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)


Marsosudiro said...

Cool! Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

pleasure to find such a good artical! please keep update!! ........................................

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

Shakespeare Dissertation

Beth B Johns said...

I believe it is an error to state that the Bridgers sold the dairy in 1946. They may have stopped running it as a dairy at that time.

After my grandfather died, my grandmother lived on and managed the properties until about 1982 when she went into a nursing home at age 97. The two farm houses were divided into apartments and she rented them out to Duke graduate students. I attended Duke University 1969-1972 and visited her there frequently.

As a young child I remember playing among the overgrown ruins of the concrete foundation and floor slab of the old dairy barn. This would have been in the 1950s and early 60s.

My father, Ben Cole Bridgers, sold the property sometime between 1984 and 1986. He died in 1987.

Beth Bridgers Johns

Carl said...

Absolutely miraculous work you did by sharing the maps,about the Morrenne Dairy road and ran from Erwin to Hillsborough road,so really the road is fantastic and seems to be the best and it presents great and beautiful sort of the scenes,so good to see the whole pictures which gives great sort of the idea.

Mike Sumner said...

I was one of Mrs. Bridgers' renters until I finished my graduate studies in 1980. All of Mrs. B.’s property but a cabin was located just inside in the city limits. It included two large houses divided into apartments, the cabin, and a cottage divided in two. I lived in one half of the cottage while Mrs. B. lived in the other half. A well with a pump supplied running water to the entire property. There was indeed an old barn out back and concrete silo by the cottage with an attached carport. The silo was unusual in that it was square, not round.
She had a neighbor, Mrs. Blalock, who lived across the road and would come to see her from time to time. Mrs. B. frequently would also talk with me and remark that though people may not always agree with her opinions, she was sure she was sound in mind because she was able to express an opinion. One time she said she liked her middle name, Mildred, better than she liked her first name (Dora). She spoke often about her late husband and still adored him, saying that never once did they have a cross word. Mrs. B. was not one to abide foolish or deceitful talk, particularly from those who professed to be speakers of truth. With such folks, she maintained that every so often there comes a time when one must “talk plain.”
The renter in the cabin raised goats. One day a large billy got loose, saw its reflection in the side of someone’s Volkswagen Rabbit, and did some considerable damage. Mrs. B.'s comment to me was that Jones (not his real name) – also, Mrs. B. always referred to other renters by their last name – “was going to have to get clear of that goat." The renters and some others she knew were allowed, if they liked, to plant gardens near the green house. I learned that a row of cucumbers will produce more than just a few pickles. Mrs. B. once said about a young relative of hers who had stayed away too long, that she didn’t mind him neglecting her, but that she wouldn’t permit him to neglect his garden!