Liggett Research Buildings

35.999377, -78.907883

Cross Street
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Looking northeast from Duke and Main Sts., 1890s. The tower of the Fire Station #2 is visible along West Main St.
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection)

The block currently encircled by North Duke, West Main, Morgan, and Fuller Sts. originally held what appears to have been a tobacco field and wood frame structures of the early Duke plant. With the construction/expansion of the brick warehouses, these structures were cleared, and the block became a park of sorts. Although I haven't seen an official name for this park, it was frequented by Liggett employees.

Looking northwest, 1920s. The park area is visible between the businesses on the west side of North Duke St. and the Liggett buildings.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

Looking northwest, 1930s.
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection)

Looking north across West Main St. from the south side of the street towards the Toms and Hicks warehouses.
(Courtesy University of North Carolina Library)

It remained this way until 1946 - when the Liggett office building, located across the street, was moved to this side of the street to make way for the New Cigarette Factory. Whether it was done for publicity or not, the folks at Liggett made it a point that their workers kept working in the building as it moved.

Looking east, 06.28.46
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

With the move of the office building, the remainder of the site was converted to surface parking.

Looking northeast from South Duke and West main, 1946-7
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Looking northeast, 1948.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

But within a few years, Liggett had constructed a research laboratory on the northeast corner of Duke and Main Sts., which they expanded north along Duke St. over a few years time.

Looking northwest, 1950s.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


"New Building at Liggett and Myers Tobacco" - 07.11.60

Looking northeast, 1960s
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Even after Liggett pulled out of town, slowly over a few decades, the research building remained active with the company's Vector Research branch. This building was acquired along with the remainder of the complex by Blue Devil Ventures for redevelopment.

The research building from Duke and Main Sts., 04.08.08

They also recently built a parking garage at the 'back' corner of the block - the corner of Fuller and Morgan. They've done a good job with it, as it remains reasonably unobtrusive from Main St., despite its size. I also have to give my kudos for getting in some first floor (future) retail office space. Although I would have liked to have seen more of it along the Morgan St. frontage, I'll take what I can get.

Looking southwest from Morgan and Fuller, 04.08.08

The research building(s) have remained in Blue Devil Ventures/Partners purgatory for a few years, with a frustrated Duke University waiting to occupy the buildings as downtown lab space. As of 2011, the buildings were finally moved to ownership that likely could do something with them - Longfellow Real Estate Partners, a life sciences real estate developer / asset holders. As of February 2012, it appeared that some work was finally getting done on the buildings, with scaffolding in place across the front.



In April 2019, the building housed Duke's Health Development and Alumni Affairs Offices when it was damaged in the gas explosion that destroyed the former Studebaker Building across Duke Street.  The university has announced plans to relocate the offices at least temporarily.


"You reckon that's a sign Frank...?"

"Yep, I reckon it is..."

very cool... nice to see the windows open in the old pics... wonder if the pickle building can be moved downtown

I am currently working in this building and can say that the project will be complete soon. At least the interior demolition will be. We have found numerous items inside the walls as the demo was going on. We found several beer cans, glass Coke bottles that were bottled in Durham and even an old newspaper dated 1959. It has been a real treat to learn the history of this great building!

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