Houses

500 East Green Street, update.

This two-story house at the heart of East Wilson Historic District likely is not long for this world.

As detailed here, J.D. and Eleanor Frederick Reid built this two-story dwelling at 600 East Green about 1922, the year after the Commercial Bank, for which Reid was vice-president and principal promoter, opened. 

In 1945, the Reids sold the house to the Redemptorist Fathers of North Carolina, who converted it into a convent for the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the African-American order whose nuns taught at Saint Alphonsus Catholic School.

The Redemptorist Fathers held the house until 1969, then they sold it to private owners? and it began its steep slide. The city of Wilson condemned 600 East Green in 1977, but took no further action against it. In 1990, the city repealed the condemnation order to allow a new owner to rehabilitate it. This Daily Times article described plans for its renovation, and Roderick Taylor Jr. described a little of its history.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 December 1990.

In 1994, Oxford House, a living facility for recovering addicts, took over in the space. I have not been able to determine how long it remained open. It is clear, though, that the Reid house/nunnery has been vacant and moldering for much of this century. Since I photographed it in 2016, it has lost the midsection of fascia and soffit above the upper floor and the front porch ceiling has begun to collapse.

511 South Pender Street.

The one-hundred-twenty-third 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.

The nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District lists this description of 505 South Pender [originally Stantonsburg Street]: “ca. 1922; 1 story; shotgun with shed-roofed porch and gable returns.”

In the 1928 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes Lena (c) dom h 511 Stantonsburg

In the 1930 Wilson, N.C., city directory, the house was vacant.

In 1940, Prince Mincey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 18 March 1908 in Wilson; lived at 511 Stantonsburg Street; his contact was wife Alice Hinnh [Hannah] Mincey; and he worked for C.J. Moore, Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 511 Stantonsburg Street, rented for $8/month, fertilizer plant laborer Prince Mincy, 30, and wife Alice, 29.

The 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mincey Prince (c; Alice) tob wkr h 511 Stantonsburg

In the 1947 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mincey Prince (c; Alice) carp h 511 Stantonsburg

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

505 South Pender Street, redux.

A year ago, Black Wide-Awake featured the abandoned endway house at the corner of South Pender and Hines Streets.

September 2020 finds the hundred-year-old house under complete renovation.

The interior has been gutted to the studs, but the house will essentially retain its original floor plan — an entry door opening directly into a front room, then a middle room, then at rear a kitchen and bath. (The bathroom was originally a back porch and would have been enclosed in the 1950s or ’60s.)

The house was once heated by an oil stove that vented through a chimney.

The house sits on new concrete block pillars, but a skirt of some sort will likely be added to enclose the crawlspace.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

East Wilson aerial view, 1940.

North Carolina State Archives’ Flickr account contains a folder holding more than one hundred aerial photographs of Wilson County shot in 1940.

Here, East Wilson more or less entirely. (The dark curve superimposed on the image marks the future path of Ward Boulevard. Though this road was plotted largely through open land, it did require the obliteration of a stretch of houses on East Nash Street.)

Below, a close-up look at the bottom left quadrant of this image. South of Nash Street, the road now known as Pender Street was then called Stantonsburg Street. At (1), the Sallie Barbour School, formerly known as the Colored Graded or Stantonsburg Street School. At (2), a tightly packed block of endway (shotgun) houses, which were form of choice for developers of rental housing for Wilson’s African-American working poor. Clusters of these narrow dwellings can be seen across the map. This block, on Railroad Street between Elvie and Lincoln Streets, is still intact.

The blocks south of Wiggins and Wainwright Street were still relatively sparsely settled, but several churches had set up in the area, including (3) Mount Zion Free Will Baptist Church, (4) Union Grove Primitive Baptist Church, and (5) Branch Memorial Tabernacle United Holy Church.

Around Cemetery Street, the open space attests to the location of Wilson’s earliest Black cemetery (cemeteries?). The following year, the city disinterred Oakdale cemetery and moved its graves to Rest Haven.

The northern half of East Wilson, below. At (1) Reid Street Community Center; (2) Samuel H. Vick Elementary School; (3) Charles H. Darden High School; (4) endway houses on Queen Street; (5) William Hines’ two-story rental houses; (6) C.H. Darden Funeral Home; (7) Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church; (8) Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church; (9) Mercy Hospital; (10) Calvary Presbyterian Church; (11) Wilson Normal and Industrial School (also known as the Independent School); and (12) the Samuel and Annie Vick house.

The elbow of Lane Street, below. The Harry Clark family farm, later Rest Haven cemetery, at (1), and a relatively clear view of (2) Vick, (3) Odd Fellows, and (4) Rountree cemeteries.

Wilson_CSP_6B_12, U.S.D.A. Photograph Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

Moneys should be kept in the bank.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 January 1920.

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Perhaps, in the 1930 census of the Town of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: in a house owned and valued at $1000, widow Mary A. Batts, 50, servant; daughter Mamie, 26, servant; and son Lonnie, 35, farm laborer.

Thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for sharing this clipping.

Wiley Simms house, part 2.

We first saw the Wiley Simms house here. Built about 1840 for either his uncle James or Benjamin Simms, the house still stands, empty but in decent shape, on Old Stantonsburg Road.

Exterior modifications include the closure of the right front door and two narrow windows spaced close together in the center bay of the second floor.

The northern elevation, showing one of the large stepped chimneys, now broken.

A glimpse through the left front window into one of the front rooms, showing a large plaster medallion and cornices.

In the same room, the original woodwork of the fireplace surround is intact, if terribly painted. (To say that the house is “empty” is an oversimplification. Rather, it is uninhabited. Otherwise, it appears to be used for storage.)

Paneled wainscoting in the right front room.

Generations of enslaved African-Americans served inside this house and in the Simms family’s surrounding fields.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, June 2020.

Saddlebags.

Saddlebag houses like this one in the Evansdale area were common in the landscape of rural Wilson County as recently as the 1980s. I don’t know who lived in this particular house, but it is typical of those inhabited by tenant farmers, many of whom were African-American.

The basic saddlebag form consists of two rooms side-by-side, each with a front door. This house, however, has four rooms.

The headboard ceiling and walls are likely original, but the door communicating between the two rooms was probably cut through much later.

A view of the back two rooms. The door between these rooms is also likely a later addition.

Photos taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2019.

Edwin Barnes house.

Per Kate Ohno’s Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“Edwin Barnes was born in 1816 and received training as a doctor. He married Elizabeth Simms, daughter of James Simms. Dr. Barnes’ practice extended from Stantonsburg too Wilson. Josephus Daniels described Dr. Barnes in the first volume of his autobiography, Tar Heel Editor. ‘He was the leading physician in Wilson, universally beloved. He never had an office. There were no telephones to call him when his services were needed. If he could not be found at home, he was usually at his favorite drugstore — favorite because interesting people gathered there to swap experiences and tell stories … Dr. Barnes never sent a bill to a patient of failed to respond to a professional call from those he know could not pay him. He was the model country-town doctor, responding to any calls, day or night, to distant country homes over bad roads.’ Dr. Barnes’ commodious house is situated in a grove of old trees between Wilson and Stantonsburg. The house was designed in the Greek Revival style and is one of the most outstanding examples of this style in Wilson County. Built circa 1840, the house stands two stories high and boasts two front doors, a common feature of Wilson residential architecture before the Civil War. Molded window and door surrounds with square cornerbacks are used throughout and the full-width shed porch is supported by graceful, flared, fluted columns. On the interior, the house has been minimally altered. The woodwork is original throughout, as is the floor plan. The two front doors lead to two front rooms joined by a connecting door. An enclosed stair with flat panel wainscot leads to the second floor. Both double-panel and eight-panel doors are used in the house and flat panel wainscoting with a molded chair rail enhances the main rooms. The vernacular mantels feature the use of narrow reeded boards.”

——

In the 1840 census of District 4, Edgecombe County: Edwin Barnes is listed as the head of a household that included one white male aged 20-29; one white female aged 15-19; one white female under five; and one white female aged 60-69. He also reported 14 slaves — two males under ten; one aged 10-23; one male aged 36-45; one male aged 55-99; one female under ten; four females aged 10-23; one female 24-35; and one female aged 36-54.

In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County: farmer Edwin Barnes, 32; wife Elizeth, 24; and children Louisa, 9, and Franklin, 6. Barnes reported $6500 in assets.

In the 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County, Edwin Barnes reported owning 32 enslaved people.

In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Edwin Barnes, 43; wife Elizabeth, 36; and children Lou, 20, Franklin, 15, Edwin, 9, and Dora, 4. Barnes reported $14,000 in real property and $56,780 in personal property (most in the form of enslaved people.)

In the 1860 slave schedule of Saratoga district, Wilson County, Edwin Barnes reported holding 48 enslaved people (who lived in only five houses). He also reported holding another 15 enslaved people “in trust for four minor heirs.”