I had the chance to visit briefly with Bobby Boykin when I was in Wilson recently. The hundreds of Wilson Daily Times clippings Bobby has sent me — most never digitized — have been a tremendous source of material for Black Wide-Awake, and I deeply appreciate his interest and action in supporting the documentation of Wilson County’s African-American history. Recently, Bobby has been culling through boxes of photographs donated to him in the 1980s, and he pulled several that might be of interest to my readers.
I struggled a bit with the perspective in these photos, though I knew we were looking one way or another toward the intersection of Nash and Pender Streets. The images document heavy street flooding, most likely in the late 1960s or very early 1970s — the Chevrolet truck model in the second photo was first produced in 1964 — on South Pender Street. The photographer was standing just below East Barnes Street, facing Nash. In the first photo, the peaked roof of Jackson Chapel First Baptist’s tower is visible at left, and the finials of Saint John A.M.E. Zion’s tower are center-frame.
The view today, per Google Maps.
These black-and-white photos were taken well after the timeframe of Black Wide-Awake‘s focus, but offer a rare glimpse of the former density of dwellings along the east side of South Pender Street. Every house you see here has been demolished, as was the two-story brick building at the edge of the second photo. Fortunately, however, all were standing when the survey was made for the nominating report for East Wilson Historic District, which allows us to identify them for closer study. The houses and commercial buildings will receive their own posts.
South of Nash Street, Pender Street was named Stantonsburg Street until the mid-1960s. Also, the street numbers of the buildings of these two blocks shifted over time to accommodate infill and other changes. This makes identifying the house numbers of the two dwellings visible south of the filling station a challenge.
Here is this section as depicted on page 31 of the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson:
At that time, the tip of the wedge at Stantonsburg and East Nash Streets was occupied by an auto repair shop. The first house on the east side of the street was numbered 107 (changed from 111 when the city revamped its numbering system circa 1921); the second, 201 (formerly, 115); the third, 203; and the fourth 207 (formerly, 209).
As we will see later, by 1928, a house had been built between 107 and 201 and numbered 109. Also, a brick building had been erected between 203 and 207 and numbered 205 (but, by 1941, was 203 1/2).
By time the nomination form was drafted, the first house beyond the filling station was 103, but its description does not match the house shown. Rather, the form’s description of 103 matches 109, i.e. the second house beyond the filling station. (Which means that the form omits the first house, 107, which may have been demolished some time between the time this photo was taken and 1988, when the form was completed.)
Stay tuned for deeper dives.