Monday - Thursday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
The Oliver Knowles House stands on a cleared lot adjacent to the Durham Fairgrounds and the Durham Town Hall.
This five-bay residence represents the transition from the Colonial to the Greek-Revival style. Its basic structure, with its ridge pole parallel to the street, is typically
Colonial. Its doorway, however, is Greek Revival in character, containing two four-pane sidelights flanked by pilasters with moulded bases and capitals, surmounted by a top-light transom and a flat – moulded cornice. There is a band of dentiled moulding between the freize and architrave of the cornice. The fenestration is six-over six throughout.
A single-story shed-roofed addition spans the west side of the structure. A garage dating from the twentieth century adjoins this addition.
Shortly after 1790 John Loveland built a house on this lot, which he inhabited until his death in 1837. In that year the Grand List showed a deteriorated structure valued
at $500 standing on the site. In 1838, when Elias B. Meigs began purchasing the shares of the Loveland heirs to the property, no structure is listed as standing there. But in
1839 the Grand List shows a new structure valued at $1,150 on the property. Meigs sold the property to Oliver Knowles in 1840. After passing through several hands the house was sold to William C. Ives, a peddler, in 1853. (He had apparently rented the structure for some years, for he is shown as residing there in the census of 1850, along with his wife Caroline, his 8-year-old daughter Elizabeth, his 65-year-old widowed mother, and 38-year-old shoemaker Russell W. Scranton.) The Ives house was purchased by the Durham Fair Association, along with several other residential properties, during the 1940s. It is presently a rental property.
This house is an interesting example of the vernacularization of the Greek Revival style. Because of its strategic location on the Green, it represents an important visual
anchor to the nineteenth-century atmosphere of the Durham Green.