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.
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 In 1990, the city repealed the condemnation order to allow a new owner to rehabilitate it.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.
In September 1952, L.M. Phelps prepared a survey of the five lots on East Green and Pender Streets owned by the estate of Cecelia Norwood.
Norwood’s two-story wooden house faced East Green Street on a lot that joined two others to ran all the way back to Darden’s Alley (now Darden Lane). Around the corner and across Pender, she owned two lots that adjoined Calvary Presbyterian Church, which then stood right at the corner of Green and Pender.
In 1957, Calvary Presbyterian Church purchased lots 4 and 5 from Cecilia Norwood’s estate. In 1970-71, the church constructed a new sanctuary on the Norwood property.
A Google Maps aerial view shows the former location of Norwood’s house and lots.
On 28 February 1895, Celia A. Hill, 22, daughter of H. and H. Hill, married Richard Norwood, 21, son of B. Norwood of Chatham County, in Wilson. Episcopal minister J.W. Perry performed the ceremony at Saint Marks in the presence of John H. Clark, B.R. Winstead and S.A. Smith.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: odd jobs laborer Richard Norward, 36; wife Celia, 34, public school teacher; Robert T., 14, Richard V., 15, Christine, 11, and Henry E., 8; mother Henry E. Hill, 65, depot janitoress; Mack Peacock, 17, doctor’s office servant; and Joe Burnett, 17, hotel servant.
In 1918, Richard Norwood registered for the World War I draft in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Per his registration card, he was born 31 March 1897 in Wilson; resided at 134 Pender Street, Wilson (and also 935 Baltic Avenue, Atlantic City; was employed by John Moore, North Carolina and Atlantic Avenues, Atlantic City; and his nearest relative of Cecilia Norwood, 134 Pender Street.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 134 Pender Street, Heneretta Hill, 70, A.C.L. railroad matron; Celia W. Hill, 40, teacher; Cora A. Hill, 27, teacher; Hazell Hill, 16; Christina Hill, 19; Barlee Hill, 22, laborer; Rosa Hicks, 22; and Archer Martin, 14.
In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Norwood Cecelia tchr h 205 Pender
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 205 Pender Street, valued at $5000, widowed teacher Cecelia Norwood, 60; granddaughter Cecelia Norwood, 5; grandson Edgear Norwood, 3; Ruth Cobb, 31, public school teacher; Lucie Richards, 50; and lodgers John, 38, carpenter at body plant, and Elizabeth Douglas, 35.
Cecilia Anna Norwood died 27 June 1944 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 February 1879 in Washington, North Carolina to Edward Hill and Henrietta Cherry; resided at 205 Pender, Wilson; was widowed; and was a teacher. Informant was Hazel Covington of Wilson.
Plat map 5, page 78, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
In January 1923, Halley B. and Marie Taylor of Paterson, New Jersey, sold the trustees of First Baptist Church a large lot “in the southeast corner of Chas. Thomas‘ lot on Green Street and runs with Green Street, Southeasterly 60 feet to the corner of Green and Vick Streets, thence with Vick Street, Northeasterly 60 feet, cornering thence at right angles to Viola Street, Southwesterly 210 feet to Green Street.” Trustees Noah J. Tate, Austin N. Neal, George Roberson, Ed Holden, Harry Brown and Glenn S. McBrayer paid the Taylors $6500 for the property. H.B. Taylor was pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church from 1908 to 1920.
The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson shows a large one-story house with wrap-around front porch at 721 East Green Street. In the 1988 nomination form for historic register designation for East Wilson, the house is described as “ca. 1913; 1 1/2 stories; H.B. Taylor House; intact Queen Anne cottage with double-pile, hip-roofed form and front-facing wing….” The house has since been demolished.
Deed book, page, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
Jonah Reid and wife — Wayne County native Jonah Reid was a son of Jonah Williams below. Jonah married his first cousin Magnolia Artis, daughter of Thomas and Louisa Artis Artis, on 30 August 1892 in Wayne County, North Carolina.
More than two years ago, I wrote here of the house at 624 East Green Street, built for Dr. Frank S. Hargrave. The house has been heavily and disfiguringly modified both inside — it’s been cut up into at least three apartments — and out, and is now unoccupied and sealed up. I recently trespassed just long enough to get a glimpse through the one unboarded window, which revealed a glimpse of the house’s former good looks.
This paneled stairwell originally led from the western edge of a large front room to the second floor. Now, there is an exterior door underneath the first flight (not visible from this angle) and, just out of the frame, a solid wall that separates the parts of the house entered through the front door from those entered through side doors.
Below, a straight-on view of Dr. Hargrave’s house. The original porch was enclosed at left and center, and the vertical siding on the second floor facade suggests alteration there as well.
Below, via Google Map, an aerial view of 624 East Green. The part of the house outlined in red is surely an add-on, as is likely the wing in yellow. The roof appears to be in remarkably good shape, given the condition of the rest of the house. The roof over the “porte cochere” (notwithstanding the National Historic Register description, it is really more of a portico) appears to be tin, which may be original. (Next door, the Vicks sprang for a slate roof.)
The one-hundred-seventeenth in a series of posts highlighting buildings inEast 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: “ca. 1930; 2 stories; two-bay, side-hall, gable front house.” Like 817 East Green, Walter S. Hines (and his heirs) owned and rented out this house. It was demolished in 2001.
In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Brooks Maggie (c) cook h 901 E Green
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 901 East Green, renting for $21/month, widow Maggie Brooks, 45, servant; Eszie M. Brooks, 26, nurse; roomer Roland Sudden, 24, factory laborer; Christene Brooks, 2; and roomers Robert Harvey, 26, glass cutter, and wife Mary, 22, both born in Georgia.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 901 East Green, rented for $15/month, barber Henry D. Coley, 44; wife Eva J., 39, teacher in public schools; and daughters Elizabeth P., 16, Grace L., 14, and Eva E., 10.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Coley David H (c; Eva) barber Walter S Hines h 901 E Green
Eva Janet Coley died 7 October 1941 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 June 1899 in Greene County to Jacob Speight and Ida Ward; was married to David H. Coley; was a teacher; and lived at 901 East Green Street.