Program Report: David Beischer – Croasdaile

GeorgeB2Boy, you know you’re getting old when you find yourself listening to presentations about the history of something and you knew some of the people involved.

Rob Everett introduced David Beischer, the genial 4th generation developer of the upscale Croasdaile neighborhood just north of I-85 and Hillsborough Road. Mr. Beischer brought with him a slide show of pictures, plats and maps illustrating the history of the development.

Croasdaile was originally a dairy farm owned by John Sprunt Hill who was not only a benefactor to UNC but also the founder of Central Carolina Bank. When I came to Durham in 1984, his son George Watts Hill was still the Chairman of the Bank. He was active primarily with locating and building branches. As the marketing director, I got to ride along with him as he scouted locations in his old black Cadillac. I’m not a good passenger anyway, but this duty provided some of the most terrifying moments of my life as we rumbled along with only occasional attention to other traffic. Ron Perkins who now works with Seth Jernigan at Real Estate Associates was often cowering in the back seat while I was in the front gripping the dashboard. Mr. Hill’s sister, Frances Fox, the original developer of Croasdaile and David’s grandmother, was also on the bank board at the time along with his brother-in-law Peter DeBose. Many of the bank events where held at Croasdaile Country Club, not surprisingly.

Two things struck me about this presentation that I thought were as revealing as the presentation itself. The first was the fact that sometimes we forget that Durham was a pretty decent place to live even before Bill Kalkhof and Reyn Bowman got the revitalization of Downtown in gear and dragged the town’s image into reality. While David was discussing the next phase of the development he joked about how this was possible because things like DPAC had made it more difficult for Raleigh real estate agents to grab the physicians and faculty coming to Duke and steer them away from Durham. We can laugh about it now but it was a real problem just a few years ago. I recognized this as a local real estate agent myself and began a blog on Durham luxury real estate in an attempt to both promote Durham and break into that market. I was not successful at the latter and stopped posting a couple of years ago when the upscale market here died altogether with the recession. But there is still a pretty good recap of the history of Croasdaile that I wrote for the site with many of the details that David shared at this link: http://durhamluxre.com/search-luxury-neighborhoods/croasdaile/

The second impression came unsolicited from the audience in the form of an endorsement for the quality of life in Croasdaile from Ellen Reckhow, a long time resident and a request from Hutch Johnson for David to talk some about the Fox Family Foundation, which David now manages as well as the development company. Sherry DeVries chimed in with gratitude for their support of the Arts Council. Somewhat sheepishly, David shared that 80% of the Foundation’s grants, which he said were purposefully not focused, go to Durham institutions. All this underscores in a different way the impact his family continues to have on Durham.

My most memorable Croasdaile moment had nothing to do with real estate, David’s family, CCB or the Croasdaile Country Club. Back during my public relations career, an associate, who had been invited, dragged me along to the 70th birthday party of Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder at his home in Croasdaile. My associate told me later that Jimmy had cornered him and asked him who the hell I was and what the hell I was doing there. I don’t know what kind of story he told about me but both Jimmy and his family were as cordial as they could be and, I’ve got to tell you, they sure knew how to throw a party.

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