304 South Driver St.

35.982763, -78.877943

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304 South Driver St., 1980

304 South Driver (A, B, and C) was built in the mid-to-late 1940s, initially housing the Durham Shoe Rebuilders, the Driver Ave Barber Shop, and Lynette's Restaurant. By the mid-1950s, the barber shop had closed, and Lynette's was listed as "Lynette's Cafe and Fountain".

Lynette's persisted into the 1980s. I'm unsure as to when it closed.

The building currently houses Muhammad Mosque No. 34, a Nation of Islam branch.

304 South Driver, 10.02.10

(Below in italics is from the 2004 East Durham National Register listing; not verified for accuracy by this author.)

Commercial Building. 1-story brick commercial building with 3 storefronts, wiht simple brick pilasters and a paneled brick cornice. Not on 1937 SM. 1945 CD: Durham Shoe Rebuilders/Carr & King Barber Shop. All storefronts have been bricked up to create the building's current usage as Muhammad Mosque #34.



Why the "sic" after Driver Ave.? The street was originally called Driver Ave. I and other old-timers still have a tendency to call it Driver Ave. rather than Driver St. A friend and I were trying to recall when the name changed, but we're not sure. The "why" is even more mysterious. Maybe someone out there remembers.

Point taken, and removed. I think I'll start throwing "[sic]"s into every East Durham post so that I start getting at least one comment on each post - I'd love to, for instance, get some color commentary from the "old-timers" on Lynette's. Or anything else.


Gary, I've been meaning to comment on your posts for East Durham. Growing up in the northern part of town, we never visited East Durham. The history is quite interesting and reminds me of old neighborhoods that have been (or are being) revitalized, here in Atlanta. I'm sure it suffers the same issues, as drug-infested, high crime areas do. It would be nice to see it resume its original status, but it will take time. The information you provide is intriguing and leads me to want to learn more about the town I grew up in.

I don't qualify as an old-timer, but I did eat at Lynette's before its demise. A newcomer to Durham in 1978, I tried to eat at all of the many diner/lunch counter/small eateries in town. Unfortunately most of them are now gone. But Lynette's served great home cooking and had friendly staff.

As a non-resident Durham native, I met another Durham native and his wife at a social event 100 miles away. He grew up in East Durham ca. 1940's-early 1950's. To surrounding non-natives, he made a comment that stung me as true: "You don't understand East Durham if you aren't from Durham."


Your cri du coeur pleading for comments seems to have had an effect. I was struck by the comment from "Point Well Taken" about outsiders not understanding East Durham. An old friend of mine, a native of West Durham, went to Durham High School in the 1960's. He tells me that there was a gulf between the kids who grew up in West Durham and those who grew up in East Durham. One year, a girl from Holton Junior High on Driver Ave. (sic) was elected homecoming queen, and despite the fact that she was beautiful, it caused quite a bit of consternation among the West Durhamites. One of THEM, Homecoming Queen? I hasten to add that this was not a racial issue because Durham High at the time was entirely, or almost entirely, white.

As to Lynette's, sorry I never ate there.


Lynette's was run by the Barkers and was named for their daughter, Lynette (who recently died). As teenagers we would stop in the get an order of hushpuppies - taking the pennies/dimes out of our loafers. They were very patient with us!

Point Well Taken's friend is right - East Durham had to be lived to know what it was. Going to DHS was a change and we did feel somewhat disenfrancised from the place of power we'd held at East Durham Junior High--for a while. But it all worked out because we had smart and charismatic students too - still do!

When you get to Holton (sic) (!!) we'll talk about the Youth Center and some of the teachers.

I attended East Durham Jr. High,but left in the 9th grade to get married. We did get married at an early age back then.And not for the reason you might be thinking!
I well remember eating some good meals at Lynettes but can't remember about it opening or closing.
It was always said West Durham guys don't go to East Durham and visey versy unless they are spoiling for a fight.And they especially don't go alone.
Yep its always been called Driver Ave.Did not know it had been changed.In my day it was one of the prettiest streets in DurhamPeople were proud of the East Durham neighborhood.
X Durham Chick
PS Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

I graduated from Durham High School in 1960 and had come from E.K. Powe Jr. High (before Brogden) and there was a definite pecking order:
#1 Carr Jr. High (central Durham & next to Durham High).
#2 E.K. Powe Jr. High (West Durham)
#3 East Durham Jr. High.

I have no idea why this pecking order existed except that more affluent kids went to Carr, probably from Forest Hills and Hope Valley.
We had poor mill folk in West Durham (Erwin Mills), but we certainly thought we were a cut above East Durham. I still don't know why we stuck our noses up and looked down on East Durham. It was clearly obvious in our athletic games.

Oh, and Durham High was integrated in 1959 with 3 token blacks including the McKissick daughter during my senior year. I felt sorry for those three kids. It would have been much better for them if it had been done on a school-wide basis.

Hey David,

I would say that the pecking order from 1960 is pretty much the way things still are in Durham. Half a century and not a lot has changed. The Mayor wants to spend extra money on Rolling Hills and take general revenue funds for a Downtown BID. That's the equivalent of Carr Junior High being at the top of the pecking order. The $187,000 that the Herald-Sun reports that he wants to take from general revenues and spend downtown might have been spent on saving and improving the Angier and Driver business district.

But no one gives a f**k about East Durham. We're still at the bottom of the pole.


I still call it Driver Avenue.John,you are right. People still look "down at East Durham".East Durham was a good place to live when I was growing up-1950s.All of my great uncles and aunts worked at Erwin Cotton Mill.A lot of us East Durham kids would go to W. Durham and socialize at Erwin Auditorium.-Vivian Taylor Briggs

I still call it Driver Avenue.John,you are right. People still look "down at East Durham".East Durham was a good place to live when I was growing up-1950s.All of my great uncles and aunts worked at Erwin Cotton Mill.A lot of us East Durham kids would go to W. Durham and socialize at Erwin Auditorium.-Vivian Taylor Briggs

When I got to Durham High in 1965 from Brogden JHS I regarded the students from the other junior highs to be just that: DHS students from other schools I had not previously known. My wife came to DHS from Carr and she feels the same. DHS was a melting pot and, once there, everyone started from zero in my experience. One of my best friends came from East Durham and I don't remember pedigree ever being a part of the conversation. I must admit I was reluctant, however, to go to East Durham on Friday or Saturday nights due to fights which seemed to break out with some regularity. Lynette's was my father's favorite restaurant in Durham and on the rare occasions we dined out that's where we went.

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