520 Holloway St

35.99437, -78.891731

Year built
Architectural style
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Local historic district
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Above, 520 Holloway in 1964

520 Holloway, the Moore-Umstead House, was constructed in 1903, and is one of the major contributing structures in the Cleveland-Holloway historic district.

520 Holloway in 1979, above.

Unfortunately, quite awhile ago, it fell into the hands of James "Fireball" White, where historic properties go to die. It has been abandoned for many years now.

520 Holloway in the late 1990s.

It has been slowly, but inexorably, deteriorating over that time period. The owner has refused to sell the property , preferring, evidently, to let it fall into the ground. It is the poster-child for demolition by neglect.

520 Holloway, 2006.

Looking southeast, 2006.


520 Holloway St., 02.19.11

It seems appropriate as I announce the future of Endangered Durham that I received an email from Constance Stancil of NIS alerting me to the work they've done to stabilize 520 Holloway St.. I say it's appropriate because 520 Holloway St. was my first real post on Endangered Durham; what I considered the most endangered house in one of the most endangered neighborhoods back in August of 2006. It's also appropriate because much of the impetus for this website came out of my frustration with the demolitions of NIS, and my inability at the time to get Preservation Durham to publicly speak up about the houses being torn down by the city, because of their leadership's fear at that time of losing city funding if they did so - which led me to leave the board of that organization.

Cleveland-Holloway at the time was just showing some potential glimmers of hope, but in rough shape. The 500 block of Holloway had long been a focus of preservationists, and had a core of people that had moved into the block as early as the 1980s and 1990s. But there had been little positive activity in the broader neighborhood. 520 Holloway was the saddest example - owned by Fireball White for decades, it had been sought by many a preservation-minded person for acquisition, but the White family would always rebuff offers, demand outrageous prices, and flake out - not necessarily in that order, and potentially 1 or all of those.

A funny thing has happened since then. The surrounding neighborhood has seen a major renaissance, as I've previously profiled. The historic district was expanded from Holloway St. to include the rest of the neighborhood, and once-scary corners to the north are filled with brightly colored houses. We at Scientific Properties have renovated Golden Belt and a bunch of housing just to the southeast, and helped to create a renaissance in that neighborhood.

But while the surrounding area has improved, Holloway Street has stayed pretty much the same - some revitalized houses, some downtrodden houses. I profiled the remainder of the 500-600 blocks in the following ~year. And 520 Holloway got a whole lot worse than the pictures in my old post when the White family started some abortive attempt at renovation without a COA from the historic commission - ripping out windows and taking off the front porch before a stop work order was issued.

NIS has come a long way in the last 4.5 years as well - especially after the departure of some personnel. I particularly think Constance Stancil and Rick Hester have made an effort in the last 2 years to find more creative (and productive) ways to deal with historic housing with code violations; they've pushed into a receivership-type model, which I've hoped we would adopt for years, which they've 'piloted' on 520 Holloway. They've done stabilization and exterior improvement/safety work to improve the safety and appearance of the house; they'll lien the property for those costs, and if the owner doesn't pay up, the city will move towards foreclosure. This had the effect of moving the house in a positive direction both in terms of physical stability and potential to move the house into better hands.

520 Holloway St., 02.19.11
(Those aren't windows, btw - they are plywood sheets painted to mimic windows.)

520 Holloway St., 02.19.11

So kudos where they are deserved to NIS. I think - with the improvement of the surrounding neighborhoods and the support of NIS, the future of this corridor seems more positive than it has in years. The key is that, if Liberty Street and 700-800 blocks of Holloway can be stabilized, the revitalization of the neighborhood to the north and Golden Belt can 'meet in the middle' - here.



Word on the street is that this house is being sold to someone who will restore it.

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