About our correspondent: Alison Currier loves to experience local culture at home and abroad. Her work as a training professional for an international jewellery company takes her from coast to coast in Canada and the US, where her curiosity drives her to glimpse into hard-to-access interiors.

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The Durham Hotel is one of the reason you should visit North Carolina. If you are passionate about mid century architecture, this place is for you.

Located in the city’s historic downtown district, 2 hours or so from Charlotte, the Durham Hotel is a unique and independently owned property from hotelier Craig Spitzer. I met with Spitzer who kindly gave me the grand tour of his mid century modern establishment and a feel of the region.

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“Most people are surprised to learn that North Carolina has the third largest concentration of Modernist houses in America” said Spitzer, General Manager for The Durham.

Actually, North Carolina State University started a famous School of Design in the early 50’s and became a top-notch modernist faculty. The result? The area is full of mid century constructions that are still protected and celebrated today.

Set within a former bank, the 1969 building was the perfect setting for a luxury hotel with a mid century heritage. And what a building! Really, this place will make you think you died and gone to mid century heaven!

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Originally built as a hotel in 1907, it was once a hospital, a business school and an art deco movie theater before Home Savings and Loans bank bought it in 1966 and built the iconic construction still standing today. With 53 guest rooms, a penthouse, a fantastic roof top bar and a restaurant, L.A based design firm Commune really transformed this iconic 6 stories office building into a luxurious time capsule.

The design firm kept most of the structure intact; the curved mezzanine railing inside, the original gold and white columns outside and the impressive curved tower is still present. With the addition of the hotel signage running vertically in individual letters, a true homage to his previous late sixties glory.

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Spitzer notes that Commune’s firm was chosen for having worked with preserving and upgrading mid century building on the West Coast. Having started in mostly residential work before shifting to restaurants and hotels.‘’They were simply the best choice to create the homely feel we wanted’’ he adds.

The California based team used period approved colors, materials and finishes, mid-century custom made furniture, geometric carpet in the lobby and hand painted tiles in the hotel entrance. All was inspired by the likes of Josef and Anni Albers, Charles Eames, and Albert Frey.

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The Durham’s restaurant offers a classic dining experience while the rooftop bar is already a local favourite spot for drinks and oysters after work or to enjoy a morning yoga class.’’We wanted to create a place that offered a unique, warm and welcoming experience for both guest and locals to enjoy’’ said Spitzer. The hotel has not yet been open a full year and already is an intricate part of the city, local culture and everyday events. This is the essence of a true boutique hotel.

After all, under its cool hipster exterior and retro-chic look, the Durham offers a true classic hotel experience, with old New York standards. One that deserve respect and protection, just like classic American design.

thedurham.com
Prices from 250$

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Alison Currier
Montreal, Toronto & Vancouver Correspondent
Alison Currier is a Montrealer who loves to experience local culture at home and abroad. Her work as a training professional for an international jewellery company takes her from coast to coast, where her curiosity drives her to glimpse into hard-to-access interiors. For Alison, writing for Tower Trip is a happy extension of the desire to infiltrate these spaces and extract their meaning.