shotgun house

507 Church Street.

This heavily modified shotgun house on Church Street is not located in the East Wilson Historic District. Nor was its single block included in the Wilson Central Business-Tobacco Warehouse District, though it lies just behind East Nash and Pettigrew Streets. Once densely packed with working-class housing, Church Street is now empty. Only three houses stand on the block, none occupied, and 507 is the last house remaining on the north side of the street.

The 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories list Lucy Sherrod at 507 Church. Also in 1930: Hall Lonnie (c; Mamie L) laborer 507 Church

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Church, renting for $16/month, Lonnie Hall, 34, odd jobs laborer, wife Mamie, 34, hotel maid, and daughter Elsie, 2; nieces and nephews Estha, 16, Christine, 13, and lodgers Lucile Sherif [sic], 30, widow, hotel maid, Lucile Sherif, 14, and Jack Sherif, 17, odd jobs laborer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Church, renting for $12/month, laborer Will Rogers, 28, and wife Sally, 30, odd jobs. Both seemed to be Arkansas natives — he, from Pine Bluff, and she, from Fayetteville.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Rogers William (c; Sallie) yd mn 507 Church

As the Central Business Historic District survey map shows, as recently as 1984, Church Street was filled with houses. 507 is encircled.

Google Maps shot this image of 507 Church in 2012. It appears that, at that time, the house was occupied.

The most blighted fraction.

In the early 1970s, Maury and neighboring streets, already hemmed in on one side by the railroad, were further cut off from the fabric of the larger community by the construction of Hines Street extension and the towering Carl B. Renfro Overpass. In the unselfconscious lingo of the early 1980s, the Wilson Daily Times described the neighborhood bounded by Gay, Stemmery, Pender and the railroad as “the most blighted fraction of the Wilson ghetto.”

The article focuses on the city’s efforts to eliminate blighted housing (“more often than not, … stem[ming] from the landlords’ greed”) and provide adequate public housing for its poorest citizens. Interviews of some residents offer stark testimony about the deterioration of many houses in the neighborhood, some already more than a half-century old.

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Wilson Daily Times, 24 October 1981.

Close-up of photograph of shotgun houses facing Pender Street, near Stemmery Street. All were demolished in the mid-1980s.

A related article in the same issue of the Daily Times highlighted successes of the Wilson Department of Community Development, which, via a multi-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, offered grants and low-interest loans to homeowners to improve their property.

Thirty-seven years after its rehab, this house at 309 Elba has relapsed into serious disrepair. 

405 and 415 Maury Street.

Maury Street is outside the East Wilson Historic District. It is one of a cluster of narrow streets squeezed between the railroad and what was once an industrial area crowded with a stemmery, cotton oil and fertilizer mills.

405 Maury Street.

This house does not appear in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson and was likely built in the late 1920s to house tobacco factory and mill laborers.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 Murray [Maury], renting for $12/month, tobacco factory laborers Hasty Cooper, 36, widow, and Lena Simmons, 25.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 Maury, renting for $10/month, Percy Lucas, 30, laborer on WPA project, and wife Eva, 23, tobacco factory laborer.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 405 Maury was vacant.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Franklin, John (c) lab h 405 Maury

415 Maury Street. 

This house does not appear in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson and was likely built in the late 1920s to house tobacco factory and mill laborers.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 415 Murray [Maury], renting for $16/month, cook Annie Cambell, 34; her children Paul, 18, fish market salesman, and Christine, 16, tobacco factory laborer; and grandson Paul, 0. All the adults were born in South Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 415 Maury, renting for $12/month, laundress Lena Barnes, 49, and children Harvey, 28, well digger; Paulean, 17, housekeeper; and “new workers” Evylene, 14, and James, 19.

In 1940, Harvey Barnes registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 9 April 1913 in Wilson County; resided at 1505 West Nash, Wilson; his contact was mother Lena Barnes, 415 Maurry; and he worked for Mr. B.T. Smith, 1505 West Nash.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes Lena (c) maid h 415 Maury

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wiggins Blanche (c) tob wkr h 415 Maury and Wood Rosa Mrs (c) 415 Maury

Photographs taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018. (Note that 405 Maury, condition notwithstanding, is advertised for sale or rent.)

The winner! (Briefly.)

Wilson Daily Times, 19 May 1961.

In the spring of 1961, Howard Barnes won a Jaycee-sponsored contest for improvements made to his home at 709 Suggs Street, shown at the upper right. “Mr. Barnes who lives in a small modest wood frame dwelling really entered into the spirit of the competition,” winning first place in the interior category and second in exterior by painting, building a new porch, adding a fence and new indoor plumbing, and placing flower boxes on the front porch.

Despite Barnes’ recognized pride in ownership, few, if any, additional improvements were made to 709 Suggs Street. Barnes’ neighborhood had already been slated for clearance to make way for a “Negro housing project.” Progress had been delayed, however, by the refusal of many homeowners to sell out at the suggested price. It seems likely that Howard Barnes, so invested in his home, was one. Eventually, the city exercised eminent domain and forced sales of the intransigents’ property.

The shotgun house at 709 Suggs, then, like the cemetery nearby, is long gone. Howard Barnes’ house was likely built around the same time as others on nearby streets, such as that at 501 South Pender, which was erected circa 1920.

The 700 block of Suggs Street, per the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map.

The 700 block of Suggs today. (Stantonsburg Street is now Pender.) Map courtesy of Google Maps.

——

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory: Cooper John (c; Jeannette) tobwkr h 709 Suggs

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory: Sims Effie (c; 1) tobwkr h 709 Suggs

 

 

106, 108 and 110 Ash Street.

The sixty-seventh 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.

110, 108 and 106 Ash Street.

As each is described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District:  #106: “ca. 1908; 1 story; shotgun with hip-roofed porch and gable returns; uniquely high-pitched roof, with diamond-shaped vent in gable”; #108: “ca. 1908; 1 story; shotgun remodeled with Masonite veneer, but example of early form”; and #110: “ca. 1908; 1 story; shotgun with turned-post porch; partly alum. sided.”

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at #106 Ashe, building carpenter Burd Bess, 37, and wife Siveral, 38, private family nurse; at #108, laundress Willie Cobb, 48, and daughter Lilliam, 4; and at #110, laundress Mary Smith, 49, and her lodger George West, 55, tobacco factory laborer, both natives of South Carolina. All three houses rented for $12/month.

In 1940, Isaac Hodge registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 26 January 1905 in Wilson; he resided at 110 Ashe Street; his contact was Anzina Best Hodge, wife; and he worked for Liggett & Myers, Wilson.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory: Best John (c; Nellie; 1) carp h 106 Ashe; Smith Mae (c) lndr h 108 Ashe; and Hodge Isaac (c; Annie) lab h 110 Ashe.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory: Best John (c) carp h 106 Ashe; Huntley George (c; Magdelene) brklyr h 108 Ashe; and Best Willie Mrs (c) lab Plush Mill h 110 Ashe.

100 block of Ash Street, Sanborn fire insurance map, 1930.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2018.

915 East Vance Street.

The sixtieth 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.

This house is misnumbered 913 East Vance in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District:  “ca. 1930; 1 story; shotgun with shed-roofed porch.”  It is identical to 909 and 913. (Apparently, there was never a house at 911.)

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 915 East Vance was vacant.

Green Taylor is listed as the inhabitant of 915 East Vance Street in the 1941 city directory.

1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory.

Green Taylor died 2 April 1942 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was 57 years old; was born in Greene County to Green Shackleford and Mary Taylor; was married to Rebecca Taylor; worked as a common laborer; resided at 915 East Vance; and was buried in Bethel cemetery, Wilson County.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2018.

Views.

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View, Vick Street Houses, Wilson, North Carolina (1988).

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View, South Reid Street, Wilson, North Carolina (1988).

The top photo appears to depict the 300 block of South Vick Street and the bottom is probably the 200 block on South Reid Street, which runs parallel to Vick to the immediate east.

The Reid Street were demolished in the mid-1990s as part of the redevelopment project that created a new working-class neighborhood of affordable homes called Freeman Place. As shown on the Bing.com map below, almost all of the housing stock in the wedge between Nash and Hines Street was razed. The houses standing now were built in Phases I, II and III of the project. The 200 block of South Reid, however, remains empty.

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The 300 block of South Vick, just across Hines Street from Freeman Place, is largely intact, and the shotgun houses circled above are those in the 1988 photograph. After several years of virtual abandonment, they have recently undergone extensive renovation.

Tim Buchman Photographs, 1988-1998 (MC00583), Preservation North Carolina, NCSU Libraries Rare & Unique Digital Collections.

1109 Queen Street.

The second 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 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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1105-1113 Queen Street, 1930 Sanborn Map of Wilson, North Carolina.

R.C. Henderson: Let’s go back to when I remember when we moved to 1109 Queen Street. When I was about six years old. And we had what they call a shotgun house. Three rooms. Front room, middle room, and a kitchen. And to get to the kitchen, you had to go out on the back porch and come through. Now there were some people who had a door cut in between the middle room and the kitchen, so you wouldn’t have to go out on the back porch. But they said if you cut that door somebody in your family would die. [Laughs.] So we wouldn’t cut the door. All of us slept in the middle room. And we had a laundry heater in the middle. We had to make fires every night. It was what you’d call a space heater. Laundry heater. You put, well, we used coal. Some people were afraid to use coal because it would get so hot it would turn red. And, you know, sparks would fly and sometimes things would catch on fire. And that’s what we used to heat the iron to iron clothes, too. You’d put ‘em on top of that stove. But we had to make fires every morning. Had to get up. And we had linoleum in there, so the floor’d be cold. So when you walk around, you had to walk on your heels. And then, you know, we had that little slop jar up under the big bed. See, that house didn’t have a bathroom. So the bathroom was outside. It sat in between the two houses. That was for 1109 and the one right beside it. It was probably 1107, and that’s where the Davises, Miss Alliner [Alliner Sherrod Davis, daughter of Solomon and Josephine Artis Sherrod], she lived right there at 1107. And then we had the water outside, and it was at her house. So there were two houses that had one toilet and one spigot. 

C.C. Powell owned the houses, and I don’t know how much we were paying, but we weren’t paying a whole lot. Behind the outhouse, we had built up like a little shed, like. Used to keep pigeons in there. Everybody had pigeons. The ones that go off – we’d see in the movies the ones that take little messages and all. So everybody would have pigeons. And then we had a little, I guess it was a garden. We had a victory garden in the back. I had to take a hoe and a shovel and dig up the backyard. Turn it over. Then Mama would go out there and make some rows and plant tomatoes and stringbeans and squash and stuff like that, and we used that to eat. And the icebox, it was a little small icebox, and you’d take the ice and put it in the top, and then there was a little hole so when the ice’d melt, it would run down. You’d have to have a little water container underneath. You’d have to empty that everyday. If not, the water would run out on the floor, out on the back porch. And it would always be so clear and just cold. We had to go to the ice house out there on Herring Avenue. And I would ride the bicycle out there to get it.

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R.C. Henderson, age about 10, sitting outside a house on Queen Street. (It is likely 1107 as the door on 1109 was on the opposite side of the porch. Otherwise, the houses were identical.)

1109 Queen

Early 1980s.

Hattie Henderson Ricks: That’s there on Queen Street. The endway house. There was grass where was in between the two houses, ours and Ellick Obey. The Joneses, Celie Mae, lived on the same side. Jesse Knight was in the house on this side. On that side there, a fellow that worked out to the hospital, his wife he got married and lived in there. She didn’t stay in there no time, and then somebody else moved in there. Martha Winley’s house was first, then mine was second, then Ellick Obey was next. Then Sis and her mama and the two children was next. Two, three, four houses. They call her Sis. I don’t know what her name is. But she was grown and had two children. And her brother was crippled. She was working, and her mama stayed home and looked after the children. They didn’t have a father there.

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Excerpt from 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, showing households at 1109, 1107, 1105, 1111 and 1113 Queen Street.

1105-1113 Queen Street were demolished in the mid-1980s. A duplex apartment was erected in their place:

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Across the street, however, are two remnants of the old 1100 block of Queen Street.

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Adapted from interviews of R.C. Henderson and Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson; color photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.