At the turn of the century
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection / Chamber of Commerce Collection)
The house at 809 Cleveland St. is referred to in the architectural inventory as "one of the foremost late 19th century architectural designs surviving in Durham." The house was built by Philadelphia architect Samuel Leary around 1890, who designed the original Washington Duke building at Duke (burned), St. Joseph's AME, the original Fire Station #1, the First (white) Graded School (later Morehead School), and the Foushee House (now Camelot Academy on Proctor St.)
Leary was evidently brought to Durham by the Duke family to design the new main building at Trinity College (the Washington Duke Building) and, per Jean Anderson "tobacco warehouses." If Leary had a hand in any of our tobacco warehouses (for which the architect(s) are, generally unknown) the extent of his involvement and/or with which warehouses is unknown. There is some speculation that he may have had a hand in the design of the Watts and Yuille warehouses, now known as Brightleaf Square.
Leary suffered a significant setback to - perhaps even the destruction of - his career when the main tower of the Washington Duke building collapsed immediately prior to its intended opening in 1892. Perhaps this is why Leary's name appears to disappear from the historical record after the 1890s, despite so many important local commissions in just a few years. He appears to have left Durham soon after the turn of the century.
The house was owned by a series of owners before being purchased by the Coletta family in 1938 - owners of the Royal Ice Cream Company, site of one the earliest civil rights sit-ins in the country in 1957. They lived in the house until 1978.
1980 - note addition of brick stair
This house is one of several rental houses owned by Martin Rudin, who owns five of the remaining 16 houses on Cleveland St. My current photo is rather poor, as I could not find an unobstructed vantage point, but the house is remarkably intact on the exterior.
Submitted by nedmichaels@ro… (not verified) on Mon, 7/20/2009 - 5:56pm
This house on Cleveland St. was at one time owned and occupied by Charles Brodie Alston and his wife Agusta Norfleet Michaels Alston. Charles Aslton was employed by the city and Agusta was an art teacher for 45 years in the Durham City Schools.He died in 1944 and some years later Agusta moved in with her two sisters Matilda and Susannah Michaels on Club Blve. The house became a rental house for a number of years and was in the estate of the two sisters. The heirs sold it when the sisters died in 1973. Agusta died in 1959.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 2/24/2010 - 12:43am
809 Cleveland Street was owned by grandfather and grandmother, Mr.and Mrs. Louis Anthony Coletta. The original house photo was how the house looked when my grandparents lived there with their 5 daughters. In later years after the girls married, the two top floors were made into apartments hence the brick staircase in the second photo. The house was sold when my grandfather passed away in the 70's. He was the owner of the Royal Ice Cream Company.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 2/24/2010 - 12:44am
809 Cleveland Street was owned by grandfather and grandmother, Mr.and Mrs. Louis Anthony Coletta. The original house photo was how the house looked when my grandparents lived there with their 5 daughters. In later years after the girls married, the two top floors were made into apartments hence the brick staircase in the second photo. The house was sold when my grandfather passed away in the 70's. He was the owner of the Royal Ice Cream Company. The ice cream company on Roxboro Street was torn down to build a church recently.
Submitted by Natalie (not verified) on Mon, 11/25/2013 - 8:34am
So many people in Durham love this house.
Submitted by Samuel Linton Leary (not verified) on Fri, 10/17/2014 - 11:11pm
...it is my intent to take in the sites and sounds of Durham within the next year or so.... Cleveland street included!
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