This house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, the blocks of Mercer Street southwest of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad lines have been an African-American residential area since the early twentieth century. This house, with its original brackets, turned posts, balusters, and other millwork, is the gem of the block.
Per its architecture, I would peg the construction date of this house around the turn of the 20th century. City directories from that era, however, do not list house numbers for Mercer Street, describing houses only as “near Norfolk & Southern Railroad.”
The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map shows 1008 Mercer as the last house inside city limits on that side of the street.
Detail from 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Collins Debora (c) lndrs h 1008 Mercer
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Collins Deborah (c) lndrs h 1008 Mercer
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1008 Mercer, owned and valued at $3000, South Carolina-born widow Deborah Collins, 37, laundress, and niece Clara Thomas, 26, public school teacher.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1008 Mercer, rented at $16/month, James Hall, 31, cook at Cherry Hotel; wife Edith, 31, stemmer at redrying plant; children James Jr., 10, and Lurrine, 8; and adopted son Columbus Dawson, 23, laborer at redrying plant.
In 1940, James Hardy Hall registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 6 October 1909 in Wilson; lived at 1008 Mercer; his contact was wife Edith Burnette Hall; and he was unemployed.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hall Jas H (c; Edith E; 2) cook h 1008 Mercer
In 1942, Lonnie Ford registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 3 May 1924 in Dillon, South Carolina; lived at 1008 Mercer Street, Wilson; his mailing address was 1612 6th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.; his contact was Thomas Ford, 1008 Mercer; and he worked for War Department Bureau No. 5, Washington, D.C.
In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ford Thomas (c; Dora) confectioner 515 E Nash h 1008 Mercer
Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.