Mount Merrill “Wanderland” children’s play area design to be unveiled October 19

Creative minds have been at work designing phase one of ‘Wanderland” at Durham Central Park, an interactive children’s play area on the east side of Foster Street. Named Mount Merrill, it is a one of a kind, fabulous addition to downtown Durham.

Volunteers with the Durham Central Park design committee have spent the past year brain storming and working with the DCP master plan.  Proudly, with funds donated to DCP and the Durham Exchange Club, in memory of the late Merrill Davis, they turned the next stage of work over to landscape designer, Katherine Gill of  Tributary Land Design + Build. With the Durham City Manager’s blessings, surveys have been completed, and conceptual drawings have been prepared. The Durham Central Park Board of Directors, along with the Durham Exchange Club, invite you to an informal-formal unveiling of the design and a kick off the fundraising campaign that will enable its construction.

When: Saturday, October 19, 10-11 am
Where: Durham Central Park (East side of Foster Street)

2013 Meals from the Market Tickets Still Available!

Last weekend kicked off the Meals from the Market season with A (delicious) Mediterranean Feast… but don’t worry if you missed it, there are still several upcoming meals with tickets available.

Purchase tickets here!

Coming up this weekend (on Saturday September 21st) is the Meal with a View from the Kress.  This is Amanda’s fifth year to host a meal for DCP in her third floor terrace apartment in the historic Kress Building.  She has an open kitchen/ sitting area which steps out onto a corner terrace that looks east toward the courthouse and south toward DPAC.  The location is thrilling enough, but with a glass of wine and and a delicious meal, it’s truly special.

While many of our meals have sold out, there are tickets available for a remaining few.  This is a great opportunity to eat delicious food, and support your favorite park.

Space is still available for the Ole School Line Dance and Dine Afternoon (Sunday 9/29), Trucks from the Market! (9/29), Local Vocal (10/4), Gourmet and Gluten Free (10/5), Dancing & Deliciousness with ADF and Hummingbird Cafe (10/12), A Lucky 13 Afternoon at Cassilhaus (10/13), Yummy North Street Neighborhood (10/13), Bridge Bicycle Brunch (10/20), Jimmy Alexander Pig Pickin in the Park (10/26).

You can read more about each of these unique (and tasty!) events, and purchase tickets on our Meals from the Market 2013 page. Tickets for the remaining events range from $20 – $100.  Every penny raised helps to support Durham’s vibrant and versatile Central Park.  We hope to share a meal with you!

Meals from the Market 2013 Tickets on Sale Now!

Nineteen generous hosts invite you into their homes and businesses to enjoy farm-fresh food and raise money for DCP. Join the fun and support the Park by purchasing tickets for one—or several!—of our meals held between August 27th and October 26th. Take a look—there are meals for everyone.

Many meals sell out quickly, so make your selections early!

Reservations can be made online or by mailing a reservation check to:

Durham Central Park
PO Box 1526
Durham, NC 27702

Thanks again for supporting the non-profit that is developing and maintaining Durham Central Park!

We’re on the Bull City Bucket List!

The Bull City Bucket List Contest is a fun way to explore Durham and earn rewards. The more you experience, the greater the rewards.

The process is simple:

  1. Signup at
  2. Complete a Bucket List Item
  3. Upload a picture of your Experience to Twitter or Instragram, hashtag #BCBucketList
  4. Get rewards!

Bucket List Items at DCP include attending major events—like our acclaimed Food Truck Rodeo (Sept. 1st) or our free Warehouse Blues Concert Series (July 26 & August 2)—and visiting the Durham Farmers’ Market (every saturday morning).

Get out there and experience Durham!


Warehouse Blues Concert Series Continues

Last week local band Jo Gore & The Alternative kicked off the 2013 Warehouse Blues concert series; four Fridays of free live music in Durham Central Park.

Tonight, Friday July 19th, the series continues with the Mudbones Blues Review.  There will be food trucks and sweets, as well as beer from Bull City Burger & Brew.

Friday July 26th features Bullfrog Willard McGhee, and the series concludes with Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos on Friday August 2.

All concerts are from 5:30 to 7:30PM at the Pavilion in Durham Central Park.  Bring a chair or a blanket to come enjoy some of the best music Durham has to offer, and it’s totally free!  Dancing is also encouraged!

More information can be found on our Upcoming Events: Warehouse Blues page.

The series is sponsored by the Durham Arts Council’s Annual Arts Fund and the N.C. Arts Council, a division of Cultural Resources.


A Beautiful Night in the Park

It’s the longest day of the year… and what better way to celebrate than with a double feature after dark in Durham Central Park?

Tonight at 9PM, Durham Cinematheque presents “Durham on Film: Bull City is Black! and White” featuring vintage Durham films shot between 1936 and 1942.  Admission is free.  The event is sponsored by Vaguely Reminiscent.

There’s also a celestial “Super Moon” and skies are supposed to be clear.  The weather forecast for this evening is cool after dark.  So, bring a blanket and a folding chair, lie back and enjoy the show!


Durham County Library Celebrates Durham Central Park

In their continuing series, Bullish on Durham, Durham County Library is hosting a discussion panel about the history and impact of our wonderful park. Moderated by our own Dan Jewell, the panel will feature our illustrious co-founders Allen Wilcox and Curt Eshelman who saw a barren patch of land and envisioned the vibrant community space we are today.

We’re honored by the event and hope you can make it out to join in the discussion.

Event Details

Saturday, June 8, 3pm
Main Library, 300 N. Roxboro Street

Free and open to the public


Community Building at DCP

This time of year is beautiful at Durham Central Park.  The grass is green, the sunlight is special and the gardens are full of vibrant color.  The landscaping hasn’t always been this beautiful  but now it is more  the norm because of several individuals, businesses and organizations who have ‘adopted’ specific areas in the park as well as the monthly volunteer days that happen throughout the year.

Each DCP area adoption is different and has its own story.  What we informally call the ‘Prudential Garden’ is a great example of how things happen around  the Park.  It started as a way to commemorate the loss of a friend and has become a showcase garden as well as an ongoing teambuilding project for a community minded business.


Park Story: Whisenton Benches

A Bench with some History Behind it! When you take a walk around the five acres in downtown Durham that is Durham Central Park, you will notice a number of benches made by various local artists. Each bench has a story behind it…most times in memory of someone special. On the walkway on the hill above Roney Street, sits a wonderful set of two benches created by local artist, Joe Galas. Here’s the story In 2010, Joe Galas installed the set of benches in memory of two very special sisters, Margret Yvonne Whisenton and Lydia Lavinia Parker as well as their ancestors. The two benches were commissioned by Margret’s sons, Carl and Kenneth Whisenton and Carl’s wife, Vera. This area of the park was previously owned by the Margret Whisenton and Mrs. Parker, until it was sold to the city of Durham in 1998. These sisters were longtime devoted public servants: Margret, a librarian for Durham Public Library, and Lydia, a teacher in the Durham Public School System. They both loved Durham and were avid community volunteers: Margret edited the Negro Braille Magazine for many years after retirement and Lydia volunteered at the Duke Eye Center and was an accomplished musician who played the piano and organ for White Rock Baptist Church here in Durham.

This land came into the family when it was purchased by Capt. William Peyton Smith, great-grandfather of Carl and Ken, in 1923. Capt. Smith was President of Smith Realty, a company that owned many properties, including multiple pieces in what is now downtown Durham. Research reveals that Peyton was also a very multifaceted gentleman and businessman. During the Spanish-American War in 1898, he served as a Captain with Company H, Officers of the Third North Carolina U. S. Volunteer Infantry in the war, which was described as “the first Negro Regiment ever organized and entirely officered by Colored men.”

After the war, Peyton Smith returned to Durham and acquired his own local businesses and ventured into various phases of retail selling –a grocery store, Smith’s Hotel and a beauty salon. He also started the Real Estate Mercantile and Manufacturing Co., which operated a merchandise store and tobacco factory that produced “New Durham” and “The 1900’s”, two brands of tobacco. As the Captain of the Black Hook and Ladder Co. in Durham, Mr. Peyton was said to have “performed the more daring and dangerous fire maneuvers”. A master brick mason, it is quoted by Booker T. Washington in his book Durham: A City of Negro Enterprises published in 1911, “ I found that Peyton Smith, a general contractor, had put up some of the largest buildings in the city.” Peyton Smith was a man of many talents! As active members of the Durham downtown community, Carl and Vera Whisenton continue in the tradition of their ancestors. They volunteer at the Carolina Theatre, co-chairing a committee to establish an exhibit to commemorate the integration of the theatre 50 years ago in 1963. Vera has served on the board of the Durham Central Park, Inc., since 2010. Durham is a better place because of the Whisenton family!