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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Foster and West Geer Streets Historic District
Reference Number 13000204
State North Carolina
County Durham
Town Durham
Street Address bounded by W. Corporation St., Rigsbee Ave ., Madison St., Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks, Washington St., and north property lines of 724 and 733 Foster St., Durham, NC
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 04/23/2013
Areas of Significance Entertainment/recreation, Commerce, Architecture
Link to full file
The Foster and West Geer Streets Historic District, a seven-block mixed-use commercial and light-industrial area just north of the central business district in Durham, North Carolina, developed from the 1920s to the early 1960s. Most of the buildings are free-standing low-rise edifices set on large parcels, with generous parking areas for automobiles. The earliest buildings, the City Garage Yard and the Fire Drill Tower, were built by the city of Durham in 1927 and 1928. In the late 1930s industrial plants were built on nearby parcels, and the Durham Bulls minor-league baseball park was rebuilt in 1939 after its destruction by fire. In the second half of the 1940s, following the end of World War II, the district filled in with the city's second generation of car dealerships, service stations, an oil distributorship, service industries, such as a dry cleaners and a roofing business, a luncheonette, and two government facilities: the county agricultural extension office, and a U.S. Naval Reserve Training Center. In the late 1950s and early 1960s small office buildings and a branch bank completed the architectural development of the district. The district meets Criterion A for its entertainment/recreation significance as the home base of the Durham Bulls baseball team from 1939 to 1963. Baseball was a main form of entertainment in Durham during this period, especially for the many workers employed in the city's tobacco industry, and their families. The ballpark's utilitarian brick and steel construction and its trademark round ticket office are a symbol of mid-twentieth-century Durham. The district also meets Criterion A for its significance as one of Durham's most important post-World War II mixed-use areas, with a significant collection of light-industrial plants, retail businesses, government offices and facilities, and automobile-oriented businesses. Seventy-three percent of the forty-six buildings were erected during the district's period of significance from 1927 to 1963 and contribute to its architectural and historic character. In addition, the district meets Criterion C for its architecture as an important and well-preserved collection of distinctive Streamline Art Moderne and mid-century modern commercial and industrial buildings in Durham. Although there was limited development in the district in the late 1960s and 1970s and the commercial use of the buildings continues to the present the post-1963 use is not of exceptional significance.


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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria