Monday, August 11, 2008

Hester Heights Part III

[Continuation of posts below] While houses closer to Club on Englewood sprung up quite fast building continued to be slow in some areas of Hester Heights towards Hillandale. The Sanborn Fire Insurance map below shows the neighborhood in 1937 with a number of empty lots remaining.

1937 Sanborn Map (apologies for the distortion from manual stitching of 3 different maps)

Today's Hester Heights likewise lacks this westward section which has been whittled away by the growth of the Hillandale/Hillsborough interchange in the wake of various projects including NC-147. Perhaps like always the neighborhood still has a kind of a division between the northeastern section bordering Watts-Hillandale/the rest of Old West Durham and the section closer to Hillsborough Rd. in terms of owner-occupancy and the residential/commercial split. The modified cadastral map below includes my own clumsy color-coding of properties into red for commercial, black for non-owner occupied probably rental, and blank for owner occupied. One property on Hillsborough is owned by the Historic Preservation Society and for the heck of it I've colored that blue. The neighborhood as a whole is pretty evenly split with just over half of the non-commercial properties being owner-occupied (the Bob Schmitz management company owns a bit over 5% of Hester Heights properties).

In the future I'll post more about the surrounding neighborhoods of Englewood and Club Acres but I think Hester Heights is one of the most interesting parts of west Durham because of its historical border position between the posher parts of Watts-Hillandale to the North and East and the mill village portions of West Durham and Hickstown to the South and East. I don't think Hester Heights has any cohesive neighborhood identity today (that is if anyone knew that there was such a name for it) and I'd be curious to hear if there is a difference in the way people refer to their neighborhood identity from one part of the neighborhood to another. More than anything though I think this just might show that grouping properties by larger purchase tract often doesn't lead to any sort of neighborhood formation.


Island Tiffiney said...

Thanks so much for starting this blog. My husband Dave, and I used to live in Hester Heights, and never knew it! We live in Emerald Isle, NC now, but have fond memories of living on Lawndale Ave. I've bookmarked your blog, and look forward to reading more about my favorite part of Durham!

John said...

Great blog. Many thanks for posting about Hester Heights. Your readers might be interested in this old map of early West Durham communities...

Click on the map to see a larger image. Page also includes memories of life in the area (and more links to West Durham history).


John Schelp
Old West Durham