shotgun house

113, 115 and 117 North East Street.

The one hundred-twentieth 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, the houses at #113, #115, #117 are: “ca. 1908; 1 story; shotgun with board-and-batten veneer.” The board-and-batten has been replaced with clapboard.

The 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson shows that there were originally six endway houses (with two different floor plans) on this stretch of North East Street. Street numbering changed about 1922, so the houses above were originally #114, #116 and #118.

In the 1928 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ward Ussell (c; Nettie) lab h 113 N East; 115 N East Vacant; Cooper Jack C (c; Nora) lab  h 117 N East

In the 1930 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bethea Mamie (c) smstrs h 113 N East; Hargrove Andrew (c; Ada) lab h 115 N East; Artis Amelia (c) factory hand  h 117 N East

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 113 North East, paying $6/month rent, Mamie Bathea, 40, laundress; Pattie Manual, 60, mother, laundress; George Kannan, 30, brother, taxi chauffuer; Pearl Manual, 20, nurse for private family; daughters Ruth S., 14, Sally S., 12, and Adel Manual, 10; cousins Louisa, 10, and Ralph Kannan, 8; and daughter Mamie Manual, 4.

In the 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bethea Mamie (c) smstrs h113 N East; Bowman Rufus (c; Daisy) tob wkr h115 N East; Hines Boyd (c; Betty) tob wkr h117 N East

In the 1947 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bethea Annie (c) h 113 N East; Grimes Fagin (c; Addie) lab h 115 N East; Williams Rematha Mrs (c) h 117 N East

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, August 2019.

Shotgun houses restored.

Back during the summer, I enjoyed a long chat with Monica T. Davis about her master’s thesis, which examines the significance of shotgun houses (traditionally known locally as “endway houses) in the East Wilson community. What a pleasure to read this 6 December 2019 Wilson Times article about her efforts to restore these houses to usefulness.

Shotgun houses set for restoration.

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By Brie Handgraaf, bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com

“Tiny houses have gained popularity in recent years, but two Wilson natives are working to restore several shotgun houses, which made the efficient use of a small floorplan cool more than a century ago.

“’When the East Wilson Historic District was nominated in 1988, there were 301 shotgun houses in Wilson and now there are only 88 left,’ said Monica T. Davis. ‘They were built when the tobacco industry was flourishing because shotgun houses could be built compactly with so many on a lot, which was good for the working-class people of the time.’

“Davis, a 2005 graduate of Fike High School, is a graduate student in interior architecture and historic preservation at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She recently teamed up with Antonio M. Jenkins, owner of Tee O’s Luxury Renovations, to purchase five properties and two undeveloped lots on Ash Street and Narrow Way.

“The duo started working on plans to bring back the shotgun floorplans and restore some of the homes’ original features. However, when they talked to city officials about separating two of the parcels, they learned two of the houses on Narrow Way had outstanding permits for demolition.

“Davis and Jenkins got to work, presenting staff with a scope of work and getting a grace period to make progress and save the homes from demolition. Since then, work has begun on the first of the houses at 132 Ash St., which was built in 1910 and has one bedroom.

“’The lawn was very unkept [sic] and you couldn’t event see the shotgun house because of the overgrowth, so we cut that down,’ Davis said. ‘We had some lead-based issues on the front of the house, so that was taken care of. The addition on the back of the home has been started and we have gutted the inside to restore features like the original tongue-and-groove flooring and a beadboard ceiling. All that was covered up by previous owners, so we’re working on revitalizing that.’

“Jenkins, who graduated from Beddingfield in 2006, said he expects each house to take a few months to complete. Davis was awarded the Atlantic World Research Network Graduate Student Research Grant that will help with the effort and 10 students in a preservation class from UNC-G will pitch in this May.

“’They are going to restore some original windows,’ Davis said. ‘They’ll clean some brick pillars and put in some old salvaged wood doors. We’ll also have a demonstration for them on how to install plaster.’

“The owner of Rinascita Designs said she’s worked with a restoration specialist who is confident the restoration work will qualify for tax credits.

“’The renovations will cost between $25,000 and $30,000,’ Jenkins said. ‘The first one appraised at $51,000 and after the repairs, I would say it’ll be valued around $150,000.’

“The plan is to rent the houses for the first five years to comply with the tax credits, but ultimately Davis said she wants to sell them.”

“’We created a nonprofit organization called Rebirthing Our Cultural Kington [sic] Foundation with the goal to teach African Americans in this district and throughout Wilson about homeownership,’ she said. ‘Many of these have been rental properties for over 40 years, but we want to encourage people to be financially literate and work toward owning a home.’

“Davis also hopes her work helps educate people on the history of east Wilson and spurs others to invest in the area.

“’If the people who are living in that neighborhood see we’re from here and have hope, maybe it’ll help change their mindset and improve the historic district,’” she said.”

[Update: More on the renovation of East Wilson shotgun houses from WTVD, ABC 11, a Raleigh television station.]

505 South Pender Street.

The one-hundred-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.

The nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District does not list 505 South Pender. However, this description of 501, which does not actually exist, seems to describe the house above instead: “ca. 1922; 1 story; shotgun with shed-roofed porch, gable returns.”

In the 1928 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Leak Clara (c) dom h 505 Stantonsburg

In the 1930 Wilson, N.C., city directory: McNeil Mary (c) dom h 505 Stantonsburg

The 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes Pearl (c; 2) lndrs h505 Stantonsburg

In the 1947 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes Pearl N (c; wid Zach) lndry wrkr Caro Lndry & Clnrs h 505 Stantonsburg

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The stretch of Pender Street above Suggs Street today, per Google Map. 505 is the silver-roofed shotgun at the corner Pender and Hines.

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Here, the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C. Below Nash Street, Pender Street was then called Stantonsburg Street. When Hines Street was extended east in the 1960s, it largely followed the former path of Wiggins Street. It appears that 501 and 503 were cleared out to make way for the much wider Hines.

916 Atlantic Street.

The one-hundred-fifteenth 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: “ca. 1922; 1 story; shotgun with gable returns; hip-roofed porch.”

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strayhorn Farris (c; Lollie) lab h 916 Atlantic

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 916 Atlantic, rented at $8/month, cook Samuel Perry, 29; wife Sarah, 25; and children Devon, 5, Waldensia, 3, and Heron, 9 months.

In 1940, Samuel Perry Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 22 August 1910 in Wilson; resided at 916 Atlantic; his contact was wife Sarah Perry; and he worked for W.D. Hackney, 109 Gold Street, Wilson.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Perry Saml (c; Sarah; 4) cook h 916 Atlantic

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019.

213 South Pender Street.

The one hundred-fourteenth 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: “circa 1913; shotgun with gable returns and hip-roofed porch.”

This house, once known as 211 Stantonsburg Street and the last remaining house on Pender Street between Nash Street and Hines Street, is now an office for the Wilson District of the A.M.E. Zion Church. [Update: This house was demolished prior to October 2019.]

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: rented for $12/month, Paul Savage, 34; wife Hannah, 35, cook; and roomers Minnie Taylor, 11, Jim Murray, 33, tobacco factory laborer, and Annie Murray, 21, tobacco factory stemmer.

Paul Savage died 15 April 1934 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1891 in Edgecombe County to Albert Savage and Willie Ann Brant; was married to Annah Savage; was a tobacco factory day laborer; and was buried in Leggett, North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: rented for $10/month, housekeeper Anna Savage, 46, and lodger Beatrix Wiggins, 32, housekeeper.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018.

1101-1119 South Railroad Street.

Though not in the Historic District, this tight cluster of shotgun houses in the 1100 block of South Railroad Street — called “endway” locally — comprises a sight once common across East Wilson. Built cheaply from about 1900 to World War II as rental housing for low-wage workers, relatively few of the District’s endway houses have survived into the twenty-first century.

These houses, shown here from the rear, were built in the 1920s and feature a small front porch sheltered by a shed roof. The exteriors are little modified since the addition of indoor plumbing (likely in the 1950s), and several retain their original galvanized metal standing-seam roofs. Public documents for 1101 Railroad Street show that the houses measure 504 square feet (14 feet wide by 36 feet deep.)

The block of Railroad below Elvie Street was originally numbered 801-819, as shown in this excerpt from Hill’s 1928 Wilson city directory:

By the early 1960s, it had been renumbered to the 1100 block, as shown in the 1963 directory:

Google Maps Streetview shows the 1100 block from the corner of Railroad and Lincoln Streets.

Top photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2019.

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.

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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