O'brien Building

35.998599, -78.906488

Year built
Architectural style
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National Register
Building Type
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O'Brien Building, 1910.

Looking northeast from Duke and Main Sts., 1890s. The tower of the Fire Station #2 is visible along West Main St. On either side, the stepped, projecting vent chimneys of Cobb and O'Brien are visible.
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection)

Cobb on the left and O'Brien on the right, with the original Fire Station #2 between the buildings.

The O'Brien building was built in 1898; one year later the Cobb building was built to its west as similar warehouse structures, modeled on the extant Walker Warehouse across West Main St.

This view from the 1930s show the fire station tucked between the two warehouses located on the north side of Main street.


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

A partial view of both during shift change at L&M, 1930s.


(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Multiple additional changes were made to the building over the mid 20th century, including bridges across West Main and Morgan St., subterranean tunnels under Morgan St., a new steel structural system extending the full height of the northern portion of the building to support the a chiller system on the roof, and exterior elevator shafts.

The O'Brien building remained its original two stories. Both Cobb and O'Brien were used primarily as warehouse structures in the late 20th century, as tobacco operations waned and Liggett eventually decamped in ~2001. They briefly considered renovating the remaining buildings in the complex themselves before agreeing to sell them to the Blue Devil Ventures group in 2003.

Here is the site prior to West Village phase 2 renovations, 2006.

In 2009, Blue Devil Partners completed renovations to the 'Phase II' of West Village project, which included Cobb and O'Brien, the Old Cigarette Factory, the Walker Warehouse, and the old L&M office building. Although I haven't been in either Cobb or O'Brien since renovation, my understanding is that they are primarily residential.

O'Brien building, 11.07.09

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