Photograph by Preservation Durham survey volunteers, 10.18.2002.
This house appears to have been built around 1914 by David Jones and his wife, Alice Daniel Jones - possibly replacing an earlier home built closer to the street on the same parcel. Originally from a large family in the Dutchville Township of neighboring Granville County, David Jones and several of his siblings came to Durham around the turn of the century. He initially worked in the building trades, so it is possible he contributed labor to raising this structure. His brother, Rufus Jones, lived next door at 309 Dowd with his wife Fannie.
Around the time this house was built, Jones made preaching his profession, leading the nearby Mt. Gilead Baptist Church. (The history page on the website of the still-active church credits his leadership in moving the congregation to a new structure at its present location.) Unfortunately, his heart gave out in the spring of 1921, leaving his wife Alice a widow. She remarried in 1924 to a widower named Allen Jeffries, whose house on Hazel Street was the subject of a recent post.
From the late 1940s, this was the home of Levi and Georgia Pettiford Mitchell. She held jobs as a cafeteria worker at Durham High School and later on the custodial staff at Duke University. Her husband was also employed by Duke - as an orderly at the hospital in the 1940s - before working many years for American Tobacco and as a driver for a furniture company. They would have been residents here along with their children during the years of sit-ins and protests against segregated service at the Royal Ice Cream parlor just a few doors down. It seems they relocated to a home in the Hillside Park neighborhood at some point in the mid-1960s, though they retained ownership of the house at 311 Dowd until the late 1970s. (Mrs. Mitchell passed away in 2019 at the age of 104 - see the tribute to her long life here.)
By the early 21st century when the survey photo above was taken, the houses that once stood on either side of 311 Dowd had been demolished. Much of the surrounding property belonged to Union Baptist Church, which also obtained this parcel in March 2003. The combined property of the church in this vicinity is outlined in the aerial view below in red:
C.2005, 311 Dowd stands across Dowd from the surface parking lot at right.
Plans to build the Union Independent School - now the Global Scholars Academy - led to the demolition of this house, the former Royal Ice Cream commercial building at the northeast corner of Roxboro and Dowd, as well as houses along the north side of the block facing Corporation. Open Durham founder, Gary Kueber, then working on its predecessor blog Endangered Durham, was pictured at the site of the demolition he'd vehemently opposed in the Herald-Sun.
Photo for the Durham Herald-Sun, August 2006. The scraped foundation of the Royal Ice Cream building is in the foreground, while the site of the similarly demolished house at 311 Dowd appears as the gravel parking area beyond it in the right background.