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16.04.2014
In their continuing series, Bullish on Durham, Durham County Library is hosting a discussion panel about the history and impact of our wonderful park. Moderated by our own Dan Jewell, the panel will feature our illustrious co-founders Allen Wilcox and Curt Eshelman who saw a barren patch of land and envisioned the vibrant community space we are today.
A Bench with some History Behind it! When you take a walk around the five acres in downtown Durham that is Durham Central Park, you will notice a number of benches made by various local artists. After the war, Peyton Smith returned to Durham and acquired his own local businesses and ventured into various phases of retail selling –a grocery store, Smith’s Hotel and a beauty salon. In 2002, a 360 foot long section of Roney Street that ran in the middle of the western side of Durham Central Park was closed to traffic. In 2011, Choate Construction Company, Davis Landscaping, and CSSI performed the actual construction of the new, softer embankments and immediately the gardens above became easier to access.  Roney Street, which once were a barrier to the gardens from the rest of Durham Central Park, now links the gardens and DCP together creating a safe and pleasant walkway for all to enjoy. The gardens at Durham Central Park are beginning to burst with color, texture, smells and also some yummy items!


The Pavilion at Durham Central Park, home of the Farmers’ Market, was largely completed in 2006, through the generosity of Durham Central Park, the City of Durham, Self-Help, and local businesses and individuals. Durham Central Park is an exciting downtown destination that offers a venue for cultural activities and is part of a 24-hour, authentic, walkable neighborhood for arts, recreation, and locally-owned businesses.
A record $42,000 was raised for Durham Central Park this fall during Meals from the Market. He also started the Real Estate Mercantile and Manufacturing Co., which operated a merchandise store and tobacco factory that produced “New Durham” and “The 1900’s”, two brands of tobacco. At the southwest side of the park on Hunt Street is the Garden of Eatin’, an edible garden managed and maintained by SEEDS (South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces, Inc).  This is another creative relationship that DCP has with  a community partner to sustain the park and develop interesting gardens throughout.
Brenda Brodie, one of the original founders of SEEDS had the idea for a farmer’s market.  They started small on Orange Street in downtown Durham  and eventually the DFM became its own entity.


This year they cleared the heavy build up of vegetation under the bridge, and spruced up the SEEDS garden.
DCP’s sole mission is to create and sustain a unique urban park to engage the Durham community. Smith was President of Smith Realty, a company that owned many properties, including multiple pieces in what is now downtown Durham. Research reveals that Peyton was also a very multifaceted gentleman and businessman.
They both loved Durham and were avid community volunteers: Margret edited the Negro Braille Magazine for many years after retirement and Lydia volunteered at the Duke Eye Center and was an accomplished musician who played the piano and organ for White Rock Baptist Church here in Durham.



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