2021 Preservation Durham Historic Home Tour: Tudor Revival

2021 Preservation Durham Historic Home Tour: Tudor Revival


The Preservation Durham Annual Home Tour is back – October 16 and 17, 2021. Visit homes that reflect the Tudor Revival architecture style in Durham from cottages to mansions. Click the banner photo below for ticket information.

Preservation Durham is pleased to announce the return of its Annual Historic Home Tour, with a theme fitting for a comeback: Tudor Revival.  This is your digital preview, which we'll expand in the days leading up to the event, but don't forget to buy tickets ($25 advance via Eventbrite compared to $30 day of) and collect your full booklet from the tour headquarters - the Pinecrest Carriage House at 1044 West Forest Hills Blvd - when you start your excursion!

Out of respect for your hosts and our incredible volunteers, please take note of the COVID-19 precautions outlined on the ticketing page - proof of vaccination and masks are required of all attendees.

Another great way to get an introduction prior to the October 16-17 tour is to tune in for the free virtual lecture by the outstanding Durham designer and preservationist, Sara Lachenmen - Thursday, October 14th, 12-1pm.

Mapped above and linked below are the six fantastic properties featured this year.  As we'll continue to add here and your print booklet will reveal in greater detail, we've learned so much more about each home - from their unique architectural fluorishes to the rich history of their past residents - in the process of putting together this event.

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1050 W. FOREST HILLS BLVD. - PINECREST

1050
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1928
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
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Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
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  • Wed, 01/30/2019 - 2:33pm by gary

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1050
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1928
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

 

Designed by George Watts Carr, Pinecrest was built in 1928 for developer James Cobb, in the western portion of the Forest Hills neighborhood that both men were involved in creating.  This and the following photos show the house as it neared completion in early 1928.

(Courtesy of James D.B.T. Semans)

Pinecrest was purchased by the Duke family in 1934. It was, until 2012, the home of Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans.  From the National Register Listing:

The Mary Duke Biddle Estate is located at 1044 and 1050 West Forest Hills Boulevard along the western edge of the fashionable early-twentieth-century Forest Hills subdivision in the City of Durham, North Carolina. It is [...] situated prominently on land that rises to a plateau above Forest Hills Park.    Comprising 8.562 of the 13.17 acres assembled during the mid 1930s and 1940s by Mrs. Biddle, the estate is an irregular parcel of land bounded by Kent Street on the west, neighboring properties on the north and south, Westwood Drive on the southeast, and Forest Hills Boulevard and Forestview Street on the east. Fences delineate roadside boundaries, and forested groves and bamboo thickets largely obscure the buildings, structures, and grounds from view.
Set back several hundred feet from Forest Hills Boulevard and Forestview Street atop an east- facing hill, “Pinecrest” the focal point of the estate, is a large and handsome Tudor Revival dwelling designed by Durham architect George Watts Carr Sr. in 1927 for Forest Hills developer James O. Cobb. From 1935 through 1958, extensive additions and interior renovations made to the dwelling for Mrs. Biddle under the direction of New York designer Karl Bock included Colonial Revival, French Eclectic, Oriental, Art Moderne, and Art Deco elements.

Bock also made plans for Mrs. Biddle’s auxiliary housing and recreational and landscaping needs. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, he designed and supervised the construction of one additional dwelling, and designed or planned for the installation of three outbuildings and nine structures that contribute to the historic character of the property.3    The Cottage (5) at 1044 West Forest Hills Boulevard, constructed in the English Cottage style, compliments the original Tudor Revival style of Pinecrest. A much smaller dwelling, it has an attached garage and was constructed near the northeast boundary of the property to accommodate servants and automobiles. A gasoline pump (6) was installed adjacent to and west of the garage. A cast iron picket fence with two ornamental gates (7) was erected along West Forest Hills Boulevard.4    Two large brick arches (2 & 3) were erected northwest and southwest of Pinecrest to mark the beginnings of footpaths that interconnect on the grounds of the estate. A picnic area with a stone fireplace and a nearby wading pool fed by streams that emerge from stone- lined grottoes (4) were created northwest of Pinecrest in a grove of trees. A recreational complex with a bathhouse (8) tennis court (9), a swimming pool (10), and a stone fireplace (11) was constructed southwest of Pinecrest near the west boundary of the estate. An extensive pergola (12), a gardener’s cottage with an attached greenhouse (13) and a storage garage (14) were added west of the dwelling along Kent Street. Ornamental shrubs, small fountains, birdbaths, and statues dot the estate though an elaborate rose garden once situated west of the house no longer exists.

Two non-contributing structures, a contemporary metal storage shed installed northeast of the storage garage (15) and an early-twentieth-century playhouse recently placed in a garden northwest of Pinecrest (16) do not distract from surrounding historic resources.

Pinecrest, The Cottage, the gardener’s cottage and greenhouse, the gardener’s garage, the swimming pool, the bathhouse, and the tennis court are listed on the National Register as contributing within the Forest Hills Historic District (NR 2005).

 (Photos from National Register listing by Betsy Gohdes-Baten, April 2009)

UPDATE (December 2018): In a meeting on Monday, December 17, 2018, the Durham City Council unanimously approved zoning changes for Pinecrest and surrounding properties that would preserve the historic structure - redesigned as two dwelling units - while adding as many as 46 townhouses on adjacent land.  The development plan and new zoning allow for increased density while promising a stylistic match to the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood. 

The late James Duke Biddle Trent Semans, who inherited the property in 2012, had conducted a multi-year search for a developer that could produce a proposal for Pinecrest's future that would meet these criteria.  Master plan drawings produced for the in-fill development by Atlanta-based Phillip Clark Custom Builders show how the new residences will wrap around the original building (Kent Street, the western boundary of othe project, is shown here at the top).

  

For additional information, see the developer's project page and coverage in the News & Observer.

------

This building was the subject of a What's It Wednesday?! post on Open Durham's social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), the week of December 19, 2018.  Follow us and stay tuned for more finds!

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2116 WEST CLUB BLVD. - BIGGS HOUSE

2116
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1933
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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2116
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1933
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
,
Construction type: 
Local historic district: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

2116 W. Club Blvd. (Photograph by Pam Lappegard for Preservation Durham)
 
What follows is an excerpt from the booklet for the 2021 Preservation Durham Historic Home Tour (click here to learn more and get tickets to see this and other fantastic Tudor Revival homes across town in person October 16th and 17th!):
 

The Biggs House near Oval Park in Watts-Hillandale displays a restrained articulation of the Tudor Revival Style most likely due to its construction date in 1933 in the early years of the Great Depression. A slightly projecting two-story gable with varied eave heights and a crowning triangle of decorative half-timbering attaches off center to a two-story side-gabled main block that serves as the core for this upright red-brick house. At the inviting entrance, tabs of multi-hued cut stone topped by a granite keystone frame an arched plank windowed door with bold wrought iron strap hinges.  

In 1930, less than a year after their July 1929 wedding, Helen Lillabel Massey Biggs and Walter Archibald Biggs, both graduates of Duke University, purchased a lot on the north side of West Club Boulevard and contracted George Hackney to design a house for them.  It was one of the architect’s first private residential commissions. Born in Chatham County in 1905, Hackney graduated from North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering (now N. C. State University) in Architectural Engineering in 1927. He came to Durham to help with the construction of Duke’s new Gothic West Campus.  That massive project ignited a new bloom of interest in the Tudor Revival Style in Durham....

 

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139 PINECREST RD. - NIELSEN HOUSE

139
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1937
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

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139
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1937
Architect/Designers: 
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

139 Pinecrest Rd. (Photograph by Pam Lappegard for Preservation Durham)
 
What follows is an excerpt from the booklet for the 2021 Preservation Durham Historic Home Tour (click here to learn more and get tickets to see this and other fantastic Tudor Revival homes across town in person October 16th and 17th!):
 
Following the expansion of Duke University with the construction of West Campus in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Duke sought to entice faculty from around the country to move to Durham and teach at the university.  With the real estate market suffering the economic effects of the Great Depression, Duke decided to develop homesites on their forest property south of the new West Campus to sell to faculty members who would themselves oversee the construction of the homes.  The first development of this kind was the 100 block of Pinecrest Road, just outside the Durham city limits.  Homes on this road first appear in the 1932 Durham city directory, when four addresses are listed.  By 1938, fifteen addresses are listed, including 139 Pinecrest Road, the Walter McKinley Nielsen and Katherine Tryon Nielsen House, built in 1937.
 
Walter Nielsen was a physics professor at the then brand new Duke University, having joined the faculty in 1925 after receiving his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Minnesota that same year.  He married Katherine Tryon, another Minnesotan, in the summer of 1928.  The couple and their growing family lived in at least six different houses and apartments around Durham before building their home on Pinecrest, underscoring the difficulty of finding satisfactory housing in Durham at this time....

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401ETrinity_1980.jpg401ETrinity_plat1928.jpg/sites/default/files/images/u50/401%20E%20Trinity.png/sites/default/files/images/u50/401%20E_%20Trinity--Mabel%20Hamlin%20%26%20David.png401ETrinity_aerialsmall_1959.jpg

401 EAST TRINITY AVENUE

401
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1928
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Sun, 09/15/2013 - 9:54pm by gary

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401
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1928
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

401ETrinity_1980.jpg

401 East Trinity, ~1980.

(State Historic Preservation Office)

In 1912, Lonnie Hamlin and his wife Mabel are listed at 308 N. Elizabeth Street. They appear to have lived at this address only briefly; in October 1913, they purchased property (two separate lots) on the corner of "an unnamed street" (which would become "Hamlin Street") and Trinity Avenue.  Given that they paid 00 for the property, it seems likely that a house had already been constructed on the property.  The property was party of Brodie Duke's holdings, which were subdivided and sold by the Duke Land and Improvement Company - this property had been sold by them to Anna M. Murray in 1909.

The next available city directories show Mr. Hamlin and his wife Mabel living at the address. 

1915 CD: Hamlin, Lonnie D carrier, RFD No. 4 (home E Trinity nr. Elizabeth)

1919 CD: Hamlin, LD (letter carrier, Post Office) 401 East Trinity.

The property was subdivided in 1928. It appears the house above was constructed at that time, both based on the architecture of the house as well as the mortgage taken out by the Hamlins at the time.

.401ETrinity_plat1928.jpg

It's not clear whether the "401 East Trinity" that the Hamlins lived in prior to 1928 was replaced by this house, or whether that house was extant on "Lot 3" and Lot 1 had been vacant prior to that time.

1931 City Directory: Lonnie D. Hamlin, Mabel V. Hamlin,  Percy Poole (dept. manger, Alexander Motor Co.)

Lonnie Hamlin died on 01.23.32 and is buried in Maplewood Cemetery.

1934 CD: Mrs. Mabel V. Hamlin (noted as widow)

1938 CD: Mrs. Mabel V. Hamlin, Nolan E. Wiggins. (agent, the Life Insurance Co. of VA)

 Courtesy:  Charlotte Hamlin.  This picture c. 1946 shows Mabel Hamlin (right) with her son, Bill Hamlin (left), and granddaughter, Charlotte Hamlin (center) sitting on the front steps of 401 E. Trinity.  Note the original round columns behind them, which had been long since replaced when the present owner acquired the house in late 2011.  

Courtesy:  Charlotte Hamlin.  Mabel Hamlin and her younger son, David, standing beside the porch at 401 E. Trinity.  Notice that the casement windows behind them are open.  Labor Day, 1947.

401ETrinity_aerialsmall_1959.jpg

1959 aerial showing the corner of Hamlin and East Trinity. Hamlin Street was later renamed as Rosetta Drive.

Mabel Hamlin is listed in the city directories as living at 401 E Trinity until 1966; she died on 03.11.68. In 1967-68, it is vacant, and by 1969, it had been subdivided into apartments. In recent years, as of 2011, it has been four apartments. The exterior has had various vinylization and other out-of-place oddities added to it. 

401ETrinity_1990s.jpg

1990s

It has recently been purchased; the current owner is in the midst of restoring it to a single-family dwelling as of November 2011.

849813_01_0.jpgT

In 2006.  Note the absence of any sort of railing around the second-floor porch, which also appears to be sagging.  

401ETrinity_110711.jpg

11.06.11  Someone put an architecturally inappropriate railing on the second floor porch between 2006 and 2011.  They didn't really repair the porch, which was rotting out.

401ETrinity_112611.jpg

11.26.11, with vinyl and other later additions removed, re-exposing the half-timbering.

2012

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1417Acadia_2011.jpeg

1417 ACADIA STREET

1417
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1931
Architect/Designers: 
,
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Wed, 10/13/2021 - 12:27pm by gary

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1417
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1931
Architect/Designers: 
,
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

1417Acadia_2011.jpeg
1417 Acadia Street, 2011
(Courtesy Alex Maness)

The J. A. Smith House, 1931
1417 Acadia Street

Among the last houses built in Duke Park before the crushing weight of the Great Depression halted nearly all construction, the J. A. Smith House is nevertheless an outstanding example of the Tudor or gothic revival style so popular in the Duke Park neighborhood. The house is little altered inside or out from the time James and Irene Smith first moved in, back in 1931. Its finishes and details were of first quality when they were created and they have been wonderfully preserved through the years.

Duke Park was one of Durham’s first automobile suburbs of the 1920s. Before Mr. Ford and his T model made a car a middle class necessity, city limits tended to be defined by the last stops on the street car lines. In the years preceding the First World War, the automobile progressed from a mechanical novelty to a status symbol. In the 1910s, a car cost from ,000 to ,000 – more than the cost of a comfortable new home at the time. When Ford introduced the mass-produced Model T, the “People’s Car,” in 1909, even it cost 0 which was still the cost of a modest home. By 1924, however, the Model T was only 0 and more than 2 million were being produced annually. Other manufacturers were forced to follow suit. In the case of Duke Park, it was the private motorcar that made life beyond the railroad tracks a possibility. There is a direct correlation between the cost of automobiles and the size of homes in the neighborhood. In the 1910s, when cars were expensive, only the well-to-do could afford to build in Duke Park. Their homes, like the Dillard House at 1311 North Mangum Street, built in 1917, tended to be mansions. As cars became cheaper, however, middle class families began to join their more wealthy neighbors in Duke Park. Middle class homes of the 1920s are more modest in size, but they still reflect the aspirations of their upwardly mobile owners in style and appointments.

Times were good. The country was prosperous, and the rising middle class was both moneyed and mobile. Real estate people developed new products to serve them. The automobile suburb soon replaced the street car suburbs of the preceding decades. In Durham, early experiments in automobile-oriented residential development are represented by Duke Park, Forest Hills, and Hope Valley. Newspaper ads for all three extolled the virtues of life in the country, clean air, larger lots, and space for gardens and parks. Nationally, the newly wealthy people of the 1920s favored period revival styles possessing strong connections to the aristocratic traditions of the past in Europe and America. Homes reflecting popular ideas of medieval manors and southern plantations filled the pages of ladies’ magazines and builders’ pattern books. The popularity of these styles is abundantly manifested in Duke Park where the Tudor and colonial revival styles dominate the first phase of the neighborhood’s development.

The J. A. Smith House on Acadia Street demonstrates that with imagination and the help of a good architect, even the owner of a cigar store and lunch counter could be lord of his own two-bedroom manor. James Alfonsa Smith moved to Durham from Georgia in 1923. He operated S&S Cigar Store and Luncheonette on Parrish Street. To design their new Duke Park residence, Smith and his wife, Irene, engaged the Durham firm of Rose and Rose. This firm designed the classical N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Building on West Parrish Street, and the Jacobean style Holloway Street School, among many other buildings in Durham. The Rose firm was meticulous. Surviving documents concerning the Smith’s house include a letter from Noell Brothers Hardware Company quoting a price of for a detailed list of door fixtures, locks, knobs, and hinges - covering everything including metals and finishes. “The Outside of the Front door to have a Sweedish Iron finish Handle,” the letter declares.

That heavy iron “Sweedish” handle is still there today, a perfect compliment to the medieval theme of the house. With it notice the false hinge straps (the door opens the other way) that tie the vertical boards of the heavy door together. The main entry is framed by a Tudor or Perpendicular archway set out with irregular bluestones inlaid with the flashed and “clinker” brick cladding the house. The purpose, of course is to create a rough, antique effect. The house presents a “cottage” front to the street. This lowers the roof line under end gables that reach only part-way back along the sides of the house. The rest of the house is contained under a roof gable projecting toward the rear. This makes the house appear smaller, quainter than it really is. The clipped, 'German' gables add to the medieval appearance of the house and tie it to the popular idea of ancient buildings - like the houses depicted in Brueghel’s paintings of peasant life. This gable roof treatment is also called a “jerkin-headed” gable because of its resemblance to the shoulders of the jerkin, a sleeveless coat worn in the later Middle Ages. The asymmetrical arrangement of the overlapping front gables and the stepped chimney give the house an unplanned, organic look. The heavy iron chains containing the stoop suggest portcullises and drawbridges.

In the South, owners who wanted the medieval look on the outside often did not want it on the inside. Instead they chose a lighter, colonial style. Not so the Smiths. Guided by their architects, they bravely brought the medieval inside with baronial success. The interior of the house has been beautifully maintained over the years and is very little altered. The entry hall leads into the home’s large public rooms. These are joined by broad Tudor archways. A library or den to the left is lit by a triple bank of nine-over-one sash windows. To the right is the formal living room. The focus of this room is the wonderful molded plaster fireplace with its Tudor arched firebox and escutcheons set into the corners. Another arch leads to the dining room beyond.

The baseboards are wood finished and rise high on the walls. The unusual eight-panel doors are made of a clear, light wood, maybe fir or even maple. Their finish has ripened to a deep rich color. Their brass knobs are the very ones supplied by the Noell Brothers so long ago. Note the gothic tracery in the heating vent grilles. Nothing escaped the Roses’ attention. The sand-finished plaster walls rise to a height of 10 feet. The extra foot in height makes the interior spaces lighter and airier and relieves any oppressiveness that might have been imposed by the dark woodwork and medieval details. A hallway joins the two original bedrooms. They are quite small and their woodwork is simpler. In the Twenties, people lived in the living room and slept in the bedroom. The hearth was the center of family life, not the television.

The kitchen is also very small. It was a service space, meant for work and not for guests. Originally, it was occupied by a stove and sink. Built-in counters were still a novelty in the South even in the 1930s. The reason for this is simple. Labor was inexpensive and the Smiths and their neighbors would have had cooks and other servants. The icebox would have stood in the screened porch (now the enclosed laundry). The original layout of the kitchen is something of a mystery as the space has been altered more than once. It appears that a door once gave access into the kitchen from the hall through the arch. This door was later closed up to create a chase for ductwork to the addition created in the attic space upstairs. Because the house always had a permanent stairway to the attic, the creation of additional living space there had only minimal effect on the original home below. The original breakfast nook/ butler’s pantry has also been changed. The sheetrock on the northern wall reveals where the built-in hutch once stood.

James Smith died in 1968. His wife, Irene, lived in the house until just before her death in 1990 at the age of 90. They are buried in section 2 of Maplewood Cemetery. The home they created is so obviously special that subsequent owners have cared for it as the Smiths would have wanted. The J. A. Smith House is an excellent example of its style and an important chapter in the story of Duke Park.

08.25.2021 (N. Levy)

Find this spot on a Google Map.

36.011239,-78.894812

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1528 HERMITAGE COURT

1528
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1925
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Mon, 05/13/2013 - 5:24pm by gary

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1528
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1925
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

1999 (Durham County Tax Office)

(Below in italics is from the 2005 National Register listing; not verified for accuracy by this author.)

W. Murray Jones House. 1 1⁄2-story stuccoed Tudor Cottage with steep front-gable roof, side shed dormers, and a front rustic stone chimney. A gabled entrance bay contains a round-arched door with a stone and brick surround. Other features are 6-over-6 sash windows and an engaged screen porch on the left side, with decorative curved wood lattice screen in the façade bay. Original owner Murray Jones was a realtor who assembled the property for the west campus of Duke University.

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Of course we couldn't get every example of this popular style in Durham on a two-day tour, but you can check out dozens of other pages for buildings with Tudor Revival features here in our expansive community archive.