This former cotton warehouse in Estill was built in 1910, five years after the railroad town was incorporated. Land for the building was purchased in 1909 by the Estill Warehouse Company; the following year this 200-by-60-foot brick building was housing cotton awaiting transport along the Seaboard Air Lines Railroad. In 1929 the building, which by then was heavily mortgaged, was bought by C.L. Peeples, Sr., who had owned an interest in the warehouse company. Following Peeples’ death in 1939, the building changed hands several times. During the 1980s and early 1990s, it was owned by the Southern Soya Company, a soybean oil manufacturing facility. Andrew Harper, whose family had owned the warehouse prior to Southern Soya, once again came into ownership of the building and deeded it to the Town of Estill in 1994.
The building sat vacant for the first 11 years of the town’s ownership. Finally in 2005 the town began to restore the former warehouse. The Live Exhibit Hall and the Palmetto Reception Hall are two spaces within the warehouse used for conventions, weddings, and other gatherings. The venue was named the Bull Durham Center due to the Bull Durham Tobacco advertisement painted along one side of the building.
Another ad, seen above, promotes the Estill Bottling Company as well as Ceylona, a popular carbonated drink once bottled by the local plant. In the early twentieth century, many companies would pay to advertise on the sides of prominent buildings such as barns and warehouses. The lettering on the sides of the Bull Durham Center harks to such a time. Ironically, the Town of Estill became a tobacco-free municipality in 2013; while alcohol is permitted within the Bull Durham Center during special events, smoking is strictly prohibited.
Reflections on the Bull Durham Center
Contributor Danny Lucas shares: “The Estill Warehouse was built in 1910 by the Estill Warehouse Company as a cotton warehouse. It operated as cotton warehouse for many years. Unsure as to the date that it ceased to be a cotton warehouse. It was sold to Sumter Grain in 1982; later it became the property of Andrew B. Harper. It was deeded to the Town of Estill on September 28, 1994. The building lay dormant between 1994 and 2005. In the year 2009, the Town of Estill rededicated the building as an adaptive reuse and renamed it “The Bull Durham Center.” The Bull Durham Tobacco Company advertised its tobacco products on the building for many years; believed to have begun in the 1920s. The building was never used to store tobacco but was constructed and used only as a cotton warehouse. The Town of Estill uses the building for exhibition, retreats, wedding receptions, private and other public uses.”