The Old Bull building is a legend.
Like all legends, it has had to reinvent itself several times to stay relevant. It’s changed in shape, height, color, and purpose. But just like the rest of us, even legends go through awkward phases. They just have the misfortune of doing it in front of cameras and the masses.
It’s a good thing the Old Bull got its awkward pink, metal straight-jacket phase outta the way before the days of social media.
Things got really awkward in Durham concerning architecture in the ‘60s. About the same time the stunning hosiery mill on Bartlett Durham’s Cursed Corner was getting the windows bricked up to give it a ‘modern look,’ the Old Bull was being covered up with pink sheet metal.
More on the Cursed Corner another time. Unless of course, you’ve read all about it in “The Bulls of Durham” living history book.
Right now we’ve gotta work through this not-so-pretty-in-pink situation. And it’s a situation alright.
For reasons unknown, in 1965 the historic Old Bull that was built of and for W.T. Blackwell’s Bull Durham tobacco in 1874, complete with fully functioning bull bellow, made of R.B. Fitzgerald bricks was completely encased in PINK sheet metal.
Pink. Sheet. Metal.
That nonsense was still in place when the building was deemed a historic site in 1974, the building’s 100th year.
The Old Bull is now in its 145-year and the only thing older in the Bull City is Durham’s official status as a city. It’s been lovingly restored by Capitol Broadcasting Company and is now home to both business and residential tenants.
Why the building was covered in pink metal will remain a mystery, just like why a portion of the building was reduced by 2 stories. How the heck do you just remove the top half of a building, let alone a portion of it? File that under ‘Only in Durham.’
Perhaps the only souls who know are the ghosts who are said to roam the halls at night including that of W.T. Blackwell himself.
This Bull City History Bit was made possiBULL by our Community Partner Brian Bonomo.
The Bulls of Durham 1st Edition *Special Reserve
$50.00 - $60.00
Signed, first print copy of "The Bulls of Durham" living history book. Projected book launch is April 10th, 2019, Durham's 150th Anniversary. This purchase includes your book and support for the project.
"The Bulls of Durham" living history book blends Durham's rich history with stories and perspectives of our city's greats that are continuing to build upon that history. And in this way, this is the story of Durham, North Carolina through the bulls' eyes.
Learn how a city that literally started from a tobacco seed in the ashes of the Civil War grew into the best city on earth. Discover how a stolen bull brought about a history shifting, global tobacco empire; and how 150 years later that relates to a British mustard company having beef with Sheila. #NotSorry
Find out the backstory to how the now hippest, foodiest, tech-hub of the South also gave rise to the bullpen, billboards, branding and baseball cards. Delve into our city's strong Black history that proves "Do It Like Durham" isn't a passing trend and will give you a profound sense of reverence walking down Parrish Street.
Best of all, see the common thread that runs through the stories of teachers, politicians, business owners, hip-hop artists, painters, activists, historians, architects and the real Bull City OG's. Hint: it's the BULLief that in Durham anything is possiBULL.
Welcome to Durham the incrediBULL place where grit meets grace. Here all you have to have is a dream and faith the size of a tobacco seed, because well, tobacco seeds build global empires, not mustard seeds.
Project book launch date: April 10, 2019 - Durham's EXACT150th Anniversary.
Cover Art by DeCario Allen.