Erasure.

Wrote Robert C. Bainbridge and Kate Ohno in Wilson, North Carolina: Historic Buildings Survey (1980):

“Residence Park was Wilson’s first subdivision. This land, formerly used as farmland, on the western edge of Wilson was purchased by a group of developers from Norfolk, Virginia. The first lot was sold to Selby Hurt Anderson in 1906. The architectural fabric of the area is predominately representative of the Bungalow style, although many houses were built in the Colonial Revival style as well. This area flourished in the 1910’s and 1920’s but few houses date after 1930. Residence Park is the most cohesive residential neighborhood in town.”

Farmland? No doubt there were farms in the area. However, Residence Park’s development and expansion came at the immediate expense of the black community of Grabneck, which, anchored by the Best family, had taken root along a stretch of West Nash Street in the late 1800s. By the mid-1920s, all traces of the Bests and their neighbors had disappeared under Residence Park’s lovely bungalows, and within a few decades few remembered that black people had ever lived on that side of town.  Here, encapsulated, is the raison d’etre of Black Wide-Awake — to combat the erasure of African-American people and spaces of historic Wilson.

Detail of Bainbridge and Ohno’s map of Residence Park, which lies atop the old Grabneck neighborhood. #322, the H.W. Abbitt home, was built on land purchased from Wilson and Ada Best.

For more about Grabneck, see here and here and here and here.

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