National Register of Historic Places

915 Atlantic Street.

The eighteenth 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 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.

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1930; 1 story; bungalow with traditional one-room, gable-roofed form; half-timber motif in porch gable; alum. sided.”

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 915 Atlantic, rented for $16/month, James Hawkins, 30, truck driver for a hardware company, and wife Sally, 27, a cook.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, Robert Ethridge is listed at 915 Atlantic Street.

Photograph taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

305 North Pender Street.

The seventeenth 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 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, this house is: “ca. 1908; 1 story; John Blount House; triple-A cottage with bracketed porch posts; Blount was a barber.”

John Blount, 24, married Jane Bryant, 21, on 4 March 1886, at Caroline Vick‘s in Wilson. E.H. Ward, Missionary Baptist minister performed the ceremony in the presence of Vick, Julius Watkins and Bettie Rountree.

In the 1900 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: on William Street, John Blount, 38, and wife Jane, 35.

John Blount is listed in the 1908, 1912 and 1916 Wilson city directories as a barber living at 206 Pender. The 1912 directory lists his work address as 422 East Nash.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Hagarty Street [briefly, the name of Pender Street], barber John Blount, 48, wife Mary J., 44, and son Walter, 9.

John Blount died 29 October 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1863 in Greene County to Wright and H. Blunt and worked as a barber. Informant was J.W. Blunt.

In the 1920 Wilson city directory, Jane Blount is listed as a domestic living at 206 Pender Street.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 305 North Pender Street, Julius Parker, 50, coal company laborer; wife Mollie, 42; and children Pearl Mae, 23, and James O., 19.  In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, Julius Parker is listed at 305 Pender with wife Mollie. His occupation was driver for Carolina Builders Supply Corp. Son James L. Parker, a student, had a separate listing at 305 Pender. (Julius Parker, 20, son of Jason and Annis Parker, married Mollie Ricks, 18, daughter of A. and Cherry Ricks, in Toisnot township on 25 December 1913. Elder B.W. Tippett, a Freewill Baptist minister, performed the ceremony at Jason Parker’s in the presence of S.S. Strickland, H.F. Boswell and Mc. Whitehead.)

In the 1959 and 1963 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city director Herman W. Edwards was listed as the occupant of 305 North Pender Street. His descendants own and occupy the house today.

Photograph taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

624 East Green Street.

The sixteenth 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 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.

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “ca. 1922; 2 stories; Dr. Frank S. Hargrave House; district’s most distinguished Colonial Revival house when completed in the early 1920s; retains cubic form with cross gables and columned porte-cochere; aluminum; Hargrave was influential physician who helped organize local hospital for blacks.”

The house has been heavily modified, and its original charm is not easily detected. It remains, however, an imposing structure that, with Samuel H. Vick‘s house next door, dominates East Green Street.

Hargrave’s accomplishments have been chronicled here, here, and elsewhere at Black Wide-Awake. He did not live in the house long, migrating to New Jersey in the mid-1920s.

Photograph taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2016.

805 East Nash Street

The eleventh 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 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.

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1922; 1 [sic, 2]; Dr. Matthew Gilliam house; one of the district’s fine Colonial Revival houses, including typical cubic form, hip roof, and simple detail; distinguished by wraparound porch wit classical columns; Gilliam was a physician and owned rental property on Nash and Ashe Streets.”

Dr. Gilliam was died of knife wounds sustained when he confronted one of his tenants. 805 East Nash Street has long been occupied by Edwards Funeral Home, which added a wing on the east side of the house.

Central Business District, part 3.

In 1984, a preservation consultant prepared a Nomination Form for recognition as a National Historic District for “Wilson Central Business District – Tobacco Warehouse Historic District,” a thirty-six-block area at “the commercial and industrial heart of Wilson.” This area included the stretch of Nash Street east of the the railroad, Wide Awake’s black business district, and the nomination  form has preserved forgotten details of the architecture and history of these blocks, part of which underwent dramatic, transformative loss a few years after the report was created.

Excerpted below are details of buildings in blocks of Barnes and Pender Streets that lie adjacent to the main corridor of Nash Street, with recent photographs of the buildings described. (The entries are presented as original with minor typographical corrections and just a few fact corrections, noted in brackets.)

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#116. Wilson Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, 513 East Barnes Street.

The Wilson Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1872 and had by 1880 erected a small frame church at this site. That congregation, now known as the Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, was a leader in the black community and in 1913 erected their current Romanesque Revival style church nearby at the corner of North Pender and East Nash Streets (#275). In 1915 the old frame church was sold to the Wilson Chapel Free Will Baptist Church. It was replaced in 1958 by this present building, a gable front, three bay by six bay brick structure that contains triangular pointed windows and a crenellated, partially-inset tower, all of which are faintly reminiscent of the Gothic Revival style. The site has played a significant role in the religious life of East Wilson for over one hundred years.

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Wilson Chapel.

#272. Rental house, 121 North Pender Street.

This modest, turn of the century, two bay-by-two bay, frame dwelling is sheltered beneath a hipped roof of standing seam metal that is pierced by a brick chimney. Occupied by black renters since its construction, the house has four-over-four sash windows and a two-bay front porch carried on plain posts. It and a similarly modest dwelling at 123 North Pender Street were acquired in 1976 by the adjacent St. John’s African Methodist Epsicopal Zion Church for future expansion. The house at 123 was razed in November 1983; the church has plans to raze this one also.

Demolished.

#273. St. John’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and Parsonage, 119 North Pender Street.

One of the earliest black congregations in Wilson, the St. John’s African Methodist Epsicopal Zion Church was deeded this property in 1880 by prominent white businessman E.D. Nadal (1843-1896). A frame church of which there is scant information, was erected on the site soon thereafter. This frame church was razed in 1914 to make way for this impressive and imposing Gothic Revival edifice, which was erected in 1915 by talented Wilson brickmason John Barnes, who was a brother-in-law [sic; son-in-law] of Charles H. Darden (1845-1931). Darden was one of the leaders in Wilson’s black community, the first black undertaker in North Carolina, and a member of this congregation. While the architect is unknown, there is no reason to believe that the church may be the work of Charles C. Benton (1887-1960), who designed several buildings for the Darden family. Dominating the large brick church is the three-story square tower which has corner buttresses, Gothic arched windows, projecting stone rainspouts, a louvered and arched belfry with limestone trim, and stone finials, crosses and caps at the top. Molded stone Gothic arches that rest on clustered stone columns are used prominently in the arcade that shelters the recessed entrance on the Pender Street (southeast) facade. The truncated hip roof (slate covered) has prominent gables on the sides, each containing an arched window with a wide, stone surround. Square, one and-a-half story towers with crenellated tops mark the east and west corners; the east tower is augmented by a marvelous octagonal minaret with a bell cast roof. The handsomely finished interior focuses upon the recessed central dome which is carried by arches springing from the four corners of the sanctuary. This dome, like all of this church’s windows, has its original stained art glass windows. The altar in the east corner is flanked on the northwest by the recessed choir and on the northeast by the adjoining church school rooms. A spacious balcony, accessible by stairs in the corner towers, extends across the two street elevations. The interior’s woodwork retains its lustrous dark finish. A modern Sunday School wing was added on the rear in the 1960s. The church was designated by the City Council on February 16, 1981, as a Wilson Historic Property.

The adjacent, two-story, three-bay-by-four-bay brick parsonage, built soon after the church, continues the Gothic character of the church in its Gothic arched and recessed entrance. These arches are framed by wide, bold stuccoed surrounds and rise from round piers. However, the rest of the parsonage is Colonial Revival in style. The parsonage has a low, pyramidal roof supported by shallow brackets beneath the eaves. Nine-over-nine sash windows brick sills and solider course lintels. The recessed porch has two entrances, the southwest one leading to the pastor’s study and the northeast one providing access to the living quarters. The interior is plastered and simply finished.

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Saint John’s A.M.E. Zion and adjacent parsonage.

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The parsonage.

#274. Mount Hebron Masonic Lodge #42, 115-117 North Pender Street.

The Mount Hebron Masonic Lodge #42, the oldest black fraternal organization in Wilson, was chartered on December 15, 1881. G.A. Farmer, Alfred RobinsonI.H. Harris, J.W. Hood and Joseph Hill, all prominent leaders in Wilson’s small, but growing, black community, were the first officers. The craft met in various churches until 1896 when this lot at the corner of North Pender and Smith Streets was purchased from the St. John’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and a small, two-story frame lodge hall was built here. (The impressive 1915 Gothic Revival edifice of St. John’s stands across Smith Street from the lodge.) This building was occupied by the craft for over 40 years until it deteriorated and was replaced in 1947 by the present plainly finished, two-story, two-bay-by-five-bay, concrete block building. It was erected by prominent Wilson bricklayer B. Frank Barnes according to the marble cornerstone; Barnes was a lodge member. The facade contains two (rental) storefronts with recessed central entrances; number 117 has suffered major alterations while the 115 storefront is basically intact. The second story contains paired six-over-six sash windows flanking a central inset marble tablet bearing the masonic emblem. The stepped parapet has tile caps. The side and rear elevations contain an irregular arrangement of doors of small raised windows on the first story and single six-over-six sash windows on the second story. The interior was entirely remodeled in 1960. The lodge rooms are on the second story. The 155 [sic; 115] store was occupied by the Wilson County Negro Library from 1947 until ca 1974, when the library moved to 208 South Pender Street and the name was changed to the East Branch of the Wilson County Library. Since then it has been occupied by the Squire Club (social club) of the lodge. The 117 store was first occupied by lodge member Linwood Moore as a grocery until 1950 and from 1950 until ca 1980 it was operated as the Stop Light Grill by James Morrison, also a lodge member. It is presently vacant. The membership of the Mount Hebron Lodge has included, since its organization, most of the leaders in Wilson’s active black community. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries its members also included all of the members of the Red Hot Hose and Reel Company Volunteer Fire Company, a black fire department which assisted the City of Wilson’s fire department; the company is still in existence, but hasn’t actively fought fires for many years. With a present membership of about 140, the Mount Hebron Lodge is one of the largest and most active black masonic lodges in eastern North Carolina.

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Mount Hebron Lodge.

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#275. Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, 101 North Pender Street.

In 1872, a congregation of black Christians, under the leadership of Rev. Andrew Jackson, established a Missionary Baptist church in Wilson; the present name of the church serves as a memorial to its founder. The congregation first met in a downtown building, but by 1880 had raised enough money to erect a small wooden church at 513 East Barnes Street. The church enjoyed a steady growth and became a strong and influential element in Wilson’s black community, leading to the initiation in 1905 of a drive for a larger sanctuary. In the 1906 of the present lot was deeded to the church by Samuel H. Vick (1861-1946) [sic; 1863-1946], a prominent educator, former postmaster, and a leader of educational, cultural and business causes in the black community of Wilson. The trustees of the Jackson’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church at that time were Parker Battle, George W. Woodard, S.D. Henderson, and Walter Foster, each a prominent citizen of Wilson’s progressive black community. Led by their minister, the Rev. M.A. Tally, and several members who mortgaged their personal property, by 1913 the congregation was able to hold a cornerstone ceremony which Booker T. Washington is said to have attended. In 1915 the original church was sold to Wilson Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, who altered the building and eventually replaced it. However, a church continues to exist at the site at 513 East Barnes Street, one block south of this sanctuary.

Erected in 1913 in a boldly Romanesque form (architect and builder unknown) at the corner of East Nash and North Pender Streets, the Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, with its tall, three-story corner belltower, is a visual landmark in East Wilson (the traditional black community), especially when approaching from the east. Constructed of red brick and covered with a hipped roof with wide, open eaves under which is a corbeled and arched cornice panel, the church focuses upon the three-story tower at the south corner (corner of East Nash and North Pender Street). Crowned by a bellcast pyramidal roof with finial and support[ed] by curved brackets, the tower is pierced at all levels by rounded openings, with those on the first floor at Pender Street containing the door. Three smaller ones on the Nash Street side illuminate the interior stairwell. The elongated openings on the third level are subdivided by columns into three round-headed arches and contain the bell. A similar, but shortened, tower is at the west corner. The southeast facade (North Pender Street) contains one large, roundheaded, three-part window flanked on each side by similar, two part windows. The East Nash Street elevation contains two tiers of paired one-over-one windows, each surmounted by a round fanlight; the central window on the first floor has been enlarged to make an entrance and the flanking windows have been bricked in. A rose window occupies the top of the East Nash Street gable.

The handsome interior is plastered and has a sloping floor and curved pews which focus on the recessed chancel in the northeast elevation. The ceiling is a coved cross vault, from a central, ornate metal rosette hand and octagonal lantern. The walls of the chancel area are finished in a pseudo half-timber fashion.  The baptistry is recessed into the upper chancel wall. A U-shaped balcony extends along each side and curves at the rear. It is supported by Tuscan columns and the balcony’s fascia treated like an entablature; a brass railing is on top. The balcony is reached by four separate flights of stairs, one in each of the towers and one at the front of each wing of the balcony. Behind the altar are the choir rooms, the parson’s study and Sunday school rooms. Additional Sunday school rooms and a large meeting room are found in the basement. The Jackson Chapel First Baptist Church was designated a Wilson Historic Property by the City Council on March 21, 1979.

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Jackson Chapel, viewed from Pender Street.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2016.

307 North Pender Street.

The ninth 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 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.

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “#307. Ca. 1908; 2 [stories]; Noah Tate house; Queen Anne house with hip-roofed central block and hip-roofed front wing; porch, which extends across front facade, remodeled bungalow type posts; Tate was a barber working with Walter Tate [sic; Hines].”

This house is one of East Wilson’s gems.

Between the dates of the 1920 census of Wilson, in which Tate and his family are listed at 208 North Pender, and the 1922 city directory, the house number changed 307 North Pender.

On 24 November 1904, Noah J. Tate, 28, of Wilson, son of Hardy and Mary Tate, married Hattie B. Pearce, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Andrew and Alice Pearce. Walter S. Hines applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at the residence of Ritchard Renfrow in the presence of S.H. Vick, W.H. Simms and J.D. Reid.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Noah Tate, 28, wife Hattie, 25, and children John P., 3, and Helen, 2.

The 1913 Sanborn insurance map shows the dwelling in its original one-story form, as indicated by the 1 inked into the bottom right corner:

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1913 Sanborn insurance map.

Noah John Tate registered for the World War I draft in Wilson on 12 September 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 6 November 1876; resided at 208 North Pender, Wilson; and was a self-employed barber working at 213 East Nash Street. His nearest relative was wife Hattie Tate.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Pender Street, barber Noah Tate, 42, wife Hattie, 34, boarder Mary Jennings, 28, and children Helen, 16, Mary Jane, 8, Andrew, 11, and Noah Jr., 3.

Noah J. Tate died 3 January 1926 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he resided at 307 Pender Street; was married to Hattie Tate; was born about 1875 in Grimesland, North Carolina, to Hardy Tate of Wayne County and Mary Jane Dawson of Pitt County. He was buried in Rountree cemetery.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 307 North Pender, widowed seamstress Hattie Tate, 44; daughter Hellen, 23, insurance agent; son Andrew, 21, hotel bellboy; and lodger Lucy Davis, 50, a school teacher. The house was owned and valued at $8000.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

1300 East Nash Street.

The third in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located at 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.

On 6 January 1920, surely in the morning, census enumerator Sam E. Clark left his home just south of downtown Wilson and turned east on Nash Street, the town’s main artery. In short order, he would have crossed the Atlantic Coast Line tracks and entered African-American Wilson’s business district in the 500 block. Passing the deep red brick tower of First Baptist Church, Clark would have returned to residential district, this one at the heart of black east Wilson. Clark may have parked his car just past Carroll Street, then dug into his satchel to pull out a fresh enumeration sheet and a fountain pen. He had arrived at Wilson city limits. Across the street, then called Saratoga Road, squatted a small bungalow — household number 1 in Enumeration District 110, Wilson township — and Clark set off on foot to tackle his task.

After briefly interviewing a resident, Clark carefully inscribed the name of the head of household, Oliver N. Freeman, struggling a bit over the spelling of his first name. Freeman’s listed occupation, brickmason, hardly did justice to his growing reputation as a master builder, especially in stone.

More than 90 years later, the Freeman house, now well inside city limits, yet stands at a bend of Nash Street. In the nomination form for the historic district, the house is described as: “Nestus Freeman House; bungalow with stone veneer and gabled entry porch; enlarged to this form in the late 1920s; Freeman was noted stone mason and builder in East Wilson; contributing stone fence and six concrete yard ornaments, including dinosaur.”

Oliver N. Freeman house, 1300 East Nash Street, Wilson.

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(Note that directly next door to Oliver Freeman lived East Wilson’s other artistic artisan, marble cutter Clarence Best, at 1306 East Nash.)

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2016.

Central business district: East Nash Street, part 1.

In 1984, a preservation consultant prepared a Nomination Form for recognition as a National Historic District for “Wilson Central Business District – Tobacco Warehouse Historic District,” a thirty-six-block area at “the commercial and industrial heart of Wilson.” This area included stretch of Nash Street east of the the railroad, Wide Awake’s black business district, and the nomination  form has preserved forgotten details of the architecture and history of these blocks, part of which underwent dramatic, transformative loss a few years after the report was created.

Excerpted below are details of the 400 and 500 blocks of Nash Street and recent photographs of the buildings described. (The entries are presented as original with minor typographical corrections and just a few fact corrections, noted in brackets.)

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#53. Commercial building, 417-419 East Nash Street

Built ca 1920 and enlarged during the 1920s, this two-story, five-bay brick building has two altered storefronts on the first story and six-over-six sash windows enframed in a recessed brick panel on the second story. The simply finished building has decorative cornice. In the early 1970s, the interior underwent a thorough remodeling during conversion to a restaurant/lounge, including the placement of simulated wood paneling on the walls. Fortunately, the foliate detailed pressed metal survives on both stories and has a  modest molded cornice. Its earliest occupants were the Wilson Cafe in 417 and Willie Johnson Cafe in 419. The Lincoln Theatre occupied the 417 store in the late 1920s. Both stores were occupied by the W.L. Wooten (furniture) Company from ca 1936 until the early 1970s. The present owner of the combined stores is a restaurant/lounge. The second story is used for storage.

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415 and 417 Nash Street SE.

#54. Commercial building, 418-420 East Nash Street

One story, brick, commercial buildings have stood here since the mid 1880s and since the 1890s were known as the Fulcher Block. The present double-storefront building apparently dates from the mid 1880s, but has been altered several times  since, including being completely stuccoed in the early twentieth century. The 420 lower facade retains its recessed entrance configuration with overhead transom, while the 418 lower facade has been replaced by a modern door. The east corner of the building, facing toward the railroad, is clipped/angled and contains a modern replacement window. The South Railroad Street (northwest) elevation is six bays wide, with a closed-up display window at the front  and altered segmental windows toward the rear. At the rear southwest is a 1954 cement block annex. The interiors have seen numerous changes during conversion to a furniture store in the 1970s. The building’s first occupant was a general mercantile store and was succeeded by several grocery stores. From the early 1930s until ca 1971 the building was occupied by the Wilson-Purity-Holsum Bakery; since 1974 it has been occupied by the Adams Brothers Furniture Company.

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420 and 422 Nash Street NE.

#55. Star Cafe building, 423-425 East Nash Street

A simple four bay-by-six bay building built with oversized bricks, this commercial building was built ca 1928 as rental property and has an acute angled corner at the East Nash Street juncture with North Pettigrew Street. The first story facade at number 423 has been altered with shortened replacement windows, a replacement door and its transom, which has a cast concrete lintel, has been closed. The 421 storefront has also been altered and its transom stuccoed. The second story windows have cast concrete sills and have been closed. The North Pettigrew Street (southeast) elevation steps down toward the rear ad has closed bays. On the rear (northeast) elevation are two, one-story additions both ca 1930. The first one, 105 Pettigrew Street, is built of cement block and is three bays wide and has a shed roof. Both additions have altered and closed bays. A barber has always occupied the 421 East Nash Street store, first Charles Woodard, then John Hargrove from 1936 until the 1950s, and since then by the Service Shaving Parlor. The Star Cafe, Gus Glearmes [Gliarmis], proprietor, occupied the 423 store from its construction until the mid 1940s and was succeeded, consequently, by the Wilson Cafe, the Tropical Grill, the Army-Navy Surplus store, and storage for a grocery. It is currently occupied by the Whole Truth Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. The additions/stores at 105, 107-109 North Pettigrew Street have been occupied primarily for storage; both have been vacant for many years.

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419 and 421 Nash Street NE (buildings renumbered).

#56. Wilson Bakery Annex, 422 East Nash Street

This two-story, four bay-by-three bay, brick building was built in the 1940s to enlarge the Wilson Bakery, which had occupied the adjacent stores at 418-420 East Nash Street in the mid 1930s. The first story contains large windows filled with square glass blocks and the second story contains four-pane casements. A cement block, one-story section was added at the rear (southwest) in 1954. The Wilson-Purity-Holsum Bakery occupied the building until ca 1971; Adams Brothers Furniture has occupied the building along with 418-420 East Nash Street since 1974.

From 1921 until 1930 this site was the location of the Commercial Bank of Wilson, Wilson’s first black-owned bank. Founded in March of 1921 by Samuel H. Vick (1863-1946), a prominent black Wilsonian who was involved in numerous civic, fraternal and business enterprises in the black community. Vick was responsible for the founding and erection of the Odd Fellows building (#75) at 549 East Nash Street and the construction of the 1906 Orange Hotel (#63) at 526 East Nash Street. The directors of the bank included some of the most prominent black citizens in Wilson: F.S. Hargraves [Hargrave], I.A. Slade, J.D. Reid, Dr. W.R. [W.H.] Phillips, W.R. Hinnant, C.L. Darden (see the Darden Building (#80) at 559-561 East Nash Street), C.S. Thomas and Glenn McBrayer.

#57. Joe’s Quick Stop Grill, 500 East Nash Street

This intrusive little grill was erected during the 1950s of cement blocks and faces the corner of East Nash and South Pettigrew Streets. Gas pumps are located in front of the building, which has a recent metal awning. Early Sanborn maps show this to have been the site of a frame grocery store.

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500 Nash Street NE.

#58. (Former) Harrell Store Building, 501-503 East Nash Street

Built in the early 1900s as a general mercantile store for white merchant Ephraim Harrell, this one-story, two-storefront building has some of the boldest brickwork found on small commercial buildings in Wilson. Raised cornices and dentils decorate the stepped parapet and the recessed panels of the upper facade. A raised dentil cornice also continues along the North Pettigrew (northwest) elevation. Unfortunately, both storefronts have been altered, although the 501 store retains its recessed central entrance. Both transoms have been covered. Succeeding Harrell in the 501 store was George W. Maynard’s market, the Yellow Front Grocery (W.L. Dickerson, proprietor) for about twenty years during the 1930s,  1940s, and 1950s, and the Red Front Grill. The restaurant of Rosa Rhyne occupied the 503 store from ca 1936 until the 1960s. Since the mid 1970s, Jimmy’s Pawn Shop has occupied both stores. The interior contains one large space and contains replacement walls and ceiling.

#59. Barnes Barber Shop, 505 East Nash Street

This small, one-story brick building, completely altered by the bricking in of the display windows, was built ca 1922 as a restaurant and housed the barbershop of John Barnes from ca 1928 until 1961. Since 1962 it has been occupied by Rosa’s Restaurant.

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501-503 and 505 Nash Street NE.

#60. Abbitt Building, 506-516 East Nash Street

This modest, one-story commercial building was erected between 1922 and 1930 as rental property by Henry W. Abbitt (1881-1957), a prominent Wilson auto dealer who built several  rental commercial buildings in Wilson in the 1920s. It is the most intact of any of the commercial buildings in the 500 block of East Nash Street, the traditional black commercial district. Each of the three wide bays, divided by brick pilasters, contains an identical pair of storefronts. The right (northwest) has a recessed entrance on the northwest, and the left (southeast) has a street level door on the southeast; the respective display windows are in the center. Above each surprisingly intact storefront is a transom of multi-pane, raised glass and a brick soldier course lintel. A brick panel, defined by a brick soldier course and and having square corner insets of cast concrete is located in the upper facade of each bay. The stepped parapet is capped by cast concrete. The six interiors are identical and intact. Each has plastered walls and a modest pressed metal ceiling with cornice. Only the 516 store has replacement paneled walls. The first occupants of the respective stores were the Jung Wah Laundry in 506, The City Taxi in 508, the Baltimore Shoe Shop in 510, Ezekiel Braswell‘s Restaurant in 512, an unnamed cleaners on 514, and the Sanitary Shaving Parlor. Since then, a number of businesses have been located in each store — a taxi company, a beer hall, a flower shop, a shoe shine shop, a pool hall, and numerous beauty parlors and barber shops. The current occupants are Cleo’s Beauty  shop in 506, a church in 508, 510 is vacant, Mitchell’s Pool Hall in 512, Taylor’s Beauty Shop in 514, and The Pink Tulip Beauty Shop in 516.

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Partial view of 506-516 Nash Street NE.

#61. Commercial buildings, 513, 515, 517, 519, 521 East Nash Street

These plain, modest, brick buildings, exhibiting simple brick details, were built in the 1930s to replace previous frame stores and have served a variety of commercial uses since: a shoe shine parlor, several barber and beauty shops, a cleaner, a bike repair shop, a grocer, two confectioners and several cafes. Presently, the stores house a beauty shop, a bar, a barber shop, a party store and a jeweler. All the facades have been modernized at various times.

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515, 517, 519 and 521 Nash Street NE (513 has been demolished).

#62. (Former) Wilson Variety Store, 518-522 East Nash Street

Built in 1957-1958 by Irving Mink for rental purposes, this plain, one-story, three-storefront structure is simply detailed. Its first tenant, the Wilson Variety Store, John M. Pierce, manager, occupied the building only until 1964. Since then a variety of beauty shops and bars have occupied the building.

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518, 520 and 522 Nash Street NE.

#63. The Orange Hotel, 526 East Nash Street

The Orange Hotel was built in 1906 for Samuel H. Vick (1861-1946) to serve as a hotel for Negro travelers through Wilson at a time that it is doubtful that any of Wilson’s several hotels served blacks. 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. 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 narrow windows contain two-over-two in plain surrounds. A molded and boxed cornice with plain frieze completes the building. The rear elevation is occupied by a one-story ell. The front yard is set off by a pointed picket fence. The center hall plan interior is plastered and has symmetrically molded door and window surrounds with circular corner medallions. A handsome closed stringer rises from the front of the hall along the northwest wall.

Samuel H. Vick was a determined and successful businessman who cared about his race and aspired to alleviate injustice and therefore directed his business pursuits to the service of his people.  He built livable rental housing for Wilson’s expanding Negro population in the first decade of this century, established in 1920 the first Commercial Bank of Wilson (#56), the first bank to serve Negroes in Wilson, the Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home (known to most Wilsonians as Mercy Hospital) in 1913, a movie theatre, an insurance company, the Lincoln Benefit Society, and the Odd Fellows Lodge (#76) in 1894. He was also active in church and social activities. Born in 1863 at Castalia in neighboring Nash County, Vick came by himself to Wilson in the mid 1870s to attend school [this is not correct, see here], working in a grocery store to put himself through school. In 1880 he enrolled in Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he graduated in 1884. He pursued his graduate work by correspondence, obtaining his master’s degree in 1887; during this time, 1884-1887, he was principal of the Wilson Graded School. He served two terms as Wilson postmaster, 1889-1894 and again from 1898-1903. After 1903 he served under sponsorship of Lincoln University as a Presbyterian missionary and traveled for years throughout North Carolina helping to organize Presbyterian Sunday School classes. Afterward, he devoted his time to his many business and philanthropic interests in Wilson.

According to the Sanborn maps, by 1913 the Orange Hotel was known as the Lynn Haven Hotel and by 1922 it was a dwelling. Vick lost the building during the Depression and the Mechanics and Farmers Bank held title until 1944. The present owner, Mrs. Mattie B. Coleman, purchased the property in 1950 and continues to live here and rent furnished rooms.

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The Orange Hotel, 526 Nash Street NE.

 Many thanks to LuAnn Monson, City of Wilson Preservation Planner, for a correction regarding the success of the nomination. All photographs taken by Lisa Y. Henderson in July 2016.

The Woodard plantations.

Woodard Family Rural Historic District is a national historic district located near Wilson, Wilson County, North Carolina. It encompasses 29 contributing buildings in a rural area near Wilson. The district developed between 1830 and 1911 and includes notable examples of Colonial Revival and Greek Revival style architecture. Notable buildings include the William Woodard House, built circa 1832; the Woodard House, build circa 1855; William Woodard Jr. House, built circa 1850; and Elder William Woodard Sr. House, built later. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Per the Nomination Form, the historic district consists of a cluster of farmhouses and outbuildings built on land acquired by William Woodard in the 1820s and ’30s. The 550-acre district in eastern Wilson County is located in the fork of Toisnot Swamp and White Oak Swamp. Most of the land is cleared for agriculture, but there is a large timbered section near Buck Branch. The main houses of the district are located along modern Alternate Highway 264, which largely follows the route of the antebellum Wilson to Greenville Plank Road. “Associated with the agricultural prosperity in the eastern part of present Wilson County during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Woodard Family Rural Historic District is indicative of the character and diversity of rural life in the area.”

This rural life, of course, was supported by many dozens of enslaved people and, later, tenant farmers. In 1852, after William Woodard was declared dead years after disappearing during a trip to Texas, his estate went into probate, and his assets were distributed to his heirs. Fifty-five men, women and children, valued at more $19,000, were divided thus:

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Their names: Mintas, Siller, Ginny, Rose, Easther, Thain, Dark, Pleasant, Morris, Blont, Ben, Arch, Alford, Tom, Peg, Rody, Silvier, Charlot, Liberty, George, Jonathan, Jim, Rachel, Nancy, Ned, Elizur, Sarah, Cherry, Amy, Harry, Gray, John, Jess, Piety, Edy, Mandy, Little Rose, Mal, Lewis, Lizzy, Sal, Little Mintas, Mariah, Hiliard, Beck, Phereby, Little Ned, Simon, London, Amos, Harrit, Richard, Dennis, Randol, and Venice.

These 55 people did not represent the total of the Woodard family’s human capital however. William’s widow Elizabeth Woodard, for example, had reported 67 slaves in the 1850 federal schedule. Her sons William Jr., Warren, James S., and Calvin reported 21, 21, 14 and 18, respectively, in the 1860 schedule.

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The heart of the Woodard Family Rural Historic District today.

Estate Record of William Woodard, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

James Scarborough house.

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The Major James Scarborough House is a historic plantation house located near Saratoga, Wilson [formerly Edgecombe] County, North Carolina. It was built about 1821 and is a two-story, five bay, Federal style frame dwelling with a rear shed addition and exterior end chimneys. It has a one-story rear kitchen wing connected by a breezeway. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The nomination form for the house notes that it is “probably the best preserved example of early nineteenth century architecture in Wilson County” and is “one of the most outstanding Federal houses extant” in the county.

As usual with Wilson County, the nomination form for the Scarborough house, though describing its builder as a “leading planter,” makes no mention of the men and women whose work sustained the place and produced its wealth.

Scarborough was born about 1748 in Southampton County, Virginia. His family migrated into the southern tip of Edgecombe by the late 1750s, and by 1778 Scarborough had secured the 365-acre parcel upon which he sited his home more than 30 years later. On 12 May 1835, James Scarborough, “being in a Low State of helth but in reasonable Since,” penned a will in which he left to wife Martha and daughter Zilly Scarborough, along with his home and other property, “A Parcel of Negros that is to say Name Aggy Simon Silvey Lemon Washington Sumter and Young Aggy and Haywood these Eight negros with the in Creas I lend them Jointly to Geather to my wife & daughter Zilly but by no means to be Hired out but to Remane on the Plantation to labour for them during their natural lifes after there deaths I give the afore said negros by name and their in Creas to my grandaughters & grandsons named Millicent Eason Elizabeth Eason Martha Eason and James S. Eason daughters & son of Joshua B. Eason to be Equelly divided between the above named grandchildren….” To his son John Scarborough: “I also gave him three Likely negros when he went a way and now I give him four more after my death there names is as follows Luke Gilford Orange and Willis the above negros is not to be carryed away without a Lawful authority or Either by himself or his Heirs or Executors….” (Scarborough seems to have taken pains to insure that his “negros” remained together on his land.) Another son, Isaac Scarborough, inherited the Scarborough house after his unmarried sister Zilly’s death, but he died before occupying it. As of the date of the Historic Register, an unbroken line of James Scarborough’s descendants had inhabited the house.

North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.