East Nash Street

The Orange Hotel.

The famous (and infamous) Orange Hotel was on the market again recently — for something north of $50K. The listing seems to be have withdrawn, though I don’t think the building sold. 

While in Wilson, I took an opportunity to take a closer look.

Per the 1984 Nomination Form for recognition as a National Historic District for “Wilson Central Business District – Tobacco Warehouse Historic District,” “the two-story, weather-boarded frame building is three-bays wide and four-bays deep and is sheltered beneath a low, hipped roof of standing seam metal; interior brick chimneys with corbeled caps pierce the roof. The house’s only ornamentation is supplied by a five-bay, two-tier porch that is carried across the north faced by turned posts with small curved brackets.”

The Orange Hotel has been hard-used for most of its 116-year existence and has stood empty for the last five or so. It’s not falling down, but it’s in pretty bad shape. One of the corbel-capped chimneys collapsed and was replaced by a squat brick structure. The turned porch posts with their curved brackets are largely intact, however.

“A balustrade of slender turned balusters connects the posts on the second story; a replacement railing of ‘x’ shaped two-by-fours is on the first story. The first story entrance has a double door with a two-pane transom; a single door is on the second floor.”

The turned balusters on the second floor are also mostly in place, but the front double-door is now a plain single door.  

“The narrow windows contain two-over-two in plain surrounds.” These windows must be seven-feet tall.

“The rear elevation is occupied by a one-story ell.” I assume that that rickety staircase at right was added after 1984, and perhaps the shed-roofed enclosures at center as well.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2022.

20 Business and Residence Lots for Colored People.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1918. 

We’ve seen the Emma Gay property here. The ad above announced the sale of the lots of the subdivision laid out in Plat Book 1, page 56, Wilson Register of Deeds Office. The notice targeted two markets — “the colored man” wishing “to purchase a home close in” and “the white man” aiming to “make a safe and very profitable investment.” The latter won out as the later development of the parcel was commercial.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Black businesses, 1908, no. 2: South Goldsboro Street.

Cross-referencing the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Above, the west side of the first block of South Goldsboro Street.

Richard Renfrow purchased the furnishings for his barbershop from Noah J. Tate, Walter S. Hines, and Joshua L. Tabron, partners in another barbering business, in 1906. Renfrow was a barber in Wilson as early as 1887, but around 1900 began to move back and forth between Wilson and Norfolk, Virginia.

Hardy & Holland’s livery stable was wedged, improbably, between a wholesale grocery and a garage with a second floor print shop. Per the Wilson, North Carolina, Industrial & Commercial Directory, published in 1912, “This business is located on South Goldsboro street between Nash and Barnes streets and the business has been established for the last four years. The proprietor [James Hardy] has succeeded in building up a good patronage. He is very prompt in answering calls and his prices for Livery are very reasonable. Telephone Number 9. Hack and Dray work solicited. The proprietor wants your patronage and guarantees the right sort of treatment. He is a colored man and has the good wishes of all.” Hardy’s business partner was Thomas Holland, a Wake County native.

Henry C. Holden‘s barbershop occupied the basement level of the Branch Bank building at the corner of East Nash and South Goldsboro Streets. 

This screenshot from Google Streetview shows the wrought-iron rail around the former exterior entrance to the barbershop below the Branch Bank building.

Black businesses, 1913, no. 3: East Nash at South Lodge Street.

Cross-referencing the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century.

This block of East Nash Street fronts the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad’s passenger station. In 1913, it contained four storefronts, all housing Black-owned businesses, and a large house. Just a few years later, all were demolished to make way for the Terminal Inn, the two-story, multi-bay building that for decades was anchored by Terminal Drug Store and Star Credit Department Store and still stands today.

Moses Brandon operated an eating house next to the Atlantic Coast Line tracks. His death is reported here.

Austin Neal‘s barber shop was next door at 409 East Nash. The business later moved to the 500 block of Nash Street.

The business at 407 was labeled “cobbler.” The city directory listed Bud Wiley, bootblack, as proprietor.

John G. Corbin‘s pool room rounded out the storefronts. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: street laborer Brazell Winstead, 48; dressmaker Ada, 22; sister-in-law Martha Corben, 31, laborer; and brother-in-law John, 34, farmer. [Braswell Winstead was, in fact, a college-educated teacher turned barber who had been an assistant to postmaster Samuel Vick. It seems unlikely that Martha Corbin was a laborer or John a farmer.]

The house at 401 East Nash was occupied by white millhand J. Frank Johnson.

“Negro dwellings” destroyed.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 September 1929.

In the Jim Crow era, even buildings were racialized. Houses were not merely in “negro” neighborhoods; they were somehow, at their essence, “negro houses.” This brief article reports the destruction by fire of three houses on East Nash Road, in the vicinity of present-day B.O. Barnes Elementary School. Though the houses were owned by Ben Eagles, a wealthy white tobacconist, and one was being used as storage, they were “negro dwelling houses.”

The 500 block, 1930.

Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1930.

As a supplement to this post, here is an excerpt of the 1930 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson detailing town’s Black business district. Though the northeast side of the 500 block of East Nash Street was almost completely commercial, the southwest side was largely residential. Segregation was in full effect at the time, but several white merchants operated businesses catering to African-American clientele, and one, Jesse Verser, lived on the block (around the corner from his Stantonsburg Street grocery.)

Detail of the Sanborn map showing several tenant houses on the west end of Smith Street, the tightly packed commercial buildings on Nash, Verser’s home at 504, and the sole freestanding two-story house on the north side of Nash at 529. Notice, behind 509, a garage (marked A) and toilets (marked WC). There were also garages behind 511 (with nearby gasoline tank) and 513-515. Several of the businesses were owned by native whites or Lebanese immigrants, and there was even a Chinese laundry.

Nash Street

  • 500 — Gatlin Amos J & Co (Amos J Gatlin, Jas P Gatlin) gros 500 E Nash
  • 501 — Maynard’s Market (Geo W Maynard) gros 501 E Nash and 401 Stantonsburg
  • 502 — vacant
  • 503 — Barnes Rachel G (c) restr 503 E Nash r 1118 E Nash
  • 504 — Verser Jesse W (Frances) gro 100 Stantonsburg h 504 E Nash; Verser Bettie (wid Jesse W) h 504 E Nash
  • 505 — Barnes John (c; Rachel) barber 505 E Nash h 1118 do [ditto]
  • 506 — Wah Jung Laundry (Yee G Wah) 506 E Nash
  • 507 — Ziady Jos gro 507 E Nash h 107 E Pettigrew
  • 508 — Service Barber Shop (c) (Ernest A Artis) 508 E Nash
  • 509 — vacant
  • 509 1/2 — Stokes Thos (c; Babe) fish 509 1/2 E Nash h 615 W Wiggins
  • 510 — vacant
  • 511 — Lupe Peter (c) shoe shiner 511 E Nash h do
  • 512 — Braswell Ezekiel (c; Mary E) restr 512 E Nash h 1118 1/2 do
  • 513 — vacant
  • 514 — Lesley Samuel G (c; Lillian) tailor 514 E Nash h 802 Robeson
  • 515 — vacant
  • 517 — Moore John H (c; Armincie) shoe repr 517 E Nash h 1113 Atlantic
  • 519 — Phillips Chas (Minnie A) bicycle repr 519 E Nash h 410 Herring
  • 521 — Smith Preston (c; Minnie) clothes presser and clnr 521 E Nash h 314 Stantonsburg 
  • 523 — Wooten W L Co, H Paul Yelverton pres, Jesse W Thomas v-pres, Wm L Wooten sec-treas, furn 523 E Nash
  • 525 — Thomas Chas S (c; S Blanche) barber 525 E Nash h 719 E Nash
  • 527 — Phillips Wm H (c; Rena) dentist 527 E Nash h do; Shade’s Pharmacy (c) (Isaac A Shade) 527 E Nash
  • 529 — Coppedge Sarah (c) factory hd h 529 E Nash

Smith Street

  • 506 — Johnson Wm (c; Lula) lab h 506 Smith; Johnson Wm J (c) lab 506 Smith
  • 508 — vacant
  • 510 — Reaves Robert (c; Daisie) lab 510 Smith
  • 514 — Lee Addie (c) factory hd h 514 Smith 

The transition from commercial to residential on the south side of the street. 526 is the Hotel Orange, a boarding house run by Mattie B. Coleman.

Nash Street

  • 516 — vacant
  • 518 — no listing
  • 520 — Dixon Lenora G (c) billiards 520 E Nash h 611 do
  • 522 — Atkinson Henry (c) shoe repr
  • 524 — Gilliam Matthew S (c; Annie L) phys 524 E Nash h 805 do
  • 524 — Howard Mary (c) lndrs h 524 E Nash
  • 526 — Coleman Mattie B (c) h 526 E Nash
  • 528 — Bowser Sarah L (c) smstrs h 528 E Nash
  • 530 — Stokes Turner (c) carp h 530 E Nash

Mid-block, two multi-story buildings dominated — the Whitley Hotel and the Odd Fellows lodge hall. The Odd Fellows building featured commercial space at street-level and the Globe Theatre above. 

Nash Street

  • 531 — Swindell Deborah (c) hair drsr 531 E Nash h 630 Suggs
  • 533 — Taylor Bertha (c) dom h 533 E Nash
  • 535 — Najim Geo candy mfr 535 E Nash h 107 S Pettigrew 
  • 537 — Lucas William T (Sallie) gro 537 E Nash h 216 N Railroad
  • 539 — no listing
  • 541 — Whitley Hotel (c) (Maggie A Whitley) 541 E Nash; Marshall Lodge IBPOE
  • 543 — Jones Luther J (c; Lula) restr 543 E Nash h 712 Hadley
  • 545 — Ford Cleaners (Herbert H and Alf J Ford jr) 545 E Nash
  • 547 — Am Legion, Henry Ellis Post (c); IOOF, Hannibal Lodge, No 552 (c) 
  • 549 — Fahad Kattar billiards 549 E Nash h 313 N Pine
  • 551 — Rutherford Geo (c; Maggie B) restr 551 E Nash h 1200 Queen

Smith Street

  • 516 — Britt Mamie (c) factory hd h 516 Smith 
  • 518 — Ray Neil (c; Annie) junk 518 Smith h do
  • 526 — Gay Wm (c) lab h 526 Smith

In the eastern third of the block, the south side of the street was almost entirely residential. Ideal Pharmacy and First Baptist Church dominated the north side.

Nash Street

The final stretch of the south side of the 500 block, all commercial.

Nash Street

  • 550 — vacant
  • 552 — Alston Robt T (c) watch repr 552 E Nash h [ditto]
  • 554 — Baxter & Co (Herman C Baxter, Jas F Downing) gros 554 E Nash

Stantonsburg Street [now Pender]

  • 100 — Verser Jesse W (Frances) gro 100 Stantonsburg h 504 E Nash

I confess surprise that, as late as 1930, the entire 100 block of South Pettigrew was an all-white residential street.

South Pettigrew Street

  • 107 — Ziady Jos gro 507 E Nash h 107 S Pettigrew
  • 109 — Hawley Geneva Mrs h 109 S Pettigrew
  • 111 — vacant
  • 113 — Nordan J Herman (Kath) lab h 113 Pettigrew
  • 115 — vacant
  • 117 — Hinnant Geo W (Mary A) projectionist Lincoln Theatre h 117 S Pettigrew; Robinson Sarah E (wid John R) h 117 S Pettigrew
  • 119 — Brown Edgar (Mamie) woodwkr Hackney Bros Body Co h 119 S Pettigrew
  • 121 — Bradberry Cora O hlpr 121 S Pettigrew; Bradberry Geo F pntr Hackney Bros Body Co h 121 S Pettigrew; Bradberry Luther farmer h 121 S Pettigrew

Hannibal Lodge building burns.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 October 1997.

For more about the Odd Fellows Hannibal Lodge building, see here and here. Shortly after it erected this building, Lodge #1552 established the Odd Fellows cemetery that now lies abandoned and overgrown on Lane Street.  

Killed as she crossed the street.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 May 1928.

Mattie Farmer was knocked down and killed as she crossed from one side of the 500 block of Nash Street, where she lived, to the other. 

——

Mattie Farmer died 23 May 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 28  years old; was married Eli Farmer; lived at 522 East Nash Street; worked as a common laborer; and was born in Laurinburg, N.C., to Henry and Hattie McLaurin. She was buried in Rountree cemetery.

915 East Nash Street.

The one hundred twenty-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 encompassed 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: “909-911 [Nash]; ca. 1930; 1; Cain’s Grocery; district’s largest grocery; brick-veneered structure with parapet front.” The correct address for this building is in fact 915 East Nash Street. 909 and 911 are empty lots.

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of the block shows three contiguous wood-framed commercial buildings, two marked as groceries, in the 900 block of Nash Street. The middle building, at 913, appears to be the precursor of the building above.

In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., directories, 915 East Nash Street is listed as vacant.

As early as July 1936, Gill’s Grocery advertised in the local newspaper:

Wilson Daily Times, 17 July 1936.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Gill’s Grocery (John D Gill) 915-917 E Nash.  (On either side, two more groceries, Jesse Verser’s at 913 and Smith’s, owned by Leander and Maggie Smith, at 919-921.)

Gill’s Grocery remained in business at 915 East Nash Street into the 1970s. Cain’s Grocery and other supermarkets succeeded Gill’s into the early 21st century. Most recently, the building has housed a church.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2018.