209 East Main Street

35.994258, -78.899038

Year built
Year demolished
Construction type
Building Type
Can you help?
You don't need to know everything, but do you know the architect?
Log in or register and you can edit this.

Looking northeast from Church St. and East Main St., 1890s. 209 and 211 East Main Street are to the left.
(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)

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.)

209 E. Main either lost much of its detailing in the 1930s-1940s, or was replaced.

209 E. Main


(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.


In the second photo---firefighters demonstrating a hook-and-ladder truck in front of the Orpheum/Rialto theatre---there are banners in front of the theatre announcing the movie "Alias Jimmy Valentine" featuring the new Vitaphone sound system. This dates the photo to late 1928 or early 1929, even though the firetruck appears to be from the WWI era or earlier.

In 1940 my grandfather, William "Willie" Frank Webster, opened and ran Durham Sport Shop billiards at 209 East Main Street. The business only lasts for 2 years.

I learned this after discovering a copy of a public bill-of-sale online that was dated August 11, 1939 where a W.F. (Willie Frank) Webster purchased the contents of a Durham Sport Shop from a J.B. Johnston for $1.00. No address is listed in the bill-of-sale for the location of the business. I think I have narrowed it down to 2 possible choices, which I will cover below. These are the only Durham Sport Shop listings that occur up to 1963. I can find no recorded deeds online where a J.B. Johnston bought or sold any property in the city of Durham, so I do not know how he came into possesion of the property.

Possible location of sale #1:
In 1934 only, there is a listing for West Durham Sport Shop located at 2607 Hillsboro Road, owned by Eugene F. Phillips and M. Frank Nall.

Possible location of sale #2:
From 1924 to 1932 there is a Durham Sport Shop located at 209 West Main Street. 1924-1925 it is a sporting goods store. 1926-1932 it is listed as either a cigar store or confectionery. In 1933 the name changes to S & S Cigar Store (same owners), then in 1935 relocates to 119 West Parrish Street. In 1935 the location at 209 West Main Street is listed as vacant.

Edgar M. Coble (1941 listing) was listed for many years as an employee of The Duke Sport Shop, which was first located at 208 North Corcoran Street and then at 107-109 East Parrish Street. Whether he branched out on his own, or ran the place for someone else, I don’t know. Beginning in the 1942 city directory, a place of employment is no longer listed with his name.

Below is the city directory listings for this address.

209 East Main Street
.........1902  M. Shevel furniture store
1903-1904  No Listing.
1905-1906  Rufus J. Teague physician for ear, eye, nose, & throat
1907-1908  Miles McCoy confectioner
1909-1910  The Imperial ladies garments (George A. Shimmer)
1911-1921  Electric Shoe Repair Shop (William H. Butler)
.........1922  Modern Electric Shoe Shop (Peter Koplan) / Court Square Lunch (Louis Zapautis)
.........1923  Modern Electric Shoe Shop (Peter & Louis Koplan) / Sanitary Lunch (Spiros Metaxas)
1924-1927  Modern Electric Shoe Shop (Oscar Koplan) / Sanitary Lunch (Nicholas Liasides or Liasidis)
.........1928  O K Electric Shoe Shop (Oscar Koplan) / Sanitary Lunch (Nicholas Liasides or Liasidis)
1929-1931  Carolina Lunch (Harry Pappas)
.........1932  Court Square Lunch (L Vada Keith) / New Durham Dry Cleaners (Wm & Bramham Vickers) /
.................. Green Odell watchmaker (moves to 107 1/2 North Church Street)
.........1933  Court Square Lunch (L Vada Keith)
.........1934  Court Square Lunch (William B. Burgess) / Taylor's Sea Food Market (Manly Taylor)
.........1935  Vacant.
1936-1938  The Green Inn restaurant (George P. Green)
.........1939  Vacant.
.........1940  Durham Sport Shop (William "Willie" Frank Webster)
.........1941  Durham Sport Shop (Edgar M. Coble)
1942-1963  City News Stand (formerly located at 203 E. Main)

Add new comment

Log in or register to post comments.