300 North Roxboro - Main Public Library (1976-)

35.994913, -78.896529

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The east side of the 300 block of Roxboro consisted of apartment houses - as did much of the first few blocks of Roxboro north of Main St.

302 N. Roxboro, on the northeast corner of Roxboro and Liberty, 1963.

304 N. Roxboro, 1963

306 N. Roxboro, 1963.

With the seemingly-ubiquitous-during-the-60s corner service station close at hand.

302 N. Holloway - the southeast corner of N. Roxobro and Holloway., 1963. The houses on the north side of Holloway are in the background.

The 300 block of Holloway demonstrated the mix of houses sizes and styles typical of parts of the Cleveland-Holloway neighborhood, along with a mix of residential and commercial uses typical of earlier neighborhoods.

Moving west to east:

308 Holloway, 1963.

310 Holloway, 1966

312 Holloway, 1963

314 Holloway, 1963 - an exuberant little Triple-A roof Victorian with the unusual 48" wide front door opening / French doors.

316 Holloway, 1963.

320 Holloway, 1963 - the southwest corner of North Queen St. and Holloway - the Watkins and Joyner corner grocery

The west side of the opened-in-1910s-closed-in-1970s 200 block of North Queen St. included the American Legion post on the northwest corner of Liberty and N. Queen.

Said outpost at 207 N. Queen, 1963, looking northwest.

211 N. Queen, 1963.

213 N. Queen, 1963.

On the south side of the block, along Liberty Street, large beautiful, um, I mean, blighted houses lined the street:

Moving west to east, November 1963

303 Liberty

305 Liberty

307 Liberty

309 Liberty

311 Liberty

313 Liberty

315 Liberty

317 Liberty

319 Liberty

All of the houses above, between Queen, Holloway, Liberty, and Roxboro, were demolished by the city in the late 1960s via urban renewal. Queen St. was closed between Liberty and Holloway, and this land became the large surface parking lot for the library. 

In 1976, the new main library building started construction, taking up the entire block bounded by Queen, Holloway, Liberty, and Roxboro.

Looking northeast from Liberty and Roxboro, 1976.

Looking northeast from Liberty and Roxboro, 1976.

This remains the Main Library site, a major asset to the east side of downtown.

Looking east, 2007 at the "front" entrance (which I've never seen anyone use.)

Looking south-southwest from the intersection of Queen and Holloway, 2007.

Looking northwest along the former 200 North Queen St., 2007.

Looking north from Liberty Street, 2007

Talk of the library moving seems to have quieted down. I think the building is pretty abysmal, so I wouldn't particularly have a problem with the library getting a new venue - I just think it needs to be on this side of Roxboro. As it is, with free Wi-Fi, a good collection of free DVDs/VHS movies and, well, my favorite - the North Carolina collection - I should say that it is a great asset to downtown in general.

I've written previously that I think Queen should be reopened concomitant with 2-way Roxboro and 2-way Mangum.

I don't usually recapitulate the comments, but one commenter felt the loss of parking would necessitate a deck for the library. I disagree - you could create a lot of on-street parking around here that is currently non-existent.


I once exited the library through the front door, just to use it. I don't think it is available as an entrance, though. It seems odd to me that building policies often cater to drivers exclusively, focusing entrances on parking lots -- especially when, as is the case with the Durham Co. Library, the parking lot entrance is not the most aesthetically pleasing.


I was assured previously that the front door is now unlocked (after being locked for a few years.) Somehow this building reminds me of a 1970s-era state welcome center that you would see of the side of the freeway. Not the kind of building that looks very inviting unless you really need to use the facilities.


the "front" of the library really does cry out for a walkway out to the sidewalk and a plaza with some tables to sit at, and maybe a few benches (the kind with the divider in the middle so, God forbid, nobody should be inclined to lay down and take a nap in the middle of the day.)

Maybe even a couple of stone lions at the sidewalk entrance welcoming patrons in.

The doors are open until 5:00pm. However, because of the layout of the sidewalk, you end up going out of your way to use them most times.

Another note. The apartment building from 300 N. Roxboro is the same as one on S. Person St. in Raleigh that is still in use and beautiful.

Oh, it has some aesthetic issues alright.

Like what about the less-than-friendly homeless folks who like to hang out near the parking lot? Moving them to a plaza in the front, away from patrons might be a good idea.

Durham needs a social services campus that its clients can use without bothering the rest of us.

Yeah, I know, that's "mean" but how much of this can you kinder, gentler folk take until you just decide to stay at home at your computer for good?

My earliest memories are of the downtown library. I have very fuzzy recollections of being 3 or 4 years old and sitting with other children being read stories in the kid's room on the first floor. I remember thinking the central staircase was the largest thing in the world and climbing up each step one by one. As I got older, I explored the 2nd floor: card catalog which made way for computerized searching, the magazine racks (although there were often homeless people reading playboy or other adult magazines up there) and the microfilm collection, which the librarians taught me to use. I spent a lot of time in there from ages 12-14 as we didn't have internet back then and microfilm/lexis-nexis was the only way to geek out on subjects. I remember one afternoon when someone was stabbed upstairs and there were a ton of police on the scene. Lastly, I used to go in high school to borrow VHS tapes and CDs from the first floor. That was about it, then I went away to college. Haven't been back in there in a good 15 years or so. Need to check it out before it's renovated or gone. A huge part of my childhood in that building.

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