Open Durham: Southern Conservatory Of Music

Jan. 26, 2013 @ 07:02 PM

102 South Duke St.

Cross street: West Main Street

Built:1898/demolished 1924

Architect/Designers: Hook and Sawyer / Hook and Rogers / Hook and Hook, Hook,

Charles Christian

People: Bryant, Gilmore Ward

Architectural style: Italianate

Construction type: Frame

Neighborhood: Downtown West

Type: Institutional

Use: School


The Southern Conservatory of Music was built in 1898 on the southwest corner of Duke and West Main Streets. Per the great-granddaughter of the founder, Gilmore Ward Bryant, Washington Duke invited 'GW' to Durham to "bring more culture" to the city and financed the construction of the conservatory across Duke St. from his house, Fairview.

Architects Hook and Sawyer of Charlotte, who also designed the Academy of Music and Fire Station #2, designed the elaborate Italianate structure.

GW and his wife composed music, poetry and taught the students (exclusively young women) voice, piano, violin, cello, and harp.

In 1924, the conservatory moved way out in the country, to South Alston Avenue near Riddle Road. Bryant moved his family to a house across from the new conservatory. It appears that the original Conservatory was torn down soon thereafter.

A Texaco Station and the "Lewis' Cafe" were built on this site in subsequent decades. These were then torn down around 1982 to become the parking lot for Brightleaf Square.