Durham Hosiery Mill No. 2 / Service Printing Company / Elvira's / Carolina Times

35.990034, -78.89754

Cross Street
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Carolina Furniture Company on East Pettigrew St., 1902.
(Copyright Sanborn Map Company)

The block of East Pettigrew Street between Ramsey St. and Branch Place was the site of the wood-frame Carolina Furniture Company building. The Carolina Furniture Co. building had been constructed in the 1880s as the "Wortham Wooden Mills." This venture became the Carolina Furniture Co. in the 1890s. The buildings were purchased in 1903 by the Durham Hosiery Mill Company and Julian Carr and converted to the first branch of the Durham Hosiery Mill Company, Durham Hosiery Mill No. 2. The Durham Hosiery Mill had constructed their No. 1 mill a few blocks to the northeast in Edgemont in 1900.


From a postcard - this doesn't appear to much resemble the later mill - given the artistic license used for DHM No. 1 on the same postcard, it seems possible that this is inaccurate. 

One piece of particular uniqueness surrounding Durham Hosiery Mill No. 2 is the fact that Carr hired African-American workers to operate the machinery of the mill, and an African-American, John O'Daniel, to manage the mill. Sources documenting the mill state that, prior to that point, African-Americans has not been hired to run the machinery, based on the offensive belief, per Jean Anderson, that the "sound of the machinery would lull [them] to sleep" - and, likely, a host of other excuses. African-American workers had typically been hired by manufacturing plants only in more menial positions. Carr is quoted in 1919 regarding the 'experiment':

"Negroes had never before been employed in knitting mills; their work had been 'stemming' in the tobacco factories - pulling the leaves from the stems; they had never been used around machinery or in competition with white people.... There was a distinct shortage of white workers, and we could not have manned the mill with trained hands. when we announced the plan, the opposition was instant."

(Note: this is not the mill mentioned by both Booker T. Washington and WEB DuBois in 1911-12. That mill was located on Fayetteville St., and will profiled soon.)

Carr is an interesting fellow - both an innovator/philanthropist and a decidedly paternalistic old south Democrat who was likely looking for the cheapest labor he could find. I like anyone who, in my mind, so resists classification.

The historic inventory states that the old mill building was demolished in 1913, and a replacement mill constructed on the same site. I'm not sure that I believe that to be true, and I don't know their source. The Sanborn maps appear to show a faithful adherence to the original outline of the main building between the 1907, 1913, and 1937 maps.

There is little history available regarding the actual operation of the mill, other than that the intent was to produce marketable socks using cotton that mills typically discarded; O'Daniel died in 1917. Carr, upon purchasing the former Paragon Hosiery Mill on Gilbert Street, renamed the mill in O'Daniel's honor.

Hosiery Mill No. 2 appears to have gone out of business in 1930, and thereafter was leased by Liggett and Myers for warehouse space until the late 1940s.

Former Durham Hosiery Mill No. 2 in the background from the railroad tracks east of Dillard St., late 1930s to mid-1940s.

By 1947, the former mill had been converted to retail bays. Tenants would come to include some of the most important businesses in the Hayti community, such as the Service Printing Company and the Carolina Times newspaper.

The Carolina Times began as The Standard Advertiser in August, 1921. The newspaper was a weekly, which did not begin to flourish until Louis Austin came to head the paper. The motto of the paper was "The Truth Unbridled." Austin was heavily involved in the Durham Committee, née the "Durham Committee on Negro Affairs". The Times was located in multiple locations before moving into a portion of the Hosiery Mill in 1958.

Louis Austin.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

The Service Printing Company began as a part of the Times. In 1932, Mr. and Mrs. TD Parham purchased the Times' printing operation and moved it to 608 Fayetteville Street, renaming it the Service Printing Company. In 1939, Day F. Reed, Walter G. Swann, George D. White, Jr. and Nathaniel B. White took over management of the company and purchased it outright in 1941. In 1947, the company moved to the hosiery mill building - into the 504 East Pettigrew bay. The printing company was, until its demise, the oldest African-American owned printing company in the United States. It primarily served the African-American community, printing forms for varied businesses - menus for the Donut Shop, stationery for the Biltmore, programs for White Rock Baptist, the school paper for Hillside High School, etc.

Interior of the Service Printing Company.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

Other businesses included Faison's Market (later Johnson's Fish Market) in the 426 bay, Midway Sport Shop (later the Art Neon Sign Company) in the 428 bay, EN Toole's Electrical Contracting business in the 432 bay, Turner's Beauty Shop in the 438 bay, Elivra's Blue Dine-Et in the 440 bay, Southern Cleaners in the 442 bay, and Pee Wee's Shoe Shop in the 502 bay. Around 1949, approximately 1/4 of the warehouse was torn down - oddly, not an end of the warehouse, but, if one were to move from west to east, the '2nd 1/4' - and replaced with the Booker T movie theater. The pictures below are from 1965s, after the Booker T had closed (it closed by 1954) and been replaced by the "Church of the Lord Jesus Christ Apostolic."

426 East Pettigrew.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

430 East Pettigrew, 1965 - the former Booker T theater.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

434-440 East Pettigrew, 1965.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

Edward N. Toole came to Durham in 1926 from Chester, SC, where he had been an electrician. He was the first licensed African-American electrician in Durham. Per Dorothy Phelps, he was still a licensed and practicing electrician in 1993, at the age of 95.

(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

436 East Pettigrew - The Carolina Times, and 438 East Pettigrew, housing Turner's Beauty Supply.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

440 East Pettigrew - Elvira's Blue Dine-Et.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

The Service Printing Company, 1965.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

The Service Printing Company, 1950s.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

Rear of the Service Printing Company, from Branch Place, looking northwest, July 1965.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

By the late 1960s, the western bays (426-428 East Pettigrew) had been abandoned. On October 25, 1969, they were converted to a 'breakaway' university called "Malcolm X Liberation University". The school was an outgrowth out of the Allen Building (administration building) protests at Duke University in February of 1969.

The opening was evidently a festive affair, with bands, food, dancers and singers. Current city councilman Howard Clement, then a community activist, addressed the crowd with these remarks: "It has become evident that the existing educational system does not respond to the needs of the Black community. It does not provide an ideological or practical method for physical, social, psychological, economic, and cultural needs of all Black people."

The school was spearheaded by local activist Howard Fuller, who had come to Durham to work with Operation Breakthrough, along with a group of Duke students. The group received initial funding from the local Foundation for Community Development. By the Spring of 1969, the group was holding classes at the Your Own Thing (one-time Regal) Theatre.

In September 1969, the group obtained the use of the 426-428 section of the old hosiery mill (west of the Booker T theater) for the school. The exterior of the structure was painted red, green, and black to reflect the commitment of the school's founders to Pan-Africanism. Due to fundraising by Fuller and a grant from the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina of $45,000, the school was able to open its doors.

(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

A full treatment of the evolution of the Black Power/Pan-Africanism movement in the late 1960s/early 1970s and the difficulty, for the entire community, in understanding how to negotiate a transition from the traditional segregated city to integration is beyond the scope of this site. But, to reduce it immensely - the struggle over identity, and whether racial identity would be subsumed by integration, was, at a minimum, palpable and passionate. The amount of anger, distrust, guilt, racism, pride coursing throughout cities such as Durham ensured that an institution such as MXLU would both be deemed a necessity, and be highly controversial to many members of the community. Per Jean Anderson, Fuller's initial fundraising tactic was to "demand reparations" from all of the 'white churches' in Durham. The grant from the Episcopal diocese generated a furor amongst some Episcopal churches; pledges at St. Philip's (one block north of the building) evidently dropped $13,000 immediately following the grant.

The school struggled in its first year, with few assets available to match spending. The commitment to a Pan-African curriculum and mission strengthened over the initial year, with the school first year dedicated to "reordering of priorities, development of a Pan-Africanist perspectives, and de-colonization of the mind."

After the first year, however, struggles to keep the school afloat figured in a move from Durham to Greensboro, with some small presence still in Durham. The school evidently continued to struggle in Greensboro, and formally closed its doors on June 28, 1973

(Most of this information was obtained from Brent Belvin's excellent thesis on MXLU, available here. I highly recommend it for further reading on the rise and fall of the university and the broader context in Durham.

Looking southwest at the 438-440 section of the warehouse - it appears the Booker T is being torn down - early 1970s.

It seems that the 426-428 section of the building (that had housed MXLU) and the former Booker T theater at 432 were torn down by the early-1970s.

The 434-504 section of the building, housing the Service Printing Company, Elivra's, Turner's, the Carolina Times, and EN Toole persisted as the last vestige of Hayti north of the Durham Freeway.

Mid-1970s (Photo by George Pyne via Milo Pyne)

Mid-1970s (Photo by George Pyne via Milo Pyne)

Mid-1970s (Photo by George Pyne via Milo Pyne)

Mid-1970s (Photo by George Pyne via Milo Pyne)


A fascinating article from 1979, published in a publication called "Tobacco Road" chronicles these last holdouts. When the author of the article, interviewing the Redevelopment Commission in 1978 (the agency tasked with carrying out Urban Renewal) why, despite 106 businesses having been cleared from Pettigrew and Fayetteville Sts., no redevelopment has occurred, the Redevelopment Commission representative points to this one last building on the map.

(Courtesy The Herald Sun Newspaper)

"This block of buildings hasn't been cleared yet, and it's holding everything up. There are these businesses at the end - the Service Printing Company, The Carolina Times, and an electrical supply store which haven't been moved."

Author: "Does the Redevelopment Commission own the buildings?"

"Yes, but those people refuse to move. We tried to relocate them, but they refuse to cooperate."

Author: "Why don't you evict them?"

RC: "If we evicted them we'd have a race riot on our hands."

The author notes that one month after the Redevelopment Commission moved their offices downtown at the end of 1978, the building burned in a suspicious fire, destroying the offices of EN Toole and the Carolina Times. Vivian Edmonds, daughter of Louis Austin and longtime editor of the paper was quoted as saying:

"I was in one of the closets, no lights ... and I heard with my ears ... I heard three firemen, who were standing maybe eight feet from where I was. They didn't know I was there- and they were just hanging and carrying on. 'The boys down at the police station gonna be mighty happy now the Carolina Times is out of business.' I came out of there at said 'well at least someone is telling the truth.' And there mouths went together like that. I said, 'You won't even admit now that you said what you said, would you?' Not a word. And they all turned their backs to me."

The Carolina Times moved to 'Tin City' on Old Fayetteville St. (metal buildings put up by the Redevelopment Commission for the purpose of relocating businesses evicted during urban renewal.) They remain in one of these buildings, since remodeled, in the 900 block of 'Old' Fayetteville St. Unfortunately Vivian Edmonds died in May 2008.

In the early 1980s, the single-bay remnant of the Durham Hosiery Mill No. 2, still housing the Service Printing Company, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1985, however, a second fire, also considered suspicious, sent the Service Printing Company out of business. The building remained standing through 1995.

(Photo by George Pyne via Milo Pyne)

Looking west on East Pettigrew St., 1994, at the remnants of the hosiery mill, mostly destroyed by fire.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

1994 aerial showing the small remnant of the Hosiery Mill Building.

After all the land north of the Durham Freeway - site of hundreds of homes and businesses - had sat vacant for 10-20 years, the Hayti Development Corporation brokered a deal with Rick Hendrick Chevrolet to buy the land. The last piece of the hosiery mill was demolished in January 1995 to make way for the dealership, which was completed ~1998. The head of the Hayti Development Corporation said it was "sad, but progress had to come."

Progress, on the site of the Durham Hosiery Mill No. 2, looking southeast, 09.09.08.

Below, an overlay map of Hayti streets.

35.990016 -78.897521


Another great post, Gary; informative, well researched, and entertaining. I love these longer articles of yours because of the deeper glimpses at history they provide, but I do understand that not every place has as interesting and tumultuous a life story.

Thank you Jeff. Some places definitely merit the longer posts, and there are undoubtedly places that I've profiled that could use additional info. These take a whole lotta time, though, so I have to choose wisely and think of some posts more as starting points rather than fully-formed. Even this building - you could write a book about it if you wanted to.


What an amazing post! So much information!

Too bad about the building; I like its look after its adaptive reuse from mill to businesses. Kinda New Orleans-esque in my opinion.

Well, one sure can't burn down a parking lot, now can one? So many cool buildings gone to the landfill... and all we got is another crappy car dealership out of it...

Thanks City of Durham!

(But really, thanks Gary, for such a cool post!)

Great post, Gary... this part of town makes me so sad. I assume you have read/heard of Lewis Shiner's newest book, "Black & White", a fictional-but-mostly-historical account of Hayti during the '60s? Somewhat flawed in its story structure, but it really brings the reader to Hayti when it was thriving, and paints a pretty realistic picture of what might of happened during urban renewal to the inhabitants of the time. I enjoyed it.

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