132 Main Street

Set back 30′ from Durham’ s Main street, this house stands on a narrow but deep 1. 44 acre lot.

  • Record ID: 57
  • Address: 132 Main Street
  • Current Owner: Thompson, Timothy and Mary
  • Name of Building: The John Jackson House
  • Historic Name: Russell Shelly House
  • Download PDF of Original Record

Notable Features

The doorframe with fluted pilasters and a full entablature is elaborate. Also a small corner porch is supported by a single Victorian – style pillar.

Historical or Architectural Importance

This structure is a three-bay, flat-hip-roofed, side-hall entry Greek Revival-style residence. Its facade has been somewhat altered, the front entry is placed disproportionately close to the second of the two windows on the first story, and the window above it on the second story has been removed and shingled over.
Nevertheless, the facade retains many original features, including a door frame with fluted pilasters and a full entablature, an orginal 2 pane over 2 panelled
glass and wood door, and 6 X 6 window. The south side has been altered with the construction of a one story hip-roof entry addition which contains its own entry door. This door is sheltered by a small corner porch, the roof of which is supported by a single Victorian- style pillar. The north side has been altered by the construction of a two story shed-roof addition which also possess its own entry. To the rear a one story gable roof addition has been constructed. The whole structure has been sheathed with wooden shingles, replacing original clapboarding. The roof is characterized by a wide overhang which suggests a transition to the Italiante and the possibility that the house once boasted brakceting.

According to Fowler, a house owned by the Parsons Family and later the Rose family stood on this site in the eighteenth century. ‘Ihe 1827 Wadsworth Map, however, shows no house on the site, nor was one standing when the Mary Ann Bowers Estate sold the 1 1/4 acre lot to blacksmith Russell H. Shelly in 1852. He must have built the house shortly after purchasing the land, for the Durham Grand List for 1853 shows him as the owner of a house valued at $1200. In addition to his blacksmithing business, Shelley served as Durham’s Postmaster between 1843 and 1849 and as a menber of the General Assemble. On his death in 1889, the house passed in to the hands of the Burr Family, by whom it was sold in 1923 to John J. Jackson, another Durham Postmaster, by whom it is still owned by his descendants.
This house is architecturally significant as one of the few examples of the transition from Greek Revival to Tuscan styles in Durham. Although a vernacular structure, it shows the sensitivity of mid-nineteenth century builders to more cosmopolitan styles and the willingness of aspiring tradesmen to accept those stylistic innovations. The house is historically significant for its association with Russell H. Shelley, one of Durham’s most active mid-nineteenth century political figures.