Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Morreene Dairy

I drive to and from work every day on Morrenne road - which today runs from Erwin rd. until becoming Neal rd. at the bottom of a hill near the Cookout RR trestle. I've long tripped over the spelling and wondered where the name came from. I know from older maps that the road was once called the Morrenne Dairy road and ran from Erwin to Hillsborough rd. I've also seen bottles from the Morreene Dairy (below) but had never been able to figure out where the dairy was located until this week when I stumbled across an explanatory document in the Duke University Archives.
Courtesy Duke Forest Artifact Collection
This document in the building reference collection, compiled by librarian Florence Blakely in 1964, gives the origin of the name of Morreene road and a brief history of the dairy's owners. Knowing the original owners of the dairy helped me to figure out exactly where it had been located - directly on the site of the contemporary Forest Oaks condo development.

Rough overlay of the Redmond farm plat with Morreene Dairy land highlighted

On August 22, 1922 Ben and Dora Bridge[r]s bought two lots (53+54) of the former W.T. Redmond farm south of the Hillsboro (now Hillsborough) road. These lots were located at the very end of a new dead-end road extending south from where the Hillsboro road and the NC railroad intersected. By 1925 the Bridgers had opened a dairy which they named using a combination of Mrs. Bridgers' two brothers' middle names: Vester MORRis Dorrity and Robert GrEENE Dorrity - hence Morreene.
In the 1930s the city extended the road leading to the dairy all the way to Erwin road, naming it Morreene Dairy Rd.

Segment of 1940s Duke Forest map with my addition of Cookout(!) and Old Hillsboro Rd.

Segment of 1938 aerial photo with my annotation.
Today's 15-501 bypass (not pictured) runs from middle-right to bottom left

Many thanks to Judd and Marissa at the Duke Forest office for showing me these aerials

The Bridgers stopped operating the dairy by the late 1940s and by the 1980s part of the Forest Oaks townhouse development was built over the site.
Contemporary Google map with the outline of the former Morreene Dairy
In September 1958 the Durham City Council changed the name of the road to just Morreene Rd. and over the years its exact course has varied. The most recent change coming with the introduction of NC-147 in the 1980s and 90s. Instead of meeting Neal Rd. before its turn under the railroad trestle, the builders of the highway connected Morreene and Neal into a seamless unit and parts of the old Morreene road became Bridgefield Pl.
Overlay of the planning map for NC-147 showing the former course of Morreene Rd. (red line)