802 Kent St., 1970s.
Kent Street, the continuation of the southwesterly ridge-line from Chapel Hill St., formed the backbone of the African-American community in the West End. Much like Fayetteville St. in the Hayti community to the southeast of downtown, well-to-do African-American families built their houses, typically larger than the surrounding dwellings, along this ridge. The streetcar turned southwest along this path, initially extending out to Maplewood Cemetery, which lines much of the southern portion of Kent St. It was extended further southwest just after the turn of the century to Lakewood Park.
One of these more stately houses was built by Thomas Fitzgerald, son of Richard Fitzgerald, who built the house at 802 Kent St. around 1910 out of Fitzgerald brick. After Richard's death in 1918, Richard's widow, Sarah moved to this house from The Maples to live with Thomas and his family, where she evidently lived until her death. Sarah Fitzgerald was evidently well-known in the community for her years of teaching at the West End Graded School several block to the north.
Most of the original character of Kent St. has been lost through demolition and neglect - this is one of the few houses that still stands and retains much of its existing character. Thank goodness brick tends to dissuade the interventions of anxious remuddlers, and its status as a Fitzgerald house will probably dissuade SWD Quality-of-Life / Self-Help / Habitat / Land Trust from knocking it down to build new construction.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 5/6/2008 - 8:22pm
The last several pictures of historic homes and buildings confirms my belief that absolutely no one in the City of Durham knows how to maintain a yard and landscaping!
Submitted by MRS CLEMENTINE… (not verified) on Sat, 11/9/2013 - 3:21am
THE ABOVE COMMENT ABOUT LANDSCAPE YARDS.....MY FAMILY MOVED INTO THIS HOUSE WHEN I WAS ABOUT 7-9 MOS. OLD..I LIVED THERE UNTIL I WAS 8 YRS OLD THEN I WENT TO LIVE WITH MY AUNT WHO LIVED ALONE...MY MOTHER AND GREAT GRANDMOTHER CONTINUED TO LIVE THERE FOR MAYBE ANOTHER 4 YRS...MY FAMILY VACATED THE HOUSE IN THE 1950'S.....WE LIVED IN THE BASEMENT..THE REYNOLDS FAMILY LIVED ON THE STREET LEVEL AND THE 3RD. FLOOR NEIGHBORS WERE MR & MRS REED.....THE REYNOLDS KEPT THE YARD BEAUTIFUL AND FLOWERS PLANTED..THEY HAD A VERY BEAUTIFUL AND COMFORTABLE PORCH SWING..AS A CHILD I LOVED TO VISIT AND SIT ON THAT PORCH...ALL THE FAMILIES IN THAT HOUSE LOVED ME AND TOOK PART IN CARING FOR ME ....MY MOM HAS TAUGHT ME FROM A CHILD UP THAT, THE FITZGERALD FAMILY HAVE TIES TO MY FAMILY...2 NAMES WERE ALWAYS MENTIONED THEY WERE SAM FITZGERALD AND HIS BROTHER KNOWN AS BILLY FITZGERALD....ALL MY FAMILY HAS PASSED AWAY AND I AM NOW 69 YRS OLD AND HAVE TRIED TO FIND OUT AS MUCH AS I CAN ABOUT MY TEACHINGS OF THIS FAMILY...I HAVE NOT HAD ANY LUCK FINDING OUT ANYTHING ABOUT THESE 2 MEN....I WISH I KNEW WHERE ELSE TO GO....I HAVE PAULI MURRAY BOOK PROUD SHOES...THE LAST CONVERSATION MY MOM AND I HAD ON THIS WAS IN 1988 AS SHE WAS DYING FROM CANCER....I WOULD LOVE TO TALK TO SOMEONE THAT KNOW ENOUGH TO TELL ME IF THESE BROTHERS WERE A PART OF THIS FAMILY BEFORE I DIE....I NEED TO LEAVE SOME OF MY TRUE LEGANCY TO MY SONS AND THEIR KIDS AND FUTURE GENERATIONS AFTER I'M GONE...I THINK IT'S IRONIC HOW WE CAME TO LIVE IN THIS HOUSE IN THE 40'S BECAUSE MY FAMILY WAS NOT RICH OR WEALTHY....I HAVE FOND MEMORIES OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND PLAYING ALONG THE SIDEWALK...I EVEN REMEMBER THE STREETCAR USE TO PASS RITE IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE....I REMEMBER THE NEIGHBORS IN THE NEXT 2 HOUSES, THE MAYBERRY'S AND THE GARRETTS..THEY LOVED ME TOO AND I WAS WELCOME IN ALL THEIR HOMES ANYTIME TO EAT OR SLEEP...I SO BADLY WANT TO FIND SOMEONE TO ANSWER SOME OF MY QUESTIONS FROM THIS FAMILY......HOPE YOU CAN HELP..........PEACE
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