411 New Bern Street.

The one hundred-fifty-fourth 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 building is: “ca. 1922; 1 story; Elijah Kane [sic, King] house; double-pile, hip-roofed cottage with center gable and hip-roofed porch; a late and simply classical example of the type in the district; contributing auto garage.”

The house at 411 New Bern Street is the oldest on its block. It is shown below in detail from the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson. [Note the misspelling of “Mewborn,” the original name of New Bern Street. Mewborn is a surname locally associated with a northern Wayne County extended family. Note also that Rountree Street was originally called Bardin Avenue.]

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Thomas Annie (c) lndrs h 411 New Bern. In the 1930 city directory, the address was listed as vacant. 

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Elijah King, 29, laborer with Privett Contractors; wife Emma, 28; and sons George, 9, Elijah, 7, and Richard, 5.

In 1940, Elijah King registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 13 May 1910 in Wilson County; lived at 411 New Bern Street; his contact was wife Emma King; and he worked for C.C. Rackley, building contractor. 

The Kings mortgaged their home in 1940. They defaulted and, in the spring of 1946, it was advertised for auction on the courthouse steps. King was able to buy the house back on 16 April 1946, but in 1948 he and his second wife, Sudie Mae King, took out another mortgage for $400. This debt was paid off successfully, and 411 New Bern Street remained the Kings’ property until it was sold after Elijah’s death in 1980.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 March 1946.

Elijah James King Sr. died 10 January 1980 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 May 1910 in Wilson County to Oscar Ellis and Ella King; was a widower; had worked as a carpenter; and lived at 411 New Bern Street. 

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.

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