A glimpse of the past.

To stand at the intersection of Goldsboro and Spruce Streets, looking northeast, is to see Wilson much as it looked in the 1920s. Several early tobacco factories operated in this area, and the surrounded streets were lined with the small houses rented to African-American factory laborers.

At left, the two-story brick building, in its original cast-iron form, was Dibrell Brothers Tobacco Factory and Re-Ordering Plant and, by 1922, was the warehouse of tobacco brokers Monk-Adams & Company. The rail line, originally a spur of the Norfolk & Southern Rail Road, is visible in the detail of the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map below. 

The low brick building at the right of the photo contained the office and tobacco storage and drying areas of the British-American Tobacco Company’s facility. The water tower at the far end of the block above can be seen on the map below as a small gray square with a blue insert near the corner of Spruce and Spring [now Douglas] Streets. 

The tin-roofed red building in middle distance appears to be an expanded version of the small auto shed marked just above the rail line on the Sanborn map. 

The three houses on the west side of Spring/Douglas Street have been demolished, but the little saddlebag house in the distance, its roof white with the remnants of a brief snow, is 515 South Douglas Street. Formerly numbered 601, the house appears in Sanborn maps as early as 1908.


Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, January 2021.


  1. This photo is a dark and cold grim reminder to the saga of impoverished workers (of which I know about all too well) and of an era gone by ; thus, the buildings need to be demolished . These buildings are subliminal strongholds that represent oppression and subjugation. Otherwise, why are they remaining?…..for they are certainly infested with centuries of sweat and tears of an underpaid people for their labor.

    Some would say the buildings are historical.. Historical for whom? Let them come down just as the statues and monuments that represented the same history. Let it be said that…. A New Day Has Dawned That Is Stronger Than These Buildings.

  2. That photo reminds me of the of the early 60s and how vibrant the neighborhood was at that time, spring st. was full of kids skating and playing football. My mother worked at the factory on
    the left.I knew the couple that lived in the house and all of their kids, I knew everybody in the
    entire neighborhood I was born at 210 e, Hines st, where the post office is located now. me and my buddies had the best times in the world on Spring St, would not trade growing up
    there for any other place. Ronald, Larry, Ricky, June, Chuck, Bay, Willie, Buck, Donald,
    Junebug, Jesse, Randolph just to name a few. Don’t know what that lady is talking about.

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