Preservation Durham Places in Peril : 2012

Preservation Durham Places in Peril : 2012


/sites/default/files/images/2009_1/dukepkwaterpag_81149.1.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2009_1/dukepkwaterpag_81149.2.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2009_1/dukepkwaterpag_81149.3.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2009_1/dukeparkpoolopensforsummer_060557.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2009_1/dukeparkpoolopensforsummer_060557.2.jpg

DUKE PARK / DUKE PARK POOL AND BATHHOUSE

1530
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1910
/ Modified in
1930
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

Comments

No comments yet.

Add new comment

In tours

Last updated

  • Sun, 08/21/2011 - 10:39pm by gary

Location

36° 0' 51.5448" N, 78° 53' 37.5072" W

Comments

1530
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1910
/ Modified in
1930
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

Duke Park, originally part of Brodie Duke's large landholdings, was farmed by farmer Lee Perry during the early 20th century. It was also evidently used by surrounding neighbors to surface mine coal - Durham's primary heat source prior to its usurpation by oil/gas heat in the mid-20th century.

Per Jean Anderson, the Junior League was at least in part responsible for persuading Duke to donate the land for a park sometime in the 1910s. Duke owned most of the surrounding land, and had begun plotting streets and selling off building lots, primarily to the south of the current park, between Glendale and North Roxboro prior to his death in 1919.

The residential neighborhood of Duke Park, surrounding the park itself, came into its own in the 1920s with the rise of private automobile ownership. Large period revival homes and bungalows, in particular, were developed along adjoining streets.

There is little information about the park itself during this era - because the area immediately to the north, now occupied by I-85 was a natural ravine, the park likely had no distinct northern boundary, blending with the rural landscaped that stretched north to Bragtown. Most likely, the land stayed as it had been, although it's unclear whether grazing, farming, and coal digging still went on.

In the early 1930s, though, Duke Park became one of several Durham parks that were redeveloped by the Civil Works Administration and Emergency Relief Administration of North Carolina as agents for the Federal Works Progress administration. Jean Anderson notes that "CR Wood applied for Reconstruction Finance Corporation Funds to establish five recreation centers [in city parks]" I don't know who CR Wood was.

Evidently the construction at Duke Park was opposed by some of the tony new neighbors, who were likely not digging up their own coal and grazing their cows nearby. The opposition included Richard Wright, II who lived nearby at 1429 N. Mangum, and local lawyer Basil Watkins. Per Jim Wise, the opposition claimed that the park would attract "an influx of undesirable elements." Despite 75 names on a petition and a rant about cutting down trees for swimming pools, the trash produced by visitors, and the expense of maintaining the park, the anti-park posse lost.

Marshall Spears, chairman of the recreation commission, pushed forward with the construction of a pool, tennis courts, swings, shelters, stone entrances, and a bathhouse, all completed between 1933-1935.

These facilities appear to have been extremely popular through the 1940s and 1950s. I simply stopped scanning pictures of the Duke Park pool after awhile, as it appears to have been the reliable annual harbinger of summer for the crowds to arrive at Duke Park pool. Duke Park was segregated, as all Durham Parks were, and only accessible to white people.

I was rather surprised to discover the "Duke Park Water Pageant" in existence as early as 1949. I have no idea if the present-day "Beaver Queen Pageant" organizers were aware of this history of Duke Park, but, if not, it's rather amazing.


Duke Park Water Pageant, 08.11.49.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Duke Park Water Pageant, 08.11.49.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Duke Park Water Pageant, 08.11.49.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Duke Park pool opens for summer, 06.05.57
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Duke Park pool opens for summer, 06.05.57
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

dukeparkswimming poolopens_060455.jpeg
Duke Park pool opens for summer, 06.04.55
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Duke Park pool, 08.23.56 - the headline was "Duke Park Pool with No Swimmers" - due to a polio scare.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Duke Park pool, 06.17.57.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


Duke Park Pool, 08.09.61. I think this is probably staged. I'm putting this in primarily to show the bathhouse in the background.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Evidently the bathhouse was renovated in 1962.


Inspecting the renovations, 06.07.62.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

The park seems to have fallen on harder times in the late 1960s and 1970s, as did many city parks. The reaction of the white populace to the integration of parks (not specifically Duke Park, but all Durham parks) was not to embrace change. I don't know of violence or similar - but community investment in parks declined.

Per Barry Ragin, the Duke Park pool closed in 1993 due to "irremediable maintenance issues" that related to the the pool developing a leak into the underground stream below it. I always have to suspect that anything is remediable with enough money, which, granted, Durham Parks and Rec rarely has. Sometime in the early 2000s, as part of the renovation of the play equipment at Duke Park, the pool was removed, and the hole filled in with dirt.

The 1933-34 bathhouse has remained shuttered for 15 years, despite the efforts, chronicled by Barry, of the surrounding community to lease the structure from Durham Parks and Rec for a community center. It seems that DPR has a desire to raze the structure, but hasn't done so due to community opposition. So they've opted for traditional option #3 = neglect. It's the standard practice of owners in these situations - if you can wait, try to get the structure to deteriorate enough so that 1) ideally, it falls down of its own accord, 2) you can get a pliable structural engineer to sound the chicken little-esque refrain of "unsafe! unsafe!".

Which is all a shame, because Duke Park clearly has the community resources to make this a thriving community center and, by doing so, save a historic structure that helps us remember some of the things we and our elected officials did last time the economic sky was falling.


A general shot of Duke Park, looking northeast, 01.17.09


Former Duke Park pool and boarded-up bathhouse, 01.17.09

Find this spot on a Google Map.

36.014318,-78.893752

Add new comment

DURHAM PARKS AND RECREATION HISTORIC BUILDINGS

 

Why it’s Important:

Neighborhood concern for park properties throughout the city and county has brought these buildings to the 2012 Places in Peril list. Some of these structures include: the Duke Park Bathhouse, a Works Projects Administration project from the mid-1930s; the Forest Hills Park Clubhouse, designed by George Watts Carr, Sr in the 1920s for the historic golf course; and the Lavender House in the Northgate Park neighborhood, home to the Trailside Museum in the 1940s which became the NC Museum of Life and Science. Other historic DPR properties of note include Leigh Farm, West Point on the Eno, Spruce Pine Lodge, and the City Armory downtown.

 

Why it’s in Peril:

Durham is recognized statewide - even nationally - as a community rich in historic resources, showcasing such redevelopments as the American Tobacco Campus, West Village, and the Golden Belt mill complex. Durham doesn’t have a beach, a riverwalk, or a mountain range; instead, the clever reuse of historic buildings and the private sector’s support of preservation sets Durham apart from many other communities in the state. While our local government has contributed financially to projects like West Village and American Tobacco, it has failed to adopt preservation guidelines into the treatment of its own aging property holdings and has a history of neglecting historic schools and other significant structures that impact entire neighborhoods.

 

The poor treatment of park buildings is symptomatic of the larger problem of how Durham’s publicly-owned properties are maintained and renovated - a paradigm that can result in galvanized neighborhood concern for buildings with important pasts but uncertain futures. Moreover, the fact that preservation standards are not utilized in undertakings funded by bond referendums further frustrates citizens who recognize the importance of protecting our cultural heritage and the resources that make Durham unique.

 

What’s Needed:

 

Durham’s local government should lead by example in the preservation of their historic buildings, as this plays an important role in shaping public support for other preservation efforts across Durham County. The maintenance and sensitive rehabilitation of publicly-owned historic buildings signals to residents and visitors alike the value that Durham’s leaders place on our built heritage in all sectors. In contrast, employing non-sensitive practices to rehabilitation work on public buildings sends the wrong message to the public - especially to those living in local historic districts - about the stewardship of older properties and how the citizenry should maintain its own historic properties.

 

Preservation Durham supports a proactive approach to ensuring that the rehabilitations of historic public properties - including park buildings - strive to emulate the private-sector development models that have made Durham a distinctive community. Several possible ways to pursue this include:

 

  • Requiring a minor Certificate of Appropriateness from the Durham Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) for all rehab work on publicly-owned historic buildings, regardless of whether or not they are located in a local historic district.
  • Encouraging training in the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation for General Services staff charged with coordinating projects on historic properties, for City Council members and County Commissioners who set the agenda for public dollars, and for other public administrators involved with Durham’s historic property holdings.
  • Requiring local government to coordinate with General Services, the Durham HPC, Preservation Durham, the State Historic Preservation Office, and other preservation-minded community members to develop preservation plans for all publicly held historic properties, recognizing that this may include a process for selling off historic properties with conservation easements - as was done with the 5-Points building currently under construction by Re:Vamp Durham - that cannot be appropriately maintained.

 

Beltline_rrsiding_1957.jpg1891_BirdsEye_beltline.jpgbeltlinemap_1924.jpg

DUKE BELTLINE

Durham
NC
Built in
1891
Type: 

Comments

No comments yet.

Add new comment

In tours

Last updated

  • Fri, 06/01/2012 - 4:48pm by gary

Location

United States
36° 0' 11.3256" N, 78° 54' 16.8768" W
US

Comments

Durham
NC
Built in
1891
Type: 

 

Beltline_rrsiding_1957.jpg

1957

Built in 1891 primarily to bypass the control of the railroad tracks between Five Points and Dillard by the Durham and Clarksville railroad, the Duke Beltline provided passage north of and around the town, connecting to the main line adjacent to the Duke Factory, and connecting to the Timberline railway northeast of town, which then connected to the main line east of Dillard St.

Interestingly, the 1891 Bird's Eye view shows the beltline consistent with present-day on the north and east sides of town, but cutting a much wider path across later Trinity Park on the west side of town. I'm typically impressed by the accuracy of this map/drawing, so I do wonder whether this could have been done - but most likely, it was a projection of an unbuilt section

1891_BirdsEye_beltline.jpg

Below, a 1924 map that accurately shows the Beltline and the Norfolk Western line heading north into Person County.

beltlinemap_1924.jpg

Add new comment

DUKE BELTLINE

Why it’s important:

In 1890, after engineering a merger with his three largest competitors, Brodie Duke began building his own rail line, arcing along the western and northern edges of town. This Durham Beltline completed a loop linking the newly formed American Tobacco Company facilities to each other and to both of Durham’s regional railways.  By the turn of the century, American Tobacco was producing and shipping 90% of the cigarettes sold in the United States, due in no small part to the rail infrastructure built by Brodie Duke.

While the tracks forming the southern and eastern legs of the rail loop remain active, the Beltline – now owned by Norfolk Southern - lies dormant and abandoned.  Relics are still visible, from the Chapel Hill Street overpass north through West Village and Durham Central Park, past Brodie Duke’s Pearl Cotton Mill on Trinity Avenue, turning east across Washington, Mangum, and Roxboro Streets to the junction with the Norfolk & Western tracks near Trinity Avenue and Avondale Drive.

 

Acquisition of the unused corridor has been a top priority for City administration for more than a decade.  Durham’s Trails and Greenways Master Plan deems the Beltline critical to connectivity of the entire system, a direct link between the American Tobacco Trail and the Ellerbe Creek Greenway.  The Beltline corridor could also afford Durham a unique opportunity for an eventual light rail transit loop circumnavigating the downtown, helping to manage the ever increasing density of our downtown and inner ring neighborhoods.

 

Why it’s in peril:

In 2004 Norfolk Southern agreed to sell its entire 25 mile corridor between Main Street and Person County for $6M.  City, County, State, and Federal funds were set aside, but the railroad reconsidered, pulling all but the 2.2 mile Beltline segment from the market without reducing the asking price.  With all but $2M of the public funding now lapsed or reallocated, Norfolk Southern and the City remain at an impasse.  The railroad has recently indicated that it may sell the corridor piecemeal to adjacent landowners and private developers

 

What’s needed:

Preservation Durham supports the preservation of the entire Beltline corridor and incorporation of its historic bridges, tracks, signals, and infrastructure into the design of a shared bicycle and pedestrianway.  If purchase or condemnation is not possible, the City of Durham should pursue a long-term lease agreement similar to that in place for the American Tobacco Trail, which reserves the corridor for future light rail transit.  Preservation Durham and the City of Durham should pursue a relationship with Greensboro native Erskine Bowles, who was recently elected to Norfolk Southern’s Board of Directors; the former Presidential Chief-of-Staff and UNC head could give Durham a more sympathetic partner at the negotiating table. 

 

FendelBeaversFarm.jpg

FENDOL BEVERS HOUSE

,
Durham
NC
Built in
1850
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

An early I-House with Greek Revival features.

Comments

No comments yet.

Add new comment

In tours

Last updated

  • Wed, 04/19/2017 - 9:46am by gary

Location

United States
35° 56' 27.3912" N, 78° 47' 30.7356" W
US

Comments

,
Durham
NC
Built in
1850
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

 

FendelBeaversFarm.jpg

~1990 (Durham County Architectural Inventory)

Along the early road from Raleigh to Hillsborough, civil engineer Fendel (Fendol) Bevers (Beavers) constructed what is now Durham County’s best-preserved I-house with Greek Revival styling ca. 1850. Standing over a fieldstone foundation, the house has an archetypal elongated form, a low hip roof, and end chimneys with ashlar (squared) stone bases, a feature not commonly found in Durham County. Fenestration is regular, and windows, six-over-nine on the first floor and six-over-six on the second floor, have four-part surrounds ornamented with plain corner blocks. A nearly full facade hip-roofed front porch supported by narrow posts with sawn brackets organized into pairs at the entry and triples at corners is a late nineteenth century addition. Framing with corner block ornaments midway between the entry and windows on end bays identifies the approximate location of an earlier porch. An early entrance on the east facade that has been covered with weatherboard is marked in the same way. A one-story ell was added to the rear of the dwelling in the early twentieth century. The interior of the main block has a center hall plan and is remarkably intact; original flooring, sheathing, mantels, and double vertical panel doors are in place.

Late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century farm buildings surround the farmhouse. Notable among them is a weathered kitchen house with a hewn-timber frame and two entrances surmounted by transom lights. There are also tobacco barns, a log smokehouse, and various storage sheds.

Preservation Durham, 2012

Add new comment

FENDALL (FENDOL/FENDEL) BEVERS FARM

 

Why it’s important:

The Fendall Bevers Farm, straddling Leesville Road near Briar Creek, is a remarkable early farmstead that dates to about 1850.  This early I-House has Greek Revival details, a stone foundation and chimneys, original windows with ornamented surrounds, and an intact interior. Early farm buildings surrounding it include a kitchen house, smoke house, and several tobacco barns and storage sheds.  Fendall Bevers was Raleigh’s City Engineer and surveyed Wake County.  His 1871 survey map helped establish the Durham County borders when it split from Wake County 10 years later.  In 1895, after Bevers’ death, the house and farm were sold to J. Elmer Ross.

The Fendall Bevers Farm may be one of the best preserved farms in Durham County and is one of only a handful of antibellum structures still standing in the area.  The property has been added to the state’s study list, is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and has potential as a local landmark.

Why it’s in peril:

Around 2005, the Ross family sold the farmhouse and seventy-six acres on the north side of Leesville Road.  The developer, who had accumulated 400+ acres of the original Bevers tract, including the parcel containing the farmhouse, planned a large residential development called Sierra, with 540 single-family homes.  The first phase (covering 176 acres) was approved in 2008 by Durham County officials. The original developer was amenable to relocating the structure; however, the property changed hands in 2010.  A site plan for Phase 2 (246 acres) was approved in 2011, but no work on either phase has been done to date.  Development pressures and the resulting loss of historic resources and open spaces remain a concern.

What’s needed:

The threat to the Bevers Farm is indicative of the pressures that suburban development put on the rural built environment.  While such growth may be inevitable, historic houses and farm buildings illustrate an important part of our past and should be retained and celebrated within the development plan.  Setting aside several acres for the farmhouse and the surviving outbuildings will provide the necessary context for the structures without sacrificing the overall development.  Preservation Durham encourages the use of preservation and conservation easements to protect the house and immediate surroundings and will facilitate the properties listing to the National Register of Historic Places and Durham County Landmarks, both of which offer financial incentive for redevelopment. Preservation Durham will work with developers to allow for purchase and restoration of the house and outbuildings by a private owner, saving this important piece of Durham’s rural history.  

 

/sites/default/files/images/2008_7/Foster_Mangum_BE_E_1948.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_7/warehousedistrict_labels_1959.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_7/Tobacco_Liberty_N_070464.jpglibertywhs_1970.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2008_7/Liberty_NW_1987.jpg

LIBERTY WAREHOUSE (NO. 3)

603-615
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1940
/ Demolished in
2014
People: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

The last-built and last-standing (as of 2011) of Durham's once large set of tobacco auction warehouses, the Liberty stopped auctioning tobacco in 1984, but was used as storage and cheap office space for several decades afterwards. In May 2011, a large section of roof collapsed in a rainstorm, rendering the southern portion of the warehoues unusable. In 2012, Greenfire announced plans to demolish the southern portion of the building (retaining the primary facade Rigsbee Ave. portion) to replace it with apartments.

Comments

No comments yet.

Add new comment

In tours

Last updated

  • Thu, 08/28/2014 - 4:42pm by gary

Location

36° 0' 5.7312" N, 78° 54' 1.8252" W

Comments

603-615
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1940
/ Demolished in
2014
People: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 


Liberty and Mangum Warehouses, looking east from ~Gregson St., 1948.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

The No. 3 Liberty Warehouse was built around 1940, just to the north of the Mangum Warehouses and extending from Rigsbee Ave. to Foster St. along West Corporation St. The last of the large tobacco auction warehouses built in the Durham warehouse district, the Liberty was evidently well known as the venue where auctioneer 'Speed' Riggs plied his trade.


Tobacco Warehouses in the warehouse district, 1959.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)


Planting tobacco in front of the Liberty Warehouse, looking north, 07.04.64
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

libertywhs_1970.jpg

Liberty Warehouse (with Mangum WH in the background) - mid to late 1960s.

The Liberty was still holding tobacco auctions up until 1984, but even after that point, the Liberty Cafe (which had moved north with the warehouse ~1940) was still serving up guaranteed artery-clogging fare for many years afterward.


Liberty Warehouse, looking northwest from Rigsbee Ave., 1987.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

(Photo by George Pyne, courtesy Milo Pyne)

The Liberty was purchased by Greenfire Development in October 2006.


Looking southwest, 06.07.08

It's a bit of a curious acquisition, although I've never quite understood Greenfire's acquisition strategy. Although they've hosted arts-related programming in the space, I think such a large parcel of DDO-1 land underneath the warehouse is rather concerning to me, vis a vis the future of the Liberty. As Durham's last surviving tobacco auction warehouse, I hope that it has a long future ahead of it.

Update: In 2010, Greenfire recieved local landmark designation for the property.

Update: In April of 2011, the city began to take action out of concern for the stability of the structure's roof; per the Herald-Sun, years of persistent leaks had resulted in rotting of the structural supports below. The structure had received a "Condemned" sign courtesy of NIS and a meeting was to have occurred on May 4, 2011 between Greenfire and the city to resolve what was to be done to repair the roof.

On 05.14.11, a large section of the warehouse roof collapsed in a brief but violent thunderstorm.


(WTVD)

Fortunately, no one was hurt, but businesses were flooded, and of course it is a terrible thing to happen to Durham's last tobacco auction warehouse - for which Greenfire sought and received local landmark designation last year. Commercial spaces on the south side of the warehouse, mostly artists and The Scrap Exchange were flooded. The city condemned the entire property and barred entry except for brief periods to remove items, and by the weekend of 5.21.11, there was a frantic push by tenants on the south side of the building to remove their belongings.


Portion of the collapsed roof, 05.21.11


Same area from Foster St., 05.21.11

Greenfire has sounded positive in public statements regarding their intention to repair the warehouse after meetings with their insurer and the city. It would, of course, be terribly tragic to lose Durham's last standing tobacco auction warehouse.

Update - 09.12.12

Greenfire has announced that they will demolish the southern 1/3-1/2 of the warehouse (the portion closest to Durham Central Park) in order to build a new podium-style apartment building. With some circumspection, I can't say I'm terribly broken up by this result, although I'd rather see this along the Foster Street side than the park side. I'm not sure how one doesn't affect the Rigsbee facade with the below rendering.

With the persistently poor economy beating the crap out the rents that office and retail tenants will pay for space, coming up with a way to redevelop the majority of this building - which is, architecturally, essentially a glorified windowless shed with some great interior materials and amazing history - is very challenging. How it got here is essentially irrelevant at this point - the intersection of the economy, its deteriorating condition, and limited flexibility of most of the architecture for adaptive reuse with historic tax credits mean that this is the only probable, viable path forward at this point. (I don't think Target is going to move here.)

Liberty_greenfire.jpeg

(Greenfire Development / News and Observer)

 

Below in italics from the Durham Herald-Sun: The Herald-Sun - Greenfire unveils plans for Liberty Warehouse

By Cliff Bellamy

DURHAM – Greenfire Development has unveiled a plan to save part of historic Liberty Warehouse and demolish a currently condemned portion for apartments, office and retail. The redevelopment plan comes more than a year after part of the roof collapsed on the southern end of the warehouse, displacing a number of tenants.

Greenfire plans to build four floors of residential units atop a parking garage on the southern portion of the building, according to a press release from Paul Smith, managing partner for Greenfire Development. When completed, the southern portion of the warehouse would have 160 residential units, along with retail space. The warehouse is bounded by Foster Street, Corporation Street and Rigsbee Avenue.

The northern part of the warehouse would be renovated for commercial use, and Greenfire would try to attract retail tenants that would fit in with Durham Central Park’s emerging food and entertainment venues. Some tenants already are using the space as storage.

The redevelopment for the southern part of the warehouse calls for preserving historically significant elements on Rigsbee, along with the city-owned southern wall that faces part of Central Park. A drawing Greenfire submitted shows the Liberty Arts foundry that sits next to that wall intact. (The city also owns the foundry.) “The remainder of the existing distressed southern warehouse building will be demolished only when financing for the project is in place,” the release states. The developers will use as much original material as possible in the redevelopment.

In February, the Durham City-County Planning Department declared the southern part of the warehouse, where part of the roof collapsed in May 2011, in a state of demolition by neglect. The demolition-by-neglect order did not apply to the northern warehouse.

The Planning Department gave Greenfire an Oct. 15 deadline to complete numerous repairs to the southern part of the warehouse. In an email message Tuesday, Smith stated that the Planning Department has agreed to stay enforcement of the order while it works through “the de-designation process.”

Smith was referring to the building’s current designation as a local historic landmark. Greenfire has applied to take away that designation, and is applying for a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission. Under local landmark designation, state law allows local government to delay a request for demolition for up to a year.

Earlier this year, Durham’s Historic Preservation Commission applied to the state Department of Cultural Resources to have Liberty Warehouse designated as a structure of statewide historical significance. The state denied that application, which would have given local government the authority to deny outright demolition of the warehouse.

It appears that local preservationists, who have been meeting with Smith, support the proposal. “While we would like to see the entire building preserved, we understand the economic reality of making a project of this scale work and generally support the plan that Paul has shared with us,” stated Josh Parker, board chairman of Preservation Durham, in the release.

Greenfire has also met with members of Durham Central Park as well as Preservation Durham on the proposal.

City planning officials also could not be reached for comment before deadline on what impact Greenfire’s new plans might have on the demolition-by-neglect proceedings and deadline.

Greenfire must receive building permit approval before the work on the demolition-by-neglect order can begin. As of Tuesday, the permits had not been issued.

The roof collapse forced several tenants, including Liberty Arts, to relocate. Cassandra Gooding, president of Liberty Arts, said her organization had not seen the new plans for redevelopment and had no comment. Liberty Arts continues to use the foundry, although its offices have been relocated to the Cordoba Building on Franklin Street in Durham.

The community will have a chance to comment on the plans during the formal design process, Smith stated. The pre-development phase will take from 12 to 18 months before any ground is broken, the release stated.

---------------

Update May 2013.

The city council is seeking to remove the landmark designation from the property, as it is cited as an "impediment" to redevelopment of the property. The latest suitor is Roger Perry of "East-West Partners" - developer of the Meadowmont ~new urbanist subdivision on Highway 54 outside of Chapel Hill. The proposal involves demolition of the entire structure save the Rigsbee facade and the brick southern wall that faces on Central Park. Not very creative, to say the least, and an unfortunate - but somehow fitting end to the history of tobacco auctions in Durham - which seems perpetually determined to erase its history and culture and to be forever new.

An anonymous user sent me some wonderful interior photos of the Liberty that show just how well preserved much of the original structure is. All photos ~February 2013.

 

East-West partners released their rendering of their proposed development on 1/23/14

From the Herald Sun on 1.23.14

A Chapel Hill development firm will hear feedback Thursday on a proposal to demolish most of the Liberty Warehouse, the former tobacco auction warehouse buildings located between Rigsbee Avenue and Foster Street, to build a mixed-use project with apartments and shops.

East West Partners has proposed a development that would include 246 apartments, ground-floor retail shops, a parking deck, and several interior courtyards, according to plans filed with Durham City-County Planning. The developer wants to incorporate an existing wall that now stands along the Durham Central Park side into the project, as well as existing signs and recycled building materials.

“But other than that, the rest of the building will be coming down,” East West Partners President Roger Perry said in an interview about the project Wednesday. “The building is beyond repair. In addition, it’s functionally obsolete. As you know, a huge hole in the roof (is) leaking, and the way the building is built, it’s not constructed in a way that allows for rehabilitation as a residential and retail building. We’ve been very clear about that all along – we’ve said all along that the building will have to be razed.”
The development would have five stories along one side and four stories along another. Perry also said the firm wants to make sure the new construction fits in with the Durham Central Park area architecture, but also makes a statement about “what is being done today.”

Wendy Hillis, executive director of the historic preservation advocacy group Preservation Durham, said she initially concerns that while the plans call for preserving of potions of the wall on the park side, versions she had seen earlier Wednesday appeared to not include a portion of brick wall that stands at the corner of Rigsbee Avenue and West Corporation Street.
However, according to an email from East West Partners’ Bryson Powell, there are “brick signage elements” that are proposed to be included in the design.

“Yes we are committed to incorporating the brick signage elements currently on Rigsbee and are planning to relocated them to a more appropriate location within our new building,” Powell said in an email sent Wednesday evening.  “I'll touch on this at tomorrow's meeting.”

Hillis said the keeping the corner was one of the stipulations of a deal that the group had reached with the developer in exchange for support for the Durham City Council removing the building’s landmark status.

The council voted 6-0 in May of last year to remove the landmark designation, reversing a decision the council had made in 2011. While Preservation Durham came to an agreement with the developer to support the decision, the council’s vote last year went against the advice of a city and county advisory board, the Historic Preservation Commission.

Hillis said that although Preservation Durham leaders felt that the building was a historic landmark, and “never wanted to see the building come down,” she also said group officials felt the “writing on the wall” was that the landmark designation would be removed. She said they tried to find a way to best partner with the developer to ensure portions of the Liberty Warehouse would be retained.

In addition to incorporating the brick façades on the sides of the building, the letter-agreement Preservation Durham reached with the developer also stipulated that the developer use wooden building materials in the construction of the building and to incorporate an outdoor exhibit or indoor museum space in to commemorate Liberty Warehouse’s use as a tobacco auction warehouse.

In addition, the agreement also called for “regular communication and meetings as the project proceeds towards construction.”
Perry said that the Liberty Warehouse wall at the corner “may be something we’ve got to work (out) together.”
Going forward, Hillis added that a concern for the group is making sure that the building fits in with what she said is a post-industrial, grungy, “do-it-yourself” aesthetic of the surrounding neighborhood.

“(We want to make sure) that this is not just any other multi-family development because the fear is that that would fly in the face of a lot of what has made this area successful aesthetically,” she said.

She added that while the building is not an “architectural gem,” Liberty Warehouse is important to Durham’s history as the city’s last tobacco auction warehouse property.

“I think the difficult thing is that it’s not an attractive building from the outside; it’s an interesting building because of its association with the tobacco trade,” she said.

Ann Alexander, executive director of Durham Central Park Inc., which is the 5-acre park adjacent to Liberty Warehouse, said the developers came to park’s board meeting last year to talk about the development plans.

“So we are anticipating being able to work well together,” she said. “(The project is) going to change the whole area, but maybe it’ll change it for the better. Who knows? That warehouse is just sitting there empty and full of water, so we’re hoping to work well with them and have it be great for Durham. We are their front yard; we’re a very important park for them.”

Heavy rains in May 2011 caused a portion of the building’s roof to collapse. The collapse forced nonprofits, artists, and other tenants who were leasing space there to move to new venues.

East West Partners, a Chapel Hill-based firm that was behind development of the Woodcroft residential neighborhood in southern Durham and other development projects in the Triangle, is under contract to buy the property from Durham-based Greenfire Development by April. Perry said the company “fully intends” to comply with the closing date.
The community meeting on the project will be held from 6 to 7:30 in the third-floor conference room at the Durham County Library, 300 N. Roxboro St.

----

I share with Wendy, the director of Preservation Durham, her concern that the building as pictured above will not fit in with the aesthetic of the neighborhood. But I think that group and others were naive to think that by pitching what the developer said they wanted to do all along as a 'partnership' between PD and East-West Partners would result in better access or influence. Notice how retention of the facade elements on Rigsbee has been manipulated to a fairly cynical interpretation of - yes, preservation of signage elements that will be relocated to a more appropriate location.

1) This is the kind of stuff that gives developers a bad name. 2) All of this "working together" is overrated when it's really just the wishes and gain of one party that dominates. This has always been a problem with Preservation Durham - they never want to upset anyone by, say, fighting for preservation. 3) I understand the political speak of "functionally obsolete," etc. that Roger Perry uses, but it's nothing more than that. It's a meaningless assessment that means "the buildings doesn't look like I want it to look." 4) the fate of this building was sealed when the City Council voted 6-0 to remove the landmark status. Will Durham voters care? Will they hold the entire city council accountable for that action? That removed the power of the public to have any say over the design of this building - as if we need East-West Partners to build yet-another cookie-cutter apartment building in Durham on the site of the last tobacco auction warehouse?

If Durham continues on its current pace, there will be a lot more of this in future. And will Durham ultimately care? It has never been a town that cares on a broad scale about its buildings and history. I've done my best to educate folks about that history, so that they can make informed decisions. But we seem to be a city that's okay with whatever gets torn down, as long as the new thing will have fancy coffee, food trucks, and hipster thrift stores nearby.

Update, July 2014:

Demolition of the building started on 07.31.2014. It's unfortunate that we're not the kind of city that can do the really innovative stuff in the urban realm - we simply don't have the will, the vision, the sense of urbanism or importance of the center city - that many other economically-successful urban areas have. We're not the worst, by far, but we're very middling in our efforts. Better sidewalks and streetlamps, check. Visionary infrastructure refits - not so much.

Liberty Warehouse is typical in this regard. While I very purposefully eschew talking about broader politics on here for a reason (this site is about a specific set of issues that don't fit neatly into a 'liberal' or 'conservative' box) Durham is curious in its socially liberal but economically conservative attitudes. So we see lots of local public sector concern over broad issues of social dysfunction, but when it comes to land use, we have a developer-knows-best / not-local-government's-problem attitude. That peculiar admixture generates a lot of problems. I.e., you have a local government that wields its police power like a billy club in enforcing the minimum housing code - with the staunch defense that they are protecting the public - with no concern over the effect of demolition after demolition. The private sector will take care of it, right?

We've been fairly lucky in avoiding repercussions of this split personality during the 2000s, as we've had some folks in the private sector with a good sense of aesthetics who actually cared about Durham's infrastructure (industrial buildings) and saw an opportunity to make money - doing well by doing good, if you will.

We're moving out of that arena now, and there's a big question whether we will be victims of our own success. The success of the renovation projects has attracted people and businesses, and that has attracted developers who are less creative. They know how to make money, but that doesn't mean that they are going to build good stuff. For the most part, the bland apartment complexes being built in a 2014 frenzy have been placed on parking lots and underutilized land, so it's, at worst, no harm, no foul. At least they are urban in their massing, even if the construction is cheap and cheap looking. The second (third?) generation of Durham redevelopers didn't fall in love with the gritty down-on-its-luck city with the beautifully decaying buildings; they fell in love with millenials paying for some dumplings at a food truck.

The destruction of Liberty for another stick-built apartment-heavy generibuilding is where the repercussions come home to roost; we're beginning to replace the interesting stuff with the flavor-of-the-month. Many people don't care, because, much to my ever-present dismay, most people can't see anything in a building other than what's right in front of them. So if it's dilapidated, it's an eyesore - tear it down. If it's sparkly, it's amazing and we can't live without it. Those of us who care about the urban realm have to continually work hard to keep these people's opinions from carrying the day - otherwise any old building will be torn down as soon as it is uglified or abused by someone with no sense of aesthetics.

With Liberty, we have a perfect storm of a great, historic structure made ugly, a chorus of visionless "it's dilapidated! Get rid of it" people, permissive zoning to allow dense urban development, the 2nd generation of Durham developers, and an area that is suddenly very 'hot' in a very 2010s kind of way - people sitting in pseudo-gritty settings and doing selfies in the DIY (ugh) district. The substance ain't bad, for sure, but the hype has far outpaced it.

It's hard not to look at this in the context of past demolitions in Durham and voice that concise phrase of defeated acceptance coined by one of by favorite authors: "So it goes."

07.31.2014 (Photo by G. Kueber)

07.31.2014 (Photo by G. Kueber)

07.31.2014 (Photo by G. Kueber)

07.31.2014 (Photo by G. Kueber)

07.31.2014 (Photo by G. Kueber)

08.28.14 (Photo by G. Kueber)

08.28.14 (Photo by G. Kueber)

08.28.14 (Photo by G. Kueber)

Add new comment

LIBERTY WAREHOUSE

 

Why it’s Important:
The Liberty Warehouse is the only surviving loose-leaf tobacco auction house in Durham.  Constructed in two sections dating from 1938 and 1948, the massive, timber-framed structure features an expansive open-plan measuring 2.6 acres.  It has a brick foundation with a low-pitched, front-gabled roof supported by large timber columns and has numerous skylights partially hidden by a stepped parapet. The auction warehouse filled an important niche in Durham’s tobacco culture; farmers would converge at the auction house, camping out there until their tobacco sold, and patronizing shops, banks, and cafes in the warehouse while they waited. Tobacco auctions ended in the 1980s and the building has been used any number of purposes since then.  Despite having undergone modifications over the years, Liberty Warehouse No. 1 and 2 retained much of its original appearance and integrity when it was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in August 2008 and designated a Durham Historic Landmark in December 2009.

Why it’s in Peril:
In May 2011, a portion of the roof collapsed, resulting in water and structural damage to a significant portion of the building. In February of 2012 the Durham City-County Planning Department determined that the landmark was in a condition of demolition by neglect. In late February 2012, the property owner submitted a scope of work to the City for repairs to the structure and with a proposed timeline of eight months to complete the work. As of April 2012, the roof has not been repaired and leaves the interior open to the elements.

What's Needed:
The building should be fully stabilized and the necessary repairs made to weatherproof the building as soon as possible to prevent any further deterioration; the City of Durham should continue taking all possible steps to ensure that the necessary repairs are made. The nature of this building type makes determining an appropriate adaptive reuse challenging; however, Preservation Durham has been working with the property owner and with Central Park-area stakeholders to formulate a compatible use that would retain the historic integrity of the structure. Preservation Durham is also working to develop the case for the statewide significance of the structure and will continue to advocate for the building’s expedited repair and historically appropriate rehabilitation.

/sites/default/files/images/2011_4/fidelity_eastdurham_1920s.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2011_4/300-318SDriver_1945.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2011_4/FidelityEastDurham_1980.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2011_4/DriverandAngier_NW_2007.jpg/sites/default/files/images/2011_4/fidelity_eastDurham_100210.jpg

318 SOUTH DRIVER STREET - FIDELITY BANK EAST DURHAM BRANCH

318
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1921
Architect/Designers: 
,
Businesses: 
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

Comments

No comments yet.

Add new comment

In tours

Last updated

  • Mon, 06/25/2012 - 8:26pm by gary

Location

35° 58' 56.1108" N, 78° 52' 41.0448" W

Comments

318
,
Durham
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1921
Architect/Designers: 
,
Businesses: 
Architectural style: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 


Fidelity Bank, East Durham, 1920s. Note the streetcar tracks making the curve from Angier Ave to S. Driver St.
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection)

The Fidelity Bank (as I recently learned, that was pronounced Fie-delity,) first established by Washington Duke, Benjamin Duke, MA Angier, and George Watts in 1887, and later the anchor tenant in the Geer Building, expanded with its first two branches in the early 1920s - a West Durham branch and an East Durham Branch. Both branches were neoclassical in design, and similar in massing, although different form and materials were used in each. The Historic Inventory statesthat Durham architects Rose and Rose designed both branches. As the East Durham branch clearly notes, it was built in 1921.

The East Durham branch, however, was not originally a Fidelity branch, but the new location of the People's Bank (as you can see on the facade above,) which, prior to 1921, had been located at 463 South Driver St. - the corner of South Driver and the NC railroad tracks. I am unsure as to when it was acquired by Fidelity, although it was the People's Bank in 1923.


Fidelity Bank and the remainder of the 300 block of South Driver, 1945
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

In 1956, Wachovia Bank of Winston-Salem acquired and absorbed Fidelity. While the West Durham branch became a Wachovia, the bank constructed a new 'modern' branch in East Durham, complete with drive-thru, one block to the east on Angier Avenue and South Guthrie.

The former bank branch would go through a series of tenants in the ensuing years. Consolidated Insurance Company made its home there in the 1960s; the Knight Electric Company by the 1970s.


Former East Durham Fidelity branch, 1980

This is one of my favorite buildings in Durham - how I wish it would find its way back to a retail adaptive reuse that maximized the effect of the beautiful architecture.


Fidelity Bank branch and the remainder of the 300 block of South Driver, March 2007


10.02.10 (stupid pole...)

Find this spot on a Google Map.

35.982253,-78.878068

Add new comment

300 BLOCK OF SOUTH DRIVER STREET.

 

Why It’s Important:

 

The 300 block of South Driver is one of only a few intact early-twentieth-century retail blocks in Durham.  This once-thriving commercial block anchored the eastern limits of the Durham Light & Traction trolley system.  Surrounding neighborhoods packed with families of mill workers and merchants could find in a single block the East Durham branch of Fidelity Bank (designed by Rose & Rose in 1921), the A&P Food Store, D.W. Brown Dry Cleaners, Ferguson Grocery, the East Durham Post Office, Lynette’s Restaurant, and Marion’s.

 

Why it’s in peril:

 

Like many neighborhood retail centers, the area declined throughout the latter part of the century with the loss of nearby manufacturing jobs, the abandonment of the trolley system, and the advent of the automobile and the suburban shopping center.  Like much of the surrounding neighborhood, most of these buildings are vacant, several boarded and padlocked.  At least two are occupied by storefront churches, a land use that can help protect abandoned commercial buildings from vandalism, but does not contribute to the critical mass of regular foot traffic needed to sustain a retail district.   

 

What’s needed:

 

Preservation Durham supports immediate stabilization of the buildings to protect them from ongoing deterioration.  In the short term, the storefronts should house community spaces, art studios, and temporary retail shops, generating street level activity and raising awareness about the value and potential of the area.  In the long term, the buildings should be fully renovated and populated by a mix of retail sales and services needed by the surrounding neighborhood.  State and Federal tax incentives available to contributing structures in the East Durham National Register Historic District could help offset some of the renovation costs.

Preservation North Carolina and Preservation Durham are collaborating on Project RED (Revitalize East Durham) – an effort to restore and rebuild work force housing throughout East Durham, and Self Help Credit Union is planning a $10.4 million renovation of the nearby East Durham Graded School building.  As these and other efforts spur East Durham’s renaissance, the 300 block of Driver Street could once again become the vibrant commercial center of a thriving neighborhood.

 

1203Worth_050412.jpg

1203 WORTH ST.

1203
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1901
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

Comments

No comments yet.

Add new comment

In tours

Last updated

  • Fri, 05/04/2012 - 8:32am by gary

Location

United States
35° 59' 20.1264" N, 78° 53' 11.9364" W
US

Comments

1203
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1901
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
National Register: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

1203Worth_050412.jpg

05.03.12

Add new comment

GOLDEN BELT NATIONAL REGISTER DISTRCT / DURHAM RESCUE MISSION

Why It’s Important
 

The Golden Belt mill village sits immediately to the east of the large mill complex, full of housing stock built in the early 1900s for Julian Shakespeare Carr’s Golden Belt Manufacturing Company. Blocks of similar houses have been a National Register Historic District since 1984; the homes’ uniform appearance is now changing as owner-occupants make their mark.
 

Recently, millions of private and public dollars have been poured into the area to revitalize mill buildings and homes, as well as to construct new developments. Nearby Barnes Avenue, the Golden Belt mill complex, the Holton Center, and Calvert Place are all redeveloped; the Durham Housing Authority demolished the old Few Gardens and spent $155 million to build a new development.  All these projects have increased inter-connectivity with the traditional street pattern and are built to encourage walkability and connection with downtown Durham.
 

Why It’s Imperiled
 

A number of other structures have been lost since the National Register listing, but until now, the integrity of the community has remained intact.  The Durham Rescue Mission, located on the east end of the neighborhood, has proposed a plan to remove more than a dozen remaining historic structures east of Alston Avenue, close the existing streets, and build a walled campus.  They began demolishing structures gradually over the past few years.  This plan separates East Durham further from downtown, breaks apart the traditional street grid, and stymies the burgeoning investment in the surrounding neighborhood.
 

Shutting down this three-block area to create a superblock  would separate the DRM from the revitalizing community that surrounds it and would create a barrier to further neighborhood development.

What’s Needed
 

Traditional neighborhood design can increase a neighborhood’s safety and livability by keeping eyes on the street and by encouraging cohesion.  The Golden Belt neighborhood will already suffer from the future widening of Alston Avenue, and Preservation Durham strongly encourages the Durham Rescue Mission to work within the existing street grid and to maintain or relocate historic structures within the district whenever possible.  We hope the City will continue to pursue the traditional neighborhood design principles it has followed elsewhere and will move forward with Golden Belt’s requested Local Historic District application.