96 Main Street

This early nineteenth century commercial structure stands on the east side of Durham’s Main Street, a few feet to the south of the Allen M. Tucker House– with which it has
been historically associated.

Notable Features

Its facade, surmounted by a full pediment , is fronted by a full open porch supported by square posts and boasting a simple pedimented gable in its center. ‘The main entry, which is surrounded by plain molding , is flanked by two modern one pane windows. ‘The second story contains two 9 pane casement windows. Within the pediment is a six pane square window with plain molding. ‘The fenestration on the north and south sides of the structure is varied, ranging from modern one pane units to sixteen pane windows which may date from the nineteenth century. To the rear of the main block is a deteriorated gable roofed shed. It has a set of large double-hung doors.

Historical or Architectural Importance

A commercial structure has stood on this site since the 1770s, the original one having been built by Jonathan Walkley, a cooper, who also built the adjacent house, 98 Main Street. Stylistic evidence suggests , however that the present structure does not date from the eighteenth century. Most likely, it was built by Bennett Beecher, a shoemaker from Woodbridge, Connecticut, who bought the property of Seth Seward in 1837. Beecher operated a boot and shoe factory in this building from 1837 to 1884, when the Middletown Savings Bank foreclosed on his mortgage. ‘The structure sebsequently served several commercial purposes, as a store, a pool hall, and, according to its present owner, as Durham’s first gas station. It is presently used for residential purposes. ‘This structure is historically significant as one of Durham’s earliest surviving industrial
buildings and as the center of its mid-nineteenth century shoe industry.