120 East Main

35.994496, -78.900013

Construction type
Local historic district
National Register
Building Type
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Above, the south side of the 100 block of East Main St., looking southeast, 1924. 
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The 100 block of East Main St. was, along with 100 West Main St., the earliest retail focus in Durham. Generally, in the development of Durham, early frame structures were supplanted by brick structures, and frame structures were then constructed further to the east and west, later supplanted.. etc., etc. The brick structures in the 100 block of East Main were the 'first generation', built during the 1880s

No one, distinct, business occupied most of these structures. Rather, a parade of dozens of different businesses utilized the space - a quick glance at a Chamber of Commerce publication from 1924 shows the Martha Washington Tea Room (122), Hibberd's Florist (118), and The Durham Shoe Store (124) among the retailers.

In 1919, 120 East Main housed Barham, J.A. and Co.  and the Durham Shoe Shine Parlor. By 1923, the Durham Shoe Shine Parlor and Cox's smoke shop. In 1929, the Durham Shoe Shine Parlor and the Puritan Lunch.

The south side of the 100 block of East Main St., looking west-southwest, 1927. The banner on 124 East Main is advertising "McFadden's Flats" at the Paris Theater across the street, which would later become the Uptown Theater.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

By 1935, 120 East Main housed the Durham Shoe Shine Parlor & Hat Cleaning Parlor, as well as The Trading Center, a clothing store. By 1940, it housed the Durham Shoe Shine Parlor & Hat Cleaning Parlor, and The Bud - a tailor. At some point in the 1940s, it housed the Durham Coffee Shop.,

(Courtesy Duke Archives)

In 1952, it housed the Sport Shop - which was a euphemism for a pool hall.

Two strange trends befell this block, which I still don't understand completely. First, a strong enough desire to change the front facade that you would remove the entire existing brick facade.

Looking southwest, 1947.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

And secondly, removal of the upper floors of various buildings.


118-124 E. Main, 1960s - Family Finance is in 120 E. Main

Looking southwest, 2007.

And the view southeast, 2007


120-124 E. Main, 09.10.11; 120 is the right-most bank of oh-so-modern smoky glass windows.



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