Houses

505 East Green Street.

The fortieth 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 East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1908; 1 ½ stories; Roscoe Hall house; unusually narrow, two-bay house with gambrel roof and shed dormer; asphalt shingled; Hall was a butler.”

In the 1912 and 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Rountree Lucy (c) laundress h 504 E Green. John Rountree is also listed at the address — the prior house number — in 1912.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 504 East Green, Lucy Rountree, 70, “wash & iron”; granddaughter Alene Barnes, 13; and twelve lodgers [which hardly seems possible] Cleveland Sims, 35, oil mill laborer; house carpenters William Thomas, 19, and John Hinnant, 22; factory laborers Herbert Joyner, 24, and Edgar Wilkerson, 30; wagon factory laborer Nathan Woodard, 20; garage laborer Nathan Williams, 22; wagon factory Robert Night, 17; department store truck driver Roy Evins, 22; factory laborer James Ostan, 22; woodcutter John Ostan, 22; and house carpenter Macon Locon, 22.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 505 East Green, rented for $24/month, Lucy Roundtree, 80; her daughter Bertha King, 43, servant; and lodgers Della Jones, 47, maid, and Annie Coney, 28, cook.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 505 East Green, rented for $20/month, veterinarian Elijah L. Reid, 78; wife Ietta R., 65; and daughter Odessa B., 30, a graduate nurse.

Photograph taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, May 2017.

807 Viola Street.

The thirty-ninth 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.

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As described in the nomination form for East Wilson Historic District: “circa 1960; 1 story; concrete block double shotgun.” This description of 807 Viola is obviously incorrect. What happened?

The nomination form lists five houses on the north side of the 800 block of Viola Street: (1) #801, an I-house built about 1913; (2) #803, a house built about 1970; (3) #805, a Queen Anne built about 1913; (4) #807; and (5) another Queen Anne built about 1913.

A current aerial view of the street shows that, nearly 30 years after the neighborhood was surveyed, 801 and 811 are vacant lots. #803 is easily recognized as the modern house described in the nomination form. However, there is no 805 Viola. Rather, the house next to 803 is 807 — the Queen Anne depicted above. The concrete block double shotgun is, in fact, #809.

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map, below, sheds some light on the street’s curious numbering. #801, the two-story I-house, is shown at the corner of Viola and Vick. At #803 is the predecessor to the 1970s-era ranch house now there. Hard against the street in #803’s front yard was #805, marked “S” for “store.” #807 is the same house currently at the location.

In the 1916 Wilson city directory: Brown Caroline h 807 Viola.

In the 1920 Wilson city directory: Brown Caroline dom h 807 Viola.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 807 Viola, Caroline Brown, 50, and daughter Marjory, 22, both tobacco factory laborers, and grandchildren Lister, 12, and Marie, 1.

In the 1930 Wilson city directory, 807 Viola is described as vacant, and there is no listing for the house in the 1930 census of Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 807 Viola Street, widowed laundress Blanche Farmer, 67; sons Henry, 34, truck driver for wholesale grocery company, and Samuel, 25, janitor for retail department store; and grandchildren Windsor, 24, tobacco factory laborer, Turner G., 19, cafe cook, and Gloria Hagans, 13, and James H. Farmer, 6.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson City Directory: Farmer Blanche (c) h 807 Viola.

Blanch Farmer died 27 March 1959 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 29 July 1889 in Wilson County to Samuel Gay and Alice Bryant; resided at 807 East Viola Street; and was a widow. Goldie Ricks was informant.

Photograph of house by Lisa Y. Henderson, May 2017; aerial photo courtesy of Google Maps.

1113 East Nash Street.

The thirty-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.

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As described in the nomination form for East Wilson Historic District: “1927; 2 stories. Parsonage, Jackson Chapel Baptist Church; cubic, hip-roofed, is blend of Colonial Revival and bungalow traits, typical of a host of middle-class dwellings in district built during 1920s.”

In the 1930 Wilson city directory: Jordan Benj F Rev (c) (Maggie L) pastor First Bapt Ch h 1113 E Nash.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1113 East Nash Street, minister Benjiman Jorden, 50; wife Maggie, 44; and children Benjiman F., 16, Mary B., 14, Milford L., 12, Odis, 11, Willard, 10, Irene C., 8, and James D., 6.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1113 East Nash Street, renting for $20/month, W.P.A. project laborer Oscar Ellis, 50; wife Mamie, 48; children Henry, 23, laborer, Estell, 22, housekeeper, Aja, 21, waiter, Charles, 20, deliveryman for Moore’s Drug, James, 18, Bessie, 17, Herbert, 15, Leroy, 13, Fred, 8, Mamie, 10, and Clarence, 5; and adopted children Annie, 15, and Rosco Jones, 13.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2017.

Lost ‘hoods, no. 2.

“The Atlantic Coastline Railroad tracks separated a black and a white world almost. And then there was Hines Street that wasn’t a connector in those days, but just a street. And there was Daniel Hill, where colored people lived. Then there were six houses between Lee and Gold Streets close to the city lot where black people lived. And Mercer Street in Five Points was all black. There were two ice companies near the railroad tracks and one area was called ‘Happy Hills’ where a few blacks lived. ‘Green Hill’ near the other ice company was a white neighborhood. Except for the above-mentioned, I don’t know of one black family that lived beyond the tracks. But I’m not saying there might not have been a few isolated cases. But Daniel Hill was where 99 percent of the black population lived anywhere on the west side of Wilson.” — Roy Taylor, My City, My Home (1991).

The 1930 edition of Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory reflects the full flower of segregated Wilson, with street after street east of the railroad occupied entirely by African-American households in patterns still easily recognized today. However, here and there clusters of houses appear at unfamiliar locations, either because the streets themselves have disappeared or because we have lost collective memory of these blocks as black neighborhoods.

Here are a few more:

  • Banks Alley

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I’ve been unable to locate this street.

  • West Lee Street

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An earlier post explored the small African-American settlement that coalesced around Lee and Pine Streets by the turn of the twentieth century. By 1930, this community had contracted to three small duplexes on Lee Street and half-a-dozen around the corner on Pine.

1922 Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 202 Lee Street, paying $16/month rent, Willie Walter, 21, odd jobs laborer; wife Lulu, 15, servant; and roomer Novella Townsend, 25, laundress. Also [in the other half of the duplex], paying $16/month, cook Mamie Nord, 47, and her son Rufus J., 21, odd jobs laborer. At 204 Lee Street, paying $16/month: laundress Lizzie Larry, 49; Maude Lofty, 100; Lizzie’s daughter Anabel Larry, 28, and her sons John H., 12, and M.C., 13. Also, paying $16/month, Jasper Thigpen, 47, transfer truck driver; wife Dora, 33; and daughter Allie, 16.

  • North Pine Street

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 Pine Street, paying $10/month rent, Adele Matthews, 42, laundress, and Sarah McMullen, 23, laundress. Also [in the other half of the duplex], paying $10/month, odd jobs laborer David Sanders, 35, and wife Carry, 44, laundress. At 407 Pine Street, paying $12/month: servant Ella Pulley, 30. Also, paying $12/month, Egarber Barnes, 24, jail attendant, and wife Nanny, 25, laundress. At 409 Pine Street, paying $12/month, practical nurse Lizzie Bullock, 70; and children Ernest, 43, house painter, Obert, 33, hotel cook, and Gertrude, 35, laundress. Also, paying $12/month, truck gardener Charlie Moye, 29, and Edward Williams, 53, farm laborer. At 411 Pine Street, paying $10/month, greenhouse gardener Windsor Ellis, 41; wife Rachel, 34; and children dry goods store janitor Douglas, 20, John H., 10, and Elaine, 5; and lodger Fred Moye, 26, café cook.

  • South Street

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In 1930, the east and west ends of South Street were largely home to commercial and industrial outfits. The middle block, however, the 300s, housed in uncomfortably close quarters a stone cuttery, a couple of black families, the black Episcopal church, and a notorious whorehouse.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 304 East South Street, high school janitor Joseph Battle, 80; wife Gertrude, 42; and daughter Clara, 22; and five boarders, Earnest Heath, 24, cook; James Pettiford, 36, barber; Robert McNeal, 23, servant; Essie M. Anderson, 18, servant; and Viola McLean, 24, “sick.” At 306 East South: tobacco factory laborer William Barnes, 28; wife Loretta H., 23; and brother Charles Barnes, 22, servant. At 309 East South, widow Mattie H. Paul, no occupation.

Karl Fleming wrote of “veteran madams” Mallie Paul and Betty Powell, who operated Wilson’s “two twenty-dollar whorehouses,” “sexual emporia [that] had operated for at least thirty years [by the late 1940’s] … situated in similar two-story wood houses near each other just behind the tobacco warehouse district.” Though Fleming curled his lip, Roy Taylor fairly gushed about Paul: “One sight that got my attention, along with everyone else’s in the area when it occurred, was the march of Mallie Paul and her girls from their home on South Street, to women’s stores downtown to purchase clothing, cosmetics, and other necessities. And those women were beautiful! … There would be 10 or 12 of them walking leisurely toward the hotel from Douglas Street, then turning on Nash. …”

Most of Wilson’s tobacco warehouses succumbed to arson in the final decade and a half of the last century, and the 300 block of South Street is entirely industrial.

  • Taylor Street and Taylor’s Avenue

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 9.25.59 PMNeither exists today.

  • Wiggins Street

This entire street is gone, cleared for the extension of Hines Street over the railroad tracks (via Carl B. Renfro Bridge) to connect with Nash Street a few blocks west of highway 301 as roughly shown below.

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1922 Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson.

Lost ‘hoods, no. 1.

The 1930 edition of Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory reflects the full flower of segregated Wilson, with street after street east of the railroad occupied entirely by African-American households in patterns still easily recognized today. However, here and there clusters of houses appear at unfamiliar locations, either because the streets themselves have disappeared or because we have lost collective memory of these blocks as black neighborhoods.

Here are a few:

  • New Grabneck

Was Grabneck the same as New Grabneck? I’m not sure of the location of either.

  • Pecan Road

Pecan Rd 1930

There is no Pecan Road in Wilson, though there is a Pecan Court off Kincaid Avenue in the approximate neighborhood of Pecan Road.

  • Oil Mill Alley

Oil Mill Alley, oft-cited in Daily Times‘ crime beat columns, lay in the shadow of the fertilizer plant at the edge of the large cotton oil mill complex on Stemmery Street. It no longer exists.

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  •   Parkers Alley

Parkers Alley, then known as Vicks Alley, is clearly shown in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson as a small lane bordered by five small single-family dwellings and two duplexes.

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To my amazement, Parkers Alley, now Parker Lane, still runs southeast from South Douglas Street, as shown in this Google Maps screenshot:

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  • Young’s Alley

Young’s Alley is gone, likely lost to the urban renewal projects that reshaped Daniel Hill in the 1960s. On the 1922 Sanborn map of Wilson, it is labeled Townsend Alley.

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Today, West Spruce no longer intersects South Bruton, and the former Young’s Alley — designated as a red diagonal below — cuts through the middle of a large block bounded by South Bruton, West Hines, Warren and Walnut Streets.

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1007 Washington Street.

The thirty-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 East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1930; 1 1/2 stories; gambrel-front house with two-bay facade and gabled porch; built by William Hines for tenants.”

In the 1930 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Fitts E Courtney (c), tchr Stantonsburg St Graded School h 1007 Washington; Fitts Howard M (c) (E Courtney) commander American Legion, Henry Ellis Post, h 1007 Washington

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1007 Washington Street, dry cleaner Oscar Reid, 41; wife Nora, 39, laundress; and children James O., 20, Cecil, 18, Percell, 16, Leotis, 14, Margarett, 7, Evangeline, 4, Eugene, 3, and Lettie Romaine, 2 months.

In the 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Reid J Oscar (c; Nora; 5) clnr Service Laundry & Dry Clnrs h 1007 Washington.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2017.

The Dardens of Montclair.

Montclair History: The Darden Sisters, Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine

by Frank Gerard Godlewski, baristanet.com, 14 April 2017

The Darden sisters, Norma Jean and Carol Darden Lloyd, currently living in Manhattan, have immortalized their magnificent Montclair home and family history in a 1978 book now reaching its fifth edition, Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine.

Their parents, Dr. Walter Darden and his wife Mamie Jean, had acquired their Montclair property at 266 Orange Road in 1946. The house employed a butler, a maid and a gardener. Dr. Darden built the garden apartment complex behind their home as a business venture.

Dr. Darden, was born in Wilson, N.C. He was an alumnus of Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., and of the Howard University Medical School in Washington. He moved to Newark to join a colleague and stayed on in private practice. He was one of the first black men to be a guest in the audience of the then-segregated Cotton Club of Harlem where he acted as physician.

Among his patients, friends and Montclair houseguests were Sara Vaughn, Lena Horne, Billy Eckstein, the Duke Ellington band, as well as Sammy Davis Junior. From the sports world, Larry Doby, Jackie Robinson, Monte Irving and the Newark Eagles baseball team that meet frequently at the Darden house. The Dardens with Harold Shot and Congressman Peter Rodino did fundraising and organizing for the Montclair chapter of the NAACP. The Dardens were also affiliates of education pioneer Mary McCleod Bethune and hosted her often in their home in Montclair.

Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine intends to be a historical family cookbook, but it is of even greater value as it presents an exceptional social history. Norma Jean and Carole Darden also have two restaurants in Harlem – Miss Mamie’s at 366 W. 110th St., named after her mother, and Mrs. Maude’s at 547 Lenox Ave., named after her aunt.

Both graduates of Sarah Lawrence, Carole was a social worker, Norma, a Wilhemina model before they wrote the 1979 cookbook that launched them into the celebrity food world.

The recipes and family stories in Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine came from their Southern roots: corn pone, spareribs, peach cobbler, banana pudding. Their grandfather, Charles Darden born before the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, was a great inspiration also. Papa Darden, a former slave that became an undertaker, was quite known for his recipes for fruit based wines and pine needle beers.

A request to cook for a Channel Thirteen event led to the birth of the Darden Sister’s catering company. Catering has its own challenges they say, like one time they packed up Norma Jean’s Porsche in front of their home on Orange Road before doing a catering gig and the huge quantity of coleslaw began to create a big white puddle under the car. Another time, an order of fried chicken fell out of the back door of the delivery van and was stolen by onlookers waiting at a bus stop. Norma had to buy more chicken and two fryers and then find a hiding place where she could prepare it on the fly at the event. Years later, when a space opened next to the catering kitchen, it seemed natural to open a small restaurant.

When the cookbook came out, despite its glorious history, the Hahnes Department Store in Montclair declined to sell the book. In an interview on the Martha Stewart Show, where Norma Jean was presenting her story, she said that she had learned many recipes from her father. Stewart smiled and asked, “Oh, your father was a cook?” Norma Jean smiled back at Stewart who had apparently not read the book and replied, “No my father was a medical doctor.” The audience giggled.

Today, the Darden House is the lovingly preserved home of Senator Nia Gill, Thurston Briscoe, and Bradley Gill.

1105 Carolina Street.

The thirty-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 East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1940; 1 story; double-pile, hip-roof house with original brick veneer and bungalow type porch posts.”

The 1930 Wilson, N.C., city directory lists plumber Calvin S. Edwards and wife Lizzie at 1105 Carolina Street, suggesting that the house is at least ten years older than indicated above.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1105 Carolina Street, owned an valued at $2500, Calvin Edwards, 59, born in Goldsboro, and wife Lizzie, 58, born in Tarboro. Calvin was engaged in construction plumbing and Lizzie in washing.

The 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory lists Calvin S. Edwards at 1105 Carolina Street.

Calvin Sidney Edwards died 10 January 1947 at Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1887 in Wayne County to Aaron Edwards of Orange County and Lucinda Davis of Durham; resided at 1105 Carolina Street, Wilson; was a preacher; and was married to Lizzie Woodard. He was buried in the Masonic cemetery, Wilson.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

108 North Pender Street.

The thirty-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 East Wilson Historic District: “1925; 2 stories; Camillus L. Darden house; one of the district’s fine Colonial Revival house, with rare original brick veneer, arched floor-to-ceiling windows flanking front door; columned entry porch with roof balustrade; Darden contracted white architect Charles Benton; builder was black brick mason John Barnes [Darden’s brother-in-law]; Darden operated district’s leading mortuary business, established by his father, Charles Darden.”

After the death in 1987 of Camillus Darden’s widow, Norma Duncan Darden, the house passed to the local graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2016.

202 North Pender Street.

The thirty-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.IMG_0609.jpg

As described in the nomination form for East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1908; 2 stories; George McDaniel house; triple-A I house is one of two in the district; chamfered porch posts; aluminum sided; McDaniel was a house painter.”

This house appears on the 1908 and 1913 Sanborn fire insurance maps as 131 Pender Street. George McDaniel is listed in the 1908 and 1916 city directories at 207 North Spring and 137 Darden alley, respectively. He died in 1917. Thus, if McDaniel ever in fact lived in this house, it was only briefly.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: renting 131 Pender, Annie Edmundson, 25, her children Jones, 16, and Lillian, 14, and roomers J.W. White, 35, and his wife Patsy, 30. [Widow Minnie McDaniel and her family lived two doors down at 137 Pender. This house was at the corner of Pender and Darden Alley and was likely the same as the 137 Darden Alley, above.]

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 202 Pender, widow Minnie McDonald [sic], 35, maid; daughter Christine, 21, teacher; Andrew McCullum, 45, tobacco factory packer; Alline Deans, 25, cook; Lucile Williams, 16, nurse; and Thomas Hicks, 29, cook.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 202 Pender, Minnie McDaniel, 55; daughters Christine Smith, 27, teacher, and Erma L. McDaniel, 14; Mozelle Simms, 22, cook; Lizzie Rogers, 20, cook; Eleanor Newkirk, 21, cook; Maggie Foster, 38, “cleans”; Tempie Hicks, 19, “cleans”; and Annie Hines, 50, cook.

Minnie McDaniel died 30 May 1950 at her home at 202 Pender Street. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 February 1886 in Apex, North Carolina, to Rev. Daniel Hicks and Mary Gilmore and was a widow. Christine Armstrong was informant.

Sanborn fire insurance map (1908).

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.