saddlebag house

Saddlebags.

Saddlebag houses like this one in the Evansdale area were common in the landscape of rural Wilson County as recently as the 1980s. I don’t know who lived in this particular house, but it is typical of those inhabited by tenant farmers, many of whom were African-American.

The basic saddlebag form consists of two rooms side-by-side, each with a front door. This house, however, has four rooms.

The headboard ceiling and walls are likely original, but the door communicating between the two rooms was probably cut through much later.

A view of the back two rooms. The door between these rooms is also likely a later addition.

Photos taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2019.

515 South Douglas Street.

Formerly 515 South Spring Street, this house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, South Spring Street, now Douglas — below the warehouse district — has been an African-American residential area since the turn of the twentieth century.

The house likely originally comprised only two rooms — known as the “saddlebag” type. An ell at the rear would have been added later to encompass a kitchen and bathroom. Current tax records show that the house measures 792 square feet.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hargett Lemuel (c; Beadie) lab h515 Spring

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Whitley Connell (c; Louise) USA h515 Spring

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2019.