In 1827, Arnold Ward purchased land on Main Street in Durham from David Smith and proceeded to build a house and blacksmith shop on the property. The following year he sold the house and land, except for the blacksmith shop, to Silvester Ward. The house’s front porch was added later.
Happy Easter!!! The original meeting house of Durham’s Congregational church stood on the northeast corner of the town Green from 1736 to 1835. When it was decided to replace the old building, there was a struggle in town between those to the south, who wanted the new church to be built near the Green, and those to the north, who wanted it to be built north of Allyn Brook. It was eventually built near the Green, but those living south of Allyn Brook made a larger contribution to its construction. On Thanksgiving Day, 1844, the new building burned down (a suspected case of arson). Those on the north side now succeeded in having the new church built on their side of the brook while south siders paid nothing and were even compensated for their expense for the previous building. The new North Congregational Church was dedicated in June, 1847, but the dispute was not over: that same year 67 members left the church and formed a separate South Congregational Church. The two congregations united again in 1886 and the South Church became Durham’s Town Hall. In 1941 the Congregational and Methodist Churches joined to form the United Churches of Durham.
At Town House Road and Maple Avenue in Durham is the old Center School House, built in 1775. The town’s first school house, built in 1722, had stood on the same site. It may not have served as a school after the 1830s, when new district schools were erected. Now home to the Durham Historical Society, the second floor of the building is being renovated for meeting and exhibit gallery space.
In 1861, David Camp built his own house on the east side of Main Street in Durham (14-16 Main Street, old numbering; 37 Main Street, current numbering). Camp was a carpenter from a prominent family of carpenters in nineteenth-century Durham.
Captain Job Camp built a house on Main Street in Durham in the eighteenth century, which later passed to his son, Manoah Camp and then to his grandson, Elizur Camp, both of whom were shoemakers. In 1861, this original house was given by Elizur Camp to his daughter, Susan E. Camp, who had married Francis Hubbard in 1857. They replaced the old house with a new one in 1862. Francis Hubbard was an owner of the Merriam Manufacturing Company. The house remained in the Hubbard family until it was sold to Frederick Brewster, a wealthy New Haven businessman who owned Brookfield Farm in Durham. Concerned about the fact that Durham did not have a resident physician, he rented the house to a series of doctors from 1928 to 1941.
Zebulon Hale was a farmer in Durham. He built a Greek Revival house on Main Street in 1840, during a period of time (1839-1841) he was serving as a Justice of the Peace. The house, which he sold within a year of building it, has lost many of its original decorative features. The main entrance is located on a side addition to the house.
Located at 19 Maiden Lane in Durham, the John Johnson House, with its unusually non-symmetrical configuration, was associated with several important local stone carvers. It was built between 1743 and 1750 as a dwelling and stone-carving shop by Thomas Spelman and Noah Lyman. Spelman was a gravestone carver who sold his half of the partnership with Noah Lyman and moved to Granville, Massachusetts in the early 1850s. Noah Lyman sold to Elizabeth Austin in 1761 and she and her husband Jesse sold to John Johnson, Jr. in 1773. Johnson came from a family of stone carvers in Middletown and became a successful farmer in Durham and a deacon of the town’s Congregational church. A brownstone quarry was located on the south side of Maiden Lane, which may have been the source of the stone Johnson carved for the town’s cemeteries. Johnson and his wife Abigail had three unmarried daughters: Rhoda, Eunice, Nabby, Nancy and Almira. Every Sunday, they would walk to church in single file in order of their ages. In 1825, Johnson sold the house to his daughters, for whom Maiden Lane was named.