This photograph of the Wilson Bus Center and the Oak Filling Station (built around the truck of its namesake tree) was probably taken not long after they opened in 1938. An African-American man is pumping gas at the rear of a vehicle. Another African-American man stands near its front fender.
The one hundred eighty-fourth 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.
The corner today, per Google Maps.
The corner of Pender and Nash, at 101 South Pender Street [Stantonsburg Street] (also known as 600 East Nash Street), as described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1950; 1 story; porcelain-enameled steel gas station with clean lines and simple square form suggesting International Style; altered and in disrepair.”
The 1908 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson, N.C., depict an irregularly shaped vacant brick building at the tip of the triangle formed by the intersection of East Nash Street and Stantonsburg Street (now South Pender Street). It was numbered 601-603 East Nash Street. The building shown just below it was the original location of Darden Funeral Home. The three-story building also housed C.H. Darden’s bicycle shop and general repair business. The third floor was reserved for lodge meetings. (Which lodge? The Odd Fellows and Masons had their own lodges.)
The 1913 Sanborn map shows the building modified with a wooden porch on the Stantonsburg Street side and cast-iron porches at the entrance and Nash Street side. A grocery occupied the space.
By time the 1922 Sanborn map was drawn, the street numbers had flipped from odd to even and vice-versa, and the auto repair shop at the corner was at 600 East Nash Street.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Triangle Service Station (Wm H Taylor) 600 E Nash
In the 1941 and 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Triangle Service Station (Cleveland T Barnes) filling sta 101 Stantonsburg
The Oblong Box-Style gas station described in the nomination form may date to 1950, but petroleum corporations began adopting the style in the late 1930s. I have not found photos of Triangle Service Station to determine whether it was built in the style or upgraded to it.
In the 1963 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Sutton’s Gulf Service (Cecil E Sutton) 600 E Nash St
The Gulf gas station is just visible in this detail from a mid to late 1960s photo of the area.
The building is currently home to a carwash business.
In which Tom Johnson, losing at cards, robs (and shoots) Jesse Foster to get his money back.
Wilson Daily Times, 3 October 1930.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 112 Reid Street, owned and valued at $1500, Tom Johnson, 41, and wife Ethel, 38, cosmetics agent.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Tom Johnson, 55, public service laborer; wife Ethel, 42; mother Lula, 68; and son Rogers McGill, 27, tobacco factory laborer. [The Johnsons lived in the same house they had occupied in 1930, but were paying $20/month in rent.]
Thomas Johnson died 25 December 1942 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 September 1895 in Terrell County, Georgia, to Orange Johnson and Lula [no maiden name given]; was married to Ethel Johnson; lived at 112 South Reid Street; and died of gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.
On 20 January 1915, Jesse Foster, 23, of Fremont [Wayne County,] N.C., son of Jesse and Cora Foster, married Zalister Grice, 22, of Black Creek, daughter of Joe and Lillie Grice, in Wilson.
In 1917, Jesse Foster Jr. registered for the World War I draft in Fremont, Wayne County. Per his registration card, he was born 11 March 1892 near Stantonsburg, N.C.; was a farm worker on his father Jesse Foster’s farm; and married. He signed with an X.
Brown’s Service Station stood at 1216 East Nash Street. Containing a small grocery, it was an early precursor to today’s convenience store. Per a label, Nestus Freeman is one of the men depicted; my guess is the man at left holding the gasoline pump nozzle. Note the Coca-Cola and Texaco advertising.
Entry under “Grocers–Retail” in the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory.
Freeman’s album is among the documents digitized by DigitalNC.org in the Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House Museum Group of the Images of North Carolina Collection.
By the late 1920s, automobiles were common on Wilson County roads, and “filling stations” and garages began to cluster on roads leading out of town. The 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory includes these three owned by African-Americans:
Annie Smith was listed as the proprietor of Smith’s Filling Station, located on East Nash beyond the city limits, in the 1925 city directory. (There was no listing for the business in 1922.) It seems, then, that she sold the gas station to Columbus E. Artis (who otherwise ran an undertaking business) and the garage to Alex Obey[Obery] shortly before 1928.
Similarly, in 1925, the owner of Brown’s Filling Station, at the corner of East Nash and Wainwright, was contractor/stonemason Nestus Freeman, who lived a few houses down Nash Street. It is not clear who “Brown” was, but Albert Speight elected to retain the name when he purchased the business from Freeman.
Herbert Woodard Sr., 100, of 1735 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, died peacefully on Saturday, June 21, 2008, at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Greenville. Herbert, son of the late James and Nancy Woodard, was born July 4, 1907, in Wilson County. Herbert was reared in Wilson County, where he attended the public schools. Though he never went beyond the 4th grade, what he lacked in education, he gained in common sense and wisdom. In the 100 years he lived, “Herb,” as he was affectionately called by friends, saw a lot of changes in this nation — from the rise of the age of television to the possibility of a black man becoming the president of these United States. He started working at the age of 13 to provide financial stability, not only for his family, but for others as well. Always self-employed, this magnate’s business ventures were successful whether selling coal and fish or by hauling water to men working at the now defunct Hackney Wagon Company. He cleaned septic tanks by day and ran a “Night Club” at night. He was the only black man to own and operate a motel in Wilson. It can be truthfully said that he was successful in every business he started. In celebration of Herbert’s 100th birthday, Mayor Bruce Rose presented him the key to the City of Wilson. Surviving to cherish fond memories are his wife, Mrs. Georgia Battle Woodard, of the home; two daughters, Georgie W. Hobbs of Hillside, N.J. and Annie Miller Woodard of Wilson; three sons, Ralph Woodard of Yonkers, N.Y., Herbert Woodard Jr., and David Woodard, both of Wilson; 13 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and other relatives and friends. Funeral services for Mr. Woodard will be conducted Friday, June 27, 2008, at 1 p.m. at St. Rose Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, 605 S. Douglas St., Wilson. Bishop M.W. Johnson will officiate. Burial will follow in the Rest Haven Cemetery. The family will receive visitors and friends at a wake on Thursday, June 26, 2008, from 7-8 p.m. at the Hamilton Funeral Chapel, 726 S. Tarboro St., Wilson, and at other times at the residence.
—Wilson Times, 25 June 2008.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Nancy Woodard, 33, widow, and children Lizzie, 14, Mamie, 11, Hubbard [Herbert], 4, and David, 2. [In fact, Nancy Woodard was divorced.]
On 13 February 1924, Herbert Woodard, 21, son of London and Nancy Woodard, married Mary Jones, 18, daughter of Tom and Mary Jones. Dock Barnes [husband of Herbert’s half-sister Lizzie Woodard Barnes] applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister JohnA. Barnes performed the ceremony at the bride’s home. Witnesses were Walter Barnes, Roosevelt Lipscomb, and David Downey.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Herbert Woodard, 32, self-employed manager of filling station restaurant; wife Lucille, 28; and lodger Jimmy Long, 24, tire repairer at filling station.
In 1940, Herbert Woodard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. His card noted that he was self-employed:
Woodard’s original filling station-cum-grocery store, built in 1935.
Jesse “Buster” Forte Jr. in front of a later version of the business.
Woodard’s Motel, at left, and the Herbert Woodard home today. At the time of construction, they were at the far outskirts of east Wilson where Nash Street became Highway 264. Image courtesy Google Maps.
On 9 February 2008, just months before his death, the Wilson Daily Times printed a full-page story on Herbert Woodard in its Life/Feature section. His story is told largely in his own words and those of his children, and all the photos above, except the last, were reprinted from that article.