302-308 East Chapel Hill Street

35.996746, -78.901245

Cross Street
Year built
Year demolished
Construction type
Building Type
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East Chapel Hill Street was not the retail street that Main was, but had more service-oriented businesses. The two buildings with frontage on Chapel Hill Street were automobile service-oriented from the early 20th century.

Southeast corner of Chapel Hill Street and Corcoran, ~1920.


 Looking south from Chapel Hill street at the
corner building
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Looking west/southwest from Chapel Hill street. Washington Duke Hotel is in the background.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

This building and the Hackney Block were torn down in the early 1960s to build the first stage of the Washington Duke Motel. This building was L-shaped, wrapping around the corner building and the other building facing Corcoran.


Replaced with the parking deck portion of the WDM (looking west-SW from Chapel Hill St.)
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


The remaining buildings on the corner of Corcoran and Chapel Hill St, encased by the Washington Duke Motel. Interestingly, the auto-oriented building on the corner has been coverted back to retail. Ralph Rogers notes that it was the "Thomas Bookstore".

These buildings would survive a few more years, but by 1966, that window-walled morsel of goodness known as the Washington Duke Motel just had to be expanded.

Demolition, 02.17.66
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun)

Demolition, 02.17.66
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun)


During construction
(Courtesy Durham County Library)


Completed Washington Duke Motel, late 1960s
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

This building is primarily Ronnie Sturdivant's homage to Oprah now. The best thing that I can say about it from a design perspective is that it has first floor retail (Blue Coffee, TJ Phat Wear), which is how we are trying to build parking garages now. The rest of the building is just an eyesore - not just because it's modern, but because of the top-heavy form, the cut-out on the main facade, the blank wall on Chapel Hill Street, etc.


Building from the corner of Corcoran and Chapel Hill Street. Love the juxtaposition of the new traditional streetlamps with the window-walls.


From Chapel Hill Street, looking west-southwest. A small tidbit I've noticed before - look at the alley on the east side of the building. The original east wall of the "Auto Gas Storage" building is still part of the Oprah structure.


They should tear down the blue ugly window walled building and preserve the back wall of brick.

Can anyone fill me in on what the deal is with the Oprah thing on this building is? I have been wondering for a year or so.

Mr. R

My understanding is that Ronnie Sturdivant was/is evidently on a campaign to bring Oprah to Durham, which he feels will inspire folks in Durham in such a way to solve some problems.


We want Oprah: Does anybody have any contact information for the person who created this particular landmark sign? I wanted to let them know that in fact Oprah is going to be in Durham this spring.

Rebecca, that's going to be a bit challenging. He was shot and killed at the end of August of this year (2008).


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