TBJ: Ninth Street North plans on the move
Fayetteville St. corridor streetscape concepts revealed

Downtown Durham to get The Pinhook bar, music joint

I may just be the last person in the Bull City to have heard about this -- given that the Carpe Durham ran this story a week ago, and I'm just getting 'round to visiting all the other sites in town after a hell of a week at the day job -- but it appears there's a new bar and music venue in the works for downtown Durham.

Carpe Durham reports the arrival of The Pinhook, a new bar within the Loop downtown along Main St. (It's a great name for a Bull City bar, given that Pinhook was the name of a chunk of today's Old West Durham with a rep for being a place of, er, good spirits and fast living.)

The Pinhook will reportedly feature a stage for live music acts with a focus on the local, not to mention a full bar and purportedly wide selection of beers. As the construction blog for The Pinhook notes, the non-smoking venue will feature some vintage arcade games, some hard-won at a Triad-area auction.

From the pictures posted to the Pinhook blog, it kind of looks like one of the storefronts between Toast and Ringside over on W. Main will be located at 117 W. Main St., next to the MarVell Event Center, in a retail storefront space owned by Greenfire. Thanks to the several folks who noted this in the comments and via email. (We'd heard a report a couple of months back that the Tackle Design shop over on E. Main by the courthouse might be turning into a nightspot, too, though the good folks at Tackle haven't gotten back to me on that one.) Grand opening looks to be 60 days or so away.


John Schelp

Before there was Durham, there was Pin Hook.

Pin Hook began as a tiny settlement that served as a traveler's rest before the railroad town of Durham was established in the early 1850s. Pin Hookers were folks who bought tobacco leaf that went unsold at auction, repackaged the product, and sold it for a tiny profit. Jean Anderson provides wonderful accounts of Pin Hook in her outstanding book on Durham history... In the early days, the shiftless of society, usually addicted to vices of one sort or another, tended to congregate in Pin Hook, attracting others of their kind.

The settlement included a lodging house, camping grove, brothels, grog shops, and a well for drinking water for passing travelers. In spite of the dirt and noise caused by the railroad that ran through Pin Hook, people gradually settled near the Hillsborough Road with its easy access to Durham.

A story in the Hillsborough newspaper in 1871 described the early character of the neighborhood. "There is a place called Pin Hook... and it is remarkable for a race that was run there many years ago by a man and a woman. They wore no clothes and ran for a quart of liquor."

Because of Pin Hook's harsh reputation, Meredith College decided not to locate in the area. And, Trinity College almost decided to go elsewhere. It was not until the early 1890s, and the building of the Erwin Cotton Mills that Pin Hook would transform itself into the mill village of West Durham.

Throughout the 19th century, much of the area around Pin Hook was farmland. According to the Herald-Sun, the Rigsbee family farm stretched 600 acres -- including the Ninth Street area. For one hundred years, the Rigsbees raised tobacco, corn, and sweet potatoes on the hills south of Old West Durham. They kept their pigs down in a ravine. In 1892, the Rigsbees sold a northern section of their land for the construction of Erwin Mills. 33 years later, they sold their holdings for a new university. That land is now called Duke's West Campus. And the ravine where the pigs were kept is now called Wallace Wade Stadium.

Old photograph & more history... http://www.owdna.org/History/history20.htm


Definitely needed a place like this in the city.

Ross Grady

Now that they've posted an exterior photo on their blog, it's possible to confirm that the address is 117 W. Main St, immediately adjacent to the Marvell Event Center: http://thepinhook.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/2x4s-arent-sexist-so-why-are-you/img_55341/

Suddenly that 10th of a block of downtown Durham has the highest density of clubs in town ;-)


It't good to finally see a critical mass (I use that term too much) of bars and nightclubs in downtown Durham. We may actually find a reason to do an official "Apollo 10 Pub Crawl" in Durham, instead of having to go all the way to Glenwood South.


It is a great spot with good turnout. Seems like Durham has some pent up demand for places like this.

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