Built in 1905, the two-story structure at 459-463 South Driver Street was the center of the original business/church district of East Durham, which surrounded the Durham Cotton Manufacturing Company on both sides of the railroad track. Although the district began the frame-to-masonry transformation with this structure, the momentum of growth and development was already shifting to the north, particularly as people with more disposable income moved to areas north of Angier Avenue. (The original mill village, to the south of the factory, never significantly expanded.)
The corner bay (463) was originally home to the People's Bank, and the East Durham Post Office (which had been located in the Durham Cotton Manufacturing Co. building, then in a frame building that this structure supplanted. At 461 was a drugstore, and at 459, a dry goods store. Offices were upstairs, with "Cleaning and Pressing" on the second floor of the 463 bay.
The People's Bank moved to the corner of Angier Avenue and South Driver Street in 1921.
By the 1930s, Ferguson Grocery Co. was located at 463, and Royal's Sandwich Shop at 461.
In 1940, the East Durham outpost of the Salvation Army was located at 459, Ellis Sandwich shop at 461, and Ferguson Grocery No. 1 at 463. The "Green Fred Council No. 98 Jr O U A M" was upstairs (459 1/2.) (I've always wanted to belong to a Green Fred Council. )
In 1944, 459 remained the Salvation Army, 451 was the Stork Supply diaper service, and 463 was vacant.
In 1950, 459-463 was the Mission Bottling Company, and the Salvation Army had moved upstairs.
1955, 459-463 was the Cramo Hosiery Mills and Cecil Manufacturing Co. The Salvation Army was still at 459 1/2.
In 1960, 459 was the Harris Printery, 461 was Lloyd Electric Motor Service, and 463 the Southern Sales Agency.
At some point after 1960, Garland Woodcraft, which had started at 451-453 South Driver, acquired the building. They now own the southern portion of this block - between Salem Street, South Driver St., and East Peabody St.
(Courtesy Robby Delius)
I love this building, although I find the blank southern wall odd, given that I've seen no indication that there was ever a building to the south, and one seems somewhat unlikely given the railroad. I wish I had an old picture of this building with its second floor windows intact, and I wish it again had active storefronts.
I've never quite understood, in the Triangle Transit Train Dream, why there wasn't a station planned for East Durham. I don't think any station could have as direct a connection with a neighborhood and neighborhood commercial structures as a station at the foot of South Driver Street could; it's a model 'transit oriented development'.
I suppose I should be glad that there wasn't one planned - these buildings might not be here anymore.
(Below in italics is from the 2004 East Durham National Register listing; not verified for accuracy by this author.)
Prominent, architecturally significant 2-story buff brick building of Classical Revival style, with a double door entrance with transom in the diagonal corner elevation facing the railroad tracks and Peabody St. The 10-bay-wide building has 2 stores with plate glass display windows that are now boarded up. The upper facade contains elegant round-arched windows with drip moldings and a corbeled brick cornice. The rear elevation, of common bond brick, has 4-over-4 sashes in segmental arched windows. Built ca. 1905 as the People's Bank, this was later the Boone Drug Company, with a post office branch in the rear. 1930 CD: King & Mathes Drugs at No. 461. 1935: Royal's Sandwich Shop at No. 461. 1955 CD: Cramo Hosiery Mills at No. 459-463. The Salvation Army Boys Club was upstairs at No. 459. In the later 20th century it was acquired by Garland Woodcraft Company, who now uses it for prefinishing woodwork.
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