Home Tour 2003: Historic Bahama

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2003: Country Crossroads


Long before Dr. Bartlett Durham sold land to the railroad for a station, many families had settled in the northern part of what was then Orange County. The Umsteads, the Tilleys, the Mangums, the Parrishes, the Balls, the Harrises, the Crabtrees, the Dukes, the Bennehans, and the Camerons all farmed the rolling hills north of the Eno River. The settlement at the heart of this community had several different names, but in 1891, a new name was created to acknowledge three prominent families, the Balls, the Harrises, and the Mangums, and so Bahama (buh-HAY-muh) was named. Today, the homes that these families built in the 19th and early 20th centuries cluster around the Mount Bethel United Methodist Church at the Bahama crossroads and dot the winding country roads that lead into the village. They harken back to the days when a front porch was a necessity of life, when neighbors gathered for impromptu sessions of music and dancing, when the pace of life in the country remained slow even while the city of Durham was growing fast with booming tobacco factories and cotton mills just ten miles to the south. Some of Bahama’s homes still belong to descendants of their builders. Others have been adopted by newcomers to Durham and Bahama. All have been lovingly preserved or renovated. HPSD is pleased to invite you to come out to enjoy a day in the country, to share the life of Bahama and its people, and to support the preservation of Durham’s architecture and history.