404 West Chapel Hill St. / Flintom's Esso

35.997153, -78.907907

Year built
Year demolished
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.

Esso station, north side of the 400 block of West Chapel Hill St., looking north-northeast, 1963. (Durham County Library)

A view of the north side of the 400 block of West Chapel Hill St. shows several large houses.

Looking northwest from near the intersection of West Chapel Hill St. and Pettigrew, 1910s-1920s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

Notice that 'The Terrace', BN Duke's first house, is now on that side of the street.

The eastern portion of the block had a small commercial structure, next to the railroad tracks - the Lashley Grocery.

Looking northeast towards the railroad tracks and the Walker Warehouse from West Chapel Hill St. (Digital Durham)

Commercial expansion and piecemeal replacement of these houses occurred between the 1930s and 1950s. This side of the street was completely commercial by the late 1950s.

A&P grocery on the corner of West Chapel Hill St. and Duke St., looking northeast, 1950s.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

Post snowstorm view of the block, 1950s - the A&P and Esso station are visible near the end of the block on the right, while a few houses and a frame grocery - possibly still the B. Lashley grocery building (renamed "White's Lunch") remain in the right foreground.
(Courtesy Duke RBMC - Wyatt Dixon Collection)


A&P grocery on the corner of West Chapel Hill St. and Duke St., looking northeast, 1963. (Durham County Library)

Esso station, north side of the 400 block of West Chapel Hill St., looking north-northeast, 1963. (Durham County Library)

The appearance of this block hasn't changed much since the 1960s, although the structures are now empty. In the 1990s, Amtrak moved their lovely train station to the eastern portion of this block, and 'The Amshack' (basically a single-wide) is Durham's grand depot.

400 block West Chapel Hill St., 2006, looking northwest. (G. Kueber)

Former location of the Lashley Grocery, now the Amshack, 2006. (G. Kueber)

Much of this land is owned by TTA, or in the pipeline for eminent domain proceedings for TTA. This was supposed to be a significant public-private development (with Cherokee Investment Partners as the Master Developer) surrounding the main TTA station. But with the train looking nigh impossible at this point, what happens to all of this property? I certainly hope that they proceed with development of the property as they would have, or sell it to someone who will. There is value in the assembled parcels, and I'd like to see productive use out of them - otherwise TTA becomes just-another-speculator.


Are those the same set of church steeples in both backgrounds?

Thanks again for all the posts -- I appreciate your work!

I thought the TTA development would be on the south side of the street, where the new station is planned. Or are you saying that that's only for the station, and the north side will be Cherokee's site for transit-oriented development (shops, condos, etc.)?

Until the train arrives, I would suggest some sort of low-impact "development" such as the TTA leasing the storefronts to artists. On the other hand, I could see where the TTA or Cherokee would be reluctant to do this for fear of engendering a political constituency that would oppose the inevitable closing when the train comes. What's the harm in leaving it vacant, when there's no accountability? It's not like TTA has to show a return to its shareholders. :-)

This is off-topic, but what's the skinny on Foster's closing at Brightleaf? A quick search turned up nothing.

They were the only place I could get tasso ham, not to mention Ubet chocolate syrup and various other hard to find items. On parent's weekend or graduation the moneyed customers were thick as thieves in this place, and the rest of the time I thought they did a fair amount of business with the lovely patio, free wi-fi, etc. I'll miss their shrimp and grits.

Joe - Those are the same church steeples - of Duke Memorial Methodist on the northwest corner of Duke and West Chapel Hill St. More on it soon.

Phil - thank you again!

You've surmised correctly - the TTA station would be part of the multimodal transit station (glass and steel), and the north side would be the mixed-use development piece. While there is good evidence from other cities/countries that this is the right way to do things if you want a successful transit system, I'm not sure how they are getting around the 'public purpose' piece of eminent domain, particulalry in light of the current frenzy over takings for economic development. (Kelo v New London).

But I would guess that politically, if not legally, they might run afoul of many people should they stray outside of a narrow purpose. It is already a point of some contention, as at least one of these properties (I believe the Exxon Station) is still in the takings process, and there is no train in sight.
I agree on the vacancy piece; they do have some accountability for the above reasons, but I fear that this land will just sit there vacant will TTA comes up with a new plan (however long that will take).

The triangulated knowledge on Fowler's as far as I know is that
-they closed for 3-day renovation
-unexpectedly didn't reopen
-employees were seemingly unaware
-Owners began insisting that they were merely renovating until 12/1 (keeping your gourmet food store closed for Thanksgiving. Hmm.) But when asked if they were selling, they said 'no', but would entertain offers...
-Richard Morgan (owner of the property) says ~8-9 days ago that no work has been done.

So, I think they are closed and trying to find a new owner.


WRT Fowler's: if one walks up to the front door and tries to peek through the space between doors, one will see a store that looks unchanged from a month ago. I also know from talking to some employees that they had essentially no notice. Whatever the owners are doing, it's not the right way to treat their customers or their employees.

Yep, I see now that it's official that it's closed. Sounds pretty final.



OOT: dcrollins: Tasso is one of the easier things to do at home, but you do need curing salt and patience. If you'd like a reference to a book on the subject, I'm jhvilas at gmail, and I'll send you the name of a book. You should be able to do the smoking on a grill. I've never made it, but it looks easier than bacon, which I have done.

Sorry about the way off-topic intrusion.

Add new comment

Log in or register to post comments.