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Friday, & Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
This house stands at the south end of Durham’s Main Street. It is surrounded by asphalt parking lots and other commercial structures.
This 2 1/2 story domestic vernacular structure was built for commercial and residential purpose in the first decades of the twentieth century. The core of the structure is modest, measuring a mere 18’x30′. In its original form, it probably boasted an open front porch, a standard feature on rural stores in this period. The building underwent substantial alterations in the 1950s and 1960s, when substantial additions were made to the south, west, and north sides, as well as to the facade. These additions were one story in heigth and involved the use of modern construction materials — concrete, aluminum and glass – to produce modernize commercial storefronts. ‘The first story of the structure is presently occupied by a liquor store and a grocery. This building was constructed on land which originally constituted a part of Durham’s “Pound Lot”, where stray animals were sequestered. ‘The land passed into the hands of Reuben Hubbard, one of Durham’ s most enterprising farmers and real estate entrepreneurs in the late 19th century. On his death in 1916, it passed to his widow, who sold it in 1917 to William C. Fowler. In 1924, Fowler sold a 100’x125′ portion of the “Pound Lot” to John J. Frazier, who apparently intended to erect a filling station on the site. Frazier extracted a promise from Fowler that he would not “sell any other land adjoining or near said parcel as a site for a station dispensing gasoline or oil for automotive purposes within the limits of the Pound Lot. .. for a period of fifteen years”. Apparently Frazier wanted his establishment to be the first encountered by north-round motorists as they entered Durham. In 1932, Frazier sold the property to Harry and Augusta Holder, who held it until 1956, when it was sold to Edward L. Fanfesti. In 1966, it passed into the hands of its present owners.
In its present form, this structure is of little architectural significance save as an illustration of the conservativeness of New England’s vernacular builders.
It is interesting that in building a structure to serve a new technology — the automobile — the builders should have erected a structure that differed so little
from the commercial structures they had been putting up for the previous century. Historically the structure is of interest as one of Durham’s earliest gas stations.