Looking southwest at 9th Street, 1940s.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)
Among the earliest mill houses built by the Erwin Mill was a series of houses built along the west side of Ninth Street, extending northward from the company store. The houses were identical two-story, side-gabled frame houses typical of mill house construction in North Carolina.
Northwesterly view of 9th Street, 1950, showing 7 identical two-story mill houses.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)
Looking southwest from the northeast corner of the intersection of Markham and 9th, 09.27.62. Because Markham and Hillsborough did not align, the present-day roadway would run straight through the single story house in the background.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)
1968 view north on 9th Street, with the row of houses visible on the left side.
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection)
I'm not sure exactly when these houses were torn down, but it appears to have been done in a wholesale fashion, leading me to believe that either Erwin Mill/Burlington Industries or the city had something to do with it. My best guess is that it was done between 1968 and 1970.
At least since the 1980s, the southern portion of this once-residential strip has been a surface parking lot, and the northern portion a combination of surface parking and a retail development constructed on the corner of Hillsborough and 9th St., created when Markham was connected to Hillsborough.
This surface parking and retail facing the interior parking lot, turning its back on the corner, were developed in the 1980s. Given its ongoing ownership (even the city-leased lot) by Terry Sanford and Clay Hamner's SEHED real estate investment/development group, which also owns Erwin Square, I presumed that it was developed contemporaneously with the Erwin Mill redevelopment / Erwin Square construction.
By 1988, the most notable tenant in the streetphobic development was Wellspring Grocery, which expanded to the location from their previous tenancy in the former Wright/Scarboro Grocery building at 1002 Ninth Street, now occupied by Magnolia Grill. Once Wellpsring moved to the former A&P on Broad St., a few blocks away, George Bakatsias began building a new restaurant empire (after the collapse of his first one,) with the construction of George's Garage in the space ~1996.
Kerr drugstore took up much of the remainder of the structure; they shut down a few years ago and that space has remained vacant. George's Garage vacated its space just a month ago, when the restaurant's lease was not renewed. The building is now empty, and the associated parking cordoned off.
Southern portion of the parking lot, 04.05.09
Northern portion, 04.05.09.
One of the most squandered corners in Durham, looking southwest, 08.07.09
I hope this means a better architectural future for this entire strip is at hand. The long strip of surface parking, terminated with a suburban style retail structure that faces away from the energy of 9th Street is an incredibly underwhelming use for real estate that has the potential to finally make the core of 9th street a two-sided pedestrian-scale retail frontage. (A situation that is incredibly, strangely absent throughout Durham - except perhaps at 'Main Street' at Southpoint.)
The original renderings for a redevelopment of this area in 2013 looked somewhat promising, but ultimately, it's a lost opportunity. The best thing I can say about it is that the developer has created a patio frontage on Ninth Street and Hillsborough to improve the corner above. But the rest is straight out of a suburban template - dominated by a terrible Harris Teeter with large surface parking lot. I would guess that they demanded that this site be bent to their will, i.e., a huge surface parking lot in front with visibility from Ninth Street (and a blank wall to Hillsborough Road.) The opportunity was at hand to enhance the architectural experience on Ninth Street by double-siding the street frontage. As it is, the surburban feel of the west side of the street has been exacerbated, and the chance to create an integration between Station 9 / Erwin Square and the historic area was squandered.
09.26.13 - if you squint, you can barely make out a Harris Teeter behind an ocean of parking. I am sure a massive sign will soon help identification. (Photo by G. Kueber)