Houses

The most blighted fraction.

In the early 1970s, Maury and neighboring streets, already hemmed in on one side by the railroad, were further cut off from the fabric of the larger community by the construction of Hines Street extension and the towering Carl B. Renfro Overpass. In the unselfconscious lingo of the early 1980s, the Wilson Daily Times described the neighborhood bounded by Gay, Stemmery, Pender and the railroad as “the most blighted fraction of the Wilson ghetto.”

The article focuses on the city’s efforts to eliminate blighted housing (“more often than not, … stem[ming] from the landlords’ greed”) and provide adequate public housing for its poorest citizens. Interviews of some residents offer stark testimony about the deterioration of many houses in the neighborhood, some already more than a half-century old.

wilson-daily-times-oct-24-1981-p-13

Wilson Daily Times, 24 October 1981.

Close-up of photograph of shotgun houses facing Pender Street, near Stemmery Street. All were demolished in the mid-1980s.

A related article in the same issue of the Daily Times highlighted successes of the Wilson Department of Community Development, which, via a multi-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, offered grants and low-interest loans to homeowners to improve their property.

Thirty-seven years after its rehab, this house at 309 Elba has relapsed into serious disrepair. 

411 North Vick Street.

The ninety-second 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.

Though misnumbered #409, as described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is:  “circa 1913; L-plan cottage which like #s 406-407 has front-facing gable in wing; built by J.R. [John Right] Reid.”

411.PNG

1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Little J H (c; Mattie) lab h 411 N Vick; Little Chas D (c) driver h 411 N Vick

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Little Jas L (c; Mattie) lab h 411 N Vick; Little Maggie (c) factory hd h 411 N Vick; Little Chas (c) hlpr h 411 N Vick

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Jake Barnes, 63, truck driver; wife Effie Barnes, 43; daughter Mattie Barnes, 22; son Douglas Barnes, 31, father’s helper; daughter Nellie Barnes, 20; mother Sallie Reid, 83; and grandchildren Janice, 3, and Jimmie Barnes, 1.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Staten Curtis (c; Emma) carp h 411 N Vick; Staten Henrietta (c) cook 411 N Vick

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Staten Curtis (c; Sally) h 411 N Vick

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018.

 

1204 Queen Street.

The ninety-first 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. 1930; 1 story; bungalow with gable roof and engaged porch.”

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wright Julia (c) lndrs h 1204 Queen; Wright Nathaniel (c) hlpr h 1204 Queen.

In the 1930 census, Wilson, Wilson County: at 1204 Queen, rented for $20/month, taxi chauffeur Mack Jones, 28; wife Bessie, 28; and daughter Ruth, 8.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018.

 

Detail.

I have written here of 303 Elba Street, a small L-plan cottage a few steps off East Green Street. Built before 1908, it is among the oldest surviving houses in the East Wilson Historic District, though its days are clearly numbered.  Their names are lost to time, but the carpenters that built this house by hand were almost certainly African-American, drawn from Wilson’s tiny pool of talented craftsmen.

A peek into the house, now abandoned, reveals few original details, but the ones that remain speak to the attention paid to the aesthetics of even working-class housing. The fireplace surround — simple trim molding on the mantel shelf and across the header and, on the mantel legs, double brackets atop delicate spindles. The pleasant asymmetry of the door’s five floating panels.

My family spent three decades in this house, laying hands all over it. My grandmother told me:

And I had pneumonia.  And they was sitting up with me.  Said I hadn’t spoken in three days.  And so that old clock where Annie Bell took, it was up there on the mantel, it struck two o’clock.  Mama was sitting on one side of the stove, and Papa on the other.  So I said, when the clock struck, I said, “It’s two o’clock, ain’t it, Mama?” And they thought I was dying, so they had been sitting up with me.  But I didn’t think nothing ‘bout it, and I went on back to sleep.

This mantel.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson; quotation adapted from interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.

500 East Green Street.

The eighty-eighth 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. 1908; 1 story; John Barnes house; triple-A cottage with intact bracketed porch; Barnes was a brickmason.”

In the 1922, 1925, 1928 and 1930 city directories, John M. and Annie L. Barnes are listed at 500 East Green. Barnes’ occupation was given as plasterer in 1922 and bricklayer in 1925 and 1928.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 500 East Green, bricklayer John M. Barnes, 69, and wife Annie L., 61.

Annie Lee Barnes died 3 May 1943 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 February 1879 in Wilson to Charles Henry Darden of Greene County and Dianna Scarborough of Wilson County; was married to John M. Barnes; resided at 500 East Green; and taught at the Sallie Barbour School. John M. Barnes was informant.

John M. Barnes died 27 April 1958 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1870 in Wayne County to Charles and Rebecca Pope Barnes; lived at 500 East Green; worked as a brickmason; was married to Cora Sherrod Barnes [daughter of Jack and Cassie Sherrod]; and was buried at Rest Haven. Thelma Byers was informant.

Cora Sherrod Barnes died 12 June 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 December 1888 to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; resided at 500 East Green Street; was a retired teacher. Informant was Ralph Sherrod, 327 West 30th Street, New York City.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018.

1112 Carolina Street.

The eighty-seventh 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: “circa 1913; 1 story; two-room, central-hall house; turned porch posts; asphalt siding.”

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., shows 1112 Carolina Street.

In the fall of 1929, Bettie Lofton placed an ad seeking a cooking and general housework position:

Wilson Daily Times, 17 September 1929.

Lofton apparently rented her home out shortly after. (Perhaps because she married Thomas Morning in Wilson on 17 March 1930. The couple is listed together at 518 Hadley Street, Wilson, in the 1930 census)) In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1112 Carolina, renting at $16/month, tobacco factory laborer Jessey Farmer, 34; wife Henerator, 26, laundress; and children Jessey Jr., 8, Irvin, 4, and Trumiller, 3.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Lofton Betty cook h 1112 Carolina

Wilson Daily Times, 12 December 1965.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018.

200 North East Street.

The eighty-sixth 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: “circa 1930; 1 story; four-room square cottage with inset porch and bungalow type details.”

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 200 East, renting at $12/month, Henriata Woodard, 40, and daughter Mattie, 24, both laundresses.

Henretta Woodard died 4 June 1935 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 47 years old; the widow of John Woodard; resided at 200 North East Street; and was born in Wilson County to Washington Cox of Faison, N.C., and Julia Ann Cane of Wayne County, N.C. Informant was Eddie H. Cox, 625 East Green Street.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 200 East Street, renting at $6/month, William Fields, 40, laborer at Wilson Veneering, and wife Liza, 40, tobacco factory stemmer; and, also renting for $6/month, tobacco factory stemmer Mattie Woodard, 35, and her children Margaret, 18, and Eugene Ward, 17, retail grocery delivery boy.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Woodard Mattie (c) tob wkr h 200 N East

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Fields Wm H (c) lab Wilson Veneer h 200 N East

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018.

 

405 and 415 Maury Street.

Maury Street is outside the East Wilson Historic District. It is one of a cluster of narrow streets squeezed between the railroad and what was once an industrial area crowded with a stemmery, cotton oil and fertilizer mills.

405 Maury Street.

This house does not appear in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson and was likely built in the late 1920s to house tobacco factory and mill laborers.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 Murray [Maury], renting for $12/month, tobacco factory laborers Hasty Cooper, 36, widow, and Lena Simmons, 25.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 Maury, renting for $10/month, Percy Lucas, 30, laborer on WPA project, and wife Eva, 23, tobacco factory laborer.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 405 Maury was vacant.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Franklin, John (c) lab h 405 Maury

415 Maury Street. 

This house does not appear in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson and was likely built in the late 1920s to house tobacco factory and mill laborers.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 415 Murray [Maury], renting for $16/month, cook Annie Cambell, 34; her children Paul, 18, fish market salesman, and Christine, 16, tobacco factory laborer; and grandson Paul, 0. All the adults were born in South Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 415 Maury, renting for $12/month, laundress Lena Barnes, 49, and children Harvey, 28, well digger; Paulean, 17, housekeeper; and “new workers” Evylene, 14, and James, 19.

In 1940, Harvey Barnes registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 9 April 1913 in Wilson County; resided at 1505 West Nash, Wilson; his contact was mother Lena Barnes, 415 Maurry; and he worked for Mr. B.T. Smith, 1505 West Nash.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes Lena (c) maid h 415 Maury

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wiggins Blanche (c) tob wkr h 415 Maury and Wood Rosa Mrs (c) 415 Maury

Photographs taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018. (Note that 405 Maury, condition notwithstanding, is advertised for sale or rent.)

310 Finch Street.

The eighty-fifth 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. 1925; 1 story; Frederick Dickerson house; triple-A cottage with modified bungalow type porch posts; aluminum sided.”

The house was formerly numbered 308 Finch Street.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Dickerson Fredk (c; Almeter) lab h 308 Finch

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 308 Finch Street, Fred Dickerson, 38, W.P.A. project laborer; wife Almeter, 39, tobacco factory laborer; and daughters Clyde, 18, Dora, 16, and Inez, 13. The Dickersons owned their home, valued at $700.

Almeter Edmundson Dickerson died 2 August 1975 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 February 1902 to Mack Edmundson and Ferbie(?) Edmundson; was married to Fred Dickerson; and resided at 308 Finch Street.

Fred Dickerson died 20 August 1979 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 February 1892 to Charlie Dickerson and Minerva Green; was widowed; and resided at 308 Finch Street.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018.

1111 Washington Street.

The eighty-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 house is: “circa 1930; 1 1/2 stories; Walter Thorpe house; bungalow with gable roof and dormer and shingle shake veneer; Thorpe was a carpenter; wife Rebecca was a dressmaker.”

In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories, Walter and Rebecca Thorpe are listed at 1111 Washington Street.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1111 Washington, owned and valued at $2000, carpenter contractor Walter Thorpe, 63; wife Rebecca, 46, sewing; and roomer James [sic; Jane] Boyd, 36, county home demonstration agent.

Walter T. Thorpe died 21 January 1941 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 November 1876 in Granville County to Anderson and Lucy Thorpe; was married to Rebecca Thorpe; lived at 1111 Washington Street; and was a minister.

This notice re Episcopal priest Robert J. Johnson appeared in the 1943 edition of The Living Church Annual: The Year Book of the Episcopal Church:

Vol. CVII, Number 10, 5 September 1943.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Johnson Robt Rev (c; Anna) pastor St Marks Episcopal Ch h 1111 Washington