Bellamy Apartments/ Mike's Transmission

36.003354, -78.894555

Year built
Year demolished
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(Copyright Sanborn Map Company)

I haven't uncovered any pictures of the two-story frame house that stood on the corner of West Geer and North Mangum through the 1950s. From the above 1937 Sanborn map, it appears to have had a large, wrapped front porch and projecting bay windows on the north side. The building immediately to the south of it, however, was the Bellamy Apartment building, constructed by the Bellamy family, who were cousins of Fred Geer - as in the street and the farm that covered much of what is now Old North Durham.

Bellamy Apartments, 1924.

By the 1960s, the house on the corner had been torn down - replaced by a used car dealership: the O'Briant Motor Company. The Bellamy Apartments persisted next door to the car dealership.

Looking east-southeast down West Geer St., 01.24.63.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

By the 1990s, this space had been taken over by Mike's Transmission, which had started several blocks to the east, also on Geer St. The Bellamy Apartments were torn down to expand the footprint of the business and parking area.

Looking southeast, 06.23.08.

While I have nothing against Mike or his transmission shop as a business, it is a most unfortunate land use for this corner. It stops the surrounding residential character to the north abruptly at Geer St. with its tall, barbed-wire topped chain link fence and sea of asphalt - typically filled with helter-skelter array of vehicles. This is where the revitalizing energy of Old North Durham goes to die.

While I doubt that much would influence the business to relocate and sell this property at a price that would make it feasible to redevelop it with a some more appropriate combination of neighborhood-scale commercial and residential - in an architectural package that reinforced the beauty of the surrounding neighborhood - I do hope for it.




Agreed with your assessment that it'd be nice to see a different use here. I will say, FWIW, that I've used Mike for transmission work in the past and found it to be a great business that does very good work with terrific customer service, so one can hope that a good guy running a good business could eventually find the opportunity to move.

What I really wonder is, I wonder what State Senator Floyd "Here on Geer" McKissick Jr. thinks of having a transmission shop right across the street from his home at Geer and Mangum? I wonder what it must be like to walk out your door each morning and see the sight of a transmission shop right there? I wonder what he thinks when he comes home each and every night and looks at this business?

One can only wonder...


I agree- I've had a bum transmission before, and I'm glad to have good businesses in Durham should the need arise again.

I'll have the Boone house up here sometime this week. I felt most fortunate that no one came out of the house to scold me for taking photos.


While I am apt to join in the passing wish that the less visually attractive uses found in any city were somehow hidden, it does not seem reasonable to expect service industries like auto mechanics and the like to hide their valuable enterprises from public view.

When your business relies upon automobiles, is there any place more reasonable to site your business than along a thoroughfare?

Where would expect we a transmission service to be located?


I think of N. Mangum as more than a thoroughfare. It is a neighborhood street as well, and therein lies the tension. The design of this structure/site treats N. Mangum as a thoroughfare, and only a thoroughfare. There are other locations in the city that don't have this dual role - Hillsborough Road west of Hillandale pops immediately to mind.

But also to be clear, I have less problem with the service use per se than the design. So build a new structure at the sidewalk line, with attractive landscaping, no barbed-wire-chain-link, and put the cars at the back of the lot rather than the front (although this doesn't work as well on a corner.)

I don't think those things are going to happen with a transmission shop, so I suggest that other service uses/mixed-use buildings might be a better fit for the neighborhood + thoroughfare.


Having lived on a street with lots of service stations, I don't think it has to be such a bad thing.

I think I'd be happy here with just getting rid of the razor wire and chain link. I know that there's all sorts of "crime" problems on Mangum (I put it in quotes because I think the perception far outstretches the reality there), but the fence is really an eyesore.

The Bellamy Apartments were torn down long before the 1990's. I was looking for housing in that neighborhood in the early 1980's and I know they weren't there then. I would have remembered them, the way I remember the duplexs across the street that were torn down.

What a loss! It looks like a great building.

I lived in the Bellamy apartments from my birth in 1948 until approximately 1957 when my family moved north to Bragtown (Bon Air Avenue). Many fond memories from my childhood playing in the large paved parking area that was located behind Bellamy apartments. I remember a young lady named Daisy Garner who lived nearby and a fellow resident of Bellamy apartments, Stevie Rolland. I wonder what became of those folks.

Linthicum & Linthicum list the 'R.L. Bellamy House' in a Manufacturers Record of 1908, and the 1915 city directory puts Mr. Bellamy living in the Bellamy Apartments. Maybe one of theirs?

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