The Pinhook: A new “roaring old place” coming to downtown!

We have a while to wait (I’ve heard November 1 as the optimistic opening date) but it will be completely worth it: a new bar is in the works for downtown Durham.  It’s to be in the middle of the Downtown Loop, on Main St., a couple blocks east of Bull McCabe’s.  Here are some of the most awesome things I know about it so far:

  • The name: “The Pinhook” was once an area of Old West Durham (read about it here and here and here) that has been described with some pretty great phrases: “roaring old place,” “den of iniquity,” “grog shops,” “places of ill-repute,” and “rather shady reputation,” are some of my favorites.  Um, that makes this kind of the best name for a Durham bar ever, yeah?
  • Games: Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, and, seriously, a Roller Derby pinball machine.
  • Music: There’s a stage that’ll feature local bands.  Apparently the space is approximately the size of Local 506 in Chapel Hill.
  • Drinks: Not sure about the specific beers but I’ve heard some good options bandied about, and one of the owners was the wine/beer buyer at Parker & Otis so we should be set in that department.  Full bar (liquor too).

Are you now wondering, like I am, how you are going to make it the next 2 months without this place?  It’ll be rough.  In the meantime, check out their progress on The Pinhook’s Weblog.

Published in: on August 31, 2008 at 2:32 pm  Comments (4)  


  1. Before Durham, there was Pin Hook.

    Pin Hook began as a tiny settlement that served as a traveler’s rest before the railroad town of Durham was established in the early 1850s. It was located 100 yards southwest of the southwest corner of Erwin Mill No 1 (long, two-story brick building on Ninth Street).

    Pin Hookers were folks who bought tobacco leaf that went unsold at auction, repackaged the product, and sold it for a tiny profit.

    Jean Anderson provides wonderful accounts of Pin Hook in her outstanding book on Durham history… In the early days, the shiftless of society, usually addicted to vices of one sort or another, tended to congregate in Pin Hook, attracting others of their kind.

    The settlement included a lodging house, camping grove, brothels, grog shops, and a well for drinking water for passing travelers. In spite of the dirt and noise caused by the railroad that ran through Pin Hook, people gradually settled near the Hillsborough Road with its easy access to Durham.

    A story in the Hillsborough newspaper in 1871 described the early character of the neighborhood. “There is a place called Pin Hook… and it is remarkable for a race that was run there many years ago by a man and a woman. They wore no clothes and ran for a quart of liquor.”

    Because of Pin Hook’s harsh reputation, Meredith College decided not to locate in the area. And, Trinity College almost decided to go elsewhere. It was not until the early 1890s, and the building of the Erwin Cotton Mills that Pin Hook would transform itself into the mill village of West Durham.

    John Schelp

  2. This is great news for Durham. The infrastructure of downtown is ready for a massive expansion of retail and entertainment establishments. Between The Pin Hook and (hopefully) Full Steam Brewery, drinking in downtown Durham is looking promising.

  3. Dear lord, we need a new bar…Godspeed to you, noble entrepreneurs!

  4. […] to this post on Carpe Durham, Pinhook is a bar that is coming to downtown Durham in a couple months. It’ll have a stage […]

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