122 East Main

35.994463, -78.899946

Year built
Year(s) modified
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.

The south side of the 100 block of East Main St., looking west-southwest, 1927. The banner at 124 East Main is advertising "McFadden's Flats" at the Paris Theater across the street, which would later become the Uptown Theater. 122 East Main is just to its right, behind the streetlights.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In 1919, 122 housed the WR Murray Co. By 1923, the Martha Washington Tea Room and Candy Store had occupied the downstairs, and was still there in 1929. By 1935, Jake's Valetor Service occupied the building. I assume that this is a name for a pressing service (as in clothes) that has now fallen into disuse.

(Courtesy Duke Archives)

122 East Main has a 7up sign, above which it says "Jake's Valetor Service."

It was renamed Nurkin's Jake Valetor Service by 1944. Is that sort of like Ruth's Chris? By 1952 It was Marvin's Men's Clothing. 

It was presumably occupied by Marvin's when 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.


It remained Marvin's into the 1960s. It now houses offices.

Above, the view of these buildings today - 120-124 with a 1960s era modern facade. Looking southwest, 2007.

And the view southeast of a decapitated 112-116 East Main St. 


Above, 120-124 East Main, 09.10.11. 122 is the center 'bay' of windows with the somewhat dingy concrete facade.

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