This Week in Durham History

Jan. 25, 2014 @ 11:30 AM

Mary Semans dies

Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans -- lifelong philanthropist, civic leader, humanitarian, and great-granddaughter of Duke University namesake Washington Duke -- died January 25, 2012, at the age of 91. Her far-reaching influence included service on the Duke University and Duke Endowment Board of Trustees, as mayor pro tem of Durham from 1953 to 1955 and as trustee of the Lincoln Community Hospital from 1948 to 1976. She was instrumental in creating the N.C. School of the Arts and the Duke University Museum of Art. The recipient of numerous national awards, she was inducted into the N.C. Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009. 

Segregated theaters protested

In January 1961, students marched to protest segregated seating at the Center and Carolina theaters in Durham. The Center responded by closing the "colored" seats but did not desegregate, while the Carolina did nothing. The manager of the Carolina said that his decision to keep the theater segregated was due to a perceived preference in the Durham public to keep it that way.

Temple Baptist Church

Blackwell Baptist Church, named after the mother of Durham businessmen J.W. and W.T. Blackwell, was founded on January 29, 1888. Located at the corner of West Chapel Hill and Shepherd streets, the church changed its name to Second Baptist in 1890 and to Temple Baptist in 1918. In 2003, the congregation relocated to Sterling Drive in suburban northwest Durham.

The Ronald McDonald House

On Feb. 1, 1980, the first Ronald McDonald House in North Carolina and the 13th in the nation opened in Durham near Duke Medical Center. An average of 500 families every year get accomodation there while their children receive medical treatments.