Friday, July 16, 2010

West End & Lyon Park: A National Historic District?

What am I doing in West End/Lyon Park?  Maybe you’ve noticed a young lady walking around the neighborhood with a clipboard taking notes and snapping pictures.  I work as a historic preservationist with Preservation Durham in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to identify and document African American historic buildings, sites and districts in Durham not formally recognized.  Currently I am doing an architectural survey update of West End and Lyon Park.  The last survey of the neighborhood was done in the early 1980s with a few properties documented in the book The Durham Architectural and Historical Inventory. (This book is out of print but feel free to pop by the office and take a look through it.)

I’m hopeful West End and Lyon Park could become a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  What does all this mean?  A historic district is an inventory of buildings and sites that represent the historic identity of a community within a defined area. The National Register of Historic Places is our nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.  Unlike local historic districts, a national district does not put limitations what changes you can make to your property.  However if listed on the National Register you could potentially qualify for historic rehabilitation income tax credits, and then you must adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation to qualify for the credit.

West End developed around 1874.  It was spatially segregated by race making W. Chapel Hill St the dividing line.  South of W Chapel Hill Street was the black occupied portion of West End, the area of interest for this project.  Lyon Park was developed as an extension of West End within the first three decades of the twentieth century for middle and working class African American residents.  Lyon Park begins at Morehead Ave and continues south to Lakewood Ave.  Most veteran residents will tell you that Lyon Park is West End.  “It’s all one neighborhood.” they tell me.  The proposed maps may eventually be changed to demonstrate one whole district by connecting Kent Street of both neighborhoods.  Architectural surveys are important because house styles act as a type of historical document that helps interpret the history and culture of a neighborhood. 

A preliminary application will go to the NC State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh prior to September 2010.  This is called the study list application.  The NC National Register Review board will review and study its potential for approval to the National Park Service to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Keep your fingers crossed!  For more information contact April Johnson at 919-682-3036 or

1 comment:

  1. I am a volunteer worker at the Lyon Park Commnity Center, and I am completly honored to be able to be a part of something that is as Historical as Lyon Park, It truly is such a monument.