1400 Carolina Street.

The one hundred-thirteenth 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, this house is: “ca. 1930; 1 story; shotgun with hip-roofed porch and bungalow type posts; includes side hall; built for owner-occupant.” [I am not sure why this house is described as a shotgun, a form that by definition has no interior halls.]

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory: Patterson Wm (c; Bertha) housemn h 1400 Carolina

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1400 Carolina Street, owned and valued at $1000, butler Willie Patterson, 28; wife Bertha, 26; children Willie, 6, and William, 3; sister-in-law Bessie Langston, 15; and brother-in-law Thomas Langston, 15. [The Pattersons and Langstons appear in the 1940 federal census in Washington, D.C.]

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory: Delaney George (c; Marie) brklayer h1400 Carolina. Edward, Louis and William Delaney are also listed as residing at 1400 Carolina.



1400 Carolina Street holds great personal significance for me. In early 1965, my parents and I moved into 1401 Carolina Street, a small 1950’s era brick house rented from Henderson Cooke. Kenneth and Nina Darden Speight were living just across the street in 1400. (By then, Marie Delaney and family lived in 1402, a house George Delaney built for his family.) Off and on, until I was about three years old, Mrs. Speight provided daycare for me and my cousin. (She “kept” us, in the parlance of the day.) My earliest memory is being carried to 1400 early on a chilly morning, swaddled in a red blanket. Other memories of my days there come in snatches: a blue cardboard canister of Morton salt on a sunny kitchen table; an old-fashioned steam iron; Mr. Kenny’s aftershave bottles on a dresser; a Maxwell House snuff can; naps in the darkened back bedroom; snapdragons blooming at the edge of the flagstone walkway. Though I haven’t been inside this house in 45 years, I can still walk you through its layout with some precision. Come through the front door into a hallway. To your left, a door into a bedroom/sitting room. Ahead to the right, the bathroom addition visible at the edge of the photo above. Straight ahead, the back bedroom occupied by the Speights’ teenaged grandson, who was often pressed into ferrying me back and forth across the street. At the far end of the front room, a sort of walk-through closet — I recall a bag of wooden blocks kept there on a shelf — led into the only space about which I’m fuzzy. I’ll call it the middle room. It opened into the kitchen which, because its windows faced east, was bright in early morning. Was there a tiny screened porch off the back of the kitchen? I’m not sure, but the backyard — now grass and concrete — was crowded with delicious hog plum trees. At 1400 Carolina Street, Mrs. Speight and Mr. Kenny helped weave the cocoon of security in which I spent my earliest years in East Wilson, and I pay them tribute.

Me in front of 1400 Carolina Street in the spring of 1966.

Photo of house by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018.


  1. #awesomesauce. You describe 1400 Carolina with great precision! My grandma, your babysitter was amazing in her tall stature (I get it from my grandmama) and quiet demeanor. That’s how we we met initially during one of my summer visits.
    My cousin, Allen should see this post and great reflection.

  2. Beautifully written reflection! It took me back to a time when I was also being ferried in those chilly early morning hours. I don’t know the day or the year, but maybe we both had the same experience on that day because after all of these years I can still remember how chilly it was that morning. I remember being swaddled in a blue blanket as my uncle dropped me off at my grandmother’s house. I recognize the house also. My older cousin’s best friend and next door neighbor Jeannette(Givens) dated a guy named Pip who I believe lived there. My memory is a little fuzzy, but we use to ride with her over there.

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