Welfare Department

35.993477, -78.898918

Cross Street
Year demolished
Construction type
Building Type
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"Public Welfare" was established in Durham in 1919, after passage of the Public Welfare Law by the NC General Assembly. Prior to that time, 'welfare' (and I'm not sure what it entirely consisted of at that point) was managed by the Salvation Army.

Social service, health, and welfare offices for Durham County became progressively more established over the early-to-mid 20th century. By the 1940s, the health department had been established in the fomer Masonic Lodge on the southeast corner of S. Roxboro and E. Main St. Across the street, to the east of and behind the courthouse, were the welfare offices. The large brick structure in which these were located were likely a former wing of the Hotel Lochmoor, facing East Main St.

Welfare Department, 1950s.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun)


Looking west from S. Roxboro, Februrary 1955. The east end of Union Station is on the left, the back of the old YMCA on the right.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

From the back of the Health Department, looking west, April 8, 1955.
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

Below, a view of the building after the demolition of the main Hotel Lochmoor building and the old YMCA

Looking southwest, early 1960s.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

This building was demolished in July 1965.

Workers demolishing the builing 07/23/65
(Courtesy Herald Sun)


Looking southwest, 1965.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

The Durham Social Services building was built on the southwest corner of East Main and Roxboro to replace the Welfare Department in 1965.

Looking west, 2007.


That corner is, um [insert complaints about Loop here]. :(

I nominate this building as *the* ugliest in Durham. Can it be 'urban renewed'?

Funny how these things go -- I don't have that much of a problem with it. (And would say it doesn't hold a candle to City Hall Annex or SouthBank.) My biggest problem with it is that it overpowers the old courthouse a bit, reducing the impact of one of our nicest historic buildings.

My Aunt worked in that building at the time the first picture was taken.I have a lot of memories of that place when I was small.I can still remember how dark it seemed inside and how old and creaky the floors were as you walked accross them.

The Salvation Army has always been directed towards alcoholics and urban homeless rather than general welfare. Prior to the 1919 NC law, a system similar to that in 17-19th century England was employed. Counties were divided into parishes (I think there were 5 in what is now Durham), each of which had a Poor Board. This group dispensed sums to individuals, paid room and board for others and arranged care for orphans. This was a last resort, of course. Most people receiving public support nowadays were taken care of entirely by their families at that time, e.g. the elderly and disabled. This system broke down in the 20th century and the state and federal governments had to step in.

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