East Green Street

Green Street updates.

On a recent visit to Wilson, I noticed clean-up and renovation underway at several houses in East Wilson Historic District, including:

The Charles and Ella Tate Gay house was built about 1913. Its entire exterior has been renovated. (I wish they’d kept the porch posts.)

It’s not clear to me what is happening at the Nathan Haskins house, also built about 1913. It has been missing a porch post for years and remains boarded up, but its yard is regularly and thoroughly maintained.

The Isaac and Emma Green Shade house, one of two Tudor Revival cottages built in the 1930s on this stretch of East Green, has undergone a lovely external transformation. I hope it’s got an updated interior to match!

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, June 2021.

412 East Green Street.

The one hundred thirty-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.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1940; 1 story; double shotgun with bungalow type porch.” (It’s not clear whether the house is still multi-family or has been converted to a single.)

Per the 1922 Sanborn fire map of Wilson, this single-family dwelling stood at 412 East Green prior to the double-shotgun there today.

In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: McNeill Lucinda (c) dom h 412 East Green

In 1940, Ike Essex Collins registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 23 November 1907 in Camden, S.C.; lived at 412 1/2 East Green Street; his contact was mother Josephine Robinson Collins of Greensboro, N.C.; and he worked for Monticello Cafe, West Nash Street, Wilson.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Collins Isaac (c; Lula; 1) cook Monticello Cafe h 412 E Green

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Collins Isaac E (c; Lula) cook M&J Restaurant h 412 E Green

[A comparison with the 2012 image in Google Maps Street View shows that this house has been updated. Large overgrown shrubs blocking the front steps are gone, and the white trim paint is fresh.]

724 East Green Street.

The one hundred thirtieth 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, 724 East Green was built circa 1950 and is a one-story, aluminum-sided, L-plan cottage. It is “non-contributing,” meaning that it did not meet the criteria  However, the house depicted above has asbestos, rather than aluminum, siding, and is plainly shown in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson.

Detail from 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map.

In 1918, Charles Robert Cannon registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 July 1889; lived at 654-25th Street, Newport News, Virginia; worked as carpenter for Boyle-Robinson Construction, Newport News; and his nearest relative was Stattin E. Cannon, 651 East Green.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, at 724 East Green, Cannon, Charles, carpenter; Cannon, Lavalier, domestic; and Cannon, Stattie, dressmaker.

In the 1925 and 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Cannon, Stattie (c) smstrs h 724 E Green

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 724 East Green, rented for $20/month, Stadie Cannon, 51, seamstress, widow; son-in-law Bennie Lee, 30, cleaner at dry cleaner plant; daughter Ruth, 28; and lodger Herbert Page, 39, cleaner and dryer at dry cleaning plant.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 724 East Green, rented at $6/month, Roscoe Harvey, 32, barber; wife Helen, 28; and daughter Catherine, 9.

In 1940, Roscoe Lee Harvey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he resided at 724 East Green, Wilson; was born 5 July 1905 in Lumberton, N.C.; his contact was wife Helen McMillan Harvey; and was self-employed at 114 East Barnes.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Rosser Nettie Mrs (c) h 724 East Green.

622 East Green Street, revisited.

Courtesy of the Freeman Round House and Museum, a clear photo of the Samuel and Annie Vick house at 622 East Green Street in its spindled and turned-post prime. The Vicks and two of their children are shown left of the porch steps.

The house has been considerably altered in the 110 or so years since this photo was taken. The entire wooden porch structure, including gazebo, is gone, and the wide siding has been covered in ashlar. The street was then unpaved, but it appears that curbing was being laid. The low ashlar wall at the sidewalk still stands, though it has been patched and modified. Recalled Hattie Henderson Ricks, who grew up just around the corner on Elba Street and was a playmate of Doris Vick Walker

“We used to come back on the wagon from out there at Five Points, and the old mule ran away from me and Mama [Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver]. It went over the fence. Me and Mama was on the wagon. It had one of those spring seats up there, we was sitting up there, and a paper flew up before the mule, it was a little gray mule, and it was half-blind in one eye. It didn’t have a name. And we went right over the top of Sam Vick’s fence. 

” … We swept up out there to Five Points, and we come back and we come down Green Street. That’s when the trees, a row of trees was from Pender Street all the way up to Vick Street, and there were trees, a row of trees right in there, and you come on one side and the other side, and we was on the side coming home and a piece of paper or something blew up and scared the mule. And, honey, he took right off over there in Sam Vick’s yard. And that stone … thing up there, well, the wheels got up there, the wagon when she turned?  The wheels were over in the yard on the flowers, and Mama had her foot up on the dashboard, holding him back. Just pulling back. She said, “Well, you got over there, now get up and get back!” And she backed up, and sho ‘nough … but it scarred his legs all in the back where was on that place trying to get back. But I jumped off, I jumped off the wagon. Was standing there looking at ‘em. And we home. I said, we’re right there, home.”

Oral interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.

Happy birthday to a son of East Wilson!

This photograph accompanied the very first Black Wide-Awake post on 5 October 2015. Today is Michael E. Myers‘ birthday. He, as you can see, is my lifelong friend, and has deep roots in East Wilson.

Here, we’re seated on my mother’s lap on the front steps of the East Green Street home of Michael’s great-grandparents, Rev. Fred M. Davis and Dinah Dunston Davis. Rev. Davis was a long-time pastor of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist church. Michael’s maternal great-uncle Fred M. Davis Jr. was active in 1930s and ’40s voter registration efforts in Wilson. His great-aunt Addie Davis Butterfield was a teacher at Samuel H. Vick Elementary School, and her husband was dentist George K. Butterfield Sr. (Which, of course, makes Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr. his cousin.) On his father’s side, Michael’s great-grandmother Grace Battle Black was a close pal of my great-great-aunt, nurse Henrietta Colvert. Grace Black’s sister Roberta Battle Johnson was one of the teachers who resigned from the Colored Graded School after the Mary Euell incident in April 1918. (My grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks was one of the children who withdrew from the school in the aftermath, and also grew up around the corner from the Davises.) Michael’s great-great-grandfather was Parker P. Battle, a noted blacksmith with Wainwright foundry.

Michael’s lovely mother Diana Davis Myers was my beloved second-grade teacher at B.O. Barnes Elementary. (I rode to school with her, and Michael and I watched cartoons together on early weekday mornings.) His father is William E. “Bill” Myers, respected educator, renowned musician, and the visionary behind the Freeman Round House and Museum. They were treasured members of my childhood village, and I hug them every chance I can.

Happy, happy birthday, Michael Earl. Wishing you love and laughter forever.

603 East Green Street, revisited.

The Washington Wilkins house at 603 East Green Street, built circa 1930, was burned beyond repair last night.

The destruction of this historic house is tragic, but secondary to the well-being of the last family to live in it. Wishing them well as they recover from their loss.

[Update, 4/15/2021: since this posting, the Wilson Times published an article detailing the local fire department’s efforts to battle this fire and the resiliency of Hunette Francois, the Haitian immigrant who lived in the Wilkins house for six years and lost everything in the blaze.]

Thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for sharing this image.

Green Street crossing.

This incredible image, shot in the 1920s, shows an African-American man on a bicycle pausing before crossing the Atlantic Coast Line Rail Road at Green Street. Wilson’s A.C.L. passenger rail station, built in 1924, is visible behind him to the left.

Here’s the spot today:

Top photo from the Interstate Commerce Commission archive courtesy of Larry Kent Neal Jr. (More specific citation would be appreciated.)

600 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.