309 Elba Street (633 Viola Street).

The eleventh in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1930; 2 stories; gable front house; two bay, side-hall plan; bungalow type porch and detail.”

Though the address is listed in the nomination as 633 Viola Street, that seems to be incorrect. In the 1930 Sanborn insurance map of Wilson, the house is numbered 629 Viola. (There is no 633 on the map.) Neither the 1930 nor 1940 censuses show any household numbered 633 (or even 629) Viola. Modern searches attach the address 309 Viola to this house.

In the 1930 Hill’s city directory, veterinarian Elijah L. Reid, his wife Ietta and daughter Odessa are listed at 309 Elba, located on the north side of the intersection of Elba and Viola. In the 1930 census: at 309 Elba, doctor of veterinary surgery Eliria L. Reed, 67; daughter Odessa B. Spicer, 28, a beauty parlor operator; and wife Ietta Reid, 57. The house was valued at $5000.

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From 1930 Sanborn insurance map of Wilson, N.C.

After Louisa Kersey Johnson died 15 January 1934, her daughter Gertrude Jones of 309 Elba Street provided information for her death certificate.

In the 1950s and ’60s, the house was inhabited by the family of Ernest and Myrtie Clifton Haskins, as shown in this excerpt from the 1959 edition of Hills’ Wilson, N.C., city directory.

Though the house has entrances on both Viola and Elba Streets, the larger porch faces Elba. (See photo below.) With this orientation, the description changes considerably from that in the nomination form, as the house is gable-end, rather than gable-front, and three, rather than two, bays wide.

Photographs taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

5 comments

  1. Lisa, my grandparents occupied this residence in the 1950’s to the mid 60’s. My father and many of siblings were raised on this property

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