When you look online for things to do in Durham, every single website notes the American Tobacco Campus, referred to often as ATC. The tobacco industry was the base of Durham’s economy for a hundred years, ending about the same time as a major decline in cigarette smoking in the United States. The biggest companies had their industrial buildings in a single section of town that was dedicated to tobacco products manufacturing from 1847 to 1987. From Tour Durham‘s website: “Today, American Tobacco has been redeveloped by Capitol Broadcasting Company and is home to more than a million square feet of residences, offices, a movie theater, a gallery (where you can see the original coal-fired boilers!), and the Durham Bulls athletic park.”
ATC is not the bustling hive of activity they want you to believe, but it’s still pretty neat. I visited there on three different days and it’s quiet during the day, especially weekdays. It does get busier in the evening. This lack of daytime activity could be due to August weather. There are a couple of shops and a couple of restaurants, including the Mellow Mushroom, the amazingly delicious pizza place we ate at the night we arrived.
There are multiple entry points, and once you’re on the campus, it’s a long rectangle bound by old manufacturing buildings, with a central courtyard area that is very inviting from end to end. The lawns are beautiful and there are multiple places with seats and trees and umbrellas for shade. There are also a few public art pieces to enjoy.
One fun thing in the ATC is the headquarters of Burt’s Bees, Inc. I did not know it was here before I visited, and that was a fun discovery. I have been using their products for years, and enjoyed the beautiful headquarters building with the exceptional mural on the side. I also got a kick out of Burt’s old home (he died in 2015), which was converted from a turkey coop when he lived in Maine.
One thing I especially enjoyed about the ATC is that there is a water feature running through the middle. My guess is that the water played a role in the industry in the early days, and that’s why it’s there. Today the canal contains a couple of lovely man-made waterfalls that you can hear while walking through or sitting at one of the pleasant seats placed helpfully throughout.
Across Blackwell Street, west of the campus is the Durham Bulls athletic park. The front entrance is beautiful, and I included a night photo of it in an earlier post. On my last day in town, I went to the other side to see if I could get a look at the playing field. I arrived to find the gates wide open. I walked right in and took photos.
After I was done taking photos, I walked back out, and found a spot in the shade to sit and decide where to go next. Within minutes the gate was locked. I had somehow magically timed my entrance.
In this post my original plan was to include a bunch of photos to show random scenes around Durham that would illustrate more reasons to like the city. However, this post is already long enough. I’ll talk more about Durham later.
Our trip to North Carolina was over on August 7 and I can hardly believe there was so much to post about from that trip. And those posts have lasted so long that there are new things I want to post about. Since then, I’ve attended a Cherokee Chief’s event here in Oregon that I want to show some photos for. AND for the second year, the Belle Brigade is gearing up for our two-day relay race in the Portland-to-Coast event this weekend! Pedro is working again as a volunteer. So who knows what will get posted next. I hope you enjoyed this one and I hope you are enjoying the season. I’ll catch up with you soon. ❤