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.
As shown in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, coming from downtown, 816 Mercer Street was the first house on the right after Hominy Swamp. (It is now at the corner of Mercer and Park Drive, but is still the first house.) The house has been updated with vinyl siding, but retains its original tin standing-seam roof.
A close-up of the sketch reveals that the odd bay window is original.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, at 816 Mercer, Anna Wiggins, a domestic, and at 816 Mercer (rear), laborer Archie McAlister and wife Maggie McAlister. In the 1930 directory, the house was vacant.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 816 Mercer, Ruth Lofton, 26, daywork stemmer at redrying plant; husband Benjamin, 29, storage room worker at redrying plant; niece Mary Jones, 12; children Marjorie, 7, Benjamin Jr., 6, and Herbert Lee Lofton, 4; roomer Martha Norfleet, 67, widow; mother-in-law Tincy Lofton, 56, widow, cook in-service in private home; and brother-in-law Major Lofton, 18, stemmer at redrying plant.
Benjamin Lofton registered for the World War II draft in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 17 August 1909 in Wayne County, N.C.; lived at 816 Mercer Street; worked for Southern Tobacco Company, Wilson; and his contact was wife Ruth Britton Lofton, 816 Mercer.
The 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists Benjamin F. and Ruby B. Lofton at 816 Mercer with four others.
Major Lofton registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 12 December 1921 in Black Creek, N.C.; lived at 816 Mercer Street; worked for Thomas Barnes at Service Laundry, Five Points, Wilson; and his contact was mother Tincy Lofton, 816 Mercer.
The 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists Samuel Hammond, a cement finisher, and wife Frances at 816 Mercer.