404 East Chapel Hill St. - Amoco

35.996758, -78.899447

Cross Street
Year built
Year demolished
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A residential area up until the 1920s, the Rigsbee / Mangum / East Chapel Hill triangle quickly infilled with commercial auto-related businesses by the late 1920s.

Looking north at the intersection of N. Mangum St. and Rigsbee Ave. and SE Rochelle's motorcycle club, ~1910.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Above, an aerial view of the E. Chapel Hill St, Rigsbee Ave, N. Mangum 'triangle' in 1924. Many of the houses in the first picture have been demolished (although the house at the left edge of the frame in the first picture is still visible at the left edge of the above picture) and supplanted by commericial buildings and gas stations. Two service stations are visible on the ECH/Mangum and Rigsbee/Mangum points of the triangle. This entry focuses on the former, at 404 East Chapel Hill.

Other views of this more 1920s-1930s typical structure, with hipped, perhaps tile roof and awning, aren't available. By sometime in the 1940s, it had been completely replaced by a cool art deco structure.

Looking southwest at the station at 404 East Chapel Hill Street, 1952
(Courtesy Wayne Henderson)

Looking north from Rigsbee and N. Mangum - a service station is in the foreground, followed (along Mangum) by the old bus station and the back of the Amoco service station - 06.07.61
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

The station seems to have gone out of business by the 1960s - although apparently still used for auto repair or similar.

Looking southwest at the corner of East Chapel Hill St. and North Mangum, 1960. The service station appears to be vacant.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In 1961, the buildings in the 'triangle' were all demolished by the city for surface parking (prior to the urban renewal program.)

At least we know they removed the USTs - 06.07.61
(Courtesy the Herald-Sun)

Looking southwest from North Mangum and East Chapel Hill, 1961.

Looking north from Rigsbee and Mangum, 1961.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Looking north from Rigsbee and Mangum, 1961.
(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The completed parking lot, 1963.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Looking southwest from East Chapel Hill and North Mangum, 1970.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

In the late 1960s, Durham closed the one block section of Rigsbee that ran between East Chapel Hill St. and North Mangum St., after having taken the buildings on the west side of Rigsbee via urban renewal. With the new, large parcel, they began construction of a new parking structure.

Looking southwest from East Chapel Hill and North Mangum, 1970.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

This behemoth is still with us, albeit with bright reddish accents

Looking north from the former intersection of Rigsbee and North Mangum, 2007.

Looking east at the former site of the bus station, 2007

Looking north up North Mangum along the east side of the former bus station.

Looking southwest from East Chapel Hill St. and North Mangum and the former site of 404 East Chapel HIll

While I've hit a pretty constant drumbeat on the need for first floor retail or liner buildings to mitigate or eliminate the deadening effect that parking garages have on the streetscape, this one just needs to go away. The space here - with some great architecture around it - on East Chapel Hill, Orange, Parrish, and Mangum/Main (everything, essentially, except City Hall) is too valuable to be blotted out by a parking garage. This is a central space, and whether it contained public space or public space + new development, it should not be wasted on parking (particularly parking which obliterates the view of the post office, Rue Cler, etc.)


In 1954-55 my dad operated the station shown as an Amoco in photo above. Located corner of Chapel Hill Street and Mangum, it was an Esso service station when dad leased it along with the Esso station up Mangum at corner of Mangum and Rigsbee Ave. Would there be a photo available of this station as an Esso?

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