The Catsburg Country Store’s iconic look is a landmark for locals and visitors driving along Old Oxford Road. The red building with a hand-painted black cat on the false front was built in the 1920s. Eugene G. Belvin, a well-known Sheriff in Durham County, earned the nickname “Cat” because, according to local legend, he would catch bootleggers like a cat in the night. Belvin’s family was very involved in local government and business with some connection to the Duke family. Cat started a country store at the junction Old Oxford Road and Hamlin Road and later developed a baseball field next to it for young boys to play softball.
The current owner of the property is offering the beloved building free of charge and will contribute up to $5,000 in relocation expenses. Interested persons should email firstname.lastname@example.org with a statement of the proposed new location, relocation and rehabilitation plans, a proposed timeline, and how the new use will be available to the public. MM Fowler Inc., the current owner, has offered the building, free of charge for a few years now and every potential taker was unable to complete the task due to lack of financial support to move the building and create a new use for it elsewhere. Some takers wanted to use the building for personal use on their property, however Executive Director, April Johnson urged the owner to consider a taker who would allow the public to enjoy the building and its new use. The building has nostalgic memories for our community and that is important on an emotional and psychological level as it relates to connecting to place and place heritage as our communities develop and change forever.
The Catsburg Country Store owner tasked Preservation Durham with getting the word out about the free building and small financial incentive to relocate the building. With overwhelming response, we’ve received well over 50 hopefuls interested in moving the building with great plans. A private meeting for the top 15 finalists was held last week. The finalist will have until August 30, 2019, to submit a final detailed plan. Preservation Durham and Horvath Associates will review those plans and pick the top three or so projects. The top three projects will be sent to the property owner to make the final decision.
Preservation Durham will work with Ruth Eckles of Tactile Productions to create a short documentary of the Catsburg Country Store story and people’s memories of the place. If people have unique memories, stories, and photos please contact April Johnson or email at email@example.com to be scheduled for an interview and/or submit photos for the documentary.