Historic Durham homes in jeopardy

May 23, 2019

Durham is a city on the move. It is growing by leaps and bounds, but the progress comes with a price.

Some say the city is in danger of losing its history as two of Durham’s oldest homes are targets of developers and could be gone in days.

The Shephard Mebane House is the oldest standing house in Durham. The house at 2814 Chelsea Circle was built in the 1700s.

Now, the owner of it has a permit to demolish it.

“It is in imminent risk of demolition. That’s a tragedy,” said Andrew Henson, with Preservation Durham, a nonprofit that fights to save historic properties.

Stephen Walker Harris, who owns the home, said he plans to demolish the sides of it, which were added in 1927, but not the original structure.

He said he will give the original home to anyone willing to pay the cost of moving it.

Preservation Durham says a loss of any part is tragic.

“I wish I could tell you this is an anomaly, but the fact of the matter is, it’s happening all over the city,” Henson said.

Across town, 1402 Holloway Street is also in danger of being demolished, possibly this week.

Marcia Gregory grew up in the home. She said she also had her wedding at the house.

“It’s what made me who I am. I appreciate so much this house,” she said.

The property is owned by Agape Corner, and the school’s director said fixing the house is too expensive. The school is replacing it with a ministry to mentor young men.

“From Holloway to Hope Valley, Durham’s history is slipping through its fingers,” Henson said.

The owner of the house on Chelsea Circle says he expects to begin demolishing the wings of the house next week.

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