Davis Baking Company

35.986414, -78.928469

2022
Durham
NC
Cross Street
Year built
1925-1930
Year(s) modified
1940-1950
Construction type
National Register
Neighborhood
Building Type
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Looking north, 1978
(Courtesy Robby Delius)

The Davis Baking Company building was originally built in the late 1920s by Cary and Charlie Crutchfield, who operated a dairy in southwest Durham. A gas station was constructed soon thereafter on the corner, and the two-story building was occupied by the Lakewood Barber Shop.

In the 1940s, the Davis Baking Company bought the two-story building and the gas station and enclosed the gas station to make a 1-story 'wing' off of the main building.

davisbakingco_0578.jpg

Davis Baking Co., May 1978

(Courtesy Robby Delius)


The Davis Baking Company operated here for many years. In 1980, they painted their northern and southern walls with a trompe l'oeil mural which made the north side of the building appear to be another large window and awning to travelers headed southwest on Chapel Hill Road.


Looking north, 03.01.81
(Courtesy Robby Delius)


Looking northeast, 03.01.81
(Courtesy Robby Delius)


Looking southwest at the mural, 03.01.81
(Courtesy Robby Delius)

I'm not sure when the Davis Baking Co. closed up shop - I think it was sometime in the 1990s, but I'm sure someone can correct me. The main building is now occupied by a Tienda, I think. The murals on the sides are quite faded and indistinguishable at this point, but I'm glad the big vertical sign remains out front.


Looking northeast, 04.26.08

davisbakingco_nw_042608.jpeg

Looking west, 04.26.08

But these buildings remain a testament to the power of the right mass of architecture on the right spot. Part of the charm, interest - however you want to define it - of this building results from its position at the curve of Chapel Hill Road, and the way it addresses the road (the angle of the facade, the proportions of the building.) This kind of thinking about site and about buildings - how does it look from two blocks away? - is too often lost in newer development in favor of creating insularity.
People may insist that some urban road needs to be widened to some ungodly number of lanes to supposedly bring economic development (false) or speed up traffic (false.) But the natural instinct is then to turn all of the buildings and development away from that ugly road, and place the big asphalt parking lots there.

The result looks nothing like the simple beauty of the Davis Baking Co. buildings; but for some reason we can't seem to grasp the value of this in the way that we do big roads and endlessly metastasizing parking lots.

davisbaking_040312.jpg

04.03.12 (G. Kueber)

In 2017, these buildings were renovated to house a new restaurant, The Lakewood.
 

 

Comments

Mr. Davis, it would be great if you came back to Durham, even though I have never had any Davis baked goods (sadly) it would be great for you to come back, I have always looked at that building and thought "That could be used for such a better store, maybe even Davis Baking Co. :D!)

I just wanted to add that, prior to the trompe l'oeil mural, there was a mural of a huge wedding cake on the side of the building. I loved that mural growing up, and (perhaps inspired in part by that), I eventually began decorating cakes myself. For some reason we didn't frequent the bakery very much when I was growing up, though I know I convinced my mom to buy me treats there a couple of times. It definitely felt like "Old Durham," even back in the '70s.

I grew up on Lakewood Ave. near Morehead Ave. and I would walk to Davis Baking Company on Sat. until I got married to get a Bismark. I would get there early because they went fast. Sometimes I would call and order 6 at a time. I LOVE those things. Even after I got married and had children of my own I would take them to Davis Baking Company and McDonald's Drug store because I wanted my children to have and enjoy those same experiences. I have tried to find anything that could compare, (in several states), but nothing has tasted so good thus far. I wish I had the recipe just for myself and my family.

When I was a child, my grandmother would take me to Davis Bakery for an iced gingerbread man. They were my favorite treat, and they would decorate them seasonally. I used to take a box of them to school each year on my birthday, giving one to each classmate. I fondly remember their buttery dinner rolls, which were a mainstay at each of our holiday dinner parties. Every holiday I wish I could find a recipe for these!

Before the barber shop and Davis Baking, this was a string of grocery stores starting in 1920 followed by a drug store.

1920-1922  Brantley and Watson Grocery 

1923 Brantley Brothers Grocery 

1924 Brantley and Crutchfield  ( notice a trend here?) 

1926 Lakewood Drugs

The original gas station (2024 CH) was called Mc' s Filling Station, and was owned by Eugene T. and Nannie Mc Crary. 

please if you or ANYONE knows recipe for Angel food like cake and buttercream frosting for basic birthday cake I would be willing to pay! from Davis Bakery, Aunt Ruths Bakery

I went to Aunt Ruths as a child and they closed I remember it being only bakery we went to for years then we were told someone from Aunt Ruths worked at Davis Bakery so from there out we went to Davis Bakery. PLEASE I PROMISE it is for personal use and pleasure ONLY! Will sign papers stating so!

sorrellsales@gmail.com

I went to high school with Sandy Davis.

I always remember going by the bakery and getting a couple of dozen of their butter rolls. Had to get 2 dozen so some would make it home. Have never found them elsewhere. Those thing like every thing else there were good.

Oh the memories I have of the delicious goodies from Davis Bakery. My mother gave baby showers at our church and would always buy Angel Cake Squares. They had tiny pink and blue plastic rattles and a baby bootie made from sugar on top. My favorite treat from the bakery was the Long Johns. I worked in the Lakewood area two times over the years. Once at H&R Block and then much later at the Lakewood YMCA. Too close to pass up the opportunity to go by and get a delicious treat. The bear claws, half moons and cream horns were wonderful too. I seem to remember that a store in downtown Durham carried a limited amount of bakery items from Davis. The Long Johns were wrapped in a cellophane wrapper with a Davis Bakery label on it. I have gotten a pastry from a convenience store that was very similar to the Long Johns. I believe the bakery is in Greensboro. Can't recall the name

I was recently surfing the net for local food venues and came across a blog "A Wandering Feast". In an older post (What shaped the Durham Food Scene) a comment mentions the Lakewood Strip Mall and that Bakery:
'guy said...i remember when the durham pd used to site kids for skateboarding in/at the lakewood shopping center construction zone. this was when skateboards were make out of a 2 by 4 & a portion of a steel roller skate. the cops said, "this will go on your permanent record". we used to drag up to davis bakery and drowned our sorrows in snacks. "granny and poppa" davis would tell us not to worry, that everything would be alright and they most times wouldn't even charge us for the baked goods we ate. Interestingly, none of us that ever got "cited" for creating a safety hazard while skateboarding turned out to be serial killers...i think alot of it had to do with granny and poppa davis at the bakery feeding us day old cookies'.

I too have fond memories of Davis Baking Co.. I had a favorite birthday cake as a child that was a sheet cake decorated to look like a circus, complete with a big top and clowns and dancers. I have aspirations in baking and dream of opening a bakery with the same charm and goodness as that of Davis Baking. There aren't many places around these days the evoke memories the way this place does. Thank you to the Davis family.

Mr.Davis,I grew up in Durham and my mother would buy birthday cakes from there and they were so delicious,my grandmother would go by there and by those delicious angel food squares,long johns,jelly filled donuts etc,we just love all the sweets they had there,hope you do come back to Durham NC soon and re-open the Davis Bakery Store.

Thanks,
God Bless!!
Benny

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