Annual Home Tour took place on April 28, 2012.
Read more about Forest Hills on our Historic Neighborhoods pages!
Until the early 1920s, most of the land that comprised Forest Hills belonged to a few farmers who left much of the gently rolling hills as forests and meadows. Farm subdivision was being aggressively promoted nationwide by Federal government policies and the utiltiy and banking indurstries. Ads in the Durham Morning Herald offer land for sale, mortgages to homebuyers, and automobiles and furniture. Suburban living was the new ideal for families with leisure time and money to spend.
In 1925, James O. Cobb and Fuller Glass followed the trend and purchased large tracts of farmland along University Drive. They boasted a clubhouse, pool, and tennnis courts for the new suburb. Durham architect George Watts Carr Sr. laid out the streets and building lots around a nine-hole golf course (now Forest Hills Park). Narrow streets wound around, creating a curvilinear web under a luscious canopy of trees, very different from the square grid of downtown neighborhood streets.
Forest Hills quickly attracted newcomers and younger members of old Durham families. Architects, lawyers, auto dealers, building contractors, and others making it big in the boom of the 1920s flocked to the new subdivision, building homes in many popular revival styles. Colonial, Tudor, and English Cottage homes include some plans originally published in popular magazine such as Home and Garden and The Ladies Home Journal. Others were original designs by Durham architects.
After World War II, Forest Hills expanded to the southeast along Beverly Drive with homes in modernist styles adding to the architectural diversity of the neighborhood. Today, although University Drive has become a major thoroughfare, Forest Hills remains a quiet neighborhood, home to a new middle class who have incorporated butler’s pantries into large modern kitchens and servant’s quarters into home offices, making the old homes of Forest Hills ready for life in the 21st Century.