519 Park Avenue - Fd Markham House

35.99179, -78.877776

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519 Park, 1980

One of the oldest houses in East Durham, 519 Park Avenue originally sat on larger parcel of land, and faced onto Lottie Street, now Liberty; the side of the house, facing Park, has been converted to the front entrance. Details imply a construction date of ~1880s.

(Below in italics is from the 2004 National Register listing; not verified for accuracy by this author.)

Felix D. Markham House. This large I-House actually faces Liberty Street to the north, thus presents its east side to Park Avenue. Although it is so altered that it is noncontributing, it does retain a large east gable chinmey, a front cross-gable with a peaked window. Most of the front windows and door have been removed, vinyl covers the entire house, and all sash have been replaced. A large 2-story rear addition was added to create four apartments. This appears on late 19th century Sanborn maps. The property from Liberty, Southgate, Guthrie and Driver streets was the farm of sheriff Felix D. Markham. It was subdivided into lots in 1920 by the Durham Realty & Insurance Company (Plat Book 3, 111). Realtor George W. Hursey lived here in the 1920s. By 1935 it had been converted to 4 apartments. 1935-1960:4 apartments. 1937 SM: apartments.

A 1923 plat denotes this as the FD Markham Homeplace, and divides the original property - through which this section of Park Avenue was cut to continue the extant, north-of-Lottie section southward - into 14 parcels.

Subdivision plat, 1923, with the house and outbuilding outlines shown.

Unfortunately, time had already seen the subdivision of the original house into multiple apartments by the 1980 photo above; since then the vinylization has removed much of the original detailing of the house. It's owned by a Raleigh investor who bought it with bunch of other properties from a similar owner of a bunch of historic rental houses in East Durham in 2005.

I wouldn't be sad if all of these rental companies that own 10 or 30 or 100 historic houses in Durham went quietly into the good night and we never heard from them again. Nothing good seems to come of their ownership, except the incentive to make money off of students and impoverished people by keeping rents low, by keeping the conditions of the housing marginal-at-best, and doing the cheapest home depot repairs possible when absolutely necessary.

519 Park, 02.26.11

I understand the rationale for the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service to consider this non-contributing, and thus ineligible for historic tax credits. It's a slippery slope in trying to hang on to a credible definition of what is historic and what isn't. The reality is that it's pretty arbitrary. Consultants may bristle against that notion, because it's a matter of pecuniary interest to them, but this house clearly still contributes to the district - and it would be wonderful incentive to someone to restore it to its original glory to have tax credits available. Historic folks fall prey to the details for fear of having their authority assailed, but really - this is a late 19th century farmhouse that sits amid 1930s structures, and gives a sense of the 'first wave' of development of this area. The historic district would not be diminished at all if it were demolished? Silliness.


Park Ave has some great homes along with Driver St, Guthrie, Maple, E Main. E Durham has some great homes in such a beautifully setup tree shade streetscape. Such a difference on how awesome the original siding windows looked on that house to how it looks now...Sad

This house is currently for sale as of April 23, 2014.  The City is foreclosing the lien that they slapped on the property.  At the moment the high bid is $36,838  That bid will expire Monday, April 28.  In other words, if anyone else is interested he will have to  put in an upset bid before then.  The upset bid must be at least 5% higher than the current bid.  You must pay cash, and you can't necessarily go in the property before you buy it.  

Anyone interested should act fast.  You can get more information from Doug Davis, a realtor who normally handles these sales for the City and County.  His number is 477-0280.  You can also check his website which is davisrealtyncdotcom.  (Open Durham does not allow links, so substitute a period for the dot.)

I hope someone good buys this house.  

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