127-129 East Main Street

35.994535, -78.899549

Cross Street
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Year demolished
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Looking west-northwest from Church St. and East Main St., 1895.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The 100 block of East Main St. was part of the central core of downtown that developed during the 1880s, with early frame structures transitioning to brick by 1890. Clothing and drugstores were common tenants, and another of Durham's early newspapers, the Durham Globe was located on the northwest corner of Church and East Main Sts. Another notable element in this drawing of the street is the large version of a pocket watch, mounted over the street from an electric pole. I thought that this might just be artistic license until I found the photo below.


Looking northeast from the south side of the 100 block of East Main St., 1890s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The Globe was an outgrowth of Durham's first newspaper The Tobacco Plant a "conservative, tactful" paper, according to Jean Anderson. The Globe was so named in 1889 by Edward Oldham, who sold to paper back to Julian Carr. Carr sold the paper to Al Fairbrother, of the Omaha Bee , who brought an entirely new form of newspaper reporting to Durham, criticizing prominent figures who had been treated with kid gloves by earlier press, and beginning investigative journalism.

By 1893, the Globe had thoroughly shaken the establishment, but was evidently unable to sustain itself as a daily, and transitioned to a weekly. Four of the newly unemployed members of the Globe staff began the Globe Herald, which soon became the Morning Herald.

Looking northwest, 1905.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Both this image and the 1895 sketch at the top of the page show the corner storefront at 129 East Main occupied by Whitmore's Bakery.  This may be the same business that was later located on Ninth Street.


Looking north, 1920s. Only half (127) of the building is visible - the "Goody Shop"

Looking west-northwest, 1940. 
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

During the 1940s(?)-60s the former Durham Globe building on the corner became a clothing store known as The Fashion.


Early 1960s (Courtesy Herald-Sun)

The Fashion, however, along with many other businesses downtown, became unfashionable by the 1960s, and closed.

Looking northwest, 1966.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In the late 1960s, "Honey Boy Tailors" was the business located here.

In April, 1969, fire broke out on this end of the block - I don't know in which building, but it eventually spread to at least 3 of the buildings.


Looking northwest, 1969.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)


(Courtesy Herald-Sun) - I find the mannequin in the window sort of surreal.

(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

The fire decimated these buildings, leaving only shells.

Looking northwest, 1969.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Looking northwest, 04.19.69.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

The four closest to the corner were torn down soon thereafter.

The Uptown theater, the side of which appears in the above photo, does not appear badly damaged by the fire. But whether or not it was, it too was torn down soon after these three.

Looking northwest, ~1970
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The vacated space became a surface parking lot which it remains.

Looking northwest, 2007.

This is one of the many sites in downtown that screams infill. It is owned by, I believe, a law firm on Parrish St., which uses it as parking for their business, so it is unlikely to be redeveloped soon (unless they do it themselves.)

I had planned this post prior to the fire at the Snow Building yesterday, but, as I said in that post, we can't assume that if we 'only knock down X buildings' that the generously spared ones will survive. As NIS requests $1.2 million solely for demolition in the upcoming budget, will there be anything left of our historic, but more impoverished neighborhoods once the ravages of time and nature have taken their toll as well?

35.994629 -78.899643

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