Banks Street

410 East Banks Street.

This cottage is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, East Banks Street — with its proximity to tobacco factories, lumber companies, and the warehouse district — has been an African-American residential area since the turn of the twentieth century.

The front facade of this house appears to have been modified somewhat, and the 1922 Sanborn map sketch suggests that the bay windows were not original. I did not get a close at the turned porch posts. If they are original, they are in remarkable shape. If not, kudos to whomever paid a little extra for replacements in kind.

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

In the 1922, 1925, 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories, 410 East Banks was occupied by Joshua and Mary [Battle] Woodard. Joshua Woodard worked as tobacco factory laborer until circa 1929, when he secured a position as a chauffeur.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 410 Banks, Joshua Woodard, 43, chauffeur for C.M Fleming, and wife Mary, 34.

Josh Woodard died 29 September 1935 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 48 years old; was born in Wilson County to Maraman Woodard of Wilson County and Jane Miles of Maryland; was married to Mary Woodard; lived at 410 East Bank Street; and worked as a laborer. Bessie Baldwin, 412 Jones Street, was informant.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Andrew Rountree, 40, laborer in veneer manufacturing company; wife Emma, 38; and children Emma Gray, 12, Sadie May, 9, Annie Doris, 6, and Bettie Lavone, 4. 

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Rountree Andrew (c; Emma; 5) barber Roscoe L Harvey h 410 E Banks

In 1942, Andrew Rountree registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 27 April 1899 in Wilson County; lived at 410 East Banks; his contact was Irma Rountree, 410 East Banks (“mother & father dead”); and he worked for W.E. Thomas, Wilson Veneer Company, Railroad Street, Wilson. 

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Parker Benj (c; Emily) emp Armours h 410 E Banks

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2022.

Banks Street, now.

Among the properties upon which Andrew and Mary Townsend defaulted in 1940 was a parcel described as “a lot on the southern edge of Banks Street where Banks crosses a ditch that runs south into the Hominy Swamp canal, purchased from O.L.W. and Cynthia Smith, recorded in Book 111, page 361.”  

The Townsends ran a grocery store in the block, alongside a one-story wooden house and Trinity A.M.E. Zion church. Across the street, rail spurs from the Norfolk & Southern Rail Road ran to a tobacco factory and two coal and wood yards.

Here is the “southern edge of Banks Street” today, looking toward Mercer Street. The block is empty.

And here, still, is the ditch that runs south into Hominy Swamp.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2021.