(Courtesy Duke Archives)
The Durham Gas Company was formed in 1888 by George Watts and Julian Carr, and would later become the Durham Light and Power Company. The Durham Traction Company and Durham Light and Power split the electricity and gas franchises, with L&P taking the gas franchise in 1905. The company built the Gilbert St. plant shortly thereafter, constructing a facility able to hold 40,000 cubic feet of gas.
The company was absorbed by Carolina Power and Light in 1911. In 1928, the company was sold to Southern Cities Utility Company, headed by Charles Whetstone of Philadelphia. The company was then renamed the Durham Gas Company. In 1934, the Public Service Company of North Carolina (PSNC) took over the company and franchise.
In 1946, the company purchased the former Durham Sun Building on East Main Street for their offices. By 1953, the plant on Gilbert Street had expanded to a capacity of 1.09 million cubic feet of gas.
Looking north. Holloway St. is in the foreground, and the former John O'Daniel Hosiery Mill and Durham Gas Company are just to the north, separated by the railroad tracks, 1950s.
Shot of the gas plant from the tracks, looking northeast across Gilbert St., 1952
(Courtesy Bob Blake)
Plans were already afoot in 1953 for the Gilbert St. plant to become a temporary storage station for gas piped in from afar. Sometime soon thereafter, the Durham Farmers Exchange purchased the facility and site for its expanding grain/feed production operation. They tore down the former gas plant and built a new facility. The feed production facility is still in operation in 2007, run by Southern States.
Looking north from Gilbert St., 2007
As of spring of 2009, the Southern States facility was for sale. I'm curious to see whether someone had the creativity to find an adaptive reuse for this building.