East Wilson aerial.

In January 1985, while the old Hotel Cherry was under renovation, Brian Ezzelle shot photos of the former Atlantic Coast Line station. In the process, he captured this slice of East Wilson. The blocks bordered by the railroad, Nash, Pender and Green Streets were home to East Wilson’s commercial district and its largest churches, with significant housing in the interior.

The intervening 33 years, arguably, have been catastrophic. Nearly all of the housing in the area shown below was demolished as substandard or derelict in the 1990s, as were stretches of commercial buildings fronting Nash and Pettigrew Streets. The city has engaged in streetscaping and the churches have renovated and expanded, but the liveliness of yesteryear, for better or worse, continues to elude this part of East Wilson.

What do we see here?


  1. Former Atlantic Coast Line rail station.
  2. 418 and 420 East Nash Street.
  3. Seed house, Southern Cotton Oil Mill, 518 Stemmer Street. Per the inventory submitted with the nomination report for the Wilson Central Business-Tobacco Warehouse Historic District, “This massive (95×145) pyramidal structure was built ca 1940. It has a prominent sloping corrugated metal roof that is crown by a gable clerestory. The building is one of the prominent visual features of the southern portion of Wilson industrial’s section. The interior is cavernous, has a cement floor and is illuminated only by the windows in the clerestory. It is presently [1984] used for fertilizer storage.”
  4. 417, 419 and (hidden) 421 East Nash Street.
  5. Abbitt Building, 506-516 East Nash Street.
  6. Orange Hotel.
  7. Possibly 542 East Nash Street, the Anne Mitchell house.
  8. Odd Fellows Hall, 549-551 East Nash Street.
  9. Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, founded 1872.
  10. M&W Grocery, 117 North Pettigrew Street.
  11. 119 North Pettigrew Street had been a seafood market, but housed a used clothing store by the mid-1980s.
  12. Church Street.
  13. Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church, founded 1868.
  14. Probably 122 North Pender Street.
  15. 200 North Pender Street.
  16. 202 North Pender Street.

Here, per Bing Maps, is the neighborhood today.

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  1. Now an Amtrak station.
  2. 418 and 420 East Nash Street.
  3. Southern Cotton Oil Mill’s seed house and most of its other buildings have been demolished.
  4. 417, 419 and (hidden) 421 East Nash Street.
  5. 506-514 East Nash Street has been renovated, but most of its storefronts are empty.
  6. Orange Hotel has been a rooming house for many years.
  7. This house has been demolished.
  8. Odd Fellows Hall was demolished in the 1990s. (It actually was a little further west on Nash than I have marked it here.)
  9. Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church expanded its sanctuary and purchased most of the eastern end of the block for parking for parishioners.
  10. M&W Grocery’s building now houses Green’s Grocery.
  11. 119 North Pettigrew Street has been demolished.
  12. Church Street and its crooked companion, Smith Street, have been cleared of nearly all the houses that once crowded their narrow lengths.
  13. Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church remains a vital stakeholder in the community.
  14. 122 North Pender Street is abandoned.
  15. 200 North Pender Street has been demolished.
  16. 202 North Pender Street is abandoned.

Many thanks to Brian Ezzelle for sharing his photo.

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