Old North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Building

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Not to be confused with the current company headquarters at 411 West Chapel Hill Street.
North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Building
NORTH CAROLINA MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY BUILDING, DURHAM COUNTY.jpg
Old North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Building is located in North Carolina
Old North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Building
Old North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Building is located in the US
Old North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Building
Location 114-116 W. Parrish St., Durham, North Carolina
Coordinates 35°59′45.4″N 78°54′2.8″W / 35.995944°N 78.900778°W / 35.995944; -78.900778Coordinates: 35°59′45.4″N 78°54′2.8″W / 35.995944°N 78.900778°W / 35.995944; -78.900778
NRHP Reference # 75001258
Significant dates
Added to NRHP May 15, 1975[1]
Designated NHL May 15, 1975[2]

The Old North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Building, also known as the Mechanics and Farmers Bank, is an office building at 114-116 West Parrish Street in downtown Durham, North Carolina. It formerly served as the headquarters for the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, one of the nation's largest companies founded and owned by African-Americans. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975.[2][3]

Description and history[edit]

The former North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company building is located in downtown Durham, on the northside of West Parrish Street in the area known as Black Wall Street. It is a six story brick building, three bays wide, with a flat roof. The ground floor bays are sheltered by a marquee that extends over the sidewalk, with plate glass windows in the outer bays and the main entrance recessed in the center bay. Above the marquee there are blind arches that form an arcade between the first and second floors. Pilasters rise between and outside the first floor bays to a stone course in which the words "Merchants and Farmers Bank" are incised. The five floors above have paired sash windows in each bay; the bays of the upper two floors are articulated by paneled pilasters. There are two balustraded concrete balconies projecting from the center bays of the third and fifth floors.[3]

The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded in 1898 by a group of seven African-American men, of whom two, John Merrick and Dr. Aaron Moore, survived in the business after one year. Moore's nephew, Charles Clinton Spaulding, took charge of the business in 1900, and it thereafter grew rapidly, becoming by 1910 the nation's largest firm owned by African-Americans. The company had this building constructed in 1921 as its second headquarters. At that time, it was the second-tallest building in Durham, and described by Durham's Morning Herald as an "architectural gem".[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Building". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  3. ^ a b c Marcia M. Greenlee (December 1974). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Mechanics and Farmers Bank / North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying two photos, exterior, from 1974 (32 KB)