How to Add or Modify Content on Open Durham

Step-by-step instructions on how to create content on Open Durham.

Want to add or update information about your house?  Know something about a Durham building or person you want to add to the database?  To start, you need to log in to Open Durham (click here or open the tab in the top right of this page in a new window).

Is this your first time? You'll need to create a login (please remember to check your spam filter and follow email instructions to confirm you're a real Durham-loving human!).

If you're editing a page that already exists, skip to that section below.  If you're adding something entirely new, click "Create Content" at the top of the page.

Now choose the type of content you want to write about; for a house, click on "Building"; for an individual, select "Person".  The explanation below focuses primarily on building entries, as the basic information for individuals is largely self-explanatory (birth and death dates, locations, etc).  Adding an image to a "Person" page works exactly like the instructions for the Body of a post that follow.

You'll see a screen to create your entry with a number of boxes and fields to fill out.

[NOTE: The explanation below focuses primarily on "Building" entries, as the basic information for individuals is largely self-explanatory (birth and death dates, locations, etc).  Adding an image to a "Person" page works exactly like the instructions for the Body​ of a post that follow.]

Fields include:

Summary for 'index card': Optional, this can include one to two brief sentences describing the house

Title: - NAME OF HOUSE or ADDRESS (please use the best known reference - in most cases, a current street address - CAPITAL LETTERS, and common abbreviations, ex: 123 W. MAIN ST.)
Body: The whole history of the building. You can insert pictures by clicking on the little picture-in-frame icon at the top of this section. Browse to the file on your computer and then insert it in the body as follows (see also the short animation below the list):

  1. Move the blinking text box cursor to the part of the text you would like to insert your image.
  2. Click on the icon of a picture in a frame at the top of the "Body" section
  3. Click on the "Upload" tab on the "Image Properties" window
  4. A file browsing window will open. Select the image on your computer that you want to upload.
  5. Click "Send it to the Server".
  6. The upload tool should switch back to the "Image Properties" tab. You can adjust the size here if you'd like.
  7. When you're ready, click on "Ok" in the file dialog to insert the image into your post.
  8. Once your image is inserted, you can cut/copy/paste it like text, or double-click it to edit the size.

     NOTE: We find it easiest to enter all of your text before adding images. Please include a caption that includes the date and source of the photograph to the best of your knowledge (ex: 10.22.1977, family photo courtesy of Sally Johnson).

Below this field for the Body, you should see several more fields with tabs down the left side for you to toggle between.  The crucial ones are as follows:

Address: Enter the Street number and Street name separately - including full street name this time (ex: West Main Street).  If other buildings on this street have already been added, you should be prompted with auto-fill options.  Add a cross street if your building is on a corner.

Location: The most accurate way to place the building you're writing about - particularly as numbering and names change or the historic streetscape has been altogether transformed - is to choose location 'MANUALLY'.  Pan and zoom through the map and click, select the pen cursor, and drop the blue dot on the exact location of the house.  When you click, this dot should turn red - now you've marked precise latitude and longitude (regardless of subsequent changes to the street grid).


Vocabularies: Describes the building so that it is searchable by these categories:

Type= Residential, Commercial, School - This is what the structure was built for.

Neighborhood = This is the name the neighborhood typically goes by. You can hold down the control or option key and select multiple neighborhoods if it is on a border and sometimes considered part of more than one neighborhood.

National Register = What National Register district it is in, if it is a contributing structure in that district.; 

Local historic district = What local district it is in, if it is a contributing structure in that district;

Construction Type: I.e Masonry, Brick, Stucco, Frame, Shingles, Half-Timbering, etc.;

Use = its present use and past uses. I.e. a Residence. If a house was now being used as a business, you would type Residence, [business type];

Architectural Style: I.e. Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, Neoclassical, etc.

People/Businesses: If you've already written up the personal history of someone who lived in your house on Open Durham, you can 'associate' that person's history with this house in this section.

Building information: You can fill in what you know: names of architects and builders should be Last Name, First Name. If year built etc. are unknown, give a range (I.e. 1920-1925)

Hit "Save" at the bottom and you're done!

If you are editing an existing entry:

1) Click on the title of the entry.
2) At the top of the page that comes up with the 'index card', you'll see a series of grey tabs that say "View Published | Edit Draft | Revisions"
3) Click on the tab that says "New Draft"
4) You'll see the same fields as in creating a new entry, above, but there will already be information in some of them.
5) Add or edit the information you want to add or edit.
6) Click "Save" at the bottom.
7) After you click Save, your saved draft will appear. At the top of the draft is a yellow bar with "Moderation Status" with a default of "Needs Review." If you are ready for your changes to be reviewed for publication, click "Apply." If you'd like to come back and work on it again before the changes are reviewed, don't click on this, and you can leave the page.

If you've applied the "Needs Review," your new drafts will not appear right away. They will be queued for review by an administrator and published once reviewed.


my name is jessie mcneil and i grew up in durham and i like to help you on the neighborhood that you don't have posted yet please let me know my no is 919 937-4872, let's make durham a better place to visit
jessie mcneil

Re: your article Sunday about the Southern Conservatory of Music; I am confused about the location of Duke's Fairview. What was located at the corner of Duke St. and Chapel Hill St. where the N.C. Mutual building is now?

Thanks for what you are doing about Durham's history. I am a native and long-time resident.

Jack -

Fairview was located on the southeast corner of N. Duke and W. Main, where the big Chesterfield building still is. That was Washington Duke's house. Four Acres, which belonged to Ben Duke (one of Wash's sons) was located on the southeast corner of N. Duke and W. Chapel Hill, where the NC Mutual building is.



Need to locate street the Old Pepsi Plant was on. It was near the RR Crossing & Pettigrew South of the downtown - near a Swift (meat) distribution bld and one of the Am Tobacco Offices and warehouse. My Grandfather, Pop Burnett (Marvin B. Burnett, Senior) was the sole owner and operator and all of his children (including my mother worked at the old Pepsi plant) I would go there as a 5 yr old with my Mother after school and on Sunday evenings with my Dad who would drive down to "stroke up" the furnace with cold so the bldg would be somewhat warm on Monday AM

Help. One of cousin's said it was where part of the Present Durham Bulls Stadium is now, but she was unable to locate a street.

I remember it was either on a hill or near the top of a hill that ran down towards Lakewood and then Forest Hills.

Help if you can, please. Thank you.