27/29 Main Street

This building stands on a one and a half acre lot on Durham’s Main Street. An asphalt parking lot lies in front of the structure.

  • Record ID: 119
  • Address: 27/29 Main Street
  • Current Owner: Ackerman, Jr., Austin M.
  • Name of Building: Ackerman's Store
  • Historic Name: Henry Davis Store
  • Download PDF of Original Record

Notable Features

The first floor of the two story 24′ x 23′ main block of  this structure remains basically unchanged, containing windows with plain moldings and six-paned fixed windows in the gable peaks. The first story has been obscured by a one story shed roofed 1958 addition which surrounds the original structure on all four sides. This addition is windowless except for two plate glass display windows on the east side that flank the aluminum and glass main entry. The addition, like the main block, is sheathed with clapboards. A tall brick chimney rises from the north side of the roof.

Historical or Architectural Importance

As built, this 2 story, gable-roofed commercial building is typical of the rural general stores of the late nineteenth-century. A simple frame building with its gable end facing the street, it has a store area on the first floor and apartments and storage space on the second.
In 1851, Henry Canfield and his son, William H. Canfield, bought land on Main Street, erecting a house ( 31 Main Street) and a wagon manufactury. This building appears to have been the Canfield’s factory. They conducted their enterprise until 1872. In 1877 William H. Canfield sold his workshop and the land it stood on to Henry Davis, a 26 year old merchant who, though born in Killingworth, has been living and working in Durham since 1877– probably for his relative George H. Davis, partner in Hale and Davis’ Store on Main Street. Between 1878 and 1881, he converted the Canfield’s workshop into a store, which he presided over until he sold it to Austin Ackerman in 1927. The Ackermans, Senior and Junior, have kept store here ever since. Ackerman’ s Store has always been the quintessential New England general store, a social center as well as a place where one could purchase almost anything. Ackerman’ s store served as the
Durham Center Post Office for nearly fifty years. Henry Davis, an ardent Democrat, was (appointed Postmaster by President Cleveland, serving between 1884 and 1889 and 1893 to
1897. The Ackerman’s filled this office from 1927 to 1961, when Durham Center Post Office was consolidated with Durham’s.

Ackerman’s is architecturally significant as a typical late-nineteenth-century commercial structure. Its historic importance is derived from its place in Durham’s industrial and commercial history and from its long-time function as the town’s post office.