There’s a cow on someone’s roof on Chapel Hill Road
This lady bull (aka cow) gives La Vaquita Taqueria its namesake. She must be well taken care of as she looks incredible after 55 plus years of watching over the Bull City day. Her current owners touch up her paint annually, regularly clean her and even dress her up for Christmas. She is loved.
The fiberglass lady bull was put on top of the building in 1963 when it was a Cow Store, a local chain of convenience stores. Cow Store was actually a collective name given to these C-stores because of the cows up top. Each individual owner named their mart. La Vaquita used to be Poe Mart. At the Cow Stores, kids could get their after-school sweet treats and adults could pull right up to get their locally grown pack of smokes. These stores even carried a small variety of groceries including milk. That’s because they originally began as Pine State dairy stores and then transitioned into C-stores. There were a few throughout the Triangle and some say there’s still one operating in the city of Hillsborough.
This Cow Store location was owned and operated by the Poe family until 2000. In 2012, the Tuscaloosa-Lakewood Neighborhood Association raised funds to restore the cow for her 50th birthday in 2013.
During 1997-1998 this lady bull got caught up in an unrelated, local controversy regarding flag size and height. A salesman across town was flying a gigantic US flag as a patriotic sales tactic. When the flag’s size and height came under scrutiny as violations of city codes, the rooftop cow got metaphorically thrown under the bus.
Turns out Durham loved the cow more than attempts to monetize off our nation’s flag. In the end, the lady bull was named a Durham landmark, a federal judge declared size does matter when it comes to flags and Durham citizens reduced hot air emissions by cutting the size of the City Council from thirteen to the six seats.
Definitely an only in Durham story.
More incrediBULL bits of Durham history can be found in @TheBullsOfDurham living history book. This Bull City History Bit was made possiBULL by our Community Partner Van Alen Apartments.
Bits of Bull City History
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