee loan repayment for qualified buyers and qualified houses.  The FHA not only set up the loan program, it literally created the style for the entry-level homes the loan program promoted.   In a series of pamphlets and booklets published in the late 1930s, the agency’s architects and designers described and drew the economical two and three bedroom houses which would satisfy the program’s requirements....

            All of the architectural principles espoused by the FHA are evident in the house at 1412 Dollar. It employs an efficient rectangular floorplan with a simple gable roof and two dormers.  This very traditional form was made more interesting by orienting the roofline perpendicular to the street, adding a covered entry with corner columns to the front elevation and a small bump out to the north side.  There is nothing fussy about the design.  The house is well-appointed given its construction during the end of the Great Depression. 

            The house retains many original features including its large double-hung wood windows, oak flooring, wall paneling, and door and window hardware throughout.  The light fixture in the front hall is original, as is the phone cubby in the back hallway and several of the plumbing fixtures.  A previous owner removed the wall between the living room and dining room, its ghosted outline visible in the neatly patched oak floor.  A 1960s era family room addition to the rear of the house includes a massive brick fireplace.  The attic is an unexpected treat with its unpainted tongue and groove siding, heart pine floors, and a powder room with its original sink.  This space may have been finished when the house was first built, but in all likelihood, it was created early in the history of the house as the family grew. That growth was anticipated by the architect because the fixed stair is part of the original design.

            Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery sold the house in 1944 to S.C. Ray and his wife Mozelle Byrd Ray.  The Rays were upgrading from their first home at the South end of Duke Street, near the present site of Compare Foods.  Samuel had worked at his father’s service station near the Venable Tobacco Warehouse on Pettigrew Street, and had purchased the Nu-Tread Tire Company in 1943.  From 1954 to 1957, 1412 Dollar was home to Julian Carr Saunders, Jr., his wife and daughter, both named Annie.  Saunders had attended Durham High School and worked as an actor at the Center Theatre before joining the army in 1942.  He worked as a cashier at the Fidelity Bank, but as his fortunes improved the family moved to a large ranch home in leafy Hope Valley.

            Perhaps the most interesting and heartbreaking story of those who called 1412 Dollar home, is that of the Malloys.  James Malloy was born in Missouri.  At the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  He reported for duty aboard the cruiser U.S.S. San Francisco in Pearl Harbor Hawaii on August 7, 1941.  Malloy survived not only the attack on Pearl Harbor four months later, but four long years of war including the battle of Guadalcanal, which saw both the ship’s Captain and Admiral killed in action. 

            After the war’s end, Malloy met and married Fannie Webb Daniel, who had served as a member of the Cadet Nursing Corps at Park View Hospital in Rocky Mount.  The Malloys moved to Durham, where he first worked as an auto body repair man before taking a new job as Shop Foreman at Miller Truck Sales on Hillsborough Road.  In 1956 James and Fannie were able to purchase their dream home on Dollar Avenue.  Just four years later, James died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 38 “en route to Watts Hospital.”  Fannie remained in the home until 1977, and passed away in 2014 at the age of ninety-five.

            The house at 1412 Dollar Avenue has been the gateway for homeownership for several young Durham families and lately a haven in retirement for others.  That it has remained so little changed for more than eighty years is a testament to the durability and livability of its Minimal Traditional design.

 

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1410 N. GREGSON ST. – J.D. & DRUSILLA GIBSON HOUSE

1410
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1949
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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1410
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1949
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

(Courtesy of Lappegard Photography, March 2019)
 
Featured in the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour (text in italics below from the tour booklet):
 
            During the years of the Great Depression, new home construction stopped.  The only thing happening to capture national attention and shape popular architectural taste was the work at Colonial Williamsburg.  Articles about the restoration of Williamsburg and Colonial Revival homes filled influential magazines like the Ladies Home Journal and House Beautiful.  Proportions conceived by ancient Greeks, and forms and details of early Federal and Georgian structures were taught to architectural students across the nation, among them 1934 North Carolina State College graduate Archie Royal Davis.  After a few years of apprentice work with other architects, Davis started his own firm in Durham in 1939.  He proved to be a master of the Williamsburg Colonial Revival style and developed strong relationships with well-to-do patrons in Durham and Chapel Hill.  He designed a number of Williamsburg style houses for members of the wealthy Hill family, including the Frances Hill Fox house on today’s tour. 
 
            In January of 1948, Davis drew up the plans for a new Williamsburg home for Durham builder and insurance salesman Jefferson Davis Gibson, Jr., and his wife Drusilla.  The Gibsons owned a large parcel at the northern edge of Trinity Park.  Davis’s design took full advantage of the lot’s width.
The Gibsons' possession of four consecutive plots on the east side of Gregson made Davis' design possible.  These lots are from the same subdivision map as the other houses on this tour at 1412 and 1418 Dollar Avenue (County Register of Deeds).

The house is composed of five units arranged with perfect symmetry.  This organization of a house connected to matching dependencies was developed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio and is seen in the villas he designed in country side around Venice. Palladio’s designs impressed eighteenth century English architects and their patrons who copied them in their Georgian country houses.  Palladio’s influence was imported to America with Georgian architecture and translated into Colonial Revival homes in the twentieth century.

            The main body of the Gibson house is connected to matching dependencies by one story “hyphens.”  The one-and-a-half story, side-gabled central mass of the house is organized in five bays and clad in brick. The bricks are laid in a Flemish bond pattern with mortar joints raked in a decorative pattern.  The dependencies are covered with wood clapboards with a beaded edge.  Each dependency has a massive brick chimney in its front-facing gable end.  The heavy, paneled front door in the center of the house is original and it retains its colonial brass hardware.  Note the small brass knob and box lock.  The door is set in a recess and surrounded by sidelights and transom.  The windows in the main block have wide muntins and are organized in a six-over-twelve pattern.  Elsewhere, the windows are organized in a six-over-six pattern.  Nearly all of the windows in the house are original.  The cornice of the building is decorated with dentil molding.  The attic is lit by five matching gabled dormers.

Front Elevation drawing, January 1948. Archie Royal Davis Papers, NCSU Libraries, Special Collections Research Center.

            Davis’s special skill was his ability to work historical details into comfortable modern living spaces all in a Colonial Revival package.  In the Gibson house, the front door opens into a spacious hall the central feature of which is an elegant curved stair.  The hall passes beneath the stair through the house to a door opening to the large back yard.  To the left of the hall are a formal dining room and beautifully paneled library.  To the right are a gracious, full-depth living room with fireplace and original Georgian style surround.  Note the rich casework and brass hardware.

            The left dependency of the house and its hyphen encompass a small butler’s pantry and “maid’s toilet”, the renovated kitchen (now expanded into a former sun porch), laundry, and two-car garage accessed from the home’s rear.  A back stair serves the maid’s quarters above the garage.  The right or south dependency and hyphen contain the sleeping quarters - three large bedrooms and two full baths.  There are two more bedrooms upstairs.

            J.D. Gibson hardly had time to enjoy is lovely new home.  He died in 1950.  Drusilla Gibson lived on in the home until 1977, when she sold it to Donald and Kirmeth Wright.  Mr. Wright owned the home until 2009, selling it shortly before his death to Mark Sprouse.

            Under Sprouse’s stewardship, the Gibson home underwent a multi-year restoration.  In 2013, Mr. Sprouse sold the house to the current owners.  The house remains almost entirely intact, retaining its original wood double-hung windows, quarter sawn oak floors, ornate interior trim and moldings, built-in casework, and hardware.  Except for an enlarged and updated kitchen, the home remains true to Davis’s 1948 drawings.      

            Although Davis would go on to design many buildings of a more modern bent, among them round houses on South Duke Street, Durham’s courthouse annex, and the Jack Tar Motel, the Gibson house demonstrates his mastery of traditional architecture as well as the power of historic preservation to connect us with our unique American past.

 

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1032 SYCAMORE ST. – CHARLES R. SKINNER HOUSE

1032
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1945
/ Modified in
1953, 1967
Architectural style: 
,
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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1032
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1945
/ Modified in
1953, 1967
Architectural style: 
,
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

(Courtesy of Lappegard Photography, March 2019)
 
Featured in the 2019 Preservation Durham Home Tour (text in italics below from the tour booklet):
 
            After growing up on Hermitage Court in Forest Hills, Charles R. Skinner Jr. bought land not far away on Sycamore Street to build his house. The timing was fortuitous, Skinner, who went by “Chas,” bought the lot at 1032 in May of 1945. World War II ended in the beginning of September, and the next week he married Mary Powers Brooks. By 1946, they had their home built.
 
            Forest Hills, like much of Durham, experienced a new wave of construction after the war due to a pent up demand for housing. The upscale neighborhood was originally laid out and developed in the late 1920s.  The Depression years were hard on the development and the original development company went under.  Many lots remained vacant until the late 1930s when new home construction began to pick up again. Then, with the war, construction stopped again as materials were diverted to the war effort.  The houses that were built right after the war were designed to maximize efficiency and minimize use of expensive and difficult to obtain materials. The lots that were developed later in Forest Hills tend to be smaller and have a more urban feel.
The Skinner House lot combined three-plus parcels as originally laid out by this Forest Hills 'Extension' developer, giving a sense of the intended contrast to the size of lots and homes in the parts of the neighborhood built earlier to the north (County Register of Deeds).

            The Colonial and Tudor Styles that had been so popular in Forest Hills before the war were replaced by simplified Colonial Revivals, Minimal Traditional, and Modernist homes. Style books of the time encouraged simple roof forms and materials, and discouraged any nonessential features or fussiness. They suggested that homes should be useful and simple and rooms should be scaled for maximum livability. Excess square footage should be omitted, hallways should be minimized, and on the exterior, a single siding material should be used to make a home appear larger. Detached garages also make a home appear larger and increase ease of use. Although 1032 Sycamore was never a typical entry-level home for the period, many of these postwar design dictates are evident in its layout and decoration.  The house is a mixture of both colonial revival and minimal traditional styles. The exterior of the one-and-a half story side gabled home features a recessed entryway, a front bay window, and three gabled dormer windows.

            Several significant but discreet changes have been made to the exterior of the house since its original construction. The right recessed wing, connected to the house through a breezeway, was formerly a garage. The most significant change occurred in 1953 when the Skinners enlarged the living room the rear and added new living space above.  These changes are nearly seamless.  Only a slight bump in the ridge line in the roof and small differences in the left-hand dormer give the addition away. The bill for the work was nearly ,000.  In 1967, the Skinners enclosed the rear porch.  It is now part of the kitchen. The home has several types of windows: steel casement windows in the upper dormer windows and wood six-over-six sash windows throughout much of the rest house, and a pronounced bay window in the living room.

            The interior of the house has gone through several renovations, but much of the original fabric remains. The wood floors, casework, doors, and door hardware are nearly all original.  When the house was first built, the first floor featured an entryway with stairs to the second floor, separate dining room, kitchen, bedroom, and living room. The current owners have opened up the adjoining kitchen and dining space, and use the front bedroom as an office. The living room features a large bay window as well as original French doors to the rear yard. The fireplace is surrounded by a simple colonial style mantelpiece.  The bathroom was updated by the current owners, but the location and size of the space remain. The upstairs features a master bedroom with a 1970s bathroom addition, two additional bedrooms, and a bath. The third bedroom is large in scale for a bedroom of the time and features a fireplace. The size of the gable dormer and the casement window in this bedroom differ slightly from the dormers and windows in the other bedrooms. This bedroom was created or enlarged in 1953 when the living room below was expanded and the roof over it was raised.

            Charles “Chas” Skinner, Jr., was in the insurance business.  He began with Southern Fire Insurance Company which in time became Crum and Forster Insurance.  The firm had elegant offices in a remarkable modernist office building on Broad Street.  Duke now owns the building.  Chas and Mary Skinner lived in their Sycamore Street home until 1967, when they sold it to Ann and William Franklin Reed. Chas Skinner died in 1982 at the age of 63, and Mary died when she was 66, in 1989. Both are buried in Maplewood Cemetery.

 

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