803-815 Ninth

36.011352, -78.922282

Cross Street
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Year demolished
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The west side of the 800 block of Ninth St. remained undeveloped until the late 1940s. At that point, a multi-storefront structure was built, followed by two detached structures. From the 1950 city directory:

803 Walsh’s Drive In Restaurant
805 Sears Launderette
Piedmont Coffee Service Inc
Carolina School of Watch Making
807 Vendapak Co
809 Carolina Baseball League
811 Sears Wholesale Co Inc confrs
813-15 Royal Sandwich & Food Company

(I believe "confrs" stood for "confectioners")

813-815 Ninth St., the Royal Sandwich and Food Co., looking northwest from Ninth St. ~1950
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

The description of the Royal Sandwich and Food Co. from "Durham and Her People"

"Royal Sandwich and Food Company... was organized in 1940 by Taylor A. Davis.... During 1937, Mr. David came to Durham as a distributor for a large baking concern. He later went with a a local sandwich manufacturer prior to entering business for himself. [He and his family] reside at 1421 Pennsylvania Ave. [The company] is housed in a commodious plant, amply equipped to give real sandwich value down to the last penny. They cover Durham and surrounding territory with all of their food products. The firm maintains a 'Grade A' health rating. Every kind of sandwich available is made fresh daily and delivered to their many customers. In addition to sandwiches, Royal Sandwich and Food Co. distribute donuts, buns, cakes, Long Johns, and Short Johns."

(I'm not sure what either a Long John or a Short John is- anyone?)

Looking west, ~1950.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Aerial view of the block, 1959.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

By 1965, the business lineup was:

803 Lloyd’s Dixie Dog restr
805 Electrical Supply Co of Durham
807 Tucker’s Service Elec Appls
809 Watson Electrical Construction Co of Durham
811 Royal Sandwich & Food Co Inc

By 1970, Royal Sandwich was out of business:

801 Vanity Nook
803 Maddux Supply Co elec sup
805 Watson Electrical Construction Co Of Durham
807 Watson Electric Construction Co Of Durham (Whse)
809 Maddux Supply Co (Whse)
811 Maddux Supply Co (Whse)
813 Graham Knitwear clo
815 Lane Auto Supply Co Inc

801 Vanity Nook
803 Stephenson Inc bldg sup
805 Watson Electrical Construction of Durham
811 Casey Printing Inc
813 Place Lounge The
815 Cal Tone Paints


801 House of Hair The
803 Stephenson Inc bldg sup
807 Dataflow Inc
815 Cal-Tone Paint & Decorating Center


801 House of Hair The
803 Stephenson Inc bldg sup
807 Dataflow Inc
815 Vacant


801 Pizza Palace Storage
803 Stephenson Inc bldg sup
807 Dataflow Companies Inc
815 Dataflow Inc (Overflow)

I can't really picture these buildings during the 1990s - I'm not sure if they were mostly empty, or there was simply nothing there that attracted my attention. Glenn Dickson, owner of the property, developed a plan to demolish the existing buildings and redevelop the property with an infill development. The existing buildings were torn down in 2001.

Looking south from Green St., 02.06.01
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

The building, once completed, was one of the very, very few examples of new, pedestrian-scale urban infill architecture in Durham.

Overall, it's a nicely done development - I'd prefer to see it extend to the corner of Ninth and Green, rather than set back from that corner with a surface parking lot, and I'm not a huge fan of the way the grade separation is handled between storefront and sidewalk. If anything, I'd prefer that the development was taller. But given how terrible we are at executing decent new construction in Durham, I'd call these quibbles.

Find this spot on a Google Map.



Gary, a "long John" is a choux pastry filled with cream and frosted. It's very similar to an eclair. You've got me on the "short John"; I've never heard of those.

Although, come to think of it, there used to be a bakery somehere in West Durham that (in the 1960s) sold a yeasted cream filled chocolate-iced donut that they called a "John". My uncle used to bring them to us. Maybe that is a short john?

My first grade teacher at E. K. Powe used to send various ones of us, always boys, across the playground (and across Green Street) to Royal Sandwich with a quart thermos and thirty cents to get coffee. You can see the Powe playground in several of the photos.

She was a dear. I cannot imagine that happening today.

A long john is almost shaped like a Twinkie,only rounder and longer. The dough is the consistency of a good doughnut.It is filled with a delicious creme filling. I think a shot john is just a shorter long john and was cheaper.Davis Bakery on Chapel Hill Street sold the best ones in Durham.

With the pictures you have there, I couldn't swear that they were the originals by 1990, but they were generally low slung commercial buildings, not entirely contiguous or connected the whole way. The northern portion was a series of small buildings that stepped up with the grade as one went up the hill to the south. There was another small, freestanding building that I actually watched the bulldozer knock down. Its last tenant was Fuller Resume.

I've gotten better at seeing what's structural and what's cosmetic in the past 10 years, but when these went down, I got the distinct impression of them leaning. I don't think they were masonry buildings, and the demo pictures would seem to agree. I believe they were stick-built. My memory of the Fuller Resume building is that it went down with about three swipes of the bucket of a backhoe.

As for appearances, the DataFlow buildings had green awnings and large plate-plexiglass windows, with rather Spartan metal-frame doors. At the time of the demo, I lived on the 900 block of Iredell, and walked to the 9th St. district extremely regularly. I've come to second guess any "tear it down" sentiments I might have had, but I can say that from the perspective of a pedestrian, the walk past DataFlow was always gloomy and depressing, even when they were occupied. Whatever the dlaws, the Dickson building feels much, much better to a pedestrian, and frankly looks better with the surrounding architecture.

Which raises an interesting point -- the original plans for 9th St. North were stucco. It was OWNDA that prevailed upon Dickson to do a brick facade instead, to match Powe and the Fire Station. Dickson, I believe, later acknowledged that it was definitely the right choice.

(there should be a law against stucco in the humid southeast, to protect dumb architects from themselves.)

Hi. i am the son of Taylor Davis. I was doing a search for his company and ran across this site.
It brings back a lot of memories seeing our building and delivery trucks.
I was 10 years old at the time of the photo, and worked for my father there. I actually started when I was in the third grade at E.K. Powe and would walk to the store after school and fold boxes that we put our cakes and pies in. I got a penny for every 4 boxes I folded!
Feel free to email me if you have any questions. wa4zwc@gmail.com
Thanks, Jerry

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