505 North Gregson

36.004928, -78.908467

Year built
Construction type
National Register
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.

Aerial showing the store on the right-hand side of the photo, 1953 (DHS Messenger, via DigitalNC)

505 N. Gregson, 12.09.07 (G. Kueber)

The grocery store at 505 North Gregson St. was built between 1920 and 1923; it began life as Graham's Grocery Store. This section of North Gregson St. did not develop significantly until the 1920s - there was no connection in the ~3 blocks north of West Main St. between Gregson St., which ran south of West Main St., and Brody/Hated St., which was part of the subdivision of Trinity Park, until ~1920.

By 1934, the store was part of Progressive Grocery Stores. By 1944, it had become a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Between 1955 and 1960, it became Edens Grocery and Drug. I haven't been able to get to the North Carolina Room at the NC library during its business hours to research the city directories after 1960 to see when it closed. (The pre-1960 are always available when the library is open, on microfilm.) If someone else is able to do so, I'll happily update.

505 N. Gregson, 05.04.10

I'd love to see the rebirth of this building as a restaurant or other small commercial venue. My hometown of New Orleans is replete with such small neighborhood grocery stores that have been converted to restaurants. Durham folk, and most Americans, love their parking lots, though - no matter the political persuasion, the grand unifying deity when the rubber meets the road is copious, available, visible, proximate parking. I'm not sure you could convince a restaurateur to open here or patrons to eat here without knocking down an adjacent house or two for asphalt. The alternative would be for people to parallel park along neighborhood streets, and it's hard to imagine Trinity Park living in harmony with that.

Update 2014:

Word on the street is that 501 Realty, a residential real estate firm, plans to turn this building back into a commercial use for their office, which would be a great outcome.


There is a 40-car church parking lot directly across the street. Any idea why, in general, a church would not be willing to make its lot available to restaurant customers from 6 PM to midnight (at a buck or two per slot per night)? Liability? Trash? Other communities do this; why not Durham?

This lot is currently zoned RU-5 (residential) though the land use info for the parcel on the Durham GIS reads "COM/ 1-STY SGL OCCUPANT". Gary, can you explain the difference between the zoning and the parcel land use, and how that would affect commercial development of this property?

My father bought this building in about 1965 and ran a printing company there until about 1970. All of the Eden's Drug Store soda fountain equipment was left in the building. Wish I had kept it !

Love the green paint job. Someone's idea of preservation? Why not just paint over the windows as well?

Love that building! Anyone know what the sign above the door in the 12.09.07 photo said?

To answer the zoning question, this would be considered a non-conforming use in the residential district. I don't know if the specific use is still ongoing, but if at any point it stops for at least six months (evidenced by utilities being turned off perhaps), that use or a similar non-conforming use can no longer operate there. If it has been abandoned for less than six months, there's a chance it could be used as a restaurant, although it would likely need a Special Use Permit. The good news in all that is that it can't just become a parking lot either. It is likely it would need to be rezoned to be used for a restaurant or retail use. http://www.ci.durham.nc.us/departments/planning/udo/pdf/udo_14.pdf

About 8 years ago, friend of mine (a fellow former Trinity Park resident) had a nice business all set for the "Trinity Park Grill" restaurant to be located at this site. Unfortunately, his menu and concept was too similar to Devine's, the Federal, etc., his investors balked, and his funding fell through. Too bad--it would have been a lot nicer than the green paint.

In the back of my 50s mind I recall going to this neighborhood store as part of our Home Ec class at Durham High, buying ingredients for a meal and turning the receipt in to the Misses Krause/Woolworth for reimbursement. Anyone else buy into this memory?

The sign used to say Eden's Drugs and Sundries

The building was so much more attractive when it wasn't painted.

I love the green actually

the sidestreet cafe in oakwood in raleigh seems to do fairly well in a residential neighborhood without a lot. i like their menu too

Graham's Grocery store started out on W. Main Street. It is listed at 1017 and then 1117 W, Main in the 1915 and then 1919 Hill's Directory. I suspect a typo. The 1923 Hill's Directory shows the store at 505 N. Gregson. Mary and Thomas Graham were the proprietors. An ED post about Gloria Ave from Feb 17 of this year actually shows 2 photos of the Graham's residence on Gloria http://endangereddurham.blogspot.com/search?q=gloria+ave
It's the first house on the right (yellow) in both photos. The Graham Family owned the home from about 1913 until 1956.

Doc Edens also ran the drug store at the intersection of Mangum and Cleveland Streets. He sold various drug store paraphernalia and was also a broker for antique coins. Not sure when he closed the Gregson St. store , as it had been vacant for years when my father purchased it.

The latest owners of the property are holding a neighborhood meeting on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 to present their development plan to the public. The meeting will start at 7pm at Reality Ministries (916 Lamond Avenue).

Perhaps Reality Ministries (a couple blocks away) will offer a parking lot sharing solution - like the Trinity Prez idea floated by the first anonymous comment above.

Does anyone know the outcome of the community meeting?

Just noticed via Zillow that this property is currently for sale. Would love to see someone do something awesome with it!

Work began 3/14/17 to renovate into a single-family dwelling. The contractor said he has a 150 day schedule, indicating a mid August completion timeframe. The top portion of the front brick wall is leaning out & unsteady but will be rebuilt to photographs. I'm pretty sure the green paint will be removed. As I understood it, a second-story is being added and parking entry from alley. The contractor mentioned that the walls are built on the property lines, so there's no wiggle room.

Add new comment

Log in or register to post comments.