What's It Wednesday?!

What's It Wednesday?!


An ever-expanding cheatsheet (or explorers' map) from past posts in the "What's It Wednesday?!" series on our social media accounts. Would you have been able to pick out these places from a single picture?

Beginning in late 2018, Open Durham started What's It Wednesday?! - a weekly series on its social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) designed to distract you from the midweek doldrums with an image from Durham's past, a mystery photo that just might lead you to some of our city's best secrets.  For true connoisseurs and Bull City sleuths, it's a chance to connect the dots, show off how well you know the area, and share some of your experiences from bygone days.

This 'tour' includes sites already featured in What's It Wednesday posts.  Follow Open Durham on Facebook and Instagram to see where we'll take you next!

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103 HUNT ST.

103
,
Durham
NC
Built in
c.1947
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
,
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Wed, 04/22/2020 - 12:21pm by gary

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103
,
Durham
NC
Built in
c.1947
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
,
Type: 
Use: 

 

12.03.13

 

This small, t-shaped cinder block house was apparently built in the late 1940s on the back half of the lot of a house facing Mangum Street - with residents first appearing in the 1947 city directory and the structure depicted on the 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance map.

Fragment of 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance map - available via ProQuest/NClive.org
 
Bird's-Eye View, c.1948, looking northeast at the 500-600 blocks of Mangum. Hunt Street curves in from the center-left, with 103 Hunt visible behind the larger house at the corner.
 

Subsequent directories suggest frequent turnover of occupants from the earliest years - mostly a series of married couples.  Their surnames were:

1947 - Barco
1948 - Westwood
1949 - Davis
1950 - Brock
1955 - Mrs. Irene P. Walker
1960 - Overman
1963 - Duke
 

Despite the close proximity of the tobacco warehouse district (note the rooftops visible at the bottom edge of the photo above), that industry does not seem to have been a primary employer of those who lived at 103 Hunt.  The residents named above included multiple students and employees of other businesses - still within easy walking distance - such as Baldwin's, Ellis Stone, Doug's Restaurant, Adcocks Cafe, Woolworth's, and Walton Roofing.

The spread of development outward from the downtown commercial area gradually claimed many of the residential structures in this vicinity.

1959 aerial photo of the 500 block of Mangum St. - the service station at the corner of Wyatt (far left) had begun the trend as early as 1930. By this point, 503 and 505 have been torn down, with 519 N. Mangum shown recently dismantled. 103 Hunt Street is visible near the top right corner.
 

With Durham's industrial decline and the hollowing out of many neighborhoods near downtown in the era of Urban Renewal and suburbanization, the larger houses in this area were divided into apartments, abandoned, or razed.

Since 2009, the building has belonged to Nehemiah Christian Center.  With the demolition in the years that followed of the last houses on the west side of the 500 block of Mangum Street, 103 Hunt Street has become more visible from the southbound thoroughfare.

N. Levy, 03.02.2020
 

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of April 22, 2020.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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wtnealhouse_ci.jpg

WILLIAM T. NEAL HOUSE

4206
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1890
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Wed, 01/08/2020 - 2:05pm by gary

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4206
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1890
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

wtnealhouse_ci.jpg

Since 1833, several generations of the Neal family have farmed land in what is now northwest Durham County. An early family house (demolished ca. 1940) is said to have served as a kitchen after William T. Neal built the present frame tri-gable I-house with its one-story rear ell around 1890. Eight acres of Neal’s once-extensive farm and the house are now the property of his grandson, William T. (Billy) Neal, III. A 1920s replacement porch and a covering of artificial siding have modified the house, but its rear brick chimneys and six-over-six sash windows remain. The interior center hall plan is basically intact, and much original woodwork including a stair with a heavy turned newel and turned balusters, and simple mantels have been retained. At the rear of the house are a smokehouse, a buggy and granary building, a wagon shelter, and a barn, all of frame construction.

William Neal and Benjamin Duke of the American Tobacco family dynasty were good friends who swapped tales and tools. Duke encouraged the raising of tobacco, which became Neal’s major livelihood, but in the 1920s when Duke sought his land for the Duke Forest, Neal declined to sell. He instead conveyed and bequeathed land to his sons and daughters, who settled near the homeplace with their families.

UPDATE, early 2020:

The house has remained in the family of Neal's descendants over at least four generations.  Though the surrounding property is now somewhat smaller than described above, it still includes a number of farm and out buildings of varying age.

1.6.2020 (N. Levy)

 

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of January 8, 2020.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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2217 CHAPEL HILL RD. – LONNIE AND BANNIE PICKETT HOUSE

2217
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1890-1910
/ Demolished in
2018
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Fri, 10/11/2019 - 12:59pm by gary

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2217
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1890-1910
/ Demolished in
2018
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

 

County Tax Administration photos from 1999 (above) and 2017 (below) 
 

A Victorian Triple-A farmhouse, this structure was several decades older than anything in the immediate vicinity, dating to the early 20th century when this area was outside city limits and mostly rural residences or farmland.

The first known and longtime residents of the property were Lonnie W. Pickett - listed in city directories as a carpenter - and his wife, Bannie O'Briant Pickett.  Deeds indicate L.W. Pickett acquired the land late in the summer of 1913, though it is unclear whether the house itself predated that transaction.

1914 map (color copy from Duke collections available via Digital Durham) showing approximate location of house.  Note the significant number of Pickett properties to the southwest, likely relatives of Lonnie W. Pickett and namesakes of the present Pickett Road.
 

Before the mid-1920s (around the time the Filling Station on the opposite corner opened), the Picketts were listed as residing simply beyond or near Lakewood Park.  In subsequent decades, the area gradually filled in around them, particularly after the subdivision of J.S. Carr's WaWaYanda Farm into lots for residential development.

1920s Plat Map (County Register of Deeds) showing subdivision of land just to the south.
 
 

By the late 1950s, the adjacent blocks were mostly built up, and the house across the street had been demolished to make way for the new Fire Station No.5.

1959 aerial photo with the interesection of Chapel Hill and Ward near the top of the frame.
 

Lonnie and Bannie Pickett remained in the house until their deaths in 1964 and 1972, respectively, having spent over a half-century at 2217 Chapel Hill Road.

Subsequent owners included members of the House, Winn, and Caudle families.  From the photos at the top it is evident that the condition of the building deteriorated somewhat as it passed its hundredth year of use.

A developer acquired the property in late 2018 and demolished the house.  The new house on the property faces Ward Street, and was completed by fall 2019.

Source: TMLS
 

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of October 9, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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605Gattis_102712.jpg

605 GATTIS ST. - VICKERS GROCERY

605
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1925-1930
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
,
Type: 

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  • Wed, 09/18/2019 - 2:40pm by gary

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605
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1925-1930
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
,
Type: 

 

605Gattis_102712.jpg

(Below in italics is from the 2009 National Register listing; not verified for accuracy by this author.)

This one-story, front-gabled frame store is the only historic commercial structure in the district. It is typical of neighborhood groceries, with a centered entrance, a two-light over two- panel wood door, flanked by windows (now boarded) on the façade. There is a small shed- roofed addition across the rear and a shed roof over the front entrance. The building retains original molded wood weatherboards, molding, and brick foundation. It is in poor condition with a failing roof partially covered with tarps and has lost its front stairs.

The building appears as vacant in the 1930 city directories. By 1935 it was home to the Robert G. Vickers grocery.

A more detailed dive into the building's history suggests in went through multiple makeovers.  Before the vacant entry mentioned in the National Register listing, 605 Gattis appeared briefly as a Community Barber Shop run by William G. Bass in 1929.  By the next year, Bass had better branding and a more visible location, running Sunnyside Barber Shop at what's now the southwest corner of W Chapel Hill and Buchanan.

1937 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows small, mid-block store at center (right side of excerpt is north, source: ProQuest Sanborn Maps via NClive.org)

 

Vickers, meanwhile, appears to have been the second grocer in the repurposed structure after an Abner B. Pope, listed in the 1933 and 1934 directories.  Vickers did indeed operate the store from around 1935 until 1941, after which he, too, relocated his business within the neighborhood - just a few blocks south on Jackson Street.

A brief stint as a candy company warehouse at the end of the 1940s notwithstanding, the shop would wait until the early 1950s to be reopened as a grocery, after which it appears in the city directories under various names and proprietors: Carlis T. Barbee, Mrs. Pearl H. May, Paul R. Moose, and finally the more recognizable Gattis Street Grocery in the early 1960s.

Though some of its operators - like Vickers and Barbee - seem to have lived nearby, the premises were consistently owned by landlords residing elsewhere.  The structure appears to have been built during the roughly four decades that the land belonged to the Farabow brothers (after whom the adjacent duplex at 829-831 Burch Avenue has been named).  The Farabows passed in the late 1960s, and from 1970 until 2004 both the Burch Avenue house and the store on Gattis belonged to members of the Noell family.  While it's unclear how recently the store remained in operation, both properties were redone in the 2000s and are again under the same ownership.

(N. Levy, 6.01.2019, with the house at 607 Gattis visible at right)

 

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of September 11, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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AVILA RETREAT CENTER

711
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1957
/ Modified in
1980-1983
Architect/Designers: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
,

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711
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1957
/ Modified in
1980-1983
Architect/Designers: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
,

 

The main entrance to the Avila Retreat Center, 7.28.2019 (N. Levy)
 

In 1957, a widowed schoolteacher named Lola Latta Terry and her son sold over forty acres west of the road to Roxboro to the Carmelite order of Catholic nuns, who appear to have begun building this facility soon thereafter.  It remained in the possession of the Carmelites until 1980, when ownership transferred to the Bishop of the Raleigh Roman Catholic Diocese and the property began its transformation from a nunnery into a more open religious retreat center.

Aerial photo from undated postcard, c.1990s.

In addition to the chapel, dining hall, and meeting rooms that attach to the front building, a further loop of modest cabins and trails extend back into the woods.

Accomodations for retreat attendees, 7.28.2019 (N. Levy)
 

A message at the front bulletin board describes how the long-time director of Avila, Sister Damian Jackson, discovered a gravesite when clearing part of the property in the early 1980s.  It was, it turned out, the relatively recent grave of a nun, Sister Mary Veronica (d.1966).  While her rusting tin marker was replaced with a stone marker bearing that name, county records suggest she was born Ella Veronica Cleary in Massachussetts, trained as a nurse and physical therapist.

More than a decade later, a bereaved family in need of a place to bury their daughter appealed to the center, and the girl was interred alongside Sister Mary Veronica.  According to the posted note, "many more calls from churches, prisons, hospitals" followed after that, "on behalf of grieving families who did not have the means to provide a proper burial for their babies."

Infant cemetery at Avila Retreat Center, 7.28.2019 (N. Levy)
 

Despite subsequent development, the complex remains on a sizeable, quiet piece of wooded land.  When the author of this post visited in July 2019, an employee confirmed that the closing indicated on the center website was related to plans by the Diocese to sell the property, and a sale did follow in December 2019.  The buyer is known - Self-Help Ventures Fund - but it remains to be seen what plans are in store for this North Durham getaway.

This center was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of July 24, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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LIBERTY STREET APARTMENTS

131
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1972
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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131
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1972
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

Clipping of units nearing completion from The Durham Sun, 7.10.1971 (From a scrapbook collection, courtesy of Durham Housing Authority)
 

Planned from the mid-1960s with the help of federal funding for both clearing existing structures and constructing public housing, the Liberty Street Apartments covered a site of roughly 9.25 acres just to the east of central Durham.  Bordered by Liberty Street, Elizabeth Street (including a portion of its former course now named Commerce Street), East Main, and Dillard Street, the project required the clearance of much of the earliest construction on this side of downtown.  Originally, these blocks had included some of the more opulent homes of wealthy Durhamites along the higher ground on Dillard and East Main, as well as rows of more modest houses down the slopes like Peachtree Place (at times alternately called Alley or Street) to the north and east.  Their original owners long gone, the once-glamorous turn-of-the-century homes had largely been converted to apartments, been demolished, or deteriorated significantly.  Along with the remaining working class houses, what remained was to be swept aside as part of the "slum clearance" mandate of Urban Renewal.

Late-1960s map showing the terrain to be reshaped and buildings to be removed for the adjoining developments of Liberty Street Apartments and Oldham Towers (at left, corner of Dillard and East Main).  In addition to the residential structures mentioned above, this included the former fire station at East Main and Elizabeth and the large Durham County Garage shown south of Taylor. (Source: "HUD Project No. NC 13-8," Sheet M2/2. Durham County Library - North Carolina Collection - Map Case 1, Drawer 10.)
 
Development plan showing arrangement of buildings largely as built. (Source: "HUD Project No. NC 13-8," Sheet L1/4. Durham County Library - North Carolina Collection - Map Case 1, Drawer 10.)

The new campus - designed by local architecture firm Carr, Harrison, Pruden, and DePasquale - was to arrange 108 units in 26 buildings of a low-rise row house style, clad in beige brick.  The same number of units is in operation at Liberty Street Apartments to date, and the external appearance of the buildings remains largely unchanged.

7.19.2019 - looking west with Oldham Towers visible at the left edge (N. Levy)
 
7.19.2019 - looking north with Liberty Street between the buildings in the distance (N. Levy)
 

Chronically underfunded by the federal budget, the Durham Housing Authority has long faced criticism over their management and upkeep of this and other properties as it approaches a half-century of service.  Not uncommon given the timing of national trends that produced the lion's share of public housing units, Liberty Street is just one of a string of complexes built in the late-1960s and early-1970s that - to say nothing of McDougald Terrace built two decades prior - are showing signs of age simultaneously, even as funding from HUD for meaningful repairs gets squeezed. (DHA just celebrated its 70th year in 2019 - learn a bit more about the history of public housing in Durham from the timeline pages they put together here.)

With the recent spike of downtown development pressure and concerns about a burgeoning housing affordability crisis under constant discussion in Durham, providing local support for DHA redevelopment was a major impetus for the million housing bond voters resoundingly approved in November 2019.  Nearly two-thirds of that amount - and perhaps more with matching funds from other levels - is purportedly designated for DHA plans.  These have been in the works since at least 2018, with community meetings soliciting feedback from both current DHA residents and neighbors in surrounding areas.  While concensus is obviously elusive when it comes to large investments involving potential displacement, imprecise timeframes, and inconsistent federal support for whatever Durham may decide, those participating have largely coalesced around two main points: more affordable units should be built (including by DHA) and those currently in the heart of the city should remain on central sites.

From those conversations, consultants working with DHA have produced this "Preferred Site Plan" drawing of the adjoining Liberty Street-Oldham Towers block:

See the full January and August 2019 reports (both including this design) released by DHA here.
 

The desire to break up the existing super-block - the functionally enclosed space with no cut-throughs and only select entrances - was reportedly voiced by many at DHA meetings.  With 214 current units between Liberty and Oldham, this projection would mean more than doubling their number with higher construction density.  And the promise of some mixed-use retail or commercial life on this stretch of East Main Street has appeal after decades that have seen it wither to nothing.  The intended neighborhood regenerating effect could be amplified if DHA is able to act on any of its ideas for reviving some of the surface parking in the lot for the Human Services Complex across Main.

No doubt there will be several more years of discussion before this comes to fruition, so stay engaged!

This housing development was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of July 17, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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207 MOREHEAD AVE.

207
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1936
/ Demolished in
1967
Businesses: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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207
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1936
/ Demolished in
1967
Businesses: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

Photo likely taken early in 1963 shows 207 Morehead Avenue in the right background, with the Lucky Strike Service Station in the distance and American Tobacco's Fowler Building at the left edge (From Durham Urban Renewal Records, Box 1. Courtesy of Durham County Library - North Carolina Collection, available online at DigitalNC.org)

 

From the late 1930s until their demolition to begin construction of the Durham Freeway in 1967, a pair of warehouse buildings used by the American Tobacco Company were listed right where Carrington Street and the factory's southbound supply railroad intersected Morehead Avenue.

Fragments of 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (ProQuest Sanborn Maps available online via NCLive.org) and a plat map showing the property from the same year (Durham County Register of Deeds)

 

It appears the buildings were actually leased from Central Storage Company before American Tobacco purchased them outright in 1950.

Aerial view of the American Tobacco factory complex looking north with the warehouses at 207 Morehead Avenue in the foreground, 1950s (Courtesy of the Herald-Sun).  Note also the rows of mill houses still standing along Matthews (right), Proctor (bottom), and Carr (left of the factory) Streets - all demolished in years to follow.

 

The top image from the early 1960s - reproduced at left below - holds clues as to the fate of these unassuming structures and the surrounding area.  The triangle drawn in dotted purple lines marks the then-existing right-of-way for Morehead Avenue (the diagonal) and Carr Street (in the foreground).  The third line demarcates a wedge of American Tobacco property being assessed for purchase by the Durham Redevelopment Commission.

The triangular parcel labeled #3 in the sketch at right matches the one outlined on the image at left (Both from Durham Urban Renewal Records, Box 1. Courtesy of Durham County Library - North Carolina Collection, available online at DigitalNC.org)

 

Valuing the land at 75 cents a square foot and tallying the 'improvements' - the small brick equipment house at center, fencing, and paving - the Commission figured it could slice this corner off the factory complex for just over ,000 (which would be more like 5,000 in 2019 accounting for inflation).  While that represents just a drop in the enormous bucket of appraisals and acquisitions the Redevelopment Commission carried out over the next decade, this little sliver between the factory and its warehouses on Morehead Avenue proved crucial for one of urban renewals flagship projects in Durham.

1961 plan for projected zones and phases of urban renewal showing intended path of 'Crosstown Thoroughfare' that would become the Durham Freeway (from page 15 of "Project 1 Land Use Survey" in Durham Urban Renewal Records, Box 2. Courtesy of Durham County Library - North Carolina Collection, available online at DigitalNC.org)

 

The location of the above-mentioned parcel and the warehouses to its south was at the geographical center of these plans - see where Morehead Avenue intersects the rail line and the grey path of the future highway, right at the border between Project 1 and 4 (both slated for "Major Clearance").  Vital to the planned course of the freeway, this site would also win the dubious honor of hosting its groundbreaking, with work on the new road kicking off right here in the spring of 1967.

"Expressway Started, Morehead Avenue - 05.08.1967" (Courtesy of the Herald-Sun)

 

In a city then still full of older structures and non-descript warehouses, perhaps nobody mourned the loss of these thirty year-old buildings - which would have been on the right side of the above image - but there were also residences and business along this strip of Morehead Avenue.  And these were just the first scoops of earth in a project that would tear Durham in two at its center, a divide that in many ways lives on more than a half century later.

Then and now...(at right, 07.11.2019 by N. Levy)
 
This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of July 10, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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burroughswellcome_1970s.jpgburroughswellcome_1974.jpg

BURROUGHS WELLCOME BUILDING - ELION-HITCHINGS BUILDING

,
Durham
NC
Built in
1972
/ Modified in
1986
,
2014
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Type: 

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  • Wed, 07/03/2019 - 7:16pm by gary

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,
Durham
NC
Built in
1972
/ Modified in
1986
,
2014
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Type: 

 

burroughswellcome_1970s.jpg

1970s

burroughswellcome_1974.jpg

1974

In February 1969, the pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome bought just over 66 acres of land from the Research Triangle Foundation to relocate its headquarters from Tuckahoe, New York.  Planning a flagship office reflecting their place on the industry's cutting edge, they commissioned renowned modernist architect Paul Rudolph for the design.

Aerial perspective drawing of the east side of the complex (The Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress)

Rudolph would describe his vision for the Burroughs Wellcome headquarters as follows:

“This complex climbs up and down a beautiful ridge in the green hills of North Carolina and is architecturally an extension of its site. An 'A frame' allows the greatest volume to be housed on the lower floors and yet connected to the smaller mechanical system at the apex of the building. The diagonal movement of interior space opens up magnificent opportunities. Anticipation of growth and change is implicit in the concept.”

(Excerpted from the 1970 book The Architecture of Paul Rudolph by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, p.233.  For more on Rudolph's life and work visit the special page created by the Carney Library at UMass-Dartmouth - a campus Rudolph himself designed in the early 1960s.)

Section perspective looking north (The Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress)

The arrival of Burroughs Wellcome was a landmark both in the growth of the Research Triangle Park as a hub of major business operations and in the development of this once-rural corner of Durham County.

USDA Historical Aerial Photos (available online through UNC Libraries - GIS Services), with the Burroughs Wellcome site highlighted in the red ovals.

With the future Interstate-40 and Durham Freeway still under construction, notice the development on both sides of Cornwallis Road (top right in both photos) extending south to NC-54 (bottom left in both) and the addition of T.W. Alexander Drive (absent in 1955, running top to bottom left of center by 1972).

While Rudolph's design drew mixed reviews, it was a strong enough statement for Burroughs Wellcome to feature its new, modernist headquarters as part of its advertising.

Two-page advertising spread from January 1972 edition of the journal Laboratory Medicine (pp.9-10).

The massive office and laboratory complex is perhaps most widely known for its turn as part of the set for the 1983 science fiction film Brainstorm - starring Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood.  

The building was eventually named in honor of Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings - research chemists with Burroughs Wellcome who shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sir James Black.  Honored for groundbreaking work on drug structure and design, the pair had moved with the company when it relocated to the Research Triangle.  (For more details on Elion and Hitchings' research, see bios on ScienceHistory.org and NCpedia.org)

George Hitchings and Gertrude Elion in 1988 (Source: GSK.com, Photo credit - Will & Deni McIntyre)

Burroughs Wellcome merged with Glaxo in 1995, both eventually becoming part of GlaxoSmithKline, which gradually concentrated its operations elsewhere.  As this facility fell into disuse, tours of the remarkable complex were organized - including one in fall 2012 by NC Modernist.

10.20.2012 - Collage of photos by Tim Bradley on flickr (license here)

10.20.2012 - Collage of photos by bobistraveling on flickr (license here)

Earlier that year the Elion-Hitchings Building was sold to the biotech firm United Therapeutics, which has sizable offices adjacent on T.W. Alexander Drive.  They have since demolished portions of the sprawling structure, but were said to be preserving and rehabilitating the "most memorable and historic portions" at least as recently as June 2016.

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of July 3, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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1004MorningGlory_0679.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2010_12/1000MorningGlory_aerial_W_1950s.jpg1000MG_1979.jpg1004MG_1984.jpg

FREE WILL BAPTIST CHURCH - 1004 MORNING GLORY

1004
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1907-1919
/ Modified in
1980-1990
,
2012
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
,
Type: 

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  • Thu, 06/27/2019 - 3:00pm by gary

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1004
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1907-1919
/ Modified in
1980-1990
,
2012
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
,
Type: 

 

1004MorningGlory_0679.jpg

June 1979

"The Lord House" at 1004 Morning Glory started life as the Free Will Baptist Church, first listed in the Durham city directory at this address in 1919, with a Reverend Zebulon V. Ferrell as pastor.  It is unclear if this building was built specifically as a house of worship or adapted from the structure first shown on Sanborn Fire Insurance maps at this location - apparently a short-lived mattress factory operation.

Compiled from fragments of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, available online through Library of Congress and NCLive.org (the top of each image is roughly west).

For most of twenty years from the early 1920s into the 1940s, the congregation seems to have been led by a Rev. Thomas C. Marks, who lived on nearby Elm Street and Alston Avenue with his wife Alice.  Marks was also frequently attributed a side job as a shoe repairman in a shop on Angier Avenue.

While there are many African American congregations of the Free Will Baptist Church, all indications from the city directories (which used various unsubtle ways of signaling the race of institutions and individuals until 1951) suggest this was a predominantly white church - much like the surrounding mill communities of Edgemont and Morning Glory through the mid 20th century.

After the death of Reverend Marks, 1004 Morning Glory changed names to become The Church of God from the mid 1940s into the early 1960s.


Aerial looking east, late 1950s. A steeple is evident atop the small church.

Charlie Gibbs once related to me that he and his friends would sneak away and around the block from the square dances held on the second floor of 952 East Main Street to hear the rockin' music emanating from the Baptist Church, which they much preferred.

1000MG_1979.jpg

The view west on Morning Glory Ave, 1979
 

Reflecting change in the surrounding neighborhood as the long decline of once booming industry coincided with white flight to the suburbs, the church at 1004 Morning Glory became predominantly black in subsequent decades.

From 1964 until 1995, the property belonged to the Jones family, who were either themselves involved with or leased the building to a Gospel Light Holy Church from at least the mid-1980s.  That congregation would eventually purchase the building and retain ownership until late 2011.

In 1984, the church lost its original steeple and was encased in concrete block.

1004MG_1984.jpg

1984 (State Historic Preservation Office)

The church continued to house an active congregation through 2012.

As of late 2012, the building is under renovation by a new owner, who, via secondhand sources, intends to build off the success of Golden Belt by building additional artist studio space for the area.

That space opened in 2013 as SPECTRE Arts, run by Alicia Lange.

08.23.13 (G. Kueber)

In five years of operation, Spectre Arts hosted a wide range of exhibitions, performances, and special events.  The exterior space was used and decorated extensively, connecting through a rear entrance to 947 East Main, which became The Carrack gallery and studios in 2016.

(Image credits, clockwise from top-left: billthelen.com; Alicia L. on Yelp; MuralDurham.com; N. Levy)

A year after Spectre Arts closed in 2018, the space was reopened in the summer of 2019 as Nolia: Family + Coffee.

06.22.2019 - during the soft opening celebration for 1004 Morning Glory's latest reincarnation (N. Levy)

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of June 26, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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1106 N. DRIVER ST.

1106
,
Durham
NC
Built in
c.1925
/ Demolished in
2004
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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1106
,
Durham
NC
Built in
c.1925
/ Demolished in
2004
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

(11.22.2002, from volunteer survey by Preservation Durham)

The first reference to this address in city directories - as 1106 First Avenue, as Driver Street north of Liberty was known until c.1960 - was in 1926, when the resident was a Frank J Mutter, listed as working for Edward J. Latta's roofing company.  Residents changed multiple times in the years that followed, including by 1930 Harry F. and Elizabeth L. Davis.  Harry Davis is described as a linotype machine operator for Seeman Printery on Corcoran Street downtown.

Archie and Zelma House would become the first longtime residents of 1106 First Avenue, residing here throughout the 1930s and into the early 1940s.  Perhaps because this lot was at the edge of a development laid out as Hillcrest by the Durham Land & Security Company, the Houses had no neighbors to their immediate north until their latter years in the home.

(At left, the 1906 plat for the subdivision of Hillcrest - County Register of Deeds; at right, fragment of a 1937 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, available online through NCLive.org)

Archie D. House worked in the textile industry, with his employer listed for multiple years as the Golden Belt Manufacturing Company about a mile to the west.

Golden Belt was also initially the workplace of the next longtime resident at 1106 First Avenue - Sebern I. Thompson.  Thompson changed jobs multiple times according to city directories, and by the early 1950s he was a partner in operating the Esso Service Station across from Hope Valley High School at the intersection of University Drive and Chapel Hill Road.  From there he moved on to serve as treasurer for the Studebaker car dealership - Old Hickory Motors on Roxboro Road.  Sebern and his wife Vera F. Thompson lived some twenty years in this house before leaving around 1960.

A machinist at the Wright Machinery Company nearby on Holloway Street, Cary W. Fletcher and his wife Mildred bought 1106 N. Driver in 1961.  After her husband's death in 1969, Mildred Fletcher kept the house until the early 1980s.  From then until 2000 it belonged to Korean War veteran Alvis Bobbitt and his family.  Subsequent owners demolished the 75+ year-old structure and replaced it with the multi-unit building pictured below around 2004.

(10.10.2017, Durham County Tax Administration)

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of June 19, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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/sites/default/files/images/2007_11/angierandalston_1950s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_11/angierandalston_ne_2007.jpg1201-1205Angier_063011.jpgpopemattress_demo_091211.jpgangierandalston_ne_091311.jpg

1205-1207 ANGIER AVENUE- POPE MATTRESS CO.

1205-1207
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1900-1930
/ Demolished in
2011
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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  • Tue, 01/07/2020 - 11:12am by gary

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1205-1207
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1900-1930
/ Demolished in
2011
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 


The intersection of S. Alston Ave. and Angier Ave., looking northwest from ~the railroad tracks. The intersection of E. Main and S. Alston is in the background. Taken sometime in the 1950s.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

As Angier Avenue follows the railroad tracks and the southeast-northwest ridgeline they sit upon (while E. Main St. tracks in a more easterly direction) the streetcars of the early 20th century followed this path as well - heading east on E. Main St. until reaching Alston Ave. At that point, they would turn south for a block before turning east again on Angier Avenue.

This area became small commercial nexus - at the turn of the line, and at the border between Edgemont and East Durham. On the southeast corner sat (and sits) the Branson Memorial Methodist Church while commercial enterprises occupied the other corners.

This area faded along with the other neighborhood commercial areas. Ironically, the beginning of this commercial transformation is visible to the northeast - in the form of a new supermarket.

Today, although the church remains in good repair, commercial structures have disappeared from the western corners. Abandoned structures remain on the northwest corner.


Looking northeast from S. Alston and Angier, 2007.

Folks have been chomping at the bit to tear these buildings down. The city's RKG report - which I belatedly came to realize informs quite a bit of our decision-making - wholeheartedly endorses making these buildings go away. Frankly, I think right now the only reason they are still standing is that perhaps the city hoped the state would pay to get rid of them in widening Alston Ave.

As you would expect, I think it's a mistake to get rid of these buildings. What I really can't understand sometimes in Durham is an odd pairing of mercantile boosterism with a complete lack of faith in the market to turn buildings like this around. Given the huge investments being made around this by HOPE VI (which is about to build several dozen single family homes 1-2 blocks to the west,) the city, and private developers, why would you believe that this needs to be destroyed? To my way of thinking, if you create stable neighborhoods and amenities around this, then people will want to live and work in this area. That's when people see these buildings as an opportunity.

That isn't to say they aren't a problem. The roof is collapsed on one of them, and they've been empty quite awhile. The owner that lives either out on Hollow Rock Rd. or in Trinity Park should be getting spanked with hefty fines for keeping them in this kind of condition. One would hope that would prod them to either 1) fix them up or 2) be appropriately motivated to sell them to someone who would.

1201-1205Angier_063011.jpg

06.30.11

In September 2011, a few weeks after acquisition by the Durham Rescue Mission, 1205-1207 was demolished.

popemattress_demo_091211.jpg

09.12.11 - 1201-1203 Angier is almost completely down, with 1205-1207 coming down.

angierandalston_ne_091311.jpg

09.13.11

The aerial photo at the top of this page was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of June 12, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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709 W. KNOX ST.

709
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1952-1955
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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709
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1952-1955
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

03.08.2000 - Photo by survey volunteers for Historic Preservation Society of Durham (now Preservation Durham)

Though Durham County tax records date this house to 1948, it appears this last structure on the south side of Knox Street closest to South Ellerbe Creek was not built until the early or mid-1950s.

Left - fragment Durham County Register of Deeds plat showing subdivision of John W. Pope Estate lands; 709 W. Knox is on the plot labeled #1.  Right - fragment of 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance map (available online via NCLive.org) showing homes built along the 1300 block of Ruffin Street as well as 711-713 W. Knox, but no building yet constructed on the lot closest to the creek.

The first residents of the home listed in available city directories were Robert E. Hall and his wife Mabel H. Hall, from at least 1955-1963.  Robert was a tobacconist and World War I veteran.  City directories list their previous residence in the early 1950s as 710 Parker Street in Morehead Hill.  Both husband and wife passed away within months of each other in 1967 and are buried in Maplewood Cemetery.

Passersby on the South Ellerbe Creek Trail can see the rear and side of this house as they cross the bridge over the waterway in the turn of the path just below West Knox Street.

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of June 5, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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/sites/default/files/images/u23/008_8(2).JPG/sites/default/files/images/u23/181_181.JPG/sites/default/files/images/Shepherd-Mebane%20House%2C%20early.bmp

SHEPHERD-MEBANE HOUSE

2814
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1800
/ Modified in
1927
/ Demolished in
2019
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

Shepherd-Mebane House

2814 Chelsea Circle, ca. 1800, moved and expanded 1927, Contributing Building - Hope Valley National Register Historic District

George Watts Carr, architect for 1927 additions

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2814
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1800
/ Modified in
1927
/ Demolished in
2019
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

 (c.2008, Courtesy of Tad DeBerry)

From the 2009 National Historic Register listing for Hope Valley:
 
Shepherd-Mebane House
 
2814 Chelsea Circle, ca. 1800, moved and expanded 1927, Contributing Building
 
George Watts Carr, architect for 1927 additions
 
Distinct early form and finishes of this two-story, side-gabled, Federal-style dwelling with weatherboard exterior contrast with the other houses in Hope Valley; main block dates to circa 1800 and features 6/6 sash and a central classical entrance; flanking one-and-a-half-story front-gabled wings each have frieze at cornice embellished with triglyphs, mutules, and diamond metopes, neoclassical entrance, and shed- roofed side porch; 6/6 sash date to just after the house was moved in 1927. The house originally stood south of this location on Hope Valley Road, where it was the center of George Shepherd’s farm. Shepherd, who died in 1888, was likely not the original owner, since construction details on the elevation facing the golf course, such as the trabeated surround at the entrance and horizontal flush boards sheathing the wall beneath the shed roof, indicate that the house was built around the turn of the nineteenth century. Hope Valley developer Jesse Mebane moved the house to Chelsea Circle and expanded it in 1927 as the neighborhood was being initially developed. Robert W. Carr reports that his father, George Watts Carr, designed the 1927 additions to the house.
 
Guesthouse and Garage
 
2814 Chelsea Circle, ca. 1927, Contributing Building
 
One-and-a-half-story, side-gabled guesthouse with weatherboard sheathing, six-over-six sash, French doors beneath bracketed shed-roof porch, and single-bay garage at west end.

 (c.2008, Courtesy of Tad DeBerry)

 (Rear, golf course-facing view of the newly relocated and expanded house in the late 1920s.  Scan from collection of Tad DeBerry)

 (Front view showing the garden kept by Pearl Mebane, late 1920s. Scan from collection of Tad DeBerry)

For more than half a century from 1962 to early 2019, the house belonged to the Peete family - longtime Duke University professor of surgery Dr. William P. J. Peete (1921-2004) and his wife Mary Frances Peete.

Despite its unique combination of architectural styles and historical significance, the developers that purchased the property have plans to demolish the Shepherd-Mebane house and build from scratch on the site.

On May 22, 2019, an evening news report from WRAL TV put this Hope Valley home - thought to be the city's oldest standing building - in the spotlight along with another endangered National Register Historic District contributing structure across town, the Rowland-Gregory House on Holloway Street (built c.1912).

UPDATE: Unfortunately, efforts to encourage the preservation of this unique part of Durham's built environment were unsuccessful.

Late May 2019, demolition began on the newer wings of the home.
 
For a few weeks, the older central portion of the Shepherd-Mebane House remained, stripped of the wings.
 
By mid-summer 2019 the demolition of the oldest house in Durham was complete.
 
This house was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of May 22, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

 

 

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WHITTED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL / HILLSIDE HIGH SCHOOL

1900
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1935
/ Modified in
1949
,
1962
,
1966
,
1975
/ Demolished in
2003
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Wed, 05/22/2019 - 3:15pm by gary

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1900
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1935
/ Modified in
1949
,
1962
,
1966
,
1975
/ Demolished in
2003
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 


(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Originally built as the J.A. Whitted Elementary School in 1935, the school building located between East Lawson, Formosa, and Concord Sts. became Hillside High School around 1949, when the school board had Hillside and Whitted switch buildings to facilitate expansion. The original structure, with its impressive two-story entryway, was designed by George Watts Carr, Sr. Around the time that the school became Hillside, wings were added to either end of the original structure; these included an auditorium, cafeteria, autoshop, classrooms and a gymnasium.


An aerial of Hillside, Looking northwest, ~1950. The original Hillside Park High School is visible in the background.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

A classroom annex building was added in 1962, a new library in 1966, and a new bandroom in 1975.


Hillside, 1970s.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Originally a segregated structure, several generations of African-Americans growing up in Durham graduated from Hillside. Although there is a reasonable amount written about the integration of the formerly white schools in Durham, such as Durham High School, there is little reference to when white students began to attend the formerly African-American schools. I suspect that de facto segregation remained the norm.

Hillside moved to a new complex further south on Fayetteville St. in 1995. I believe that the original school building was empty after that for ~8 years.

 (06.28.2002, courtesy of Preservation Durham)

By 2003, North Carolina Central University had acquired the site, along with two blocks of historic residential structures immediately to the east of the high school. The school demolished these structures for expansion of the university - they would not be persuaded to renovate the buildings for university use.


A farewell to Hillside, 2003.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Demolition of Hillside High, 2003.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Demolition of Hillside High, 2003.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

The Mary Townes Science Building of NCCU now occupies the site - named for longtime professor Dr. Mary M. Townes (1928-2003).


Looking northwest, 12.07.08

Find this spot on a Google Map.

35.975589,-78.903506

The 2002 photo of this building (facing the Formosa Avenue entrance) was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of May 15, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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/sites/default/files/images/2007_9/southernconservatory_alston_1924.jpgsouthernconserv_alston_1924_0.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2014_2/scom_alston_1924.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_9/SouthernCons_Alston_2007.jpg

SOUTHERN CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC - ALSTON AVE.

2312
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1924
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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  • Wed, 05/22/2019 - 4:03pm by gary

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2312
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1924
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

One of my favorite recently-solved mysteries involves the location of the Southern Conservatory of Music once it left the southwest corner of Duke St. and West Main St. in 1924.

I knew the SCM had moved to "Alston Avenue" - but I could not figure out where. This picture from the 1920s shows their 'new' building on Alston.


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

and another from 1924

southernconserv_alston_1924_0.jpg

I could not find the location of this building for the life of me. I searched old Sanborn maps, old aerial photographs, old city directories (which merely would say "Alston Ave." or "Alston Avenue Rd." as the address) and even the catalogs and yearbooks of the SCM from the 1920s. All this provided me were some candid shots of young women on the porch, and a proud assertion that the school was "situated on 18 acres."

1924 (from the Durham High School Messenger, via Milo Pyne)

One problem was that the SCM had a very short lifespan on Alston Ave. - ~1924 to 1928. This made it especially difficult to tap certain sources of information.

I asked Jim Wise for help - who suggested that I speak with Audrey Evans, former librarian. Audrey responded immediately that she knew where this was. And furthermore - the building was still there!

It turned out that my failure was one of geographic imagination. I had continued to search Alston Avenue on the east side of town, presuming that the SCM wouldn't be located terribly far from downtown. In actuality, it was located way out of town - near Riddle Road.

I simply couldn't understand how I could have missed this building, having driven that way many times before. So I drove out with my camera and slowly drove the section of Alston just north of Riddle Rd. And there it was, past a parting in the trees.

I can't describe how amazing this was - since I had presumed for such a long time that the building had been torn down, it was as if it had been resurrected, and I had the chance to see one of the long-lost buildings that I chronically catalog.

The building evidently became a Salvation Army building, and later a "home for unwed mothers" during the 1960s. Since the 1980s, it seems to have been some sort of Shriner's temple (ZAFA temple?) with a lot of not-very-friendly signs at the entry gate. (Actually a Prince Hall Masonic Lodge; see comments below.) This was as far as I wandered onto the property; I understood when I looked for it how I had missed it for so many years. You need to look directly past the gate when you pass to see it - set back from the road as it is.

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of May 8, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!
 

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Carr_Pettigrew_SW_1920s.jpeg/sites/default/files/images/2008_1/CarrSt_NW_1880s.jpgCarr_Pettigrew_SW_1920s.jpeg

CORNER W. PETTGREW AND CARR ST. - FIRST JULIAN CARR HOUSE?

402
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1870?
/ Demolished in
~1950
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Thu, 05/02/2019 - 12:17pm by gary

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402
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1870?
/ Demolished in
~1950
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

Carr_Pettigrew_SW_1920s.jpeg (Fragment of panoramic photo taken for a 1926 Chamber of Commerce booklet, scanned by Digital Durham.)

The house in the center of the top photo and at the right edge of the above picture, two stories and with two chimneys, presents an interesting conundrum - and that is, whether or not it was Julian Carr's first house when he first moved to Durham in 1870. The evidence for this is conflicting and intriguing. An initial observation is that the house, 301 W. Pettigrew St. or 402 Carr St., closely resembled WT Blackwell's house, built on the northwest corner of S. Duke St. and W. Chapel Hill St. around the same time. It is certainly larger than any of the houses around it in the above picture. Hiram Paul, Durham's first historian (who published his history in 1884) notes that Carr gave land for the first graded school (eventually the Morehead School one block south of this house) "near his house on Railroad Street" (which was the first name for Pettigrew Street.) There is, of course, the eponymous street as some small measure of circumstantial evidence.

 (Sanborn Map Company, April 1888, Fragment of Sheet 4, available online at Library of Congress)

From the top right corner of this 1888 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map sheet, it would seem that - whoever its original resident - the 2-story structure at the Pettigrew corner had been converted to a boarding house by this time and appears to have remained that way through subsequent decades.

Though of course not accurate in every detail, the oft-reproduced 1891 Bird's Eye map of Durham includes a building on this site that looks a lot like the one in photographs.

 (Fragment of 1891 Bird's Eye map, available online at Library of Congress - the house featured here faces the tracks directly below the steaming engine.)

Listed as 301 W. Pettigrew in the 1909-1910 city directory, this boarding house was run by Mrs. Nannie E. Hayes and family.  Their tenants that year were said to include tobacco workers John Mooney, Lester Mooney, and J. C. Peace.  A carpenter named Norman Proctor and a widow Sallie Rogers are also listed at the address, though their status as boarders is unspecified.

Carr_Pettigrew_SW_1920s.jpeg

A view of the house from the north side of the tracks, looking southwest, 1920s.  The Hill Warehouse at the left of this photo replaced the Reams Warehouse in the earlier shot. (Fragment of panoramic photo taken for a 1926 Chamber of Commerce booklet, scanned by Digital Durham.)


Another view of the back of the house from Carr St., looking north, 1938 (the back of the Snow Building is visible across the tracks.)
(Courtesy Robby Delius)

By the 1930s and 1940s, the building seems to have been subdivided into multiple units and listed as 402 Carr Street rather than W. Pettigrew.  Its tenants included both residents and eateries, including the Lucky Clover Inn run by live-in operators Reuben and Helen Kelley in 1940.

A Durham Sun news article from July 21, 1949, entitled "Carr St. Landmark Torn Down" would seem to provide the most direct evidence that Carr lived on the street - but in the small house immediately behind it, at 408 Carr.


408 Carr being torn down, looking southwest. (Courtesy Herald-Sun)


408 Carr being torn down, looking southwest. (Courtesy Herald-Sun)

The houses were both razed for a parking lot, as shown in this 1950 Sanborn map excerpt.

 (ProQuest Sanborn Maps accessible to Durham County Library patrons via NCLive.org)

402Carr_NE_1965.jpeg

Looking northeast, 1965. (Courtesy Durham County Library)

This gravel lot was eventually paved.


Looking southeast, 1981.

The city took this lot and Carr St. to build a parking deck for American Tobacco, eliminating this corner. I find the closure of Carr St. fairly bizarre and unnecessary, actually. I've heard people claim that it's still sort of a 'street' through the garage - and I drive that route periodically, but c'mon - it's not a street.


Looking southwest, November 2007.

So did Carr live here, where we have a parking deck? (Which provides some continuity with the location of his later mansions, Waverly's Honor and Somerset Villa, now a 400+ space surface parking lot for Durham County.) I don't know - some sources say Waverly's Honor was built in 1870, the same year Carr joined the WT Blackwell firm. But it's a good, as yet unsolved, mystery.

The 1938 photo of this building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of May 1, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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1106 ENGLEWOOD AVE.

1106
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1940
Architect/Designers: 
,
Builders: 
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Thu, 04/25/2019 - 1:02pm by VF

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1106
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1940
Architect/Designers: 
,
Builders: 
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

 (Advertisement from the Durham Sun, April 15, 1940, referenced in lecture by Jennifer Martin of MdM Historical Consultants during events for April 2019 Preservation Durham home tour.)

Part of the development of the northern phase of Trinity Park laid out from the 1930s, this home was designed by the architect George Hackney - who worked on many others in the immediate vicinity and throughout Durham during his career.  Note in particular the above advertisement's use of the Federal Housing Administration's approval among other selling points.  A product of the 1934 National Housing Act, the FHA was a key part of the New Deal-era effort to revive the Depression-devastated construction industry and extend the opportunity of home ownership (however selectively based on race and geography), fundamentally transforming the residential landscape of Durham and the country as a whole.

 (April 1939 plat from County Register of Deeds, showing resubdivision of property M. F. Markham had acquired from the Mrs. Demerius Dollar Estate - on which more on the page for nearby 1412 Dollar Ave.  For more on the evolution of Trinity Park, see its neighborhood page.)

The 2004 Trinity Park National Register Historic District boundary extension that included this newer area in the neighborhood named this the Mamie H. Scoggin house after its earliest known occupant - widow of Robert B. Scoggin and likely the mother of Mary E. Scoggin, listed in the 1940 City Directory as a tenant.  The document describes 1106 Englewood as a, "Side-gabled brick 1 1/2-story Cape Cod-style house with interior end chimney, 2 gabled dormers, and a full-width flat-roofed porch with decorative cast-iron posts. Windows have replacement sashes."

By 1945-46, the directory lists Mrs. Lyda M. Stallings as the owner-occupant, proprietor of Yates Hair Dressers on Corcoran Street downtown (Lyda Mae Yates was Mrs. Stallings' name before marriage).  Lyda and her husband M. Sid Stallings appear to have lived out their lives at this address, and the home remained in the Stallings family until 2002.

 (N. Levy, 03.06.2019)

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of April 24, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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119 MASONDALE AVE. – JOSEPH W. & BETTY GOODLOE HOUSE

119
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1958
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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119
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1958
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

(January 2018, Photo by Heather Slane, hmwPreservation)

 

From the National Register Historic District description:

This one-story, L-shaped Contemporary style house has a low-sloped gabled roof covered with tar and gravel, large purlins in the gables, and stacked metal awning windows. A side-gabled section on the right (southeast) is three bays wide and double-pile with brick on the lower half of the façade and vertical plywood above. An inset entrance on the left (northwest) end of this section has a solid wood door with wide one-light sidelights in an inset brick bay. To the right of the entrance are paired and single windows. The right elevation of this section is fully sheathed with vertical plywood and from it a side-gabled carport projects. The carport has the same low-sloped roof with purlins and vertical plywood in the gable and its right side is screened by a vertical louvered wall. A front-gabled section on the left end of the house projects beyond the side-gabled section. It is two bays wide and triple-pile with vertical wood sheathing, an interior brick chimney, and stacked awning windows that extend all the way to the front corners. The site slopes to the left, down to Roxboro Road, revealing a basement level below the front-gabled section, though the main level overhangs the brick basement level slightly with projecting purlins supporting the overhang. County tax records date the house to 1958 and the earliest known occupants are Joseph W. Goodloe, vice-president of NC Mutual Life Insurance Company and director of Mutual Savings and Loan Company, and his wife, Betty Goodloe, an executive secretary at North Carolina College (later North Carolina Central University), in 1960.

In fact, Goodloe would go on to be named President of NC Mutual after his predecessor, Asa T. Spaulding, retired in early 1968.  A June 1966 feature article in Ebony magazine about the ceremonies surrounding the opening of the company's striking new office tower on Chapel Hill Street included a picture of the Goodloes approaching what seem to be the back steps of their home on Masondale Avenue. 

(photo from p.158, see the entire issue of Ebony on Google Books)
 

Already in his early 60s by the time he assumed the head role at the company, Goodloe retired in 1972.  The Goodloes appear to have sold the home on Masondale in 1978.

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of April 17, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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DOWNTOWN A&P - MORGAN AND EAST CHAPEL HILL

402
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1945-1950
/ Demolished in
1970-1972
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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  • Sun, 01/05/2020 - 1:33pm by gary

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402
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1945-1950
/ Demolished in
1970-1972
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

 

Looking northeast from North Magnum, 1950s (Courtesy Herald-Sun)
 

A residential neighborhood during the 1890s-1910s, the intersection of North Mangum and East Chapel Hill was, by the 1920s, the 'border' between the growing downtown commercial area and the residential neighborhood.

Looking northeast, with East Chapel Hill St. on the right and North Mangum on the left, 1920s. (Courtesy Durham County Library)

In the above pictures, you can see the houses just beyond the commercial structures, as well as the roof of the Fuller School, the taller roof just east on East Chapel Hill. The end of East Chapel Hill at Cleveland St. can be seen one block away, prior to the construction of the later First Baptist Chuch.

As noted yesterday, 'filling stations' were a frequent harbinger of the impending transition of the neighborhood. The earliest pumps were simply curbside machines located downtown. The dedicated stations, such as the one above, began to sprout up during the 1920s in Durham, frequently locating on previously-residential corner lots.

Looking northwest, 1920s. (Courtesy Duke Archives)

This commercial expansion tapered off somewhat in the 1930s and early 1940s, but the later 1940s and 1950s rekindled the growth, and the massive adoption of cars for transportation meant more and larger parking lots.

Looking north-northeast, early 1940s (Courtesy Wayne Henderson)
 
 
Apparently not long after the above photo, the service station (see the page for that building here) and houses were torn down and replaced by a grocery store, a new location for the A&P that had been one block away.  The store first appears at this address in the 1942 City Directory.


Looking northeast from North Magnum, 1950s (Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Strike at the A&P, 08.27.58 (Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Strike at the A&P, 08.27.58 (Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Strike at the A&P, 08.27.58, looking west with the businesses at the northwest corner of Chapel Hill Street and 407-409 North Mangum in the background (Courtesy Herald-Sun)


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

A&P appears to have had the supermarket monopoly in Durham, from what I can tell.

By the 1960s, at the urging of the Downtown Merchants' Association, the city council had agreed to push forward with the Tarrant plan to create a high-capacity circulation loop around the downtown core (what would be left of it) which would allow congestion-free access to downtown, and to the continuous ring of scrumptious parking lots and decks immediately inside the loop.

This was going to save downtown from the mall.

Thus the A&P was torn down.


The A&P closed; the sign on the door has fallen down - it says that it will be closed "03.26.7?" I can't read the last number, as it's blocked by the door.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Closed. (Courtesy Herald-Sun)


Demolished (Courtesy Durham County Library)

And a tortured piece of roadway was built, connecting Holloway St. (which had previously continued down what is now City Hall Place) with the terminus of Morgan St. at Mangum.
This lopped off the corner of this city block, which the city decided would be a park - a new Rotary Park. The previous Rotary Park had been located at Market and East Chapel Hill next to the Academy of Music, prior to the construction of the Washington Duke Hotel.

The amputated corner of N. Mangum and East Chapel Hill, 1990. (Courtesy Durham County Library)

It's still gamely attempting to be a park today.

If someone asked me to give a Powerpoint presentation about how the city misunderstands public space, this would be my first slide. It doesn't matter what you do with this space - people will never use it unless you tame the roadways and improve the buildings around it. The primary public use this gets is by the occasional person who takes a bath in the fountain.

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of April 3, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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LeighFarmhouse_1990.jpgLeighFarm_1_091510.jpgLeighFarm_2_091510.jpgLeighFarm_3_091510.jpg

LEIGH FARM

,
Durham
NC
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

Little-visited 19th century farmhouse and city park on the edge of I-40 and 54 in southwest Durham

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  • Sun, 01/05/2020 - 4:24pm by gary

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Durham
NC
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LeighFarmhouse_1990.jpg

Leigh Farmhouse, 1990

 

 

Among Durham's publicly owned rural historic resources, Leigh Farm may be one of the least visited and least well-known. A public (city) park since 2005, Leigh Farm is an antebellum farm complex in southwestern Durham County, historically situated where it is because of the New Hope Creek. Perhaps it needs a "New Hope Fest" held on its grounds to draw attention to its unfortunate current situation, wedged between I-40 and behind Palladian Place. Despite this, it's quite peaceful once you're in it.

 

Indeed, even as agricultural activity declined, this corner of the county remained relatively pastoral throughout much of the 20th century prior to the highway construction that reshaped southern and southwestern Durham from the 1980s.

 

Fragments of aerial photographs showing the cluster of buildings at Leigh Farm - just east of Farrington Road before that approach was interrupted by Interstate 40 construction.

 

Once there, you find a fairly intact rural farm that dates to the 1830s - 20 years before the railroad would make Durham a town. Because there has been quite a bit of historic investigation of the Leigh Farm, as opposed to most things I write about, I'll happily regurgitate the fine work of others in this post - primarily the County Historic Inventory, and an extensive assessment prepared by Edwards-Pittman in October 2006.

 

 Per the county historic inventory: 

 

The rambling frame Leigh Farmhouse and a number of well-preserved outbuildings, including a slave house with a reconstructed mud-and-stick chimney stand today on a portion of the 500 acres deeded to Richard Stanford Leigh by his father, Sullivan Leigh, on "the waters of Newhope Creek" in 1834.  Shortly before, Stanford had married Nancy Ann Carlton, a granddaughter of John Daniel, who with others granted land for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Fifteen children were born to Stanford and Nancy Leigh, and family documents show them to have been cultured, educated people closely associated with old Chapel Hill.  

 

A diligent and hard worker, Stanford increased his holdings over the years until by 1860 he owned almost 1000 acres of land and sixteen slaves, measures of a very substantial yeoman farmer at the time.  He also became a magistrate, a position that brought him eminence in what was then southeast Orange County. 

 

Nancy Leigh died as the Civil War broke out, and in 1861, several Leigh sons enlisted in the Confederate army; one of them, Peregrine, died of camp fever, and another, Anderson, was released from prison after contracting tuberculosis and taking a loyalty oath to the Union that earned him the nickname “Yank.” Records show that Stanford married Lethy Hawkins Hudgins in 1864, a union that yielded five more children.   In 1865, when Sherman's army came through southern Orange County, the farm was plundered.  As late as 1877, Stanford’s correspondence shows that he still hoped to recover payment for his losses from a reluctant and unsympathetic Federal government.  

 

A Leigh cousin, also Nancy, played an important role at the end of the Civil War when she and her husband, James Bennett, were hosts to Sherman and Johnston as they debated the terms of the Confederate surrender. 

 

After the Civil War, with his fortunes depleted and a large family to feed, Stanford Leigh opened a sawmill and store on New Hope Creek in 1866.  The Southgate map of Durham County, published in 1887, identifies the Leigh home and commercial enterprises as prominent local landmarks.

 

Richard Stanford Leigh died in 1898, leaving nineteen surviving children by his two wives.  By agreement, Lethy Leigh retained the house and farm until she died in 1900, after which the heirs drew lots to divide the estate.  The house and a portion of the property fell to Ida Leigh who subsequently traded her interests to Kate Leigh Hudson.  When Kate died in 1946, the house and property were bequeathed to her son, Oliver Wendell Hudson, and at his death, to his wife, Cleora Quinn Hudson.  During 1992-94,  non-profit groups, including the Triangle Land Conservancy and city and state agencies joined forces to acquire and preserve the Leigh farm. On June 23, 2005, TLC sold the 2-acre Leigh Farm tract in southwest Durham County to the city of Durham's parks department. The tract is now part of a planned 86-acre historic and environmental park. Leigh Farm backs up to protected Army Corps of Engineers land on New Hope Creek and is a key public access point envisioned in the New Hope Master Plan.

    

The Leigh Farm is an unpretentious nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century farm complex with a number of interesting log and frame outbuildings.  On the east side of a road leading to the house, are a log corn crib and a frame carriage house.  West of the road, and behind the house, are a well, a tiny frame dairy with beaded weatherboard siding, and a log smokehouse.  Several hundred yards to the east and down a path, a one-story, gable-roofed slave house is made of logs joined by diamond notches and has a reconstructed log and stick chimney.  To the north and at the end of the drive, another log dwelling with a mid-twentieth-century addition is also said to have been a slave house.  An early-twentieth-century log tobacco barn stands away from the other buildings near an area once under cultivation.

 

The following descriptions are from the Edwards-Pittman site assessment report, dated October 2006. Pictures are mine.

 

LeighFarm_1_091510.jpgThe Leigh Farmhouse, 09.15.10.  Built 1835, with additions in ~1850 and ~1880

 

 

The Leigh House is a one-and-one-half-story, double-pile, three-bay, side-gable-roofed building with a one-story rear dining room wing. The house rests on an early-twentieth- century continuous stone foundation that replaced dry-laid stone piers. An open breezeway originally connected the main block to the rear wing; the breezeway was enclosed in the 1950s. Two single-shouldered stone chimneys with heavy Portland cement mortar joints and replacement brick stacks occupy the south gable end of the main block; a shed-roofed porch supported by square posts spans the chimneys. The wraparound back porch, also supported by square posts, extends from the south end of the east elevation of the main block of the house across the south elevation of the dining room wing. Although the porch posts, floor and part of the roof farming have been replaced, the hewn sills under both porches indicate that they have been in place since the mid-nineteenth century. Another single-shouldered stone chimney with heavy Portland cement mortar joints and a replacement brick stack stands at the east end of the dining room wing; the base of this chimney is stepped.

 

A shed-roofed appendage containing a pantry and a screened porch extends across the north elevation of the dining room wing and is supported by a brick foundation. The porch was originally open; it was screened in the mid-twentieth century. A tall brick chimney stack that housed the kitchen stove flue pierces the north side of the dining room wing roof at its intersection with the shed-roofed appendage. A metal roof shelters the pantry and porch.

The small, square, shed-roofed addition in the approximate center of the north elevation of the main block of the house has functioned as a bathroom since its construction in 1934. Three-over-one sash illuminate the interior. Early-twentieth-century photographs of this elevation and careful examination of the sill did not provide evidence that chimneys ever stood on this side of the house.

 

Wide German siding replaced most of the original clapboards on the main block of the house in the 1930s. The louvered gable vents were probably added in the 1950s. It appears from photos taken during the repair of the shed roof of the porch on the south elevation that some of the original siding survives behind the porch roof. The east wall of the main block of the house is sheathed with wide flush boards, indicating that a porch has extended across this elevation since the wall was sided. The dining room wing retains original weatherboards.

 

A combination of six-over-six and two-over-two windows light the interior of the house. Some of the six-over-six sash are pegged and date to the mid-nineteenth century; others are later replacements. The two-over-two sash were added in the mid-1930s. All of the windows were set in metal tracks in the mid-twentieth century to improve their operation. Modern aluminum storm windows protect most of the windows; a few windows on the upper story retain wooden screens hinged to the top of the window trim. The board-and- batten exterior doors on the main block of the house were replaced in the late nineteenth century with raised-panel doors and again in the twentieth century with doors with raised panels at the base and glazed lights in the upper portion. Aluminum storm doors replaced wood-frame screen doors in the mid-twentieth century.

 

Like most vernacular farmhouses, the Leigh House evolved according to the needs and economic success of the inhabitants. The house originally had a two-room, hall-parlor plan, evidenced by the hewn sills and half-round log joists that support the earliest section of the building. A stair in the northeast corner of the south room—the hall—led to the upper floor. It is possible that the hall-parlor house stood on the property when the Leigh family purchased it, but based on construction technology it is unlikely that the house was built before 1820. For the purposes of this report, a circa 1835 date has been assigned to the earliest section of the house, coinciding with the Leigh family tradition that Stanford Leigh built the house soon after his marriage in July 1834.

 

Stanford Leigh constructed two rooms on the west elevation and additional rooms on the upper floor in the mid-nineteenth century. The narrow and deep sash-sawn joists under the two added rooms support this mid-nineteenth-century construction date. The current roof framing system (lap-jointed and pegged sash-sawn rafters and plate; wide sash-sawn shingle nailers) dates to this remodeling. The light framing members of the rear dining room wing indicate that this portion of the house was constructed with lumber procured from a sawmill, probably soon after Stanford Leigh purchased new equipment for the Leigh, Atkins & Co. Mill in the 1880s.

 

The interior of the house reflects the series of additions to the building. The walls and ceilings are sheathed with ten- to thirteen-inch wide pine boards, all of which were heavily sanded, the nail holes filled with now-discolored putty, and lacquered, probably in the mid-twentieth century. Small nail holes in the walls of the hall indicate that the room was wallpapered in the early twentieth century. A small fragment of the wallpaper—a blue-grey field with a white, stenciled, stylized leaf, berry and flower motif within a lace-like grid with embellished corners—survives. It appears that the two original window openings (now boarded over) on the west elevation of the hall-parlor house were twenty-six inches wide. Modern carpet obscures the floor, but the original six-inch wide floor boards are visible in the closet under the corner stair. Simple trim with mitered corners and a beaded edge surrounds the window and door openings.

 

Original board-batten doors still hang on wrought hinges with leather washers at the enclosed stair and the partition walls between the north and south rooms. The door for the opening on the west wall of the hall, which originally served as the front, exterior door, has been temporarily removed and stored in the south room of the 1850s addition. The “outside” surface exhibits heavy weathering. Late-nineteenth-century rim locks with porcelain or metal knobs have replaced most of the first-period door locks. The door between the north and south rooms of the 1850s addition retains an original mid- nineteenth century cast lock with a brass knob. The enclosed stair door exhibits a simple wood sliding latch in addition to a later rim lock.

The mantel in the hall is a vernacular interpretation of a Georgian-style paneled mantel. Four- to five-inch wide vertical panels flank the 7.5-inch wide central panel. The mantel shelf has been replaced and trim boards added to each outside edge and around the fireplace opening. The mantel in the south room of the 1850s addition is lighter and more Federal in style, consisting of a large central panel surrounded by flat boards with two layers of trim boards on the outer edges. The 1850s mantel in the south room of the upper floor is virtually identical, although rendered at a smaller scale. All of the fireplace openings were enclosed and woodstoves installed in the first half of the twentieth century; ductwork for a mid-twentieth century HVAC system was run up through the 1850s chimney.

 

The Hudsons added closets to the two north rooms of the main block of the house around 1950 and 1970. The circa 1950 addition of closets on the wall between the two north rooms was accomplished by removing the wide wall sheathing boards on the east elevation of the 1850s (west) room and using them to construct a closet wall 28.5 inches west of the original wall in the 1850s room. A door opening into the 1850s room was added at the north end of the closet wall; a door opening into the 1830s room was added at the south end of the closet on the west wall of the original parlor. Two small doors in the upper portion of the closet wall provide access to storage space from the 1850s room. A shallow (thirteen inches deep) linen closet was constructed north of the large closet on the east wall of the 1850s room. The board-and-batten closet doors blend with the reused wall sheathing boards.

 

The construction of the closet on the east wall of the original parlor circa 1970 was a good bit simpler, as no attempt was made to match the earlier wall sheathing boards. A lightly-framed closet wall was added two feet from the east wall and fitted with two hollow-core doors.

 

The Hudsons also constructed a long closet on the east wall of the south room on the upper floor around 1950. The closet extends 2.5 feet into the room and was finished with a board wall and board-and-batten doors to match the existing walls. Small board-and- batten doors on the east and west elevations of the north room provide access to storage areas under the eaves and to the space above the dining room wing. The Hudsons constructed a small bathroom in the northeast corner of the north room in the first half of the twentieth century.

 

Chris Bronson renovated the 1930s bathroom on the north elevation of the house in 1992. The beadboard walls, ceilings and bathtub were retained and vinyl flooring installed after the subfloor was repaired.

 

The Hudsons divided the interior of the dining room wing in half in the twentieth century with a board partition wall, which, according to family tradition, was constructed with a wide central recessed area to accommodate a large sideboard. The east side of the wing then functioned as a kitchen; the west side as a dining room. In an effort to gain more space in the dining room, the west wall was extended west approximately two feet. A line indicating the dimensions of the original room is clearly visible in the wall and ceiling boards, as boards in the added section are narrower and beaded. Small nail holes in the dining room wall indicate that the room was wallpapered; a small fragment of the early-twentieth century paper—which has an off-white field and a clustered bluish cornstalk-like pattern—survives. The ceiling has been painted white. A gas wall heater has been installed on the north elevation.

 

An electric range stands in front of the simple post-and-lintel mantel on the east wall of the kitchen. The Hudsons installed plain wood cabinets around 1950. The floor is covered with faux brick linoleum. The walls and ceiling have been painted white.

 

 

LeighFarm_2_091510.jpg

The Dairy and Well House, 09.15.10 . Dairy built circa 1935; Well house built late 19th century.

 

 

The diminutive, finely-detailed dairy, located fifty-eight feet southeast of the Leigh House, is the oldest outbuilding in the farm complex. Beaded clapboards are secured with cut nails; part of the trim board on the northwest corner of the façade and one of the hinges are secured with wrought nails. A deep overhang shields the board-and-batten door on the façade, which is held closed by a wooden latch. The corner posts of the dairy were originally earthfast. Due to advanced deterioration, they were pulled out of the ground and reinforced with 4” x 4” posts. The bottom of the posts were lost to decay, thus the dairy is almost two feet closer the ground than it would have been historically. The original wood plank roof has been replaced many times—with metal, asphalt shingles and wood shingles. The current, inferior-grade, white pine shingle roof is spongy with decay. The dairy is 6’ 21⁄2” wide and 4’ 2” deep. Although the wall cavities were probably originally filled with sawdust to keep the building cool, it does not appear that any insulation remains. Flush boards sheath the interior walls, which are lined on three sides with two tiers of wood shelves. The Portland cement tray on the dairy floor was an early-twentieth-century addition.

 

The gable-roofed well house is located forty-nine feet southeast of the Leigh House. The frame structure rests on top of a brick-lined well. The bricks are pressed with the imprint of the Bordon Tile Company in Goldsboro. Wide horizontal boards sheath the base of the well house; weatherboards cover the gable ends. Four corner posts support the roof framing system. A metal roof installed over asphalt shingles with an OSB-board underlayment currently shelters the structure. Mid-twentieth-century photos show that the well house had a wood plank roof for much of its history. A wood lattice cover encloses the central opening in the wood platform. A metal handle extends from the west end of the wood roller for the well rope, which is mounted on the south side corner posts just above the wood platform. The well was partially filled in the 1990s. The well house is 3’ 6 1⁄2” wide and 3’ 4 1⁄4” deep. The well protrudes approximately eight inches from the base of the well house.

 

 

LeighFarm_3_091510.jpg

Smokehouse, 09.15.10. Built ~1850.

 

 

The one-story, front-gable-roofed, log smokehouse is located approximately eighty-five feet southeast of the house. Wide clapboards secured with cut nails sheath the gable ends. A metal roof shelters the building, which rests on stone piers. The metal roof— probably installed in 1933 when Wendell Hudson purchased a sizable amount of metal roofing—replaced an earlier wood shingle roof. The deep overhang on the façade (west elevation) protects a board-and-batten door hung on replacement late-twentieth-century hinges (the original wrought hinges are stored inside). A pit with brick rubble—perhaps the remains of a brick hearth—is located in the center of a replacement wood floor. Salvaged building materials rest on a wood meat curing trough on the north side of the interior. The smokehouse is 12’ 9” wide and 16’ 8” deep. The lack of chinking evident in early-twentieth-century photographs of the smokehouse indicates that it probably functioned as a storage shed rather than a smokehouse by that time. Late-twentieth-century photographs show a board-and-batten, shed-roofed chicken house extending from the south elevation.

 

LeighFarm_4_091510.jpg
Enslaved People's Cabin #1, 09.15.10.  Built mid 19th century

 

This one-story, side-gable-roofed, log slave cabin is located east of the house outside the complex of domestic outbuildings. The dwelling faces what was historically the farm service road. A deep eave shelters the reconstructed log-and-splint chimney on the west elevation; the splint-and-mortar stack extends about two feet above the metal roof. Wide clapboards secured with cut nails sheath the gable ends. A centrally located board-and- batten door and a four-over-four sash window pierce the south elevation. Another four- over-four sash window on the west elevation north of the log chimney illuminates the interior. Flat board trim with butt corners surrounds the door and window and openings. The board-and-batten door on the east elevation provided access to a no longer extant frame addition. Stone piers elevate the building roughly one foot off the ground; the sills on the east and north elevations have failed due to insect damage and rest on the ground.

The only ornamentation in the interior is the simple post-and-lintel mantel with a central panel under a replacement shelf that surrounds the stone-lined, parged firebox. A brick hearth extends into the room. The wide floor boards are intact. Several ceiling joists have been replaced with pole rafters from a tobacco barn. The plates on the north and south elevations have been repaired with new sections of log. The rear roof slope incorporates a log shed addition partially clad with board-and-batten siding. Openings cut into the north elevation allowed for the insertion of a long, horizontal row of reused, glazed sash. The six-over-six sash window in the west elevation is opposite a door opening and small square window opening on the east elevation. The floor system in the shed addition is missing.

 

 

LeighFarm_5_091511.jpg

Enslaved People's Cabin #2, 09.15.11.  Mid 19th century, 1930s addition.

 

This one-story, side-gable-roofed, log slave cabin is located southeast of the house at the end of a paved drive. The original hewn-log single-pen cabin serves as the main room of the house; a Rustic Revival round log addition extends to the south and east, more than doubling the square footage. Board-and-batten siding sheathes the gable ends. A shed porch supported by skinned log posts extends across the façade of the original log building. A metal roof shelters the dwelling, which rests on a stone and concrete block foundation. A reconstructed brick chimney stack pierces the roof.

 

A centrally located board-and-batten door and a six-over-six sash window pierce the west elevation of the original building. Another six-over-six sash window on the north elevation illuminates the interior. All of the windows in the building were replaced in the 1930s. Flat board trim with butt corners surrounds the door and window and openings. The board-and-batten front door with long wrought strap hinges and a wrought thumb- latch and plate—later secured with a deadbolt—dates to the 1930s renovation. The log walls and ceiling joists are exposed throughout the interior. The Hudsons installed narrow wood floors and ceiling boards and constructed stone fireplace surrounds in the 1930s. Board-and-batten doors lead to each room of the addition, which extends across the rear (east) and south elevations and encompasses three bedrooms, a kitchen, a small pantry and a bathroom. A screened shed porch is centrally located on the rear addition. Slave Cabin #2 is approximately 36’ wide and 24’ deep.

 

LeighFarm_6_091510.jpg

Carriage House, 09.15.10.  Built late 19th century.

 

The one-story, side-gable-roofed carriage house is located approximately 131 feet south of the Leigh House just west of the pump house. Weatherboards span the frame except for the gable ends, which are sheathed in German siding. The corner posts of the carriage house rest on the ground. A number of mid-nineteenth-century timbers of unknown origin (probably reused from an earlier building on the site) have been incorporated into the carriage house framing. Shed-roofed additions extend from the east and south elevations. The metal roof—which has been damaged and repaired—replaced an earlier wood shingle roof. The two double-leaf doors on the façade (north elevation) are recent replacements. The double-leaf board-and-batten doors that appear in early-twentieth- century photographs were taller, narrower and separated by a few feet of wood siding. A single-leaf board-and-batten door provides access to the east shed addition. The interior is full of car parts, tools and equipment. The carriage house is approximately 39’ wide and 28’ deep.

 

LeighFarm_7_091510.jpg

Corn Crib, 09.15.10. Built ~1850.

 

The one-story, front-gable-roofed, log corncrib is located approximately 268 feet southwest of the house. Wide clapboards secured with cut nails sheath the gable ends. A metal roof shelters the building, which rests on stone piers. The metal roof—probably installed in 1933 when Wendell Hudson purchased a sizable amount of metal roofing— replaced an earlier wood shingle roof. Long wind braces extended across the underside of the rafters serve to stabilize the roof system. The deep (2’ 9”) overhang on the façade (north elevation) protects a three-board shutter covering an opening which originally provided the only access to the interior. The shutter hangs on a unique wood hinge. The Hudsons cut a door opening into the west elevation in the twentieth century and extended an equipment shed from that elevation. The board-and-batten door is not tall enough for the opening and may have been recycled from another outbuilding on the property. The corn crib is 16’ 3 1⁄2” wide and 10’ long.

 

LeighFarm_8_091510.jpg

Pack House, 09.15.10. Built 1911.

 

 

This two-story, side-gable-roofed pack house is located northwest of the house and southeast of the tobacco barn. Weatherboards secured with wire nails span the lightweight frame. The west elevation rests on the ground, the other elevations on a stone foundation. A shed roofed addition extends over the tobacco rehydrating cellar on the rear (east) elevation. The damaged metal roof—probably installed in 1933 when Wendell Hudson purchased a sizable amount of metal roofing—replaced an earlier wood shingle roof. The two central door openings on the façade (east elevation)—one at the first floor and one directly above—have been boarded up. The interior is full of salvaged building materials and extraneous debris.

 

---------

A 1940 aerial photo showing Leigh Farm and the surrounding area was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of March 27, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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eastendschool_1950s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_8/eastend_1910.jpgeastendschool_1950s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_8/eastendschoolfire_3_042463.jpg

EAST END GRADED SCHOOL

515
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1932
/ Modified in
1948
,
1961
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

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In tours

Last updated

  • Thu, 03/28/2019 - 9:44am by gary

Comments

515
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1932
/ Modified in
1948
,
1961
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

 

eastendschool_1950s.jpg

-----

Original East End School, ~1910s

(Courtesy Durham Public Schools)

The East End Graded School, built in 1909, was the third graded school established for African-American children in Durham, after the Whitted School (at Ramsey and Proctor Streets in Hayti) and the West End Graded School. The locations of these schools reflected the locations of predominantly African-American neighborhoods at the turn of the 20th century. The original frame structure was 70 x 75 feet in size with 10 classrooms. In 1927, it enrolled 352 students. A 1927 writeup notes that a proposed "extension of Haywood Street into Drew Street" would "come close to the school."

Whether this or population growth necessitated a new structure, I'm not sure, but in 1932, a George Watts Carr-designed masonry structure replaced the original frame school.

eastendschool_1950s.jpg

Additions were added to the school in 1948 and 1961.

Throughout this period - for 36 years from 1930 until 1966 - F. D. Marshall served as principal at East End.

 (Featured on front page of The Carolina Times, June 11, 1966.  Shared by Natalie Creed, full paper online at DigitalNC.)

On April 24, 1963 the school burned quite badly.


Looking west, 04.42.63.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Looking northeast, 04.24.63.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Looking north, 04.24.63
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Interior shot, after the fire, 04.24.63.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Interior shot, after the fire, 04.24.63.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

eastendschoolfireremains_1_042463.jpg
Interior shot, after the fire, 04.24.63.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

But it appears that the remains of the school were repaired/rebuilt relatively quickly.  The beginning of the end of segregated schools in Durham began in 1959, but court-ordered desegregation didn't occur until 1970-71. East End continued on after this period as a desegregated school, though like the surrounding neighborhood it remained predominantly African American.

EastEndSchool_070284.jpg

School buildings, 07.02.84

I believe East End ceased to be a regular public school in the mid-1990s, but I don't know exactly which year.

Today the former school building appears to house a church: Bethel Family Worship Center.


Looking northeast from Dowd and Tucker Sts., 07.12.08

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of March 20, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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clevelandbragg_ci1.jpgclevelandbragg_ci2.jpgclevelandbragg_ci3.jpg

CLEVELAND BRAGG HOUSE

4016
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1870-1900
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Wed, 03/20/2019 - 5:10pm by gary

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4016
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1870-1900
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

clevelandbragg_ci1.jpg

Both the three black-and-white photos and the text in italics are from the Durham County Historic Architecture Inventory (NE-8 and NE-9).

Either fertilizer magnate S. T. Morgan or William D. Holloway may have been the first owner of Durham County’s fanciest Triple-A I-house. Cleveland Bragg, a prosperous tobacco farmer with whom the house is identified, acquired the dwelling in 1919, but its copious Italianate ornament suggests an 1870-1890 construction date. Bragg’s deed describes the 118-acre farm he purchased as being “a part of the S. T. Morgan lands and a part of the William D. Holloway land.” No local tradition further identifies the original occupant or the builder of the house though the Joseph Holloway House in the vicinity is embellished with similar Italianate detailing.(1)

clevelandbragg_ci2.jpg

The Triple-A I-house form so common to Durham County, features here an elaborately paneled frieze board with scrolled brackets and teardrop pendants, polygonal vents on each gable, a pedimented entrance flanked by sidelights, and interior rear chimneys with fancy corbelled stacks. A wraparound porch has paneled porch posts and a heavy turned balustrade. Pedimented lintels with decorative sawn work appliqués enhance six-over-six double-hung sash windows. A full-width rear shed is thought to have been built at the same time as the house for windows exhibit the same decorative features and the frieze board is bracketed.

clevelandbragg_ci3.jpg

Exterior alterations to the house have been minimal. In the early twentieth century, a shed-and gable-roofed ell with stove chimneys, built in three sections, was joined to the rear shed, a decorative gable was placed above the main entrance on the porch roof, and a six-panel entry door was installed. More recently a section of the front porch has been screened. On the interior, alterations are more extensive. Late Colonial Revival-style mantels have replaced most original ones, and wallpaper and composition ceiling tile obscure other finishes. Notable among the original interior features remaining is a stairway with an urn- topped polygonal newel post and turned spindles. East and south of the main residence, outbuildings include tobacco barns, a farm manager's house, several tenant houses, stock barns, a well enclosure, and numerous storage sheds. A graveyard no longer in evidence is said to have contained markers for Washington family members.(2)

(1) The Johnston 1887 map of Durham County shows that both the Morgan and Holloway families had large land holdings in this area. Durham County Deed Book 36, page 392, records a transfer of 109 acres from S. T. Morgan to W. T. Holloway on 21 February 1906. Within the next nine years, Holloway inherited 10 acres from his father, W. D. Holloway. On 11 October 1915, in Durham County Deed Book 49, page 130, W. T. Holloway conveyed 118 and 5/8ths acres “being a part of the Morgan Lands and The William D. Holloway Land.” to J. L. Martin. Durham County Deed Book 57, page 561 records Martin’s sale of the same parcel to Cleveland Bragg on 11 December 1919. Durham County Deed Book 85, page 92, releases any interest T. M. and Nettie Washington had in the property to Cleveland Bragg.

(2) Personal interview with owner Danny Roberts, 7 August 1996. Mr. Roberts reported that his children have thrown most of the grave markers in the well.

UPDATE, March 2019:

The Cleveland Bragg house still stands off of East Geer Street not far from its dead end by Falls Lake and the Lake Ridge Aero Park.  Time and the elements have taken their toll, however, and this old gem might not be around much longer.  The same family as interviewed in the mid-1990s appears to still own the property, though the main residence seems to have been the newer, adjacent home for some time.

 (N. Levy, 03.09.2019)

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of March 13, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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/sites/default/files/images/2010_5/NatureMuseum_NorthgatePark_070946.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2010_5/NatureMuseum_NorthgatePark_interior_070946.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2010_5/childrensmuseum_ngatepark_052310.jpg

NATURE / CHILDREN'S MUSEUM - NORTHGATE PARK

404
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1930-1940
/ Demolished in
2014
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,
,

Built in the 1930s for park ranger use, the so-called Lavender House in Northgate Park was the mid-1940s home of the Durham Children's Museum, before it moved to larger quarters and eventually became the Museum of Life and Science.  Long used for storage, the wooden frame was demolished after repeated flooding in 2014, with the stonework left behind as a kind of memorial.

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  • Thu, 03/07/2019 - 11:12am by gary

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404
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1930-1940
/ Demolished in
2014
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,
,

 


Children's Museum, Northgate Park at West Lavender Ave., 07.09.46.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

The denizens of Northgate Park are celebrating their park's 70th anniversary this week, and thus I'll pop a bit farther west to highlight the original Children's Museum in Northgate Park. The origins of the Museum of Life and Science began with the establishment of a small children's museum on Lavender Avenue in Northgate Park.

Reports from city Parks and Recreation and the Northgate Park Neighborhood Association both suggest the structure was built in the 1930s for use as a park ranger residence.  The museum's website notes that its first iteration was established in 1946 by a "group of dedicated volunteers." The museum seems to have begun with a particular focus on the natural sciences, and quickly established a small collection of fossils and, it seems, taxiderm-ized animals.


Interior of the Children's Museum at Northgate Park, 07.09.46
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

It seems that the museum quickly outgrew its original location, and moved that same year to the former Hester House on Georgia Avenue, where it stayed until 1961 - when it moved back to the Northgate Park area, to its current home as the Museum of Life and Science on Murray Avenue.

I was delighted to discover that the original building is still standing in Northgate Park - I don't know what it's currently used for. Seems like it could be a great small community center for the neighborhood.


Former Children's Museum, Northgate Park (404 West Lavender Ave.), 05.23.10

UPDATE March 2019: The Lavender House - as the former museum came to be known - was used for many years as a storage facility for Durham Parks and Recreation.  Unfortunately, do to its location low-lying position in the Ellerbe Creek flood plain, this kind of thing kept recurring:

 (Photo by Durham Parks and Recreation)

After several cycles of flooding and proposals for adapting the space for new use or moving the building out of harm's way (apparently complicated by the heavy stonework around the wooden frame) the decision was made to "deconstruct" Lavender House.  The Durham Voice reported plans to make the demolition a kind of community art project in April 2014 - any photos from that effort would be a great addition!

As noted in comments below, wooden part of the structure was pulled down in the summer of 2014, with the stone chimney and other elements intentionally left in memoriam.  It seems to have taken a while for the cleanup of the foundation and its transformation into its current, more manicured form.  Work was finally completed in late 2017, and the neighborhood held a rededication ceremony in April 2018 once the site was safer for kids to climb on.

 (Before and after pictures from 2018 Golden Leaf Awards)

Find this spot on a Google Map.

36.023047,-78.897444

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of March 6, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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1502EPettigrew_050811.jpg

1502 EAST PETTIGREW STREET

1502
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 

 

Long-time grocery store and eatery along the south side of the railroad tracks in East Durham.  Listed as Catlett's Restaurant in Victor H. Green's The Negro Motorist Green Book guide for African American travelers in the 1947-1949 editions.  More recently used as a residential duplex.

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  • Wed, 03/06/2019 - 7:33pm by gary

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1502
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 

 

 "Corner store at 11 p.m. Durham, North Carolina." Photo by Jack Delano, 1940. (Courtesy of Library of Congress - editing assistance from Ashley Coates) 

While it is unclear if the same structure has remained in place dating that far back, Sanborn maps from 1913 show a commercial structure of similar dimensions at this spot on East Pettigrew - for many years alternately known as Railroad Ave. while East Durham was considered a separate settlement.

 (Courtesy of Proquest Sanborn Maps, accessible online through Durham County Library and nclive.org)

Even as the usage of East Pettigrew to connote this further exstension of the road running along the south side of the tracks grew more consistent, more time would pass before regular street numbers extended beyond the 1300 block where it crossed Alston Avenue.  The 1921 city directory, for example, lists a Harvey D. Hopkins grocer at "E Pettigrew near Coal Chute, East Durham" - a reference to one of several historical names for the street alongside this building.  Coal Chute Alley clearly had some relation to the "Coal Platform" faintly labeled at the top of the above map, though the name Clyde Alley is substituted for the same unpaved road.  Eventually this would come to be known as Sowell Alley and then Sowell Street, taking the name of a family that had long lived in the area.

Though markings on the 1913 Sanborn suggest this may already have been the case, directories first suggest the building was divided into two units (1502 and 1502 1/2) in 1926, when an African American tobacco worker named Rosa Mack was listed as residing in the side apartment.  Using first an asterisk and then the annotation "(c)" to help Jim Crow-era Durhamites identify the race of those associated with its listings, the city directory specifies this as a black-owned grocery by 1930, when it was the store and apparent residence of an Arguster Petteway.

The turnover in names and ownership in subsequent years is remarkable, with Milton J. McNeill selling "soft drinks" in 1935, replaced by a "Wm Brewington (c), grocer" before 1939 - all identified as African American.  If the ever-changing listings are to be believed, at the time of Frank Delano's late-night stopover in 1940, Pearl Tyson was running the shop, while residing just a few doors down at 1510 East Pettigrew. "Corner store at 11 p.m. Durham, North Carolina." Photo by Jack Delano, 1940. (Courtesy of Library of Congress - editing assistance from Ashley Coates)

A lower resolution version of this photo foundered in Open Durham's Mystery Photo series for the better part of a decade, but thanks to upgrades in the Library of Congress digital collection and some research in early 2019, this location was finally established.

1502 East Pettigrew is the address given for Catlett's Restaurant in Victor H. Green's The Negro Motorist Green Book​ guide for African American travelers in the 1947-1949 editions. These were annually published aides for navigating Jim Crow America while on business trips and vacations.  Within its pages, readers could find entries – listed by state and city – for restaurants, lodging, gas stations, beauty parlors and barber shops, and other service providers, such as tailors, who would gladly take their business in an otherwise potentially unfamiliar and hostile environment.

 (Courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Collections, which is home to a nearly complete collection of The Green Book. For more on Green Book sites in Durham, see the Open Durham tour page currently being assembled.)

Discrepancies between the Green Book - published in New York City - and the fate of black-owned or deliberately desegregated businesses in towns across rapidly changing postwar America were inevitable, and its printers even included a disclaimer in the opening pages.  While they did their best to keep listings updated, they were relying on feedback from around the country under very different conditions for communication than we know today. 

In Durham, only the 1947 phonebook lists the restaurant apparently alluded to in The Green Book, mispelling it as Cattle's (not likely to have been a popular eatery's actual name).  By 1948, inquiring Durhamites were told by the local reference that this was Brown's Cafe - apparently, if briefly, owned by Stokesdale resident and tobacco worker Clyde S. Brown.  The next year it would be rebranded once more, as a restaurant run by W. Jack Mitchell - proprietor of Mitchell's Snack Bar (later renamed Two Spot) and Royal Music at 805-807 Fayetteville Street.  Never listed locally before or after 1947, Catlett's appears to have been a short-lived venture. 

The point is not that the Green Book was 'wrong' in Durham - indeed, for the years Catlett's was listed, motorists in search of a meal would likely have appreciated a friendly place to stop regardless of the name on the sign - but to add to its story the difficulty of tracking even the small handful of friendly businesses it featured across such a huge geography.  The oft-changing face of 1502 East Pettigrew also hints at the difficulties of creating and maintaining black-owned business in segregated Durham.

Nevertheless, this location continued to play host to a succession of food-related businesses - the Silver Moon Grille through much of the late 1950s, into the 1960s.

At some point thereafter, however, this property seems to have been folded into others owned by descendants of the Glenn Coal Company which operated from platforms between this part of East Pettigrew and the railway.  It ceased to have a commercial function by the time it was passed from a Glenn family estate to its current owners in the 1980s, and appears to have been altered to accomodate its use as a residential duplex.

1502EPettigrew_050811.jpg1502 East Pettigrew Street, 05.08.11

As is clear from the timeline on Google Street View, the entries and windows facing Pettigrew have gone through phases of transformation, boarding, and unboarding in recent years.  The property does not appear to be inhabited as of spring 2019.

 (N. Levy, 03.04.2019 - looking southeast, with the corner of the former Ebenezer Baptist Church in the distance down Sowell Street at the right edge)

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of February 27, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/alexanderandjohnson_1930s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/alexandermotors_041162.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2007_5/alexandermotor_2007.jpg

ALEXANDER FORD MOTOR CO.

330
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1924
Architect/Designers: 
,
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

The Alexander Motor Company was established in 1916 by S. Parks Alexander on the corner of Church and East Parrish Sts. In 1924, they constructed their new dealership at 330 East Main St. To get a sense of how things have changed in the world of car dealerships, the Alexander Ford Company hired Milburn and Heister to design their structure.

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  • Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:11pm by gary

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330
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1924
Architect/Designers: 
,
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

During the early 20th century, the large, elaborate dwellings in the 300 and 400 blocks of East Main St. (the two blocks between Roxboro and Dillard St.) were progressively torn down to make way for commercial and institutional structures. A frame, single story house sat on the site of the later Alexander Motor Company from the 1880s until the 1920s.

The Alexander Motor Company was established in 1916 by S. Parks Alexander on the corner of Church and East Parrish Sts. The company started out by selling the Model T Ford. In 1918, the company moved to Foster Street, between East Chapel Hill and Morgan Streets. In 1921, they built a three-story sales and service building "north of the 200 block of East Chapel Hill St., about midway between Foster and Roney Streets." (Whatever that means.) In 1924, they constructed their new dealership at 330 East Main St.

To get a sense of how things have changed in the world of car dealerships, the Alexander Ford Company hired Milburn and Heister (who designed Union Station, the Carolina Theater, and the Durham County Courthouse, among other buildings) to design their structure. Hard to imagine a present-day car dealership hiring a renowned architecture firm to design their dealership.


Alexander Motor Company (with the elaborate entrance awning) and Johnson Motor Company in the background, late 1930s.


Alexander Ford Motor Co., 04.11.62 (Herald-Sun)

For decades, the dealerships on East Main Street were a staple in local advertising, trumpeting the superiority of their national brands as well as the quality of their maintenance and repair departments.

 (From Hill's Durham City Directory, 1963 - online at DigitalNC.org)

The elaborate sign shown in the picture from the early 1960s must have been removed at some point prior to this January 1976 shot.

 (Photo by H. McKelden Smith, Courtesy of the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office)

Alexander Ford left this building in the late 1970s to move to an 11+ acre parcel across Carr Street from the American Tobacco campus that had been cleared by urban renewal. It was later renamed University Ford.


The former Alexander Ford Motor Co., now the Durham Housing Authority, looking southeast, 2007.

Find this spot on a Google Map.

35.992893,-78.897434

UPDATE, February 2019: At a January Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting held by the Durham Housing Authority as part of its DHA Downtown & Neighborhood Planning (DDNP) process, a design rendering for the "Preferred Concept" for redeveloping this block of East Main to Queen and Ramseur Streets suggested the former Alexander Ford Motor Company building would be torn down.  Not only would this mean demolishing a unique, nearly century-old building that should be protected as a contributing structure to the Downtown Durham Local Historic District, this choice seems to go against community input solicited at earlier phases of the planning process - and alluded to in the same report - that favored preserving the building.

 (From page 16 of the DDNP report)

Note that the adjacent former Johnson Motor Company building at 326-328 East Main (now occupied by Durham County Criminal Justice) would be preserved in this proposal, with Alexander Ford being replaced by a wing of the 5-story wrap-around structure to its left.  Obviously the campaign to renew and expand investment in affordable housing - especially in the rapidly developing downtown district - deserves attention and support.  DHA needs to hear voices that care about this important objective as well as preserving the historic fabric that makes Durham the great city it is.  In this case, for example, the proposed site is surrounded by some of our less lovable urban attributes - namely, surface parking lots where other buildings were previously razed.  If this is indeed the best block for Housing Authority construction and the desired format is mixed-use with frontage to the curb as the drawing above indicates, couldn't this irreplacable building be restored as part of a livelier Main Street corridor surrounding the planned residential community?  Hopefully there's an outcome that speaks to both questions of equity and preservation.

For more on the DDNP process check out the DHA website, and consider attending one of their upcoming Community Concept Plan meetings.

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of February 20, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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/sites/default/files/images/2006_10/MedicalArts_1994.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2006_10/medarts_aerial.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2006_10/MedicalArts_SW_101194.jpg

THE MEDICAL ARTS BUILDING

306
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1950-1958
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

Mid-Century commercial medical office building that has been kept vacant/abandoned by Bill Fields since the mid-1990s.

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  • Wed, 02/20/2019 - 4:27pm by gary

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306
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1950-1958
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 


The Medical Arts Building at the beginning of its current trajectory, October 1994

A residential building predated the existing structure at this address on Gregson, apparently the property of a C. W. Hallenback at the time of this 1944 plat's production.

 (Durham County Register of Deeds)

None of the digitized city directories from the surrounding years record a person under this name - here or anywhere in Durham - and the frequent turnover of listed residents suggests this was a rental property.  Likely tenants were as follows for the years reviewed: 1930 - Ralph B. Perkins; 1936 - John W. Rhodes; 1941 - Herman P. Conklin; 1949 - Mrs. Pauline Bowels (nurse). 

Though the immediate vicinity remained largely residential, the Medical Arts Building was constructed in the early 1950s as the office for the private practice of well-known Duke and Watts Hospital pediatrician, Dr. Arthur Hill London, Jr.  The southernmost portion (beyond the chimneyesque structure) was constructed first, and the northern wing was added sometime after 1959.

The Watts and Yuille warehouses are at the top of the picture, part of Duke Memorial Methodist on West Chapel Hill Street is visible at the bottom right. Only the southern portion of the building is present in this 1959 aerial. ( As an aside, John Loudermilk of "Tobacco Road" and "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" fame evidently grew up in the house visible across Gregson Street with some cars around it).

Dr. William L. London IV, nephew of Dr. A. H. London, joined his uncle's practice at the Medical Arts Building from the early 1960s.

With the construction of the Durham Freeway - first to the Chapel Hill Street interchange that immediately abuts this property and then further west - the Burch Avenue neighborhood was cut off from the rump end of the street that produced its name, now a dead end between Gregson and the highway.

 (Courtesy of The Herald-Sun, looking east, 1989)

The Medical Arts Building is just above the on-ramp at the center, with the broken ends of Burch Avenue to its left and in the foreground at the bottom of the frame.  Note the complete removal of surrounding houses in the three decades since the aerial photo shown above.

I don't know exactly when medical offices moved out of this building. I would imagine that they absconded slowly with the migration of most medical offices to the area around Durham Regional Hospital after it was built in 1976.


Looking southwest, October 1994

I know that it has been empty for at least 9 years [Now nearly 20 - Editor's note, Feb.2019]. The building is owned by Bill Fields, who owns several buildings on Ninth Street. He also owns the 1/2 abandoned apartment buildings just to the south of this. A sign in front of those buildings boldly proclaims "Saving another Durham Landmark. Why? Because we love you!" without any apparent irony.

This type of nuisance speculation can afflict any city, but seems to fester particularly well here in Durham. Since, as a friend of mine once said, "Durham's been coming back for 50 years" everyone's always convinced that something big is just around the corner. So these speculators, financially secure, see their big Powerball payoff, if they just.... wait.... a... little...longer.

These speculators cost all of us money, pride, and comfort in our neighborhood as they wait for the rising tide to lift their boat - without actually contributing anything to the city themselves. We have no minimum commercial code in this city, so this building can sit here like this - forever. Rumor has it that people have offered Mr. Fields large sums of money for this building (7 figures). But, rumor has it, he's turned it down because he wants more. Speculators would rather go on incurring public costs while waiting for whatever the magical number is. Meanwhile, neighboring property value suffers, and this part of town never improves, despite being 1 very short block from Brightleaf Square.

Here's a list of most if not all of the properties owned by Mr. Fields. I'd hope that posting something like this could shame someone into action, but people who care about their city and neighbors wouldn't have left a building they owned like this for a week, much less 10+ years. The lawn gets mowed, so I suppose we should be grateful.

October 2006 (G. Kueber)

In July 2008, Mr. Fields proffered this early-90's appearing rendering as his imminent plans for the structure:

This seems to have been primarily in preparation for the erection of a giant political sign on the building for the fall 2008 elections. Election season came and went, Mr. Fields' candidate lost, the sign came down, and, as of September 2009, the building remains abandoned.

As of 2014, the boards have come off the windows for the first time in a decade, and rumors abound that the building may get purchased for a parking lot to serve redevelopment of the Chesterfield by Wexford. Years ago, in the comments below, son-of-Bill complained that the abandoned Holiday Inn up the block was the problem keeping his family unable to do something productive and decent for the community with this building. With that razed and a new shiny apartment building in its place, the excuses are gone. And it's as clear as it's always been what this is about  - people who care more about their dream of holding the winning lottery ticket on a property sale - "it's gonna hit someday!" - than they do about being part of making Durham a better place. Those types are like a cancer on a city that aspires to better.

05.31.14 (Photo by G. Kueber)

 Rear views of the building, the side facing the freeway - looking south towards Chapel Hill St. with the new Bell West End apartment complex at the edge, and looking north with the edge of the parking deck on West Pettigrew partially visible. (Photos by N. Levy, 02.05.2019)

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of February 6, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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/sites/default/files/images/2008_7/Gulf_WGeer_NMangum_NE_1952.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_7/NE_WGeer_NMangum_062308.jpgThe Bull City Cool Food Hub is a shared cool, cold and dry storage warehouse where nonprofits and for-profits aggregate and distribute local farmers’ fresh food and flowers.Bull City Cool's North Mangum facing garage bay doors restore the building's historic 1950s charm.

NE CORNER - NORTH MANGUM AND EAST GEER

902
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1920-1937
/ Modified in
1950s
,
2014-2015
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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  • Wed, 02/06/2019 - 12:30pm by gary

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902
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1920-1937
/ Modified in
1950s
,
2014-2015
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

I have no picture of the frame house that stood on the northeast corner of North Mangum and West Geer Streets prior to the 1930s - by 1937, it had been replaced with a simple 'filling station' in the common style of the 1920s and 1930s. By the 1950s, this station had been expanded to include garage bays to the rear.


Looking northeast, 1952
(Courtesy Wayne Henderson)

I'm not sure of when this was last a gas station - by the 2000s the removal of the front awning and addition of siding had significantly altered the appearance of the building, which was mostly occupied by the "Good Works Bargain Store."


Looking northeast, 06.23.08

UPDATE, February 2019:

On March 19, 2014, Bull City Cool, LLC, purchased this property with the intention of converting it into a local food hub. Local non-profit Reinvestment Partners founded Bull City Cool as part of their ongoing mission to revitalize this old North Durham neighborhood.

This revitalization project was amazing to witness. Watch the video below to see demo of the old siding to reveal the original 1950's stucco.

Additional construction photos are available at bullcitycool.com.

The Bull City Cool Food Hub celebrated its grand opening in September 2015. Today it is a shared cool, cold and dry storage warehouse — as well as office space — where nonprofits and for-profits aggregate and distribute local farmers’ fresh food and flowers. Bull City Cool's goal is to strengthen Durham’s local food ecosystem by providing space and connections that benefit local farmers, food businesses and hunger-relief nonprofits.

The Bull City Cool Food Hub is a shared cool, cold and dry storage warehouse where nonprofits and for-profits aggregate and distribute local farmers’ fresh food and flowers.Bull City Cool's North Mangum facing garage bay doors restore the building's historic 1950s charm.

36.003918,-78.894337

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of January 30, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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613Mobile_Oct62.jpeg

613 MOBILE AVENUE – DR. C.D. GRANDY OFFICE

613
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1947
/ Demolished in
1966
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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  • Wed, 01/30/2019 - 3:31pm by gary

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613
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1947
/ Demolished in
1966
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

613Mobile_Oct62.jpeg
October 1962
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection / Durham Urban Renewal Records, Box 3 - online at DigitalNC)

Built and opened in 1947, this was the office of physician Clemuel Durham Grandy, Sr.  Trained at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee - which had been the first school in the south for African-American doctors - Dr. Grandy worked at Lincoln Hospital and in private practice in Durham for more than thirty years.

Like so many other aspects of business and daily life in this time period, medical services were subject to segregation in Durham.  A potential patient would know from the phone book whether they were welcome at a particular practice.

 (Excerpt from Hill's Durham City Directory, 1951 - online at DigitalNC)

Note the use of the annotation "(c)" to indicate "colored" providers - including Dr. Grandy near the bottom left - and even suppliers of medical equipment.

The property appraisal filed with the above picture in early 1963, when all of Mobile Avenue was slated for demolition as part of the related Durham Freeway and Hayti-Elizabeth Street Renewal Area projects, acknowledged that this was no flimsy or outdated structure:

Indeed, the condition of the facility was given as "excellent," and its estimated remaining useful life was projected into the early 2000s.  Appraisers' remarks further highlighted the convenient location of the office just off the busy Fayetteville Street corridor and within view of the White Rock Baptist Church - no doubt considerations Dr. Grandy had in mind when selecting the site.

County records indicate that Dr. Grandy contested the valuation and demolition of his office, and indeed was awarded significantly more in a late 1966 ruling than the initial 1963 estimate.  That did not stop the bulldozers from claiming the building, however.

Evicted from his Mobile Avenue quarters, Dr. Grandy appears to have relocated his practice to a home office.  It was there - at 1005 Crete Street down Highway 55 - that he passed away unexpectedly one morning in December 1975, as he prepared for another in a lifetime of days treating Durham's sick.

Find this spot on a Google Map.

35.987536,-78.897155

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This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of January 23, 2019.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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