District Overview Inventory List District Map

Durham Historic District

LHD boundaries as described are approximate and subject to change. Consult the LHD Study Report on file with the relevant local district commission or municipal authority to verify district boundaries and whether a specific property, particularly one in proximity of a boundary line, is within the district. Also note that LHD boundaries may differ from those of State or National Register Districts.

Year of Establishment:
Notes on Establishment:
On June 25, 1973 the electors passed the Historic District Ordinance Referendum, which created a Historic District and a Historic District Commission for the Town of Durham effective July 17, 1973.
District Authority:
Historic District Commission
Link to Commission or Municipal Website:
District Character:
Town Center

Buildings, Green, Open Spaces

Architectural Style:

Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Carpenter Gothic Cottage, Gothic, Prairie Bungalow

18th Century, 19th Century, 20 Century; Period of significance- 1708-1930

The Main Street Historic District in Durham comprises the historic residential and commercial center of a small rural community in central Connecticut. Main Street, the principal street in the district, runs north and south. Several parallel streets are located on each side of Main Street: Brick Lane and Cherry Lane on the east and Maple Avenue and Town House Road on the west. The latter street borders the Town Green in the southern portion of the district. Portions of several cross streets, Talcott Lane, Maiden Lane, Wallingford Road, and Fowler Avenue, are also included. Durham's history reflects the influence of three key institutions- agriculture, religion and scholarship. The rural-agriculture economy, the significance of religion in the lives of the people, and the Town's scholarly atmosphere were highly interdependent and ultimately combined to produce the pattern of historic development that is in many way unique. [2 & NR]

Architecture, Agriculture, Industry, Others (Shoemaking)-The Durham Historic District contains a particularly high concentration of historic buildings tracing the town's development for over 200 years. More than half of the surviving historic resources in Durham are contained within the Main Street Historic District; it displays an exceptional degree of architectural integrity and craftsmanship. A remarkable cross section of social classes and occupations is represented in the district, expressed in the style and function of the buildings. Included are a few relatively high-style houses built by descendants of the first settlers, simple vernacular dwellings of craftsmen and farmers, and workers' housing built to accommodate the laborers in the town's industries, as well as stores, hotels, and taverns from the stagecoach era, when Durham's Main Street was a thoroughfare between New Haven and Hartford. Of particular note is the unusual number of well-preserved eighteenth-century houses, as well as the quality of the public buildings erected in the Greek Revival style.A remarkably representative collection of historic buildings is contained within the Historic District, tangible evidence of the historic development of the Town of Durham from settlement to the present day. The significance of this architectural evolution is undeniable because it so closely parallels the major periods of development. The primary significance of the district, however, lies in the number and diversity of its surviving colonial-period buildings. Of added but somewhat lesser significance are the early nineteenth-century domestic and institutional buildings. Not only do they represent the cultural and economic heyday of historical Durham, but they are also exceptionally well-preserved and finely detailed. [NR]

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.townofdurhamct.org/.
[2] Durham Historic District, Report of the Historic District Study Committee, 1973, accessed from the town website, http://www.townofdurhamct.org/filestorage/16168/21150/16240/Historic_District_Commission_booklet_cover_-_page_8.pdf.
[3] Assessors information and Parcel IDs retrieved from http://durham.univers-clt.com/.
[NR] Cunningham Jan and Matteson Ruth B., Main Street Historic District, Durham, National Register Nomination Number- 86002837 NRIS, National Park Service, 1986; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/86002837.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/86002837.pdf

The Durham Main Street National Register Historic District includes all of the state-enabled local district and also extends to the south along Main Street and to the west to include historic properties and open land on the west side of Maple Avenue. Two additional houses are included on the north side of Talcott Lane. [NR]

Date of Compilation:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation