Goodbye Colclough, Hello Bryan

If you enjoy researching family history, we think you’ll love this story.

This week, we’re applying for the Preservation Durham Historic Plaque for our house on Mangum Street. To qualify, we need to submit a very detailed application including the book and page numbers of the deeds for every owner along with specific information about those owners.

When we purchased the property, we named it the Colclough House because our quick internet search led us to the Durham Open web site that stated that William Colclough moved here in 1911. The Durham County tax website shows that the house was built in 1910.

After hours and hours of research, we determined that in 1900 the property of 833 N. Mangum was part of 831 N. Mangum. We believe that there were two structures on this land including a house on the 831 portion and grocery on the 833 portion. William Colclough definitely ran the grocery, but he did not live here.

In 1916, Byrd sold half the lot (which is now 833) to his business partner and brother-in-law Kenneth U. Bryan. The 1917 Durham Directory is the first record of 833 as a home.


We believe that the homes at 831 and 833 N. Mangum Street were built in 1916 or 1917 by the Byrds and Bryans respectively. The Bryan family lived here for 22 years.

We also believe that what is our new kitchen now may have been the original grocery. That area of the house was definitely built differently with no plaster and different materials. If you inspect the crawl space, you see a distinct joist division between the two structures.

Byrd and Bryan were business partners in the retail industry for many years. They started what is now Stone Bros and Byrd, a landscape company currently at the corner of Washington and Geer.

In 1931, Bryan joined the funeral-home business at Howerton-Bryan on Main Street.

Lastly, in 1939, a man by the name of Colton Wells and his family moved into the house. He lived here for 33 years! He was a building contractor that worked on dozens of Durham’s homes. We found his expense ledger with detailed notes including street names, property owners’ last names, suppliers, and his building costs. Check it out!


We cannot wait for you to see the restored Bryan House ca. 1917.


Opening a Can of Worms

Back before we used plastic, bait shops sold worms in metal cans. Leaving the lid open could create a big problem, letting those wiggling worms escape. We use this metaphor when we try to solve a problem but worry that the solution may create an even bigger one.

As we looked at the ugly peak above the front porch of our house, we decided it needed a makeover. We ordered naturally-stained, cedar shingles to add beauty and texture. To do this right, we knew we needed to remove the deteriorating plywood panels. Our fear was that we were opening a can of worms…we had no idea what other repairs we’d find behind those panels.


Luckily, we were pleasantly surprised! We uncovered original details, with no problems to correct.


It’s hard to see at this angle, but this peak features beautiful wood detail. And, it’s sloped correctly to avoid water accumulation. No need to add shingles. And, no worms!!