The Old Harper Place.

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In 1918, Atlantic Coast Realty Company prepared this plat cutting new streets and subdividing the “Old Harper Place” into more than 70 lots. The proposal was ambitious, but did not get off the ground immediately. In fact, it never really came together at all.

The streets are readily recognizable today. They are not, however, lined with houses.

Neither Best, Bennett, Oliver nor Lipscomb Streets appear in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, which was the first to include a street-by-street residential listing. Harper Street is there, however, and the directory lists five blocks. The 700 block had fifteen households, but the others were sparser, indicating larger parcels or empty lots. All the households except three are marked “colored.” W.J. Walston appears to have occupied the entire 400 block and possibly the 500 block. On the other side of the street, J.T. Strickland was the sole household listed in the 600 block.

1928 city directory.

However, the 1930 city directory notes that Harper Street was now Lipscomb Road. Unusual for the time, the street had become more integrated. White households replaced black at 238 and 300 Lipscomb. John A. Owens now lived at 400, but the 600 block on both sides of the street contained additional white households.

1930 city directory.

By time the 1941 city directory issued, Harper Street was back, but in a new place. This Harper Street is the one shown in the plat map. Or at least the two blocks of it between Best Street and Herring Avenue. This street was entirely inhabited by white families.

1941 city directory.

The description of Lipscomb Road in the 1941 directory is perplexing. On a modern map, it seems to correspond in part to modern Gold Street, which runs from Herring just past the end of Railroad Street to Reid Street. The inexplicable part is “intersecting 700 Herring av.” 700 Herring Avenue is at the corner of Herring and modern Ward Boulevard. In order to intersect with Herring, Lipscomb/Gold would have to turn back 135 degrees.

Is this 1941 Lipscomb Road? Gold Street is highlighted in solid yellow. The dotted yellow line shows the possible course of Lipscomb as described in the 1941 directory. The blue arrows show modern Lipscomb Road. (Ward Boulevard did not exist in 1941.)

In any case, this area continued to show unusual integration for mid-twentieth century Wilson. Though the majority of households were African-American, several were occupied by white families.

In 1959, per “Survivors Deeded Lucas Property,” Wilson Daily Times, 18 March 1959, George Lucas’ two daughters inherited 71 of the lots shown on the plat on Best, Benton and Harper streets. Eventually, they sold much of the land to the city for a housing project.

Plat Book 1, page 58, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial view per Bing.com.

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