Durham is Changing, Are You?

An installation on a boarded storefront in Downtown Durham. This interactive piece explored the changes that occur in a dynamic urban setting. The viewer could peer into the abandoned building through various peepholes in the panels, revealing a history of the town and of the space. Each window or portal portrayed a different point in time and strung together it read as a generalized timeline.

The history of this building is an important aspect of the piece. 106 W. Parrish St. was originally used as an annex for NC Mutual Life Insurance Company, and part of Durham’s Black Wall Street. It also housed the weekly and monthly newspapers put out by NC Mutual Life. Eventually, as Durham’s economy declined, the building was turned into a furniture store that ultimately closed and the space was left abandoned. At the most destitute period in Durham’s once-thriving downtown, squatters turned the building into a brothel in the 90’s. Now, as Durham is being “revitalized”, the building is being gutted and completely renovated to become a luxury loft and retail space.

This piece seeks to explore this building’s history in context of Durham’s and raise questions of urban revitalization, gentrification and the issues surrounding these changes.