Durham Historic Tours

Durham Historic Tours Duke University Chapel

Ever wonder how Durham keeps its historic charm?  The Historic Preservation Society of Durham (also known as Preservation Durham) was founded in 1974 to preserve Durham’s architectural heritage.  People began buying old houses in various Durham neighborhoods. In the years since many of the tobacco warehouse, factories, and mills have been converted into shopping centers, condominiums, restaurants, and offices.

The society’s mission is to protect Durham’s historic assets through action, advocacy, and education. Preservation Durham has saved more than fifty properties. Currently, the property below is listed for sale on their website:

Preservation Durham’s enthusiastic and well-informed volunteer tour guides will lead you through the history of the tobacco industry as they tell many tales from Durham’s past, using oral histories and photographs to illustrate the history of tobacco and the people who supplied tobacco products known through the world.

The tour includes descriptions of life in the factories and at home for the thousands of workers who made the Bull City one of the biggest industrial cities in the South as well as those who, like guitarist John Dee Holeman, trekked to Durham’s tobacco auctions to play the blues.

Preservation Durham presents free walking tours on the second, third, and fourth Saturday of each month, April through November.  No reservations are required. Simply meet your guide at 10 am on Saturday morning at Preservation Durham’s sign at the Durham Farmers’ Market in Central Park, on Foster Street just north of Downtown. Tours last about ninety minutes and return back to the Farmer’s Market.  Tours can be arranged at other times by appointment. 

The Duke family, including patriarch Washington Duke, who started out as a struggling tobacco farmer with his two sons, made quite a fortune in the tobacco industry.  They had long supported Trinity College which traced its roots to 1838 when local Methodists and Quaker communities opened Union Institute.

Following a $40 million dollar donation by Washington’s son, James Buchanan Duke, Trinity College was renamed Duke University in 1924. The Sarah P. Duke Gardens are named after Washington Duke’s daughter Sarah. Read the amazing story and watch a video about how the gardens grew in beauty over the years. People all over the world visit the gardens every year. 

Alternatively, you can enjoy a self-guided Downtown Durham walking tour with this print-friendly map from the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau. Durham is a city full of rich history and culture.

Discover Historic Durham and hear about the rise of the great Tobacco Empire on one of the comfortable, motorized vehicles to experience the Tobacco Road Tours. This 2½ hour tour will include sights such as:
    • American Tobacco Campus
    • The Downtown Business District
    • Ninth Street
    • Brightleaf Square
    • Warehouse District
    • Parish Street (Black Wall Street)
    • Bennett Place, where the Civil War surrender was negotiated
    • Historic neighborhoods like Hayti, Watts-Hillandale,
    • Old West Durham, West Club Boulevard and Trinity Park
    • Duke Memorial United Methodist Church, Maplewood
    • Cemetery, Old Durham County Courthouse (Neo-ClassicalRevival)
    • Duke’s East Campus
    • Durham Bulls Ballpark (old and new)
    • Duke University Campus
    • North Carolina Central University,
    • Duke Forest and Sarah P. Duke Gardens
    • DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center)
    • Duke Homestead National Historic Site (real tobacco heritage)

This fall, decide to visit Durham, North Carolina. Whether coming for our history, gardens, universities, athletics, medicine, culture, shopping, music, theatre, art, or another great reason, we feel honored when guests choose to stay at Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast.  We have all the comforts of home with the amenities of hotels. Each morning a full and delicious breakfast awaits our guests. We show true Southern hospitality and charm.      

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