Composite image from screen captures of panning shot from H. Lee Waters film, 17 Oct 1939. (State Archives of North Carolina.)
Sanborn Map, 1943
The West End Graded School was built in 1938, as a replacement for the West Hillsborough School that had stood on Bellvue Avenue. It was built on the site of Cadwallader Jones's "Old Homeplace" noted on the subdivision map for West Hill - an older house that predated the neighborhood, and contributed the land for the formation of the neighborhood. The site is the peak of the 'West Hill' with an elevation of 605 feet.
Aerial view, 1955
The school consisted of a front hipped-roof block, apparently with dormer windows. Gabled wings extended north from the east and west sides of the buildings.
The school was decomissioned in the late 1960s, perhaps as part of changes to schools with integration. In 1970, the school lot and building were purchased by Everett Kennedy for $325,000 and converted into 17 apartments, which he called the "Kenwood Apartments."
On February 20, 1988. The apartments/former school burned - two young boys (brothers aged 3 and 4) and a man were killed in the fire. The fire "burned through the building in 20 minutes" per the fire chief. Only the very tips of the U-shaped structure were salvageable, as they had been built later and were separated from the rest of the structure by fire walls.
School after the fire, Durham Morning Herald 02.21.1988
The remnants of the school were demolished, leaving only the three apartments in the 'tips' on a large parcel of land. Along with the remaining stone perimeter wall and stairs, the impression is of a somewhat bizarre set of structural elements if one is unaware of the origin story.
02.13.16 (G. Kueber)
As of August 2016, the land was owned by Jim Mathewson. A notice was sent to people within 500 feet of the property for a neighborhood meeting in advance of a proposed rezoning for "single and multifamily project" in early August, termed "Bellevue Place." Although I support redevelopment of this land, this prominent location in the neighborhood deserves a high-quality project - and I don't know if Jim Mathewson will deliver that.
The rezoning of this property failed, and as of 2020, Mathewson is still trying to sell the land to a developer to redevelop the property.