511 Gattis St.

35.998622, -78.917297

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National Register
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This one-story, gable-and-wing house is three-bays wide and double pile with a modern shedroofed addition wrapping the rear ell. The house has a hip-roofed front porch supported by turned wood posts with decorative brackets and an original railing. It retains original wood weatherboards, soffits, molding, cornice returns, and boxed eaves, but has wood composite shingles on a recent rear addition. Original wood windows have been replaced with vinyl and the front door is a hollow-core metal replacement. A low stone retaining wall runs across the front of the property along the sidewalk. The earliest known occupants are John (carpenter) and Eva Squires in 1911.   (Above from the Burch Avenue National Register nomination, 2010.)


Just walked around the block, while waiting for my Grub order, and was intrigued with the stone retaining walls at 511 and 509 Gattis.


They're similar to some of the stone walls in the 1200 block of Clarendon St, where a number of Italian stonecutter families lived. Both streets have walls using Duke stone (from Orange Co) and others have a darker stone. Most intriguing is the almost fanciful mortar between the stones in these different walls on Gattis and Clarendon -- echoes of the mortar you see in the walls of Duke Chapel and other West Campus buildings where so many Italian stonecutters, masons, carpenters and others built Duke's new campus... just up the hill from Gattis Street.


More background and photos of Italian stonecutters can be found here  https://www.oldwestdurham.org/history/duke-stonecutters.html

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