Lochmoor was most well known as the ‘country estate’ of Edward James Parrish, Durham’s first tobacco auctioneer, and builder of the first brick warehouse in Durham.


(Lochmoor, date unknown, likely ~1920. Scanned from an Eno River Association Calendar – I’d love to track down the original photo to scan if anyone can help.)

Lochmoor was most well known as the ‘country estate’ of Edward James Parrish, Durham’s first tobacco auctioneer, and builder of the first brick warehouse in Durham.
Lochmoor’s origins are a bit confusing, as the historic inventory seems to state that Lochmoor was both EJ Parrish’s “original homeplace”, and that the main structure dated from ~1850, when EJ Parrish was 4. Jean Anderson states that Lochmoor had been part of the Horton estate when it was acquired by the Lockharts (John Lockhart was married to EJ Parrish’s sister) in 1870.

Parrish was born in 1846, near Pound Hill post office and moved “from Orange County” (the county that Durham was in at the time) to Durham in January 1871 to open a grocery and confectionery. It appears that his initial business was not that successful, and he became an auctioneer in the Reams Warehouse – the first tobacco warehouse in Durham, which stood on the current American Tobacco property, approximately where the Hill Warehouse is located. Parrish He left Reams in 1873 to establish his own warehouse with JE Lyon, called the Farmer’s Warehouse; however, his business succumbed to the Panic of 1873. Parrish leased back the old Reams warehouse in 1876, the same year, he built a beautiful Second Empire structure at the northeast corner of East Main St. and N. Dillard St.

‘Captain’ Parrish (so titled for his position in the Durham Light Infantry) also built his own auction warehouse in 1879 – the first brick warehouse in Durham in what is now the 100 block of East Parrish Street; obviously the street was named after him. It was the first warehouse to feature skylights to provide a better view of the tobacco leaves to prospective buyers.

In September, 1886, Colonel Parrish bought the Z. I. Lyon Company’s factory, which manufactured “Pride of Durham” tobacco.

In October, 1886, a fire stared downtown, which consumed a substantive portion of the town, including Parrish’s warehouse, destroying that together with his steam plant and buildings on the other side of the street – a total loss of $140,000. Parrish subsequently built a new, larger warehouse on the north side of the street and built an office building named, appropriately,the Parrish Building on the site of the original warehouse.

Parrish lived in the house at East Main and N. Dillard until 1898 (when he sold the house to Richard H. Wright.) Having lost a great deal of money in the depressions of 1893 and 1898, he was ‘rescued’ from his debts by the Dukes. He became a representative for the American Tobacco company he traveled to Japan to open new markets. Upon his return, in 1904, he originally intended to build a new house just to the east of the courthouse. However, he instead bought the farm that had belonged to his brother-in-law, John Lockhart and, later, the extended family of another sister – the Moores. He called his estate Lochmoor to honor his sisters.

Parrish expanded the original 1850s farmhouse with multiple additions, adding a two-story classical portico and multiple open and closed porches. He developed the farm with shrubs, flowers, fruit trees, beehives, livestock, and domestic animals. He lavished a great deal upon the farmstead – the best that his money could buy.

In 1909 and 1911 , Parrish built an arcade of shops and a hotel adjacent to the courthouse. The venture was not very successful, yielding to the more well-appointed and large Hotel Malbourne across the street, but the subsequent owner renamed the hotel the “Hotel Lochmoor” in honor of Parrish.

Lochmoor, late 1910s.
(Durham Architectural and Historic Inventory)

Lochmoor, late 1910s.
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection)

Parrish died in 1920 and is buried in Maplewood Cemetery. Lochmoor was auctioned off as several smaller farms in 1922. Below, the auction flier, provided by Dave Piatt

It was bought by William M. Piatt, an engineer originally from Tunkhannock, PA who had started an engineering firm in Winston-Salem before coming to Durham in 1910. When the city of Durham decided to shift its water supply from the Eno River to the Flat River, Piatt’s firm executed the design of the Lake Michie dam. In 1922, Piatt, his wife, and their children moved to Lochmoor. Piatt also was the engineer for the primary Durham waterworks at Hillsborough and Hillandale Roads, as well as multiple sewerage plants in Durham.

The down payment on such a home? Ten dollars, with a grand sum of $25,000 due.


First payment receipt.
(Courtesy Dave Piatt)

Lochmoor, likely 1950s
(Courtesy Dave Piatt)

Lochmoor, 1950s-1960s
(Courtesy Dave Piatt)

Lochmoor water tower, 1950s
(Courtesy Dave Piatt)

The water tower on the property was covered by wisteria, and at one time helped service the grapes, a multitude of flowers. and crops that grew around it.


Water Tower, 1950s or earlier
(Courtesy Dave Piatt)


Water Tower with wisteria blooms, 1950s
(Courtesy Dave Piatt)


Tower in background with family, possibly 1920s.
(Courtesy Dave Piatt)


Looking north east from Roxboro Rd, possibly 1950s.
(Courtesy Dave Piatt)

Lochmoor in snow, 1950s-1960s.
(Courtesy Dave Piatt)

After his death in ~1961 and his wife’s death several years later, the house passed through a number of owners. The property appears to have been subdivided during the 1950s-1960s to build housing, including Argonne Hills.

By the 1970s, the house had gained a reputation as a party house inhabited by various wildly-inclined young people; it was dubbed ‘The Plant(ation).’ Per David Southern

“The place was famous for its Chili Wars, and when the NC Folk Life Festival was staged at the nearby West Point on Eno Park, the denizens of the Plant countered with their own Forklift Festival.”

The house was still standing in 1980.

Lochmoor, 1979-1980
(Durham Architectural and Historic Inventory)

Water Tower, 1979-1980.
(Durham Architectural and Historic Inventory)

The house and surrounding buildings were torn down in 1985 by the City of Durham (by NIS’s predecessor.)

The northern extent of the property was developed as JFK towers, a senior housing development, but the site of Lochmoor has never been developed. You can see the old entrance to the driveway on your right as you head north on Roxboro Road, across from Argonne Hills.

The stone entry from Roxboro Road, 10.26.08 (Gary Kueber)

Looking up the former driveway, 10.26.08. (Gary Kueber)

(Gary Kueber)

I believe this was the site of the house, although it is very overgrown, and it was hard to tell. I should really go back now that it’s winter. Below is the only evidence of one-time habitation I could find – a foundation. Given its position and size, it might have belonged to the water tower.

10.26.08 (Gary Kueber)

As of the early 2010s, this property has been for sale for many years. In 2016, it was reported in the Triangle Business Journal that a Wal-Mart-anchor developer would seek rezoning to develop this property:

A South Carolina retail developer’s plan to build a 20-acre, grocery-anchored retail center on North Roxboro Street in Durham is on the agenda for discussion at the next Durham planning commission meeting on June 14, [2016].

WRS Inc. of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, is seeking permission to build up to 54,113 square feet of retail, including a 41,117-square-foot anchor grocery store, according to site plans filed with the city. The property is at the intersection of North Roxboro Street and Argonne Drive.

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