112 South Corcoran Street

35.995306, -78.90225

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Year demolished
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(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The picture above shows the Wright Corner, looking southwest from Main and Corcoran. One of the two buildings on Corcoran behind this building can be seen from this angle, 112 South Corcoran, which housed the Royall Borden Furniture Company until it moved to 313 East Chapel Hill St. during the 1920s. In the 1910s, it also housed the Seeman Printery.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Below, an etching of this building from "The Handbook of Durham" - 1895.

(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The shot below shows Corcoran St. looking north from the railroad tracks towards Main St. On the right side are the Hosiery Mills building, the First National Bank building, and the Geer Building (at the focal point). The two buildings on the west side of Corcoran can be seen on the left - the second building moving north was the Royall Borden Furniture Company.

One of the oddities of the way downtown Durham evolved during the late 19th century was the lack of a complete frontage road on the north side of the railroad tracks. These buildings came all the way south to very near the railroad tracks, and there was no roadway extending west from here to West Chapel Hill St. Peabody St., much like it does now, stopped and started at various points - extending east from here and terminating at Union Station (located at the southern terminus of Church St., at the railroad tracks. There were other sections of Peabody west of the Duke Factory (where it exists still) and in East Durham (also still in existence.)

In the 1940s, 112 S. Corcoran St. was demolished.

Aerial, looking southeast, 1950s. The rear of the 120 S. Corcoran building is visible across from the Durham Silk Hosiery Mill - the gap between it and the Wright Corner is where 112 S. Corcoran stood.

In the 1950s, the remainder of the buildings between the West Main St. frontage structures and West Peabody were demolished for a parking lot, later a parking deck.

Fully Demolished SAL depot and 100 block of South Corcoran.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

This area was transformed into surface parking (where the multiple rail spurs used to come off of the main tracks) and into what would become the Ramseur St. part of the Loop, although the Loop would not be completed for another 10 years or so.

Looking north from Corcoran and the railroad tracks.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

By the mid to late 1960s, this seemed like a prime spot for a fancy new parking deck.

Looking north from Corcoran and the railroad tracks.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The completed product, looking northwest from the railroad tracks.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

It hasn't changed much today.

Looking northeast from Corcoran and Ramseur, 2007.

Since it seems that our redevelopment focus is concentrated on Corcoran St., this parking deck will need to be addressed if the powers-that-be are interested in moving people, rather than just cars, back and forth between American Tobacco and parts in-the-loop. The combination of Pettigrew, the tracks, the Loop, and this deck is a huge gulf of dead space that dissuades people from making The Crossing. Demolishing the eastern 1/4 of this deck and replacing that with a building that had active, usable street frontage would be progress.

Find this spot on a Google Map.



Nicely demonstrated in pictures. I love calling it The Crossing.

I wrote about this same Crossing in '04, saying then that developers needed to address it. I hope we can get the right attention focused on it one day.



Nice writeup, very prescient. I focus in on these land uses (I said something similar in the post about the other side of the street - the hosiery mill) because it is city-owned land, and I don't think the powers-that-be understand how building design affects physical activity. Our perception of distance is changed by the emptiness or fullness of our surroundings, and the scale of the design. So while not much is likely to occur to actually shrink the distance between the Old Bull building and the southeast corner of the parking deck, things could be done with these corners to mitigate the perceived distance.

I've only crossed on a bike a few times, heading north, and I was usually out of breath by the time I was crossing the tracks and thinking of the multitude of ways I could get hit.

Much thanks again for the nice writeup on your site, btw.


That intersection is definitely the worst one when making the connection between the ATT and the northern greenway. Other than that, it's a pleasant ride, but particularly going north, huffing across Pettigrew, the tracks, and then Ramseur is a bear.

The big problem with this crossing, and why I think absolutely nothing has been done, is the railroad. NCRR is still determined to reduce pedestrian crossings for "safety reasons," which I think is a mix of legitimate concern for the fatalities that have happened there and a desire to let the trains move through Durham faster.

Currently laid plans don't hold much hope either. If the TTA rail ever gets built, it's currently slotted to significantly raise the rail bed there in order to improve the crossings at Roxboro. This is not only going to muck up the pedestrian presentation from the south -- it's also going to visually bury the first story of the Old Bull warehouse.

I still say the only long term solution -- particularly in 20 years when, hopefully, the southeast high speed rail plan actually starts getting implimented -- is going to be a rail trench through downtown. By the time it's built, it could cost close to a billion dollars, but the potential advantages of increased rail speeds and the recovery of lots of downtown real estate I think will eventually make it worth it.


I agree with you that the obdurate nature of NCR is a major problem along here, and I share your hope that we will one day see big changes in the entire rail paradigm, including an integrated, 21st century infrastructure.

I do think there are things we can do with the roadways and land uses on either side of the tracks to improve things. One place where I disagree with some preservationists (notably the Nat'l Park Service) is with respect to the need to maintain a 'purity' of a historic structure in its current state. I know the NPS would never allow tax credits if Captiol were to reconstruct the eastern, upper-floors of the Bull Building (just as they wouldn't for Blue Devil Partners and the New Cigarette Factory). But I'm more in favor of good design, and if that involves fixing the damage caused to a structure through alteration, I'm all for it.

That is to say, this comes back to enclosure - taller buildings with adequate relief and detail, as close as possible to the roadways, would effectively shrink the perception of space. The Bull Building was never intended to be so short at its northeast corner.


I remembered hearing about a 'development bridge' in the downtown master plan. It is discussed toward the end of chapter 7.


The DPAC has made the development bridge envisioned here impossible, but I have wondered if a narrower version could still work. I'm not sure what Capitol has planned for the northern end of its land along Blackwell and the RR tracks (opposite the Bull Building), but I've wondered if something could be built there that included a bike/ped ramp and bridge over the tracks. Of course, another building would need to be put in on the other side of the tracks (where there is currently a surface parking lot). Maybe there isn't room, or it would be too difficult to work out the logistics. Maybe it would be a total eyesore, but there may be a way to do it tastefully. What do y'all think?

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