771 Ninth Street / 2001 Hillsborough Road

36.010268, -78.922358

Cross Street
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Hillsborough Road and Ninth St., looking west, ~1958
(Courtesy Barry Norman)

The service station at 771 9th St. / 2001 Hillsborough Road was initially the Council Service Station, built during the early 1930s. The building became Moore's Texaco, and, by the late 1950s, the McAfee Service Station. It then had a stint as a drive-in shoe shop, and idea whose time has surely come again.

Corner of Hillsborough Road and Ninth St., looking southwest, 09.27.62
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

It seems unlikely the men pictured above were in search of new footwear; this photo was taken the day Durham's City Council announced it would accept the gift of this land from Erwin Mills to address what a company official called "the hazardous traffic pattern created by the intersections of Hillsboro Road and Markham Avenue at Ninth Street."  More famous for its dramatic neighborhood clearance and highway construction, the dawning Urban Renewal era was also about streamlining such smaller, inconvenient crossings to fit the faster pace of mass automobilization.

August 1962 plat map shows the land Erwin Mills would donate to realign the intersection here (Durham County Register of Deeds).  

Within a year, the former service station and other structures here were gone, the rump of the former course of Hillsborough renamed 'Safeway', and this land left an island in between. The site hosts the Old West Durham neighborhood sign and grass/landscaping. It seems unfortunate that it managed to lose its sidewalk along with the gas station. Perhaps as people discuss closing Safeway, the former Hillsborough Road, making the crossing of Hillsborough on the north side of Ninth St. a bit less forbidding will be a priority.

Former southwest corner of Hillsborough and Ninth, looking southwest, 08.08.09

Find this spot on a Google Map.


UPDATE: a small happy note to end on, the sidewalk was restored on the island between Hillsborough Road and Safeway in mid-2014.


Three service stations stood at this intersection. (The 4th corner was Whitmore Bakery, which long-time residents said, "smelled wonderful and made the best donuts in town.")

NC 10 (Central Highway) was the first highway to cross the state. Its route followed the ridge between the Neuse River and Cape Fear River basins (from Beaufort to Murphy). Folks said you could walk along NC 10 and never get your feet wet. In Durham, NC 10 followed West Main, turned up Ninth Street and went out Hillsboro Road -- towards other cotton mills in Hillsborough, Haw River, and Salisbury.

When the US started designating national highways in 1927, the "magnificent state route number 10" became US 70. Sections of NC 10 can still be found in western Durham County (near Route 751 and Duke Forest).

Here's a picture of Hap Dennis and Bannie Chesnutt standing in front of Haps Atlantic Gasoline Service Station at Ninth & Markham. Note the "NC 10" sign. The large "L" indicted left turn. In the early years, the state also used "R" signs for right turns. Today, the old brick building is Barnes Supply... http://www.owdna.org/History/history24.htm

That Beauty Passes Like a Dream, from West Durham Winter
By George Zabriskie (Knopf, 1941)

On turning axle creaks the year, the old machinery
Of lithographed and gilded calendars the milkman
Brings, the grocer sends: their art and compliments
To grace the home throughout the year where spring
And summers are but numbers now when on the wall
The people hang chronologies of shifting shuttles, reels
Unwinding in the mills...

And they shall hear each day
The trains and whistles, engines shifting cars
Inside the factory yard, and know these link them surely
To worlds they do not know...

The trees shall bear again
The bursting bud, the greening leaf; the roads
Shall dry, bear dust again, and men shall not be cold

On U.S. Seventy, how many cars shall pass, and trucks
Shall toil up little grades, with whining gears before
The summer comes, how many miles of cloth shall leave
The mills to prove their lives are repetitious and enslaved?
The census takers come, and make the world statistical,
But do not change it: here is no revolt but death,
And even that is ineffectual; the cheap coffin borne
In the crawling hearse, followed by dirty ancient cars
Is witless proof, and standard gravestones add the sin
Of final ugliness.
Here thought has lost its sting,
And song is standardized.
Yet ineluctable as noise,
Tall leafing trees will hide the houses in the spring.

Who is current owner of that parcel? Also it's not practical to suggest closing Safeway as it would hinder access to Vin Rouge and Blu.

Re: NC 10 -- I drive by Murphy School on the way home from work and it appears a renovation is in progress; anybody know about it? I heard it might become a conference center. The link from anonymous indicates that it is a private residence

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