Places in Peril 2010

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[toggle title=”Little Five Points”]

Intersection of North Mangum, Corporation, and Cleveland Streets

This small commercial district suffered decline after post-War suburbanization and the conversion of N. Mangum to a one-way street. Some of the buildings are in serious disrepair, most notably the 1870s structure at the southwest corner of Mangum and Corporation, possibly the oldest commercial structure in Durham. Redevelopment threatens the pedestrian scale and massing of this commercial corridor, one of the major gateways to downtown.

What’s Needed: Education about the historic value of the buildings and their collective importance as a neighborhood commercial district. Grant-seeking for state and federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits and Matching Façade Grants, Commercial Revitalization Loans, and other local incentives. Business tenants who will create positive activity and a critical mass along the pedestrian path, fostering a vibrant walkable urban neighborhood.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, due to a perfect storm of un-responsive property owners, structural failure and the city’s desire to see new development taking place here, Neighborhood Improvement Services demolished the 1870s corner building and two other structures in November 2010. In early 2011, UDI Community Development Corporation proposed a condo project for 727 N Mangum that both the Durham HPC and the NC SHPO stated would have an adverse effect on the Duke Park-OND NR Historic District; despite these determinations, City Council approved a $100,000 incentive in May 2012 to help complete the proposed condo project with a 6-0 vote (Mayor Bill Bell abstained because of his involvement on the board of UDI).


[toggle title=”Lowe’s Grove School”]

4505 South Alston Avenue at NC 54

Begun as a Farm Life School in 1891, the school moved in the 1920s to the current building, the first rural brick school building in the county. It has been empty since the school moved to a new building across Alston Avenue in 1989. The South Regional Library is currently under construction on the site. The land is valuable and the location central, making it challenging to maintain the rural context and accomplish development that respects and compliments the one remaining historic structure.

What’s Needed: Thorough documentation and listing on the National register of Historic Places. Adaptive reuse while retaining the rural context.
Durham County must make the preservation, sale, and rehabilitation of this school a priority, aggressively marketing the property to developers who understand the financial and cultural benefits of historic preservation.

UPDATE: Representatives from Durham Public Schools met with Preservation Durham in early 2012 to discuss future plans for site; currently, there are no plans to demolish the building, but, conversely, there are also no plans for its reuse. As such, it remains in peril.


[toggle title=”East Durham Commercial District”]

1200 Block of Angier Avenue at Alston Avenue

This small commercial center once served bordering residential areas. Remaining commercial properties on the north side of the street, including the Pope Mattress Company, are in very poor condition, yet still reflect the scale and detail of the now-destroyed buildings on the northwest and southwest corners of the intersection. The impressive architecture of the Asbury Temple United Methodist Church, erected around 1925, anchors the southeast corner of the intersection and remains in use. The proposed widening of Alston Avenue threatens to negatively impact the pedestrian scale and walkability of this block.

What’s Needed: Rehabilitation of the East Durham Commercial District and the celebration of this block as a gateway to historic East Durham. Preservation of the existing buildings using Matching Façade Grants, Merchandise-Based Retain Incentives, and other incentives for rehabilitation.and new construction that is in keeping with the massing, scale, and rhythm of the streetscape. Reintroducation of positive pedestrian activity to this block, supporting a walkable viable community.

UPDATE: Neighborhood Improvement Services demolished 1201 and 1203 Angier Ave in September 2011; these buildings had been purchased by the Durham Rescue Mission, and, although they were not included in the DRM Master Plan development area, they did nothing to stop or delay the demolitions. The rest of the properties remains in peril.


[toggle title=”McPherson Hospital”]

1108 West Main Street

Founded in 1914, the McPherson Hospital constructed this building on West Main Street in 1926. Named for Dr. Samuel Dace McPherson, the 24-bed hospital was a pioneer in eye, ear, nose and throat care here before moving in 2005 to a new building on N. Roxboro Road. This building is currently owned by Concord Hospitality Enterprises Corporation, who plan to expand and convert the building for hotel use pending additional funding. In 2008, 1940s and 1960s additions to the hospital were removed, leaving the historic 1926 portion of the building exposed to the elements.

What’s Needed: Immediate protection for the exposed portions of the building to prevent further decay. Full restoration and use that would create positive activity along the street and provide a sustainable income for the building. Additions to the structure that will compliment the existing design features and be compatible in scale and detail to both the McPherson Hospital and the rest of the neighborhood. Use of state and federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits for which the building qualifies as a contributing structure to the Trinity National Register Historic District.

UPDATE: In late 2010, Concord Development (the property owner) approached the Durham Planning Department with a new site plan that did not include the historic building. A number of groups, including Preservation Durham, reached out to Concord and gave them a variety of reasons to keep the building. Final plans, using the Hospital within a larger facade, were presented an accepted by both the Trinity Park Neighborhood Association and by APAC, but construction on the site has yet to begin.


[toggle title=”Jackson Street Homes”]

804 and 806 Jackson Street

These two houses, originally part of the Morehead Hill Historic District, were likely constructed by a single builder between 1913 and 1925. Healthy Start Education, Inc. acquired the houses in 2004 and applied to the Historic Preservation Commission for a permit to demolish them in 2008. The Commission delayed the demolition for one year and neighborhood residents and concerned citizens rallied for the preservation of the homes. The one-year delay expired and the future of these houses was uncertain.

What’s Needed: Preservation of the Jackson Street Houses in their existing locations and their restoration as single-family homes if possible.
Removal of the homes to another neighborhood, carefully placing them in a historic area that not only is compatible in scale and architectural style, but also replicates the original siting of the houses and their relationship to the street and surrounding structures.

UPDATE: Following a lengthy period of discussions and negotiations between the neighborhood and Healthy Start Education, Inc, (which purchased the houses in 2004 and applied for demolition permits for them in Fall 2008), the homes were moved across town by Helena Cragg in July 2010 to empty lots on North Roxboro St in Old North Durham, and rehabilitated on new foundations.


[toggle title=”Hillside High School-Whitted Junior High School”]

200 East Umstead Street

The Hillside Park High School was constructed in 1922 as the first African American high school in Durham. Around 1950, it became the Whitted Junior High School. The school was expanded several times and remained in operation as a junior high into the 1970s. It was last used as Operation Breakthrough in the 1980s. After Today the school is in desperate need of repair and, with most of its windows broken, is exposed to the elements.

What’s Needed: Thorough documentation and listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which would make it eligible for state and federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits. The school may also be eligible for Local Landmark Status. Adaptive reuse. The building is ideally located near North Carolina Central University, Downtown Durham, and the American Tobacco Historic District and is also easily accessible to the Durham Freeway. Durham County must make the preservation, sale, and rehabilitation of this school a priority, aggressively marketing the property to developers who understand the financial and cultural benefits of historic preservation and providing resources and incentives to encourage the successful redevelopment of this building.

UPDATE: The City of Durham put out an RFP for the redevelopment of Whitted School in May 2012.  The same week, a documentary – entitled Upbuilding Whitted – about the history and community importance of the school was released, with a showing at the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies.  Especially with the increased attention on the building, Preservation Durham is optimistic that the building can be revitalized as part of the Rolling Hills and Southside redevelopment project.