Photograph taken by Heather Slane, National Historic Register Submission, December 2017
Typical of post-World War II housing, this one-story, side-gabled, Minimal Traditional-style house is two bays wide and double-pile with a projecting two-bay-wide, side-gabled wing on the right (north) elevation that is flush with the façade. The house has vinyl siding and windows, an interior brick chimney, and a replacement door on the left (south) end of the façade that has a classical surround and is flanked by fixed shutters. The entrance is sheltered by a front-gabled porch on square posts. There is a picture window to the right of the entrance and windows at two levels on the left elevation indicate that the house may have a split-level plan on the interior. County tax records date the house to 1950 and the earliest known occupants are Jason J. Sansom Jr., a treasurer at Union Insurance & Realty and a professor at North Carolina College (later North Carolina Central University), and his wife, Vivian Sansom, in 1950. The Sansoms were the parents to four children.
According to county deed records, Lyda V. Merrick and her husband, E.R. Merrick sold the lot to J.J. Sansom, Jr. and his wife, Vivian Sansom, on August 19,1953. The Merricks were the parents of Vivian Sansom.
The Merricks were a prominent black family in Durham. Vivian Sansom was the granddaughter of Dr. Aaron Moore and John Merrick, founders of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and among the founders of Mechanics and Farmers Bank. Dr. Moore was the first black physician in Durham and founded Lincoln Hospital. Lyda Merrick, her mother, co-founded the first magazine serving blind African Americans. When Nat King Cole would visit the city, he would always come to the Merrick home to entertain on the piano in their home. Vivian had the pleasure to team up in a doubles match at the Algonquin Tennis Club with Althea Gibson, the first black player to integrate and win a Grand Slam title.
After finishing her education at Hampton Institute, Vivian Sansom spent some years raising her children but did not lose her interest in physical education. She was one of the first female faculty members at North Carolina Central University (then called North Carolina College for Negroes) where she taught physicial education for six years, then teaching at Shaw University for over 30 years.
J.J. Sansom, Jr. died in 1989 and on Juy 26, 2011, Vivian sold the home to Joseph M. Hester, Jr. and Betsy A. Hester, after she had moved to Raleigh. The Hesters owned the house until March 29, 2018 when they sold the property to the NCCU Foundation, Inc. The property is still owned by the Foundation and is used as office space.
Vivian Sansom died on September 11,2017, at the age of 97.
Vivian Sansom, News and Observer, file photo by John L. White, 2003