518-520 East Pettigrew

35.989252, -78.897123

Year built
late 1920s
Year demolished
Construction type
Building Type
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518 East Pettigrew, ~1970
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

518 1/2 East Pettigrew, ~1970
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

520 - 520 1/2 East Pettigrew ~ 1970
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

Built in the late 1920s, 518-522 East Pettigrew housed a variety of businesses, beginning with the New York Cafe at 518, the Pullman Co. at 518 1/2, and the City Electric Shoe Shop at 520.

1935, 518 housed Flossie Townsend's Barber Shop, and 518 1/2 housed a billiards parlor.
1938, 518 housed the People's Cafe, 518 1/2 housed a notions shop, and 520 the Cut Rate Shoe Shop.
1941: 518 housed Beck's Place restaurant, 520 housed Shelley's Shoe Shop, and 520 1/2 housed the Quality Market.
1947: 518 1/2 housed Rose Beauty Salon, and 520 and 520 1/2 were unchanged.
1948: 518 housed the Dixie Grill and Washett Self-Service Laundry, 518 1/2 housed Rose Beauty Salon, and 520 1/2 housed Quality Market.
1950: 518 housed the Carolina Times, 518 1/2 Day's Cafe, 520 Rose Beauty Salon, and 520 1/2 Johnson's Fish Market.
1954: 518 housed the Carolina Times, 518 1/2 Shelley's Shoe Shop, 520 and 520 1/2 unchanged.
1957: 518 housed the Midway Sport Shop, 518 1/2 Pawnbrokers Outlet, 520 Tip-Top Beauty Salon, and 520 1/2 Enterprise Realty.
1959: 518 unchanged, 518 1/2 The Durham Sunday Star, 520 the Tip Top Beauty Shop, 520 1/2 housed Star Radio and TV appliance Service.
1961: 518 and 518 1/2 vacant, 520 the Tip Top Beauty Shop, 520 1/2 the Imperial Barber Shop 1963: 518 Muhammad's Mosque of Islam, 518 1/2 Sea Food Special Restaurant, 520 and 520 1/2 unchanged
1968: 518 housed the Royal Music Company, 518 1/2 vacant, 520 the Tip Top Beauty Shop, 520 1/2 the Imperial Barber Shop

For at least a brief period in 1962-1963, the storefront at 518 East Pettigrew was home to Muhammad's Mosque of Islam.

From an April 10, 1963, article in the Daily Tar Heel, "Durham's Black Muslims," by Wayne King (photograph by Jim Wallace, online via DigitalNC)

Coverage of this local outpost of the Nation of Islam reflected deep anxiety about race, the accelerating civil rights movement, and the meaning of integration.  An October 1962 Durham Sun article painted the group as a "cult" with a "fanatical leader," apparently in reference to Elijah Muhammad.  A deputy chief of police was quoted promising to keep a "close eye" on their gatherings, implied to be subversive despite being publicly advertised on the storefront window.  Durham's Black-owned newspaper, The Carolina Times, was little more sympathetic, apparently refusing to publicize its activities in the hopes the movement would fade.

UNC's Sarah Carrier has written an interesting piece based on the Daily Tar Heel coverage referenced above, along with other sources particularly focusing on the spring 1963 Durham visit of Malcom X and his debate with CORE leader and local activist, Floyd McKissick. She also highlights details from the campus publication about members of the Black Muslim community, including its reported leader, Kenneth Murray (or Kenneth X). He apparently operated a car wash and business services center just to the west at 402 E. Pettigrew, through which he tried to support and employ others of the Islamic faith.

A fall 1963 note in the Carolina Times suggests the temple had relocated to the hall that hosted the Malcom X-McKissick debate - Page's Auditorium on South Roxboro, on which we hope to gather enough information for a separate article shortly.

The property appears to have been torn down prior to 1972.

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35.989252 -78.897123


I have been reading your blog every other day for the past year, and I might have to stop, as someone whom has lived around here most of my life, its just too painful to see all that's gone. I'd much rather have a Jacks's Royal Music shop or a Papa Jack's cut-rate Six Pack around, than a TGIFridays or any other "insert big-box retailer here."

You should change the name of your blog from "Endangered Durham," to "Durham is Already Gone."

(As depressing as it is, thank you for all you post on here."

Thanks for showing Hayti. I've never seen pictures of it. I only hear of the stories about how it was a great place. I also heard that it wasn't as nice by the time they demolished it. It looks to me that like all they needed to do was clean it up. Keep this up and I would like to know what you think about this loss.

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