1003 West Chapel Hill St.

35.996674, -78.915255

Year built
Construction type
Building Type
Can you help?
You don't need to know everything, but do you know the architect?
Log in or register and you can edit this.


The West End looking southwest from West Chapel Hill and Buchanan, 1978

The primary neighborhood business district of West End at Buchanan Blvd. and West Chapel Hill St. developed early in the 20th century. Early wood-framed buildings were replaced with brick structures during the 1920s. As with other neighborhood commercial districts such as Little Five Points, Driver & Angier, and 9th street, the exodous to suburban shopping centers and the loss of population in the immediate neighborhoods caused decline. While 9th St., due to the presence of Duke, never fell as far and was able to reinvent itself in the 1980s, the decline has continued here. The opposite side of the street, which was still primarily residential into the 1950s, is dominated by parking frontage. One neighborhood activist told me that the district provides few services that the residents need and had 'too many storefront churches.'

The Durham Food Co-Op is somewhat of an anomaly here - they've recently had some change in management which seems to be a positive direction. It seems like they could be a central place for the community, a la Weaver Street in Carrboro. But Carrboro, this ain't.

My feeling is that revitalizing our neighborhood commericial districts is essential; for those who support tight-knit, walkable communities, they provide the nexus at the center of those communities. While in-the-loop downtown can be that as well, it isn't convenient or realistic for people in the West End to walk to there in order to get neighborhood services.

The West End looking southwest from West Chapel Hill and Buchanan, 2006

The West End looking northwest from West Chapel Hill and Buchanan, 2006


The white bldg. on the end was the Rolling Pin Bakery (Aunt Ruth's). There was also a coin operated laundry beside it. On the same block was a 5 and 10 store (Woolworth's type enterprise).

In reply to by sandy (not verified)

The name of the 5&10 was GRACE'S 5&10 and my mother worked there. It was owned by the Gupton family and they had a small string of stores. The Gupton family lived in Bragtown. They had a store there and in Wilmington. I seem to recall that there was another store but I was only 8 or 9 then so......

My mother was unwed. We lived in a big house on either Dale or Lilac Alley in Edgemont with some of her married brothers and sisters who had children. My mother and I lived in one room of the house. We were all poorer than poor. My mother would take the bus all the way to Chapel Hill street stopping at Five Points and transfering to Grace's 5&10. I was enrolled in Edgemont School in 1952 at 6 years of age. I ran the streets of Edgemont until I finished the 4th grade. Things got so bad for my mother that Mr. Gupton, who was a Mason, helped get me into Oxford Masonic Orphanage in Oxford, where I lived and graduated high scool in 1964.

I have so many loving (and not so loving) memories of Durham. So many that sometimes, as I get older, it's hard to keep them straight in my mind........The movie theatres Carolina, Rialto, Uptown and Criteron, where I spent so much time. As a 3rd grader I sold Durham Sun newspapers everyday (out of a bag bigger than I was) along Main Street from The Uptown Theatre to the tracks at the head of Angier Avenue.Then I would walk from there home. Hopefully with an empty bag.

When the mood strikes me I'll try to write more.

Wiliam L. (Bill)Johnson

Bridgeville, Delaware


I bought bags of day old pastries at Aunt Ruth's In the summer of 1975. No matter what flavor you got, they all tasted the same but were good and cheap! I think Don Whitten, a baker at Duke, was the owner.

Was Aunt Ruths's Rolling Pin on Broad Street at one time?

Yes, there was Rolling Pin Bakery on Broad Street....It was next to the drug store...

Add new comment

Log in or register to post comments.