206 N. Dillard St. was built in 1908-1909 - one of the later additions to the 'Mansion Row' architecture of Dillard St. - by CC Thomas, who was a founder of the Thomas and Howard wholesale grocers.
Above, the view north on Dillard St. - the large columns on the second house on the right belong to 206 N. Dillard.
The large and beautiful central staircase was said to have been designed for the Thomas' daughter's eventual wedding (she was 15 when the house was constructed.) The story goes that, when the time came, she opted to elope instead. Too much pressure, perhaps - it's quite a staircase.
Mr. Thomas died in 1932 and Mrs. Thomas in 1943. The house then became a USO (United Service Organizations) facility - providing social events/respite for soliders.
USO, likely 1940s.
(From "Images of America: Durham" by Stephen Massengill)
The opening party for the USO, 1943 - gathered on the pressure-packed stairs.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)
By the 1960s, it was no longer a USO house, and had become a single family home.
CC Thomas house, 1964.
This house survived urban renewal through the activism of the neighbors, but most of what was around it was torn down. It was converted to apartments by the 1970s.
Looking east, early 1970s.
By the early 1980s, it was showing some signs of disrepair.
204 and 206 N. Dillard, looking northeast from Liberty and Dillard.
By the 1990s, this house was in really bad shape. I wish I had a copy of the picture Brent Lockwood showed me of the house when he first bought it - it looked abysmal. He purchased the house, I believe, in the mid-1990s and lived in it while he renovated it. After completing the house, he leased it to Sunshares (the early curbside recycling provider in Durham) and eventually sold the house to the Durham Crisis Response Center. The crisis response center provides services for victims of rape and domestic violence.
As such, I've heard through the grapevine that they are none too pleased that the county is funding a facility for violent youth/sexual offenders next door. But why would anyone have a problem with that?
206 North Dillard, looking east, 2006.
Friday, August 31, 2007
206 N. Dillard St. was built in 1908-1909 - one of the later additions to the 'Mansion Row' architecture of Dillard St. - by CC Thomas, who was a founder of the Thomas and Howard wholesale grocers.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Looking east, 1964.
The John M. Manning house on Dillard St. was likely built during the late 1890s. Manning was born in 1857 and went to college at UNC, medical school at UVA, and did his residency at Bellevue. He initially moved back to Pittsboro, but came to Durham in 1888 to practice medicine.
The three Manning brothers were rather remarkable. The other two brothers were Isaac and James. Isaac, also a physician, became Dean of UNC School of Medicine in 1905. James Manning, whose house still stands on North Mangum St., was a prominent local lawyer in Durham who went on to become a judge, state senator, and NC state Attorney General.
By the 1890s, Dr. John Manning had become the county health officer, and made an early plea that the city needed to install a sewer system rather than worrying about paving streets, as typhoid epidemics had become yearly occurrences.
Interestingly, Manning ran the first 'methadone clinic' (not using methadone, obviously) out of the health department for lifelong morphine addicts who could not longer get morphine after the 1915 Federal narcotics laws. He would administer "maintenance doses" so addicts would not enter severe withdrawal. The clinic was evidently overrun with people seeking help - one patient was a Confederate Civil War veteran who had used morphine since the war. The clinic had to shut down after two months, and many months later, Manning was indicted by the Federal government for breaking narcotics laws. The Durham-Orange medical society, Lincoln Hospital, and the City council came to Manning's defense. At his trial, he stated that he had contacted the Federal government about how to deal with the problem of addiction once the laws went into effect and received no reply. He thus took it on himself to fix the problem; he was immediately acquitted.
His service evidently put him in good stead with the community, as he was elected mayor in 1921 and served until 1929. (7 mayors lived on Dillard St.)
One particular insight into the urban planning decisions of the 1920s: Dr. Manning was strongly opposed to one-way streets in downtown, but a fan of parking; he proposed turning Rotary Park, next to the Academy of Music into a parking lot. His proposal was defeated.
Dr. Manning died in 1933. I'm not sure who the house passed to next, but this house, along all of the houses on the east side of Dillard, as well as those up Holloway to the railroad tracks, were slated to be demolished by urban renewal. City council member and later mayor Charles Markham fought hard to save these houses (Markham lived two doors down.)
So the Manning house was spared the city wrecking ball. Unfortunately, it didn't survive another wrecking ball, as it was demolished sometime between 1964 and the mid 1970s. It is now the parking lot for the Durham Crisis Response center at 206 N. Dillard.
One Manning descendant, Isaac's grandson, still practices medicine in Durham: Dr. Stuart Manning, president of Research Triangle Occupational Health Services. (With whom I used to practice.)
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Kevin's got the scoop over at Bull City Rising on the availability of the former Ivy Room for lease - with a "generous upfit allowance" for renovation. The building, owned for many years by the Julian family of Chapel Hill (of the clothing store) has sat fallow for a very long time due to inaction by the owners. Redevelopment is being handled by Reynolds Maxwell (a VP at Maverick) and his Headwall Development Company. Maverick has handled their historic properties with great aplomb so far, and this will likely be a great addition to a desolate block. It might even get "Gatsby's" to open.
It does add intrigue to the future of the Chancellory site as well. Maverick owns the former Greyhound/Trailways site one block away from this building, which they are using for surface parking. How this puzzle begins to tie together to form an active connection between East Campus and Brightleaf over the next few years will be very interesting to watch.
Dillard St., otherwise known as "Mansion Row" contained more modest structures at the northwest extreme, and generally more elaborate structures on the east side of the 200 block, and on both sides of the 100 block near East Main St.
The west side of the 200 block of N. Dillard contained a commercial structure on the southwest corner of N. Dillard and Holloway, and larger structures to the south. Many of these had become rooming houses by the 1960s.
217-219 N. Dillard, 1963
215 N. Dillard, 1963
213 N. Dillard, 1963
211 N. Dillard, 1963
207 N. Dillard, 1963
205 N. Dillard, 1963
This entire block was demolished in the late 1960s by urban renewal. In 1977, WTVD bought the block to build their Fortress of Solitude - where, if they close their eyes reeeeeaaaally tight and click their heels, they can almost believe they are in Raleigh.
Looking northwest at 450 feet of 8 foot tall fence, 2007.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The south side of the 400 block of Holloway was a combination of commercial and residential structures.
402 Holloway (next to the former synagogue at 400 Holloway), looking southeast, 1963.
404 Holloway, looking southeast. (The little logo on the truck says "This Old House", btw. Norm!)
406 Holloway - which had been a residential structure early in the 20th century, but was replaced by a service station (one of the 4 in these two blocks,) looking southeast, 1963.
217-219 N. Dillard st. - looking west-southwest from the southeast corner of Dillard and Holloway, 1966.
These structures were all demolished by the city via urban renewal in the late 1960s.
In the 1970s, WTVD bought this empty block and constructed their main office/studios.
A view from the other side of the block (from Liberty St.) 1977, looking northeast.
Looking south-southwest, 2007.
Today, it remains part of their impenetrable compound, surrounded by fencing that leaves no doubt as to what you should go do to yourself.
Monday, August 27, 2007
The northwest corner of Oakwood and Holloway was vacant until the 1920s-1930s, at which point it became a gas station. It would become one of 4 gas stations on Holloway between Oakwood and Roxboro, an Esso station across the street from the Pure Oil station on the southeast corner of N. Dillard and Holloway
Looking northeast, 1966, from the corner of N. Dillard and Holloway. Notice that Oakwood and Dillard did not connect with one another. You can see houses in the 300 block of Oakwood in the background.
This gas station was taken as part of urban renewal and demolished. Part of the land went to connect Oakwood, Dillard, and Holloway into a 4-way intersection. The remainder became a park at some point, which it remains today.
Looking northwest at the corner, 2007.
In urban design, we make a lot out of neighborhood parks, pocket parks, etc. - the small spaces within walking distance of the rest of the neighborhood. The success of these spaces, however, is very much context dependent and design dependent - you can't simply create a small park where you have leftover space and expect it to work.
Because it clearly does not. One problem is the too-large roadway system here (not just the width, but the huge turning radii) with a lack of any on-street parking. These streets are not kid territory. And unfortunately, one of the costs to the neighborhood of having the Urban Ministries shelter 1 block away is that this park is filled with people from the shelter during the day (my understanding is that they must leave the shelter during the day.) Many of them are passed out/sleeping on the play equipment and lawn.
I visited this park in several occasions over the summer (as part of my day job.) It is hard for a kid to use the slide when there is a grown man sleeping on the platform. (It wasn't me.) I watched several mothers walk by with their children - and repeatedly I saw the mothers tighten their grip on their children's hands and pull them closer as they walked by. One woman told me that she was "scared to death" of this park.
So if your goal is for kids to be able to play and exercise, or for neighbors to feel like they could bring a book or their lunch there, the mission of this park is clearly failing. What should be an amenity to the neighborhood is widely viewed as a liability.
Is some of this social stigma? Undoubtedly. But do we expect moms to tell their children to climb over the passed-out man on the slide?
There is no easy solution to the problem presented here. This is the neighborhood context. While I would advocate for improving the streetscape here - it is not pedestrian friendly - I don't think that would do anything to help this park.
Oakwood Park, looking northeast from Holloway St., 2007.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Although word about the new SETI@trailside (credit:Nico) installment at the head of the American Tobacco Trail has already made its way around listservs and websites, I couldn't resist putting up a picture of this inordinately silly place for a set of large satellite dishes - at the gateway to the scenic ATT.
While several sources have said to me that these Fox dishes were moved to make way for the new Diamond View buildlings, it remains unclear whether this is a temporary or permanent installation (although it's some serious hardware for a temporary install.) One would hope that they would be atop some buildings once those buildings are built.
If this is the permanent location, someone needs to put down the pipe and take another look at what they've done, and its effect on the trail. If they think it isn't a big deal, might I suggest the lawn in the middle of American Tobacco as an alternative?
Kevin reports they are permanent. Unbelievable. It really isn't only the trail, but also the connection between north of the freeway and south of the freeway. As it was, because of American Tobacco and the trail, this is one of our best potential bridging points between the two sides. Putting this thing here does not help.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Preservation Durham is now reporting that the owner of 501 Oakwood has signed an agreement with a contractor to renovate the house at the PD office. NIS evidently either wants the owner or PD to fix it up, as it has changed hands so many times. NIS has agreed to an extension to August 31st, at which point the contractor must bring the plans to the NIS office.
We'll see what happens. We have a lot of derelict-property owners in Durham who will say anything to put people off. And believe me, I am all for holding their feet to the fire and not allowing them to get away with things that perpetuate the demolition-by-neglect. I'm not sure we are any further along than we were back in April at the time of the demolition summit towards creating a policy framework that penalizes the owner without penalizing the neighborhood (and Durham as whole) through demolition. And this is simply because when code violation is the problem, demolition is a 'clean' and relatively easy solution for NIS. Renovation is a much harder way to 'solve the problem.'
This framework simply does not serve the broader needs of the city - it reflects a narrow perspective of how cities work. I continue to be concerned that there is an underlying urban renewal-esque process going on - as I drive by blocks in East Durham that have been completely cleared of houses through code enforcement/demolition, and I read about new housing that will be built there by non-profits.
It's a larger question for Durham that presents itself in multiple spheres in Durham. What is the value of history vs. design, new vs. old, pattern of houses vs. individual architecture? For example, I have ongoing discussions with folks involved in the QOL project in southwest central Durham about these issues - in a sphere where the city has little to do with the demolition/rehab of properties. What is the architectural value of dozens of mill houses? Do design guidelines for new construction create something 'better' than the old houses that are there? What are the implications of "old houses" to different groups?
These are the big questions that I think we should be thinking about in Durham - and downstream policy by specialists like code enforcement should reflect those goals. But code enforcement should not be the driver for neighborhood design / preservation.
Largely, in other cities, that is the role of the Planning Dept. We do not have a strong culture of planning here in Durham, and I think this hurts us in many ways - such that activists, non-profits, for-profits, whatever DDI is, other departments - try to fill in the gap with varying degrees of success. The UDO, and a more even approach to the regulatory side of planning has been a significant step forward, but we have further to go to reach a place where we really articulate how we grow or shrink on the landscape - and what that will look like. While this may elicit reactive stances from some people, I think it is being done anyway - just in a way that is often suboptimal (particularly for some areas) and uncoordinated. The risk, and the reality, is that such 'plans' are frequently at cross-purposes with other plans. And no process has really addressed this. The comprehensive plan simply doesn't do enough, and is not respected enough in policy-making to fill this role - at least in its current form.
The result are ad hoc decisions like the citing a plan to justify the disposal of surplus public property in a neighborhood without a neighborhood plan, the threatened demolition of a property like 501 Oakwood at the same time Preservation Durham (which receives city funding) is paying money to put these properties on the National Register - which will bring significant tax incentives to renovate them, etc. These muddled, confounding actions that drive us - well, I'll speak for myself - me mad are the result of discoordinated policy that can and should be improved.
The north side of the 400 block of Holloway St. was residential, like most of Holloway St., likely constructed during the 1910s. Below is an aerial shot of the intersection of N. Queen and Holloway Sts., 1959
The houses on the north side are tough to make out, as they were on the edge of the sheet.
All but one of these houses were torn down in the early 1960s, prior to urban renewal - such that what the urban rewnewal photographs primarily captured were seemingly fresh vacant lots. Houses on Carlton are visible in the background.
401 Holloway, 1963.
403 Holloway, 1963.
407 Holloway, 1963.
The remaining house in the picture, at 407 Holloway, was torn down by urban renewal.
This space is now Genesis Home, a transitional facility for homeless people / families - which I believe was built in 1989.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Two blocks off of Holloway is 501 Oakwood, emblematic of the kind of problem the Cleveland-Holloway neighborhood is trying to deal with - and in my mind, a better target for the city's largess than funding businesses to do new construction.
501 Oakwood was among the earliest built in the part of the Cleveland-Holloway neighborhood north of Holloway St - built between 1907 and 1913. This area with its rolling topography, was not as attractive for development until the relatively flat areas along Main, Liberty, Holloway, Dillard, Cleveland, and, a bit later, Roxboro, had been developed.
Above, the Sanborn Map of this portion of the neighborhood, 1913. 501 Oakwood is marked with the red dot.
When the entire southwest portion of this neighborhood was demolished in the 1960s, the neighborhood had been on a slow economic decline - many of the large houses turned into rooming houses or showing signs of deferred maintenance. Urban renewal was a good dose of strychnine to the ailing patient.
Despite this, the remaining neighborhood north of Holloway remained stable for a number of years - primarily due to the owner-occupancy of an older generation that remembered the neighborhood from an earlier era.
Here is 501 Oakwood, sometime during the 1970s.
The neighborhood has had an increasingly rougher time over the past 20 years, as that generation passed on. More and more houses boarded up, drugs, violence, etc.
501 Oakwood is a symptom of that problem - abandoned for way too long and with foundation issues, it deserves renovation. Unfortunately, the person with that vision has to step forward now - as in by Friday - because NIS has their bulldozers revved, ready to pop the clutch.
501 Oakwood, looking west, 2007.
501 Oakwood and 503 Oakwood (which unfortunately was just gutted and the windows removed)
This is one of those sagas in the housing world of Durham. I finally managed to track down the 'owner' of this house a few months ago - an elderly man in Hillsborough and his grown children in Asheville, who told me that they had donated it to the Mary E. Wilson Foundation for a home for at-risk women. They promptly sold it off/gave it to a ne'er do well woman who said she is a contractor. She stated at the housing appeals board meeting that she was planning to fix it up for a shelter for victims of some sort. I was present at that meeting with multiple neighbors, who beseeched the housing board and NIS not to tear it down. Gray Dawson was utterly exasperated by the thought of a repair-only order, but the housing appeals board listened to the neighborhood. Only the 'contractor' was lying, because earlier that day, she had already sold it to an owner of multiple rooming houses in the neighborhood who thought he would do the same with this house.
He hasn't gotten around to it.
Supposedly, this house was going to be sold to a realtor/developer who had signed a memorandum of understanding with NIS. But he backed out. So now NIS, understandably impatient, wants to get this over with and tear the thing down.
Unfortunately, that penalizes the neighbors, who clearly want to save the house, more than anyone.
Word on the street - because Preservation Durham didn't tell me about it - is that PD needs $16,000 by Friday to - ? purchase the house - and save it from demolition. I don't know any more details, but if you want to save an extremely important structure in Cleveland-Holloway, I'd get in touch with Preservation Durham ASAP. Their number is (919) 682-3036.
Update 3:05pm: NIS now reports:
Have some news that might be encouraging. The owner for 501 Oakwood came in today and was granted an extension till Aug 31 to bring in a MOU.
MOU is a "Memorandum of Understanding", which is an agreement between owner and NIS to repair the house. I would not be confident that this means anything except a temporary delay. Neighbors encountered the owner out on the street today saying "want to buy a house? Make a great deal.."
As I've mentioned before, we simply don't have enough tools in our policy arsenal to deal with this problem - and I can respect that problem. How do you get an owner to repair? I'm not convinced that NIS has a culture that would respect the community's wishes, even if it had better tools though. As one woman was told by NIS earlier today, per her report, "[501 Oakwood is] long overdue to be demolished." This is what keeps NIS from exploring more creative, realistic ways to make this happen in the short-term, and instead has them focusing on things like 'property deconstruction' as a 'solution'.
I must admit, the thought that there would still be a house for me to write an update about on this lot in 2010 seemed like a remote possibility 3 years ago. Happily, the house is under renovation, and has been purchased by a couple to be owner occupied later this year.
501 Oakwood, 02.21.10
501 Oakwood, 10.29.10
Now occupied for the first time in over a decade - 01.15.11
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
The Jewish community in Durham grew slowly during the 1870s with the arrival of families that opened mercantile establishments, but gained momentum during the 1880s with the advent of cigarette manufacture by the Blackwell and Duke tobacco companies. The cigarettes were initially hand-rolled, and many of the experienced rollers came to Durham from New York; a significant portion of these new arrivals were Jewish. Many of them settled on Pine St., now South Roxboro St. The implementation of the Bonsack machine, which rolled cigarettes automatically, in 1884 eliminated demand for cigarette rollers, however.
The Jewish community established a cemetery adjacent to Maplewood in 1884 (on Morehead Ave.) but did not initially have the capital to build a synagogue. The community met for several years in rented space on Main St. Several books note that the "Jewish Church" was established in Durham in 1892, and received a state charter in 1894. In 1906, the Christian Church on Liberty moved to the former Main St. Methodist church on West Main, after that congregation became Memorial Methodist and moved to a new structure on West Chapel Hill St. The Jewish congregation then occupied the former Christian Church on Liberty St.
By 1915, it was clear that they had outgrown their structure, and the city wished to extend Queen St. north of Liberty St., which would demolish the synagogue. In 1920, the cornerstone of the new structure, to be built by CC Hook, on the southeast corner of the brand new intersection of N. Queen St. and Holloway St., was laid. The new structure, built at a cost of $28,000 was completed in 1921. The congregation became known as Beth-El coincident with their move.
A partially obscured view, looking south from Holloway St., 1924
Beth-El in the 1950s, looking south from Holloway St.
In 1957, the synagogue moved again, to Watts St. in Trinity Park. This building became the Bethel Baptist Church, a predominantly African-American congregation.
Looking southeast from N.Queen and Holloway, 1963.
The building was taken by the city via urban renewal and demolished in the late 1960s. This portion of Queen St. was closed (again - although it remains open to the north.) It is now the northwest corner of the Raleigh TV Embassy Compound - er, I mean, WTVD.
Monday, August 20, 2007
In a victory for neighborhood self-determination, the council voted to rescind the transfer of the two properties to Dominion Ministries, and put them into an upset bid process on September 7th. Thanks to amendments by Mike Woodard, the properties will revert to these non-profits if no qualifying bids are received. I found this disappointing for 218 Dillard, since Preservation Durham, a non-profit, clearly noted at the work session 2 weeks ago that they were not notified of the initial process and, loosely quoting "if there was any parcel in Durham we would want to build affordable housing on, it would be 218 Dillard." I thought this parcel in particular should have reverted to the standard process, open to all non-profits if no market bids were received.
But a door has opened again for the neighborhood to work towards their goals. Clearly the win-win here is that we need to build ecconomically-diverse, use-diverse, and people-diverse neighborhoods - healthy, vibrant communities with services, parks, housing for people who work at American Tobacco and people who are formerly homeless.
Council seemed to imply that this somehow gave the appearance of being for or against affordable housing (which applies only to Housing for New Hope.) Of course it isn't. I think of it this way. A neighborhood is like an orchestra - it sounds best with all different instruments, some soft, some loud, some high, some low. Let's say affordable housing providers are trumpets. Trumpets are good, but 50 trumpets doesn't make an orchestra. Because you say "hey, we have 50 trumpets - what we really need is a friggin' oboe" doesn't mean you hate trumpets.
Unfortunately, much of our policy is trumpet-making rather than orchestra-making. If you question all the trumpets in one orchestra, you must hate trumpets - or music in general. We have a lot of organizations in this city that make trumpets, and city policy to make trumpets. We need trumpets - but as part of a whole orchestra, not a monotone.
Okay, so I got a bit carried away with that metaphor.
A quick reminder that the City Council agenda item #25 tonight is the vote to rescind the transfer of city-owned land in the CH neighborhood to two non-profits. The neighborhood is asking that these properties follow the normal surplus property procedure - be made available to any member of the public to bid (including but not limited to the non-profits.) Failing any bid, the properties can be available exclusively to the non-profits. These properties were never offered to the public despite lists of people interested in the property (at least 20 for each.) Instead, because some non-profits had expressed interest in the land, these parcels were withheld from a public bid process, and neighborhood requests to be notified of any changes or disposition of the land were ignored.
The neighborhood has expressed to me that they would like at least 90 days before the properties are put out to bid, to allow time for the neighborhood to gather and formulate their own vision for the properties, and that they would like to see an upset bid process, to maximize transparency in what has been, to this point, a process lacking in direct and open communication.
The City Council Meeeting is tonight, at 7p.
As mentioned previously, the East End/Cleveland Holloway developed during the 1870s-1880s, although Holloway itself developed somewhat later. There was a tobacco "leaf house" (the Umstead Tobacco Prizery) located on the northeast corner of Roxboro and Holloway during the 1890s
The East End, 1891.
The area north of this - the lower ground, did not develop to much degree until the 1920s, but by the late 1920s, the neighborhood was built out as a bustling residential area (with retail services - as all neighborhoods had.) Holloway St., as a streetcar route, became a prime connector between the East End and East Durham.
Looking northwest, 1920s.
Holloway St began to change to some degree with the advent of serious car travel - as highway 98 and 70 business, it was a main road into town from the east. This is likely why the northeast corner of Roxboro and Holloway became the Carolina Motor Club / AAA.
301 Holloway - "Buying New Auto Tags - 01.02.62"
301 Holloway, 1963 - looking northeast from Holloway and Roxboro.
The remainder of the street remained residential, though. Moving west to east:
307 Holloway, 1963
309 Holloway, 1963
313 Holloway, 1963.
315 Holloway, 1963.
317 Holloway, 1966.
319 Holloway, 1966.
These houses/buildings were all torn down via urban renewal. The site now contains the Scarborough Nursery School, which was built in 1972.
Looking northeast from Holloway and Roxboro, 2007.
Looking northwest from Holloway and Queen, 2007.