421 North Mangum Street - Williams Pure Oil Service

35.997883, -78.898506

Cross Street
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(From "Images of America: Durham" by Stephen Massengill)

Prior to the 1920s, 421 North Mangum Street was the site of the in-town TJ Rigsbee house (as opposed to his farm where Duke's West Campus now sits.) After TJ Rigsbee's death in 1917 and TJ Rigsbee, Jr.'s death in 1924, the house was sold, demolished, and the site redeveloped as a service station.

During the 1920s, many previously residential corners began to be replaced by 'filling stations', as they were commonly called. Pure Oil stations were common, and known for their distinctive architectural styles, which were meant to mimic cottages. Many had white stucco walls and blue roofs - one is still in existence at East Main and Alston - while others, such as this one, were built in a Tudor Revival style. Interestingly, this was in reaction to the explosion of 'eyesore' gas stations during the 1920s, which had led to protests from many people about their blighting effect on the landscape. Pure Oil, in particular, hoped that their designs would make them more welcome in residential areas.

Welcome or not, they came. One of these was developed at the northwest corner of Morgan and N. Mangum Sts. in the 1920s, and operated by Caley V. "Mutt" Williams.

Looking southwest, 1941.
(Courtesy Wayne Henderson)

This station was in operation into the 1950s and 1960s.

Looking west, 1952.
(Courtesy Wayne Henderson)

Aerial of northeast downtown; picture date is labelled 1960, but may be earlier.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The station, looking northwest from Mangum and Morgan, 1966. (In the background is the house several people have commented on in the past few posts.)
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

This structure was torn down by the city in 1968 using urban renewal funds.

In the 1980s, the Durham Merchant's Association / Credit Bureau Systems built a bland suburban structure here.

Looking northwest from N. Mangum and Morgan, 1987.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Until 2009, the building was home to Credit Financial Services, which seemed to primarily be a collection agency / credit bureau.

Looking northwest, 2007.

Since then, it has served as a branch of the Latino Community Credit Union.


I'd wondered about those cottage-style stations. There's one still standing in the west at the confluence of Main and Hillsborough. I believe it's Crouch Oil now...

There is one of these tudor-style stations, nearly identical to the one pictured, on W. Franklin in Chapel Hill. It is currently housing a Caribou Coffee and I had always figured it was an old service station...now I know it was most likely a Pure Oil station.

The house that occupied this lot prior to the filling station is visible on the 1913 (and earlier) Sanborn map. The city directories indicate that Thomas J. Rigsbee, a farmer, lived here with his family. Jean Anderson notes in her Durham County book that TJ Rigsbee was a City Councilman in 1895.

An easy way to view portions of copyright-free Sanborns is through an online interface that UNC has set up, here:

That big house in the background: I'm doing some research on Linthicum & Linthicum, and in a 1904 publication they listed a "Blanche Briggs Residence". The 1907 city directory puts Miss Briggs at 503 N. Mangum, which looks roughly like the house in the background from the 1907 Sanborns.

Gary, the 1911 Seeman's Directory says that Thomas J lived there with two young ladies, Beatrice and Alma Rigbsee, and his wife, Virginia. I don't know my Durham genealogy well enough, but I'm sure this will fix it for you.

Andy I'd be curious whether that was TJ Rigsbee Sr. or Jr., as TJ Sr. was the farmer who owned much of the land that became West Campus (his farmhouse coming up soon.) 425 N. Mangum, in the background was owned by Charles Haywood, who was married to Zoe Rigsbee. Zoa was Atlas M. Rigsbee's daughter, and Atlas is the Rigsbee for whom Rigsbee St. is named. He owned all of this land at one point. Atlas and Thomas J., Sr. were brothers - sons of Jesse Rigsbee. GK

Sara The house in the background is the Charles Haywood house at 425 N. Mangum - I've written about it here. GK

I take it back - I just figured out that was the 400 block of Mangum. if you ever find images of the 500 block, the Briggs house was the second on the left heading north, I think!

T.J. Rigsbee Sr.'s 3rd wife was Virginia 'Ginny' Lansdale. They had three children: T.J.Jr., Alma, and Bernice. T.J.Jr. had three children: George, Catherine, and Pearl. So I believe the house was Sr.'s. Keith Bowden

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