The current occupants (2018) of 206 East Hammond Street have applied for and received a historical plaque from Preservation Durham. The following information derives from the plaque application, prepared by Sally Warther and Tom Miller.
This bungalow is located in the neighborhood of Northgate Park. In the 1920s, there was no neighborhood as such. However, clusters of homes did begin to appear just off Roxboro Road during the years immediately preceding the Great Depression. One such cluster was at the intersection of Hammond and Highland Avenue. For more than a decade, this cluster of homes was a northern outpost of the city of Durham and was considered by some even to be a part of the unincorporated Bragtown community. The Northgate Park neighborhood gained cohesion when significant bursts of residential development activity in the late 1930s and late 1940s filled in the gaps.
Built toward the end of the Craftsman bungalow era, the house stands as a notable example of the style with some interesting variations on its norms. A roof that initially appears to be side-gabled reveals itself as actually cross-gabled when one inspects the entire side elevation of the home. The pitch of the roof is not quite as low as is typically characteristic of bungalows, creating a sizeable second floor space for a one-and-a-half story residence. This space is highlighted by the especially large gabled dormer. The roof also includes common Craftsman traits such as wide overhanging eaves, exposed rafter tails, and gabled dormers supported by gabled knee brackets. Exposed rafters are likewise present on the large hipped-roof garage building.
LIke any good southern bungalow, this house features a prominent wrap-around porch. Although it does not span the entire width of the home, the porch is especially deep due to a shed roof extension on the front elevation. In classic bungalow fashion, the porch roof is supported by pyramidal columns resting on brick piers. The much smaller screened-in back porch is also typical of the form. The stucco-over-masonry exterior is an unusual feature of the house, as bungalows built in 1920s Durham were commonly clad with wood siding.
Many original features remain in the house and are trademarks of the Craftsman bungalow design. While the exterior is not the typical wood cladding, this material abounds in the home’s interior. From the hardwood floors to the double-hung four-, six- and nine-over-one windows, to the moldings and the framings, wood is omnipresent. The matching front doors are original, both wood and a single panel and three lights above. The interior door and the door hardware are all original to the house. The French doors between the living and dining rooms are a common bungalow feature and lend a sense of openness to the interior, although this largely unaltered floor plan is still rather closed for the style. Few pairs of such french doors survive today. The original brick mantle and fireplace is flanked by built-in wooden bookcases. Built-ins are another Craftsman signature, further reflected in the built-in wooden hutch in the kitchen. The first floor bathroom, once the only bathroom, still retains its original bathtub and floor tile. (Interior photographs may be seen on Zillow.com).
Turning to what has changed, the finished space on the second floor likely reflects the largest alteration to the house. A renovation ten-fifteen years ago created the bedroom, bathroom, laundry room and sitting area now present. This change altered the first floor staircase entrance, formerly a door, into an open archway reflective of other similar arched openings in the house.
Several aspects of the home highlight the mid-late 1920s era in which is was built. The detached two-door garage is probably the most obvious reflection of the spread of technology that was occurring at the time. The production of the automobile at ever more affordable prices helped spur the construction of houses in outlying locations along major arteries leading from town--providing residents easy ways to travel between home and work in the city center. The coal chute likewise alludes to the former presence of a coal-fired central furnace as the main heating source of the home when it was built.
Another relatively new technology, the telephone, is also reflected in the built in wall niche. The home also features built-in closets in the hallway and bedrooms, which reflects the shift in American culture toward having more material possessions. By today’s standards, the closets appear relatively small. Despite the many updates that this house has undoubtedly undergone as technology has improved, it still serves as a prime example of a mid-late 1920s Craftsman bungalow house.
This home was likely built in 1928 for Mary and Harry Norman, who purchased the lot from Durham Realty and Insurance Company in May of that year. Harry was a plumber and he and his wife lived on Elizabeth St.
The property on which the home was built was first platted into building lots in 1925, by B. J. Hutchins. The plat covers several blocks abutting Roxboro Rd--Lavender St, Hammond St and Highland Ave in what is now known as the Northgate Park neighborhood. On the original plat, Hammond St was identified as “Fleetwood,” but because there was a street named Fleetwood in Durham, the name was never used. The land was subdivided into 25 foot wide strips facing Highland Ave. To create a lot that was facing Hammond, the lot had to be reconfigured. The lot at 206 Hammond is made up of parts of five of the Highland-facing strips.
In 1926, the property was purchased by Durham Realty and Insurance Company which, in turn, sold it to the Normans. It is possible that the house was built or at least begun as a speculative venture before it was sold to Mary Norman in May, 1928. The iron exterior door to the coal chute bears the date “1926.” The house first appears in the city directories in 1929, however. The entry for that year is “vacant.” This tends to support the conclusion that the house was newly built during the 1928 spring-summer building season.
For unknown reasons, the Normans never lived in the house.They conveyed it back to Durham Realty and Insurance Company in October 1928. The company kept it as rental property. In 1930 and 1931, the house was occupied by Hubert and Francis Rawlins. Hubert was the local manager of Pilot Life Insurance Company.In 1932, the house was listed in the city directory again as vacant. In 1933, the tenants were Henry P. MacDonald and his wife, Elizabeth. Henry MacDonald was the adjutant of the Durham unit of the Salvation Army. In 1934, the tenants were Elmer Wall and his wife Edna. Elmer Wall was also and adjutant of the Durham unit of the Salvation Army.
From 1935-1937, the house was home to Howard N. Haines and his wife Francis P. Howard Haines was a practicing architect and a professor at Duke University. He is listed in the 1937 bulletin on the Duke University School of Religion as “Instructor of Church Architecture.” His special interest was in the design and construction of churches for rural Methodist congregations. Among his projects were the United Methodist Church at Allensville, NC, near Roxboro. He not only designed the building, but directed its construction by members of the congregation using the area’s natural flint stone found and gathered by hand. Haines later became a professor of mechanical engineering at Duke.
In 1937, Durham Realty & Insurance sold 206 Hammond to W. M. Marshall. To acquire the property, Marshall conveyed property he owned on North Gregson Street to Durham Realty & Insurance.
According to his obituary in the April 28th edition of the Durham Morning Herald, William Marion Marshall was born in Forsyth County on December 12, 1876. He came to Durham in 1911 and worked at American Tobacco for 37 years. City directory entries indicate that he rose through the ranks of the organization until he was made a low-level manager in the 1940s. He was listed as assistant chief machinist in 1941 and as a foreman in 1944. In the early 1950s however, just before his retirement, he is only listed as an employee.
According to his draft registration card, Marshall was short, slender and had gray eyes. He seems to have preferred to be called Marion. He was 41 years old at the time of his draft registration card and was not called into the military. In 1937, when he purchased the Hammond Street house, Marshall was a widower. His wife, Myrtle Breeden Marshall, died in 1934. The 1940 Census shows that he lived in the home with three children, Hilda, age 23, Billy, age 14, and Nancy, age 11. His elder son, Clarence Marshall and his eldest daughter, Madelyn Marshall Ward, had left home by that time.
Marshall lived at 206 Hammond until shortly before his death on April 26, 1956. His death certificate indicates that he suffered a “cerebral thrombosis” or stroke in 1955 and went to live at the Hillcrest Convalescent Home. The immediate cause of death was listed as pneumonia. All of his children survived him. He is buried in the Marshall family plot in Maplewood Cemetery next to his wife, Myrtle.
After Marshall’s death in 1956, his estate sold 206 East Hammond to James E. Dickson, Jr and his wife Norma York Dickson. The Dickson family lived at this address for the next forty-four years. James Edward Dickson, Jr, “Jim” was born on May 15, 1922, in Durham. He was a purchasing agent for Golden Belt Manufacturing Company, a textile firm in East Durham closely allied with American Tobacco Company. During Dickson’s time at the company, it changed its operations from textiles to the production of paper packaging for cigarettes. According to his obituary in the February 2, 1991, edition of the Durham Herald-Sun, Dickson worked for Golden Belt for 35 years, eventually retiring as vice president of sales.
Dickson’s draft registration card records that he was six feet tall and weighed 175 pounds. His hair was blond and his eyes were blue. At the time, he was employed at Erwin Cotton Mills. He attended the University of North Carolina. In 1946, Jim Dickson married Norma Gwyn York. He was 24 and she was 21 years old.The ceremony took place at the home of Charles Preddy, 2515 West Club Boulevard. The Dicksons had three children--daughters Laura and Gwyn, and a son, Steve--whom they raised at their Hammond Street home.
James Dickson was active in the Durham community. In 1957, he was a leader in the referendum campaign to add fluoride to Durham’s drinking water. While his children were in school, he served as the president of the PTA at Club Boulevard Elementary School and Brogden Junior High School. He also service one term on the Durham Board of Education from 1973 to 1975.
Jim Dickson died at home on February 1, 1991. He is buried in the Dickson plot at Maplewood Cemetery.
Norma Y. Dickson continued to live at 206 Hammond Street after her husband’s death. She was born in Sanford, NC on April 25, 1925. Her obituary in the November 16, 2006 edition of the Durham Herald-Sun states that she was raised in Durham and graduated from Durham High School in 1943. For a time, she worked as a secretary for Nichols and Singletary, a Durham medical practice. She was a homemaker with an artistic bent. She enjoyed painting, decoupage, gardening and needlework, including sewing, knitting and cross-stitch. She sold her Hammond Street home to Robert and Laurie Smithwick in 2000 and moved to Croasdaile Village on Hillandale Road. She died on November 15, 2006. She was 81, and is buried beside her husband.
From January 2000 to July 2006, the Hammond Street house was the home of Robert and Laurie Smithwick. Robert Smithwick worked as a web services manager and senior software developer for Micro Medic, Inc., a Durham web design, development and computer repair company. Laurie Smithwick founded her own design firm, LEAP Design, and operated it from 206 Hammond. The Smithwicks met as students at Duke University. During their ownership of the house, the Smithwicks converted a portion of the walk-up attic into a master bed-bath suite and renovated the kitchen.
In 2006, the Smithwicks sold the house to Bonnie J. Gordon, a senior program director for MDC, a Durham based non-profit organization. Her work concentrated on developing community partnerships to improve postsecondary education completion rates for low-income young adults and connecting credentials to living wage employment. Gordon came to Durham from Boston. She restored the front porch, repaired and reinforced the foundation and repaired the exterior stucco. Inside, she refinished the wood floors.
In 2015, Bonnie Gordon sold 206 Hammond to Rachael Ellege (the plaque applicant). She and her partner, Keith Cochran, now reside in the house (as of 2018). Ellege is the Clinical Nutrition Program Manager at the Durham County Department of Public Health.