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21c Museum Hotel Durham by MGallery

History: 
    21c Museum Hotel Durham by MGallery
 in Durham

History

The origins of the 21c Museum Hotel Durham dates back to North Carolina’s historical tobacco industry. While tobacco had long since ceased being a profitable cash crop in most of the American South by early 1900s, it had remained a lucrative business throughout much of North Carolina. Many of the state’s small, rustic communities began evolving into bustling commercial centers, with countless tobacco factories quickly dotting the landscape. The City of Durham perhaps benefited the most from this minor industrial revolution. As tobacco manufacturing flourished within the city, so too did a number of other industries that emerged in support of the trade. Durham in particular established a powerful banking sector, in which the affluent Durham Bank & Trust Company became the main lender for local real estate and insurance transactions.

Led by local philanthropist, John Sprunt Hill, the Durham Bank & Trust Company had become one of the region’s most powerful financial institution’s by the 1930s. Hill desired to construct a new building for the Durham Bank & Trust Company that could reflect its growing prestige. In 1935, he hired the illustrious New York-based firm, Shreve, Lamb, & Harmon, to oversee its development. Taking nearly two years to complete, the engineers modeled the edifice in the fabulous Art Deco style that was popular among New York City architects at the time. When the towering, 17-story skyscraper debuted in 1937 as the “Hill Building,” it stood as architectural masterpiece in the heart of Durham. The Durham Bank & Trust Company—as well as its successor, the Central Carolina Bank—would operate from its grand building along Corcoran Street for the next several decades.

Also known as the CCB Building, the skyscraper symbolized the city’s economic prowess well into the late twentieth century. The bank fell on hard times in the mid-2000s though. During this time, it merged together with SunTrust Bank to avoid bankruptcy. SunTrust would later sell the building to the aspirant Greenfire Development team in 2006, who dreamed of transforming the structure into a luxury hotel. Plans to renovate the space languished for more than eight years. It took the intervention of 21c Museum Hotels to save the project. Investing millions into the building’s rehabilitation, 21c Museum Hotels successfully rebuilt the bank into one of its luxurious venues. Every space inside this historical location has been reimagined to resemble a lovely boutique hotel, its vaults and offices morphed into lounges and guestrooms.

21c Museum Hotel Durham by MGallery, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2019, dates back to 1937.


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