Blacknall House, looking southwest from Erwin Road and Anderson St., 11.07.78
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)
Pharmacist Richard D. Blacknall built his brick Queen Anne home in approximately 1889 far to the west of the then-city limits of Durham. Blacknall had lived on North Dillard St. prior to his relocation; both sons of Dr. Richard Blacknall, Richard D. and James, purchased large tracts west of the city on the high ground to the south of the railroad tracks. This area became known as Caswell Hill (or Caswell Heights) - the location of many of the large homes of prominent/wealthy citizens of West Durham. (The gentrification of Pinhook, as it were.)
Blacknall's Drug Store was located on the northeast corner of Corcoran and West Main Sts. R Blacknall and Sons, as it was called, appears to have referred to Dr. Richard Blacknall the elder (once a physician of South Lowell and instrumental in establishing Presbyterian churches in Durham) and son Richard D. Blacknall.
Jean Anderson states that Blacknall opened a West Durham branch in 1892 as the mill village and commercial district were established to support Erwin Mill. However, the only branch of R Blacknall & Sons I can find in the 1890s city directories was located in the West End, at 801 West Chapel Hill St.; this was later known as the West Side Pharmacy.
There is also reference to RD Blacknall as Captain of the fire (hose) company / Durham Chemical Fire Company and secretary-treasurer of the Durham Street Railway Company during the late 1880s and early 1890s.
Richard D. Blacknall died in 1900, wife Sadie bought the house at a courthouse sale to satisfy the 1889 mortgage deed, but moved to Angier Avenue shortly thereafter. In 1909, she sold the house to Erwin Mills.
R Blacknall and Sons pharmacy lived on, despite the death of its founders. Interestingly, in the early 1900s, the main store was managed by Germain Bernard, and the West Side branch by CT Council. The two would later join forces at the Five Points Drug Company to concoct BC powders. In 1914, the downtown drugstore was destroyed in a huge fire that destroyed most of the 100 block of West Main St. The pharmacy was re-established in the same location, though, once the Geer Building had taken its place. I believe the company later evolved into the Durham Drug Company.
As for the former Blacknall house on Erwin Road, it was rented out to employees by the Erwin Mill. From 1926 to 1955, EG Atkins, an overseer and foreman at the mill, lived in the house.
Duke purchased the property in 1965.
In 1986, Duke moved the house, in part due to the widening of Erwin Road, but to a site a few blocks away in order to build an immense parking lot. The house was moved to a lot on Alexander St. at Pace St. and restored at that location.
New location of the Blacknall House, 1989.
(Courtesy Robby Delius)
It is currently used as office space. The original location of the house continues to be one piece of a massive surface parking lot for Duke Medical center.
Original location of the Blacknall House at Anderson St. and Erwin Rd., 04.04.09.
Blacknall House at Alexander and Pace Sts., 04.04.09
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