Saturday, March 08, 2008

Belk Leggett, downtown Durham, North Carolina. Exterior, circa 1965 (courtesy Pat Richardson)

Belk Leggett, downtown Durham, North Carolina. Side street exterior, circa 1955 (top) and circa 1965 (bottom) (courtesy Pat Richardson)


  1. I might be biased, but I love the color pictures from the 1960's--mainly because they are in color. B&W pictures seem to be fairly common, but color pictures before the '70's seem to be in short supply.

    I was surprised to see Leggett on the Durham store--for some reason I always thought the Leggett stores were mainly in Virginia.

  2. I think this store is an example of one of the downtown Belk stores where Belk kept absorbing surrounding parcels--which would explain in the first picture the (wonderful) repetition of the Belk name along the storefronts down the block.

  3. It is neat to see the early color photos. Color was really revolutionary at the time these photos was taken.

    The Leggetts (cousins to the Belks) first bought into the Belk chain in Danville, Va. in 1920, opening their eponymous store six years later in Lynchburg. I think, in Durham, the Leggetts were brought in to shore up a flagging operation in the '30s.

    They were quite successful, and the Belk Leggett Co. became Durham's biggest store, expanding into several adjoining buildings. This store closed in 1975, when Belk Leggett moved to South Square Mall.

    At some point, the Durham (and Chapel Hill) Belk Leggett stores became part of the Hudson Belk store group, and the stores were renamed Hudson Belk when the Leggett family sold out in 1997.

  4. The store in the first photo with the repeated signs is too cool. I've seen some older pictures of Belk stores where the sign read "Belk-Lindsey" or some other name, as the with Leggett in this case. Did Belk operate on a joint venture basis with these stores?

  5. Belk was a joint-venture system for many years. The fastest and easiest way for them to grow back then was to partner with a local entrepreneur.

    Each store was its own corporation, and depending on the partner and location, the stores could vary widely, though all carried the Belk private label products and accepted Belk charge cards.

    As time went on, the various stores merged into regional operating groups and Belk began placing more uniform standards on growth and merchandise selection.

    Many Belk stores dropped their hyphenated names in the '60s and '70s with the move to malls, though many of them maintained them until Belk consolidated its corporate structure in 1998.