205-207 East Main Street

35.994326, -78.899137

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Year demolished
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205-207 E. Main

Looking northeast from Church St. and East Main St., 1890s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

Commercial development of the north side of the 200 block of East Main St. proceeded eastward from the commercial core. The western half of the block was developed by commercial structures by the 1890s, two of which are visible above.

This photo shows the completed commercial block, looking northwest, around 1915. (The fire department is demostrating their new ladder truck.) They are in front of the Orpheum. The structures visible in the 1890s photo can be noted further down the block in this picture.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In 1913, 207 East Main was home to the Hawkeye Cafe. Per Durham Illustrated:

A popular place with the hungry man or woman of Durham, as well as many of the visitors to the city, is the Hawkeye Cafe at 207 East Main Street. This restaurant is one of the best of its kind in the State, and Mr. Faucett, the capable proprietor, seems to know just what the public want and how they want it. The dining room is spacious and has a capacity of seventy, and with a well trained staff of cooks and waiters, the meals are served quickly and well. Service is either table d'hote or a la carte, and a specialty is made of weekly boarders. [Did they eat the boarders?]. Mr. Faucett  has in connection with the restaurant the "Annex," with excellent accommodation for lodgers, in bright airy, well furnished rooms. Here the European plan is in force exclusively. A specialty is made, in the cafe, of game and fowl, and Mr. Faucett has a well earned reputation for his excellent game suppers. He is a man of experience in this line, an since establishing the Hawkeye some two years ago, has been successful in making it very popular. Mr. Faucett is a native of Alamance County has been a resident of Durham for eight years. He is an active member of the Maccabees and other fraternal organizations, and well known throughout the city.



Interior of the Hawkeye Cafe, 1910.

At some point ~1915-1920, the Orpheum became a multi-story structure.

Looking northwest, mid 1920s
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The picture below shows the western half of the block in the late 1930s, after a large snowfall.

(Courtesy Duke Archives.)

A series of other businesses occupied the other structures in the 200 block of E. Main St. - retaurants, Western Union, shoe stores, loan agents, etc., etc. The Orpheum theater had become the Rialto theater by the 1960s, but I'm not sure when this occurred.

A view of the structures (except the corner of Church and E. Main, which will come tomorrow) in 1966 is below.

205-207 E. Main

209 E. Main

213-215 E. Main. 215 East Main St., the tall, skinny structure, was known as the "Shevel Building" and housed the Durham Traction Company from 1916-1928, when it moved to the Parrish Buiding at East Parrish and North Mangum Sts.

217 E. Main

Western Union, 11.08.57

(Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

(Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

(Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

By the late 1960s / early 1970s, these buildings had been taken and demolished by Durham using urban renewal funds. To some extent, this entire block fell victim to the pipe dreams of an Oklahoma developer named - Barket, and the anxiousness of a city to do whatever it could to a attract a developer who promised a 40 story building to be constructed in downtown Durham on the block between E. Main, Church, N. Roxboro, and E. Parrish Sts.

Barket's rendering of the 40 story building to sit at 200 East Main St., 07.16.68
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun)

The on-again-off-again flirtation between the city and Mr. Barket persisted throughout the later half of the 1960s, until he finally pulled out, never to be heard from again.

[demo pics]

In 1978, the city built a new impervious courthouse on the block, designed by Archie Royal Davis, which looms, Death-Star-like, over the street. I don't know whether the design direction was "try to intimidate people into avoiding the courtroom," but that's the vibe it gives me. It's among my least favorite buildings in Durham.

Under construction, 1978

It seems that they tried their best to emulate Barket's Folly, but could only afford the first ~5 stories.

Looking northeast, 2007.

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