410 Watts Street / Trinity Park

36.005224, -78.910705

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410 Watts St. ~1950.
(Courtesy Adrienne Baroff)

The house at 410 Watts St. appears to have been built in ~1906-7 by James B Warren, who is listed variably as a "manager" at 107 1/2 East Main St. later as vice president of Merchants Bank with an office at the same address. There are various JB Warrens in the city directories prior to that date who are listed only as living in West Durham or Caswell Hill/Heights with some association with the Banner Warehouse or the Globe Warehouse. Warren later served as both a county commissioner and city councilman.

Warren appears to have lived in the house until his death in 1913, after which it was occupied by William Patrick Farthing, who worked as a "timekeeper" early in the 20th century, and later served as manager of Lakewood Amusement Park. Farthing had previously lived at 311 Watts St., and prior to that, at 401 McMannen St.

By the 1930s, the house appears to have been converted into apartments. I'm not sure of the ownership during this period, but the house may have passed to Farthing's children, who married into the Teer family.

In 1952, the house was demolished, and the lot sat vacant for many years. Given that it was owned by a builder, and the fact that many apartment buildings were constructed in Trinity Park after the 1920s, I would guess that the intent was, from the time of demolition, to replace the structure with an apartment building. But that's only a supposition.

1959 aerial showing the vacant lot.

Per the Trinity Park neighborhood website, in July 1980, residents purchased the site, which was "slated for a multifamily dwelling" from Teer Industries and created a playground. "Today, our park features a wonderful gazebo, a gated play area with new equipment, as well as spacious grassy areas with benches and shade trees. It is the hub of annual activities, concerts, and festivals."

While the loss of the Warren-Farthing house is lamentable, the park serves as the focal point of the neighborhood, and integrates with the neighborhood as a small urban park far better than many other green spaces in Durham. The scale of the park and surrounding neighborhood provide the park with a perimeter definition that is missing from most of Durham's parks, many of which, in my opinion, exist in a awkward 'tweener' zone of tiny natural/woodland spaces - which, to me, feel too ill-defined to be enjoyable green space in the urban realm and too small to hike and explore and feel like you've gotten away from it all.

Perhaps it's just my preference, but, as an adult, small parks work better as more formal City Beautiful-type spaces than the tiny hilly grove of pine trees and some play equipment that seem to typify many of the neighborhood/smaller parks in Durham.

Trinity Park / 410 Watts, 10.03.09

Find this spot on a Google Map.



In reply to by Renee (not verified)

I think people below did the work--Nancy Warren (Chambley) and James B. Warren were brother and sister.

If anyone has further questions oin all these people let me know, I'll upload the primary evidence.

--D. Stoddard


Interesting! On Mitch's post, there is a James Warren on the census records. A bit beyond my purvey (genealogy) but it would be neat to tie those together.

My original post on the grave site (which I updated with a picture of the house that now sits on top of the former cemetery):



I fondly recall taking my kids to play there in the early-mid 1990s. We actually lived on the "wrong" -- Walltown -- side of Buchanan, but had lots of friends in Trinity Park. This was a great space not only for the kids but for their caregivers. Every day or so, we would meet our friends at the "tot lot." However, while some people were quite friendly, there were always some moms there who were always a bit cold to me, a stay-at-home dad -- as if they didn't know quite what to do with me!

Gary -

Based on the date you give for J. B. Warren's death, and Allen Dew's cemetery census, I found the death certificate on-line. Because the handwriting on the certificate is so bad, the site transcribed the last name wrong in their database. Still, I was able to search by death date. I will leave it as is here, but I'm satisfied from comparing the handwriting in words like "Orange" and "Durham" that the name is Warren and not Wamer.

Name: Jas B Wamer
Gender: Male
Race: White
Age: 63 (62 y, 8 m, 4d)
Birth Date: 10 Apr 1850
Birth Place: Orange, North Carolina, United States
Death Date: 14 Dec 1913
Death Location: Durham, Durham
Father's Name: Thos Wamer
Mother's Name: Miss Betsy A Bailey

Other info on the certificate shows both parents were from Orange County, NC, that he was widowed, and that Mr. Warren's former occupation was "real estate dealer". He was buried at Maplewood. The informant of record was W. P. Redmond.

I think it is very likely Nancy Warren is the same Nancy Warren as in Mitch’s blog entry. How far apart are these two properties?

I just wish I could find a marriage bond or license for Thomas Warren and a Betsy Bailey so I could settle my own questions about the notorious Mrs. Warren.

In reply to by Renee (not verified)

RE: Thomas Warren and Betsy Bailey (death certificate of James B. Warren) is inaccurate 

The informant was the son-in-law W. P. Redmond who was guessing at a time of grief. Death Certificates notorious for mistakes other than place and date of death (the only thing you can wholly trust). On death certificates of other children of James B. Warren it was indicated Elizabeth Woods was the mother. 

The papertrail supports Elizabeth Woods. Here's the marriage info:

North Carolina, Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868 

Name: Thomas Warren (d. before 1860)

Gender: Male

Spouse: Elizabeth Woods (d. Mar 21, 1892 per obit)

Spouse Gender: Female

Bond Date: 17 Nov 1835

Bond #: 000101873

Level Info: North Carolina Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868

ImageNum: 008890

County: Orange

Record #: 02 425

Bondsman: James Warren

Witness:   J Taylor

--D. Stoddard

Sorry, I hit "send" without proofreading and realize my fixation on Nancy and Betsy got me off track.

What I meant is that I think James B. Warren is the same James Warren from the 1850 census and the brother of Nancy Warren (Chambley) from the grave site.

what a huge loss for the neighborhood. It looks like it would have been one of the grandest.

I played in that empty lot when I was a child in the early 70's, and I take my little girl to play there now. The small retaining wall and the steps are still there. The creation of that playground was the impetus for the creation of the Trinity Park Association, and it's worth taking a look at the memorial to Max Rogers that's on the Trinity Street side of the park. When you look at the sculpture, think about the grill of the Studebakers that Max used to drive, and the design will make more sense.

Jessie Kinshelo Chambley/Shambley/Chamblee left a will with the following real estate provisions which may interest someone:

, I, Jessie Kinshelo Chambley of Durham Township in Durham Co, NC...

[making this brief]

Item: To grandson RAYMOND K PROCTOR one house and  a lot southwest corner of my property on Wilkerson Ave in City of Durham said Raymond K. Proctor come in possession at 21 years. Also $3,000 loaned out at 6% until he becomes 25 years

2, Nephew Charles Warren two houses and lots on Pettigrew St. & Wilkerson Ave

3 Granddaughter RUBY PROCTOR $3,000 (same as #1)

4 Granddaughter DOROTHY PROCTOR COLE $1,000 loaned out at 6% interest until 21...

5 wife MALISSA J. CHAMBLEY all property real and personal..real estate, money, stocks, chattels, etc ..


son-in-law W. L. COLE ex. of this will.

March 5, 1918. 

Wit: W. P. Clements, John Cates


NOTE: Jessie Kinshelo Chambley married twice (1) Nancy Warren, in 1869, (2) Malissa Jane Riley in 1900. Malissa had previously marr James B. Proctor.


Durham Sun, 19 March 1898

Kinch Chambley was given out the contract of two dwelling houses to be built on his lots he purchased recently in the western part of town--part of the Green estate. 



If anyone cares, the obit of Elizabeth Woods Warren, if you had doubts about the Nancy Warren, James B. Warren papertrail, this will help you:

Durham Globe, 21 March 1892 DEATH OF AN AGED LADY

Mrs. Bettie Warren of This County Passes Away at a Ripe Old Age

Mrs. Bettie Warren , an old and much respected lady, passed away this morning after a brief illness at the home of her son-in -law, Mr. J.K. Shambley about four miles ouf of Durham. Deceased was 85 years old and after a long and well spent life died in the hope of a bright hereafter. She has several children in this county among them Mr. J. B. Warren of this city who was with her in her last hours. Funeral will take place from the residence tomorrow afternoon at 1 o'clock and the interment will be at the John Markham place on Guess Road.

More trivia on James B. Warren from his obituary:


Durham Morning Herald (Durham, North Carolina), Dec 16, 1913

Businessman of integrity and ability

Col. James B Warren died at home of daughter 311 Watts Street

Amassed a fortune...gave freely to the poor

15 yrs ago erected chapel three miles from Guess Road . Church named for him.

Born 1850 Durham County [before county changes, b. in Orange Co]

Three children: Mrs. W.P. Farthing, Mrs. Walter Warren, Mrs. W.P. Remond


Wonder if church is extant.

--D. Stoddard




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