904 Rome Avenue

36.000377, -78.915583

Cross Street
Year built
Architectural style
Construction type
National Register
Building Type
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Tucked away in the farthest northern portion of West End/Burch Avenue is a somewhat hidden street named Rome Avenue. I lived in Durham for years without knowing that it was there, until I began to wonder where the houses I could see from the Durham Freeway were located.

This is the house at the end of Rome now, 904 Rome, which used to be at the point of that intersection.

Travelling the one block from Wilkerson to Rome feels to me like entering a different world; it seems like it is very similar to how it might have looked 80 years ago. Rome Ave. really doesn't 'belong' to the West End/Burch Avenue at all, but is the easternmost remnant of the community of Brookstown.

From the 2009 National Register Listing; not verified for accuracy by this author:

This one-story, gable-and-wing house is three-bays wide and double pile with a gabled rear ell extending from the left side of the house and a shed-roofed addition between the two rear gables. The hip-roofed front porch is supported by turned posts with decorative sawn brackets and a spindle frieze. The house retains a high level of architectural integrity including original molded wood weatherboards and trim, two-over-two wood windows, and imbricated shingles, round vent, and sawn bargeboard in the front dormer. The front door has a large glass pane surrounded by smaller colored-glass panes over three wood panels surmounted by a two-light transom. The house has a brick foundation and two interior brick chimneys, one faced with stucco. Remnants of a brick foundation from a second house exist on the west end of the lot. The earliest known occupants of the house are Mrs. Fannie Wilson, James T. Wilson (carpenter), and Sarah J. Wilson in 1905.

This is the 1937 Sanborn map view of the area, showing many of the houses of Brookstown, and the original street configuration. You can see 904 Rome facing the point of the intersection of Spring and Thaxton.

Copyright Sanborn Insurance Co.


I took a drive down Rome Ave. this afternoon. You're not kidding about it feeling like a quick trip into history. The dirt road and old, leafless trees make the image. But close-up, all the vinyl siding brings you back to the present.

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