At the turn of the century
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection / Chamber of Commerce Collection)
The house at 809 Cleveland St. is referred to in the architectural inventory as "one of the foremost late 19th century architectural designs surviving in Durham." The house was built by Philadelphia architect Samuel Leary around 1890, who designed the original Washington Duke building at Duke (burned), St. Joseph's AME, the original Fire Station #1, the First (white) Graded School (later Morehead School), and the Foushee House (now Camelot Academy on Proctor St.)
Leary was evidently brought to Durham by the Duke family to design the new main building at Trinity College (the Washington Duke Building) and, per Jean Anderson "tobacco warehouses." If Leary had a hand in any of our tobacco warehouses (for which the architect(s) are, generally unknown) the extent of his involvement and/or with which warehouses is unknown. There is some speculation that he may have had a hand in the design of the Watts and Yuille warehouses, now known as Brightleaf Square.
Leary suffered a significant setback to - perhaps even the destruction of - his career when the main tower of the Washington Duke building collapsed immediately prior to its intended opening in 1892. Perhaps this is why Leary's name appears to disappear from the historical record after the 1890s, despite so many important local commissions in just a few years. He appears to have left Durham soon after the turn of the century.
The house was owned by a series of owners before being purchased by the Coletta family in 1938 - owners of the Royal Ice Cream Company, site of one the earliest civil rights sit-ins in the country in 1957. They lived in the house until 1978.
1980 - note addition of brick stair
This house is one of several rental houses owned by Martin Rudin, who owns five of the remaining 16 houses on Cleveland St. My current photo is rather poor, as I could not find an unobstructed vantage point, but the house is remarkably intact on the exterior.