903 East Vance Street.

The seventy-sixth 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.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1913; 1 1/2 stories; Ximena Pitt house; Queen Anne cottage with double-pile, hip-roofed form and wraparound porch with classical posts and balustrade; similar to #905; Pitt was a store clerk.”

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Hattie laundress h 903 E Vance; Pitt Violet laundress laundress h 903 E Vance

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Elsie cook h 903 E Vance; Pitt Violet dom h 903 E Vance; Pitt Ximena clk h 903 E Vance

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Mena (c) sch tchr h 903 E Vance.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 903 East Vance, owned and valued at $2000, Elsie Pitt, 54, cook; sister Hattie Pitt, 52; sister Louisa McNeil, 49, cook; niece Evelyn Pitt, 9, born in Ohio; sister Mina Pitt, 36, public school teacher; and sister Elizabeth Pitt, 26, public school teacher.

Elsie Pitt died 19 June 1938 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1875 in Wilson County to William Pitt of Nash County and Violet Emerson of Wilson County and was single. Informant was Ximena Martinez.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Ramon Martinez, 38, is listed as a roomer in the household of Mena Pitts, 39, at 903 Vance Street. He reported that he was born in Argentina, had been living in Pennsylvania five years previously, and worked as a sign painter.

On 16 February 1942, Ramon Jose Martinez registered for the draft in Wilson. He listed his birth date and place as 7 September 1898 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He worked as a commercial artist, resided at 903 Vance Street, and Ximena Pitts Martinez was his contact person. He was 5’6″, 184 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and dark brown skin. The registrar noted: “he limps (right leg).”

Ramon Jose Martinez died 15 September 1973 in Wilson. His death certificate reports that he was born 7 September 1900 in Argentina; lived at 903 East Vance; and worked as a self-employed commercial artist. His parents were unknown. Wife Ximena Pitt Martinez was informant.

Ximena Pitt Martinez died 21 December 1973 in Wilson. Per her death certificate she was born 12 August 1896 to Violet Pitt; was widow; was a retired teacher. Evelyn P. Stoney of Brooklyn, New York, was informant.

Robert C. Bainbridge and Kate Ohno’s Wilson, North Carolina: Historic Buildings Survey (1980) provides additional details about this house, including the photo below.

“This turn of the century cottage is stylistically related to entry 286 [705 East Green Street], the same modified L-plan is followed, and the house is enhanced by the use of metal ridge pole ornaments and a wrap around porch with doric columns and a pedimented porch entry.”

Though the metal roof and balustrade have been replaced, 903 East Vance Street retains much of its original exterior detail and is one of the best-preserved houses in the district.


Wilson Daily Times, 5 December 1981.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

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