2115 West Club Blvd. – Brock-Nabors-Crockett

36.017127, -78.926766

Year built
Architectural style
Construction type
Local historic district
National Register
Building Type
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The current occupants of this home have applied for and received a historical plaque from Preservation Durham. The following information comes from the plaque application, prepared by Tom Miller in May 2017.

The House

The house at 2115 West Club Boulevard was built in 1921 for the Thomas Hubbard Brock family. The building contractors for the house were Thompson & Cannady according to the Durham Architectural and Historic Inventory, City of Durham and the H. P. S. D. (1982). The house is a commodious, two story Colonial Revival Foursquare with a deep, raised porch that stretches across the full street front of the house. Originally, the porch wrapped around the east side of the house, but this portion was filled in the 1940s when a semi-separate apartment was created from rooms on east side of the first floor. The porch roof is supported by Tuscan half-columns resting on brick piers. The projecting central bay of the porch frames the entry. It is surmounted by a shallow pediment. The entry is framed by side and transom lights. On either side of the entryway are electrified sconces with globe shades. They are original.

The main block of the house is covered with a pyramidal roof pierced by two principal chimneys. Originally, the tops of both chimneys were corbelled. Today, only the western chimney retains its corbelled top. A pedimented bay projects from the west face of the house. It rises the full two stories. There is a decorative fan window in the pediment. The entry is positioned in the east bay. Pairs of double hung sash windows are positioned in projecting bay on the west side. Similar pairs of windows are set in the second story above the lower windows and entry. The window lights are organized in a nine-over-one pattern. With the exception of a ribbon of four windows on the west side lighting the dining room and a similar ribbon on the second floor, the windows on the sides and rear of the house are singles. There is a two-story projection from the east side of the house at the rear. The house is clad with wood lap siding with a narrow reveal.

With the exception of the materials used to enclose the porch on the east side of the house and added storm windows, all of the materials on the exterior of the house are essentially original.

The front door enters the northeast quadrant of the foursquare plan and establishes a counter-clockwise flow to the rooms on the first floor. Typical of foursquare arrangements, the entry hall also serves as the stair hall. The stairs rise to the left. The paneled newels, square pickets, and molded handrail are all original. The hall is joined to the parlor on the right by a broad elliptical arch with a keystone. The coal-burning fireplace in the parlor is surrounded with an Adam-style mantelpiece supported by slender fluted columns. To the left of the mantel is the arched entry to the dining room. This is balanced by a bookcase set in an arched niche to the right of the mantel.

The floors throughout the house are pine. The plaster walls, tall base moldings, picture moldings, entablature door and window casework, and six-panel doors and their hardware throughout the interior are all original. The ceilings are ten feet high.

The dining room is lit by a ribbon of four sash windows set high to permit a sideboard or serving table beneath them. A coal-burning fireplace is positioned in the center of the north wall. It shares the same chimney with fireplace in the parlor. The dining room mantel is supported by simple square posts. The white tiles surrounding the firebox are original. As in the parlor, the arched passageway into the dining room is balanced on the other side of the fireplace with an arched, in-set, colonial-style china cupboard.

Beyond the dining room is a breakfast nook and pantry. The nook has its original, carpenter-built benches and table. There are no cabinets, but the nook gives onto a large food pantry with its original shelves. At the back of the pantry there is a window into a large notch porch on the rear of the house at the first floor level. The kitchen space is original, however, the kitchen cabinets were added later. When the house was new, the kitchen had no built-in cabinets. The chimney that served the original cookstove is still in place. The nipple that received the stove flue is visible. An exterior door connects the kitchen to the notch porch on the rear of the house. This porch is deep. It originally provided cross ventilation for the kitchen and a protected place for the ice box. The porch also contains the stairs to the unfinished basement beneath the rear of the house.

On the east side of the first floor there is an apartment created around 1940. It is made up of the original first floor bedroom, the original downstairs bathroom, a room on the rear of the house that may have originally been designed for a servant, and the enclosed wraparound portion of the front porch. The bathroom contains its original sink and free-standing skirted tub. This apartment was always occupied by members of the owners' family and never intended to be an entirely separate dwelling unit.

Upstairs, there are three large bedrooms and an original bathroom. These spaces are all original.

At the southeast corner of the house there is a frame two-bay detached garage building with a shed roof. The building is clad with drop siding. It is unlikely that this garage was erected at the same time of the house. It was probably built before 1950 and is classified as a contributing structure in the Watts-Hillandale National Register Historic District nomination document.

The house at 2115 West Club Boulevard has always been maintained in a near perfect condition of preservation. This is a testament to the serviceability of its design, the quality of its construction, and the loving care it has received by its owners through the years.

The occupants:

Thomas Hubbard Brock was born in 1870 in Sampson County. He came to Durham in 1886 to work at the W. Duke & Sons tobacco factory. According to his obituary in the January 8, 1955 edition of the Durham Morning Herald, he was a “tobacconist,” a local euphemism for anyone who made a career in the tobacco business. He rose through the ranks of the company and by the early years of the twentieth century, he is listed as a tobacco factory foreman in city directories and U. S. Census data. Thomas Brock ended his career as a foreman at American Tobacco, one of the spinoff companies resulting from the breakup of the Duke's tobacco monopoly in 1911.

In 1899, Thomas Brock married Minnie Marvin Carden. Their marriage certificate indicates that they were married by her father, the Rev. J. J. Carden, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The ceremony took place in the Carden family home on Yates Street in Durham. Minnie Brock was born in 1877. The Brocks lived in a number of places in Durham. At the time of the 1910 census, they lived on Yancey Street. In 1920, they lived on Warren Street, a now lost alley in West Durham. Census data for that year indicate that the Brocks had six children. Marie, 19, was a nurse. Nellie Ruth was 16 and a student at Durham High School. Neta (Nettie) May was 14, Margaret, eleven, Thomas, Jr., was eight, and Marvin was just two.

In 1921, the Brocks purchased the lot at 2115 West Club Boulevard from the West End Land Company, the developer of "Club Acres' as the stylish streetcar subdivision was then known. For reasons which today are not altogether clear, they had the property conveyed to their daughter, Nellie Ruth Brock, who was just eighteen at the time. Shortly after the Crocketts purchased the property in 1964, neighbors suggested to them that Thomas and Minnie Brock purchased the property and had the house built using money that had come to Nellie as the result of an insurance settlement following an automobile accident. Whatever the reason the house was titled in Nellie's name, the family treated the house like it was Nellie's even though it functioned as the family home.

The Brock family appears as the first occupants of the house in the 1922 edition of Hill's Durham Directory. The eldest daughter, Marie, a nurse, married Charles W. Noell in that year and moved from the house. From 1922 until Nellie's marriage to Clarence Dee Nabers in 1932, the house was home to the Brock family. As the children grew up, they moved out to attend school, get married, and start families of their own.

Nellie Ruth Brock was born on March 3, 1903. According to her obituary in the November 25, 1991 edition of the Durham Herald Sun, she was president of her class at Durham High School. She won a full scholarship to attend Trinity College. The college became Duke University during her time there. Her photographs in the 1923 and 1924 numbers of the university's yearbook, Chanticleer, depict an attractive young woman with bobbed and curled hair in the style of Constance Talmadge. She was a member of the Y.W.C.A. and the Durham High Club. Of her, Chanticleer's editors wrote:

“Who never stays among her fellow-actors long enough for them to really get to know her. The fleeting glimpses which they get of her, however, are sufficient to prove that she is a truly goodsport, the type of girl that is always wanted when good times are being planned And in spite of her gay social life, she has time to major in History!“

Following her graduation Nellie, now Nell, went to New York where for seven years she taught in the elementary and high schools in Floral Park on Long Island. She returned to Durham in 1931 and, in 1932, she married Clarence Dee Nabers. Clarence Nabers was the manager of the C. D. Kenny Company wholesale grocery and coffee store in downtown Durham. He was born in Lexington, Mississippi, in 1895. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and graduated from Mississippi State College. See Nabers's obituary in the April 23, 1963 edition of the Durham Sun. According to his World War I draft registration, in 1917, Clarence Nabers was living in Birmingham, Alabama and already working for C. D. Kenny. He is described as tall and slender with gray eyes and light brown hair.

Census data for 1930 indicate that Clarence Nabers lived at 2122 Englewood Avenue with his first wife, Anna L. Nabers, and their children, a son, Clarence, Jr., and a daughter, Dara J. (Dora P.) Nabers. The Nabers' house at 2122 Englewood Avenue is located very near 2115 West Club Boulevard in the same city block. On May 9, 1930, Anna Nabers died. She was only thirty years old. Her death certificate recites the cause of death as "septicemia due to abortion.” The attending physician was Dr. Merle T. Adkins. He lived at 2101 West Club Boulevard in the same block with the Brocks and the Nabers.

In 1932 or 1933, Clarence Nabers and his children moved into 2115 West Club Boulevard with Nell. At the same time, the Brock family moved from Club Boulevard to the Nabers former residence at 2122 Englewood Avenue. In 1939, Nell's brother, Thomas H. Brock, Jr., and his wife, Laura, moved into 2115 West Club Boulevard where they stayed only long enough to be listed in the city directory for that year. They moved to 1404 Oakland Avenue. Thomas Brock, Jr., worked as service manager for Johnson Motor Company, the Buick, Packard, and Pontiac dealer downtown. He later worked for Weeks Motors, the Lincoln-Mercury dealership.

In 1940, Nell's parents, Thomas and Minnie Brock, and Nell's sister, Neta, moved back into 2115 West Club Boulevard. It was probably in this year that the wraparound section of the porch was enclosed and the semi-separate apartment was created. By 1940, Thomas Brock, Sr., was seventy years old and retired. Neta worked as the personal secretary for George Watts Hill. Later, she worked in the office at the Austin Heaton Company.

The Brocks, Thomas, Sr., Minnie, and Neta, continued to live at 2115 West Club Boulevard until 1948. In that year they moved to a new home at 2010 Sprunt Avenue. Minnie Brock died at home on February 4, 1953. Her death certificate recites the cause of her death as mesenteric thrombosis - a blockage of blood flow to the intestines due to clots. She was seventy five years old. Her husband, Thomas Brock, Sr., lived two more years. He died of a heart attack on January 7, 1955, at 85 years old. According to his obituary, his body was taken to 2115 West Club Boulevard for viewing. The Brocks are buried in section 6 of annex B at Maplewood Cemetery.

In 1938, Nell Nabers went back to work as a school teacher. She taught at East Durham High School and later at North Durham Elementary School. In 1961, she earned a master's degree from the University of North Carolina and ended her career teaching at Carr Junior High. She was very highly respected by her students and colleagues. Clarence Nabers retired from the C. D. Kenny Company in the 1940s. He then operated Mission Bottling Company on Driver Avenue (manufacturing Orange Crush) and Canada Dry Bottling Company in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Clarence Nabers died of a heart attack on April 23, 1963. His obituary states that his health had been declining for a period of two years. He is buried next to his first wife, Anna, in the Nabers plot in section 2 of annex B at Maplewood Cemetery. Nell Nabers survived her husband by more than twenty-five years.

Nell Brock Nabers died on November 23, 1991. She was 88 years old. She was survived by two sisters and her step-daughter, Dora. She and Clarence had no children of their own. Clarence Nabers, Jr., died in 1974. Nell's obituary makes no mention of her husband. She is buried with her parents in section 6 of annex B at Maplewood Cemetery.

In 1964, Nell Brock Nabers sold the house at 2115 West Club Boulevard to Alexander and Rebecca Crockett.The Crockett family has lived at 2115 West Club Boulevard for nearly fifty-three years. Alexander (Alex) Thorn Crocket was born in 1927 and grew up in Wytheville, Virginia. After serving in the U. S. Navy during World War II, he attended the University of Virginia and the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. In 1949, he married Rebecca (Becky) Janney Lodge of Frederick County, Virginia.

Alex Crockett was a career newspaperman. In Virginia he worked for papers in Winchester, Abingdon, Bristol, and Roanoke. In 1962, he and his family moved to Durham where he became an assistant sports editor for the Durham Morning Herald newspaper. He rose through the ranks at the Herald and Sun newspapers retiring in the 1990s after having served as corporate vice president and managing editor of the combined Herald-Sun papers. See obituary for Alexander T. Crockett in the March 20, 2014 edition of the Durham Herald-Sun.

Alex and Becky Crockett raised their three children, Lucy Crockett, Alexander Graham Crockett, and Bruce Crockett at 2115 West Club Boulevard. They made no significant alterations to the house other than to update the kitchen cabinets and appliances. The semi-separate apartment was occupied by Alexander T. Crockett's mother, Lenna Painter Crockett, from 1964 until her death in 1994. Lenna Crockett was a retired schoolteacher. Alexander T. Crockett died on March 18, 2014, after a long illness. He was 86 years old. He is buried in Wytheville, Virginia.

Becky Crockett, the applicant, was born in Virginia in 1925. She continues to make 2115 West Club Boulevard her home. Becky and Alex met when both were working at the Winchester (VA) Evening Star. Becky later worked at the Wythe County News and the Saltville Progress. In Durham, she edited the employee newsletter for Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Later she taught in a program for pregnant school age girls, and worked for many years as a volunteer in the office at First Presbyterian Church.

The house at 2115 West Club Boulevard is located in the Watts-Hillandale National Register and Durham local historic districts. It is classified in each as a contributing property.

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