College View Historic District
The College View Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2012, The Gombach Group.
The College View Historic District consists of one of Greenville's largest and most intact early twentieth century residential areas. The district meets National Register criterion in the area of community planning and development as a representative of the city's growth and development as an educational hub for central eastern North Carolina. The neighborhood developed following the establishment of the East Carolina Teachers' Training School in 1909. The school grew steadily throughout the second and third decades of the twentieth century resulting in the expansion of the adjacent College View neighborhood. Many of the properties in the College View Historic District arc associated with educators and other people important in the city such as William Haywood Dail, Jr., who established the brickworks in Greenville during one of its most rapid periods of growth, and Judge Fordyce C. Harding, a leading Greenville citizen. The College View Historic District is also significant in the area of architecture because it represents a well-preserved collection of primarily residential buildings erected between 1909 and 1941, with examples of the Colonial Revival, Craftsman Bungalow, Italian Renaissance Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Spanish Eclectic, and Tudor Revival styles. Although a few houses have been altered, the overwhelming majority retain integrity of design, workmanship, materials, setting and location.
Greenville's Early Development, 1761-1907
The town of Greenville in particular, and Pitt County in general, owe much of their earlier history to their relative positions on one of eastern North Carolina's major waterways. The area located west of the colonial port town of Bath in Beaufort County was settled throughout the first half of the eighteenth century by settlers coming from Virginia and the Albemarle region of North Carolina. By 1760, the upper portion of Beaufort County — a considerable distance from the county seat at Bath — had acquired a substantial number of inhabitants primarily living on the Tar River and its major tributaries. On January 1, 1761, an act by legislators created Pitt County from the upper section of Beaufort and beckoned the establishment of a courthouse, prison, and stocks on the farm of John Hardee, located on the south side of the Tar River (Cotter 1988, 1).
In 1774 the widow of prominent landowner Richard Evans gave her consent to establish the county's first town on the lands of her deceased husband. The land was located on a high bluff on the banks of the Tar River approximately four miles west of the farm of John Hardee and centrally located in the county. The town charter established the name of Martinborough and stipulated that the courthouse, jail, and stocks be moved to the new location. The charter also called for lots to be laid out in half-acre increments providing adequate spacing for streets, a church, and a market. The towns people of Martinborough changed the name of the town to Greenesville in 1787 to honor the heroic Revolutionary General Nathaniel Greene. The name of the town has undergone several spelling changes since that time and the final accepted name has become Greenville (Cotter 1988, 2-3, 21).
The town gained prosperity through its strategic location on the Tar River, soon becoming a hub for commercial, political and social activity. In 1787, legislative acts called for clearing the Tar River for safer transit and a ferry to provide a reliable route across the river to the northern portion of the county. Steam boats were introduced to the Tar River in the 1830s, but did not become widely used until the 1840s and 1850s when the necessity to make large hauls of cotton expanded their function. The rise in the cotton economy of the antebellum period coupled with increased transport on the Tar River dramatically affected Greenville's wealth and prominence as a local center of trade and commerce. Population of the town steadily increased until the outbreak of the Civil War. A slight decrease in population characterized the immediate post-War period and a full recovery from the war's economic devastation did not occur until 1890 when the total population had reached 1,937 and trade resumed in earnest on the Tar River (United States Population Statistics 1890; Cotter 1988, 4-7).
The local agricultural staple began to shift in the 1890s from cotton to tobacco. The growing importance of the tobacco culture played a significant role in the establishment of railroads through Greenville and Pitt County by increasing the demand for viable transportation to area markets. The first train to traverse Greenville was a branch of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad (later the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad) which arrived in Greenville on March 28, 1890. By the following May the line had been completed to Kinston in neighboring Lenoir County, greatly improving Greenville's access to regional markets. The first tobacco markets in Greenville soon followed, beginning with the opening of the Greenville Tobacco Warehouse by R.J. Cobb in 1891. The town's prosperous early twentieth century development can largely be attributed to its rise as an area tobacco market and distribution center (Williams 1974, 207).
Greenville's physical growth from its establishment in 1771 until the 1830s was concentrated primarily in the central section of town on the original 161 lots which were plotted in a typical grid pattern emanating from the river. The total number of lots developed is unclear and no buildings prior to the 1830s remain in Greenville. The construction in the 1850s of the Greenville to Raleigh Plank Road, located on the same route as present day Dickinson Avenue, spurred growth in the town. The road ended at the downtown intersection known as "Five Points'' where Dickinson Avenue, Fifth Street and Evans Street converge. This terminus became the center of Greenville's commercial activity. Evans Street became the main commercial thoroughfare and between 1879 and 1884 eighteen brick buildings were erected on the street. The move from frame to masonry construction at long last signalled economic recovery following the Civil War. Devastation of the commercial district by fire in 1878, 1896 and 1899 resulted in a law that prohibited the use of wood construction in the business section of Evans Street. After 1900 the central business district began to expand from Evans along Third and Fourth streets to Cotanche and along Fifth Street (Cotter 1988, 21-28). Churches during this period tended to be grouped in the area just north of Fourth Street, where Memorial Baptist Church stood on Greene Street at Fourth, the Methodist Church stood on the southeast corner of Greene and Second and the Catholic Church was located on Second between Washington and Evans streets. Government buildings including the courthouse and city hall/fire station were centrally located at Evans and Third streets.
When railroads began to replace steam boats as the major mode of transportation by the turn of the twentieth century, Greenville's growth began to shift from the Tar River to the improved streets and new rail lines. The oldest residential section was located along the river where the town had first grown up. Prosperity during the late nineteenth century allowed many citizens to build more substantial residences flanking the evolving Evans Street corridor primarily west and south of the downtown commercial district. These Queen Anne style houses and other popular Victorian frame cottages, generally occupying large lots in order to accommodate domestic dependencies, were home mainly to local merchants and farmers who retained agricultural interest in the county but chose to live in town.
With the coming of the railroad and the establishment of manufacturing enterprises, a lumber mill in 1889, and a brickyard in 1896, the town began to experience significant new residential and business growth at the end of the nineteenth century. The 1896 series of the Sanborn fire insurance maps shows the development of new residential sections beginning to expand beyond the limits of the original planned streets including larger scale frame dwellings located on the expanding fringe of the downtown commercial district. These houses built in a variety of Victorian styles were homes of the most prominent of Greenville's citizens. South Greenville, south of the central business district along Evans Street, was one of the first of these neighborhoods to develop. It expanded rapidly as many of Greenville's leading citizens built there, including Dr. E.A. Moye, prominent merchant C.T. Munford, and E.G. Flanagan, owner of the John Flanagan Buggy Company. A portion of the area became known as Forbestown for Alfred Forbes, who developed a large portion of the property in the neighborhood for himself and later for each of his children (Cotter 1988, 26-27).
The western section of Greenville similarly developed during the late nineteenth century with a neighborhood named Skinnerville for lawyer and real estate speculator Harry Skinner. Skinner, along with partner Lewis C. Latham, owned much of the land west of the downtown commercial district and to take advantage of the demand for housing they developed the property as an upper-class and middle-class neighborhood. Skinnerville became the site of some of Greenville's premier dwellings including Skinners' own residence built between 1879-1882, the Pender-Moore-Edwards House built in 1882, and the E.B. Ficklen House built in 1902. The neighborhood continued to develop into the early twentieth century with more modest frame Victorian cottages and Colonial Revival style houses (Cotter 1988, 27).
Southwest of downtown via Dickinson Avenue, a new neighborhood was developed by the Higgs brothers around 1900. It was advertised in the Eastern Reflector of March 25, 1898 as thirty acres in West Greenville laid out with lots for sale to anyone interested in buying on time at legal interest, for "people of small means to secure homes in a desirable community." The area, however, did not grow rapidly and the majority of houses in the Higgs community were built after 1910 with the exception of the larger dwellings located along Dickinson Avenue.
Northeast of Higgs, workers housing began to be built in the vicinity of Dickinson Avenue and Ninth Street, where Greenville's tobacco warehouses and processing facilities were expanding. After the Imperial Tobacco Company located in the area in 1902, investors began to construct workers housing west of the plant between the neighborhoods of Skinnerville to the north and Higgs to the southwest. West of Skinnerville, Greenville Heights, a garden suburb, was established in 1907. The neighborhood provided a riverside park, granite-curbed sidewalks, and tree-lined streets, but did not develop significantly until the 1920s (Cotter 1988, 29).
Public improvements were initiated in Greenville during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and funded through local bond issues. Among the many improvements initiated by the municipality were an electric light system, waterworks department, sewerage, street improvements and the construction of public buildings. In addition to these civic improvements, voters also chose to establish graded schools for both black and white children living in the town. A graded school for blacks was built on Fleming Street while one for white children was located on Evans Street on the current site of Sheppard Memorial Library. These civic improvements and the community's strong commitment to public education contributed not only to the growth of the town but also to its attractiveness as a future site for the East Carolina Teachers Training School (Cotter 1988, 13).
Higher Education and the Development of College View
During the progressive era of the first decade of the twentieth century, fueled by the Populist Party and liberal agrarian reformers in the Democratic Party, a campaign was initiated by a small group of concerned citizens to establish a normal school for students in the eastern part of the state. The push to establish an eastern normal school came at the height of the educational reform movement when Governor Charles Brantley Aycock (1900-1904) appointed the Central Campaign Committee for the Promotion of Public Education in North Carolina. It was only several months after Governor Aycock assumed office that the first bill to establish a normal school was introduced to the General Assembly from an ardent group of town leaders from the eastern North Carolina community of Wilson. Numerous arguments were made for placing a normal school in the eastern part of the state: there was not a white women's school east of Greensboro; the school in Greensboro could not accommodate all applicants; women who could not afford to travel to the western portion of the state should be educated in their region; and because a school existed in the west and central regions, one should be located in the east.
The first bill was unsuccessful due to strong opposition from proponents of the State Normal College in Greensboro who saw the new institution as conflicting with the interest of the existing school. The introduction of the bill did, however, focus attention on the matter of a normal school in eastern North Carolina (Bratton 1986, 12-19). The second bill to establish the eastern normal was introduced in 1905 by Pasquotank Representative John Christoph Blucher Ehringhaus but once again the bill was effectively killed in Senate Committee. Following the narrow defeat of the Elizabeth City proposal, interest in establishing an eastern normal school began to concentrate on presenting a collective effort in the eastern part of the state to champion the legislative battle, placing emphasis on winning the school's funding and charter. Once established, the battle for its location could then take place (Bratton 1986, 21).
The legislative battle resumed in 1907 under the direction of some of eastern North Carolina's and, consequentially, Pitt County's most influential citizens and elected officials. In addition to former governor Thomas J. Jarvis (a resident of Greenville since 1872), the three most influential men to affect the outcome of the establishment and location of the eastern normal school were William Henry Ragsdale, Superintendent of Pitt County Schools; James Lawson Fleming, state senator from Pitt County; and David Jordan Whichard, editor of the Greenville newspaper Daily Reflector. The new bill offered by Senator Fleming, entitled "A Bill to Establish and Maintain a Normal School in Eastern North Carolina," was patterned after the bill which created the Greensboro normal school in 1891. The bill again passed the House, but, like its predecessors, was hung up in the Senate. After a thorough reworking in the Senate committee, a compromise bill was passed. Although a number of Fleming's original proposals were rewritten, including changing the name from the proposed "East Carolina Normal School" to the "East Carolina Teachers Training School," the compromise bill achieved the basic goal of establishing the normal school (Bratton 1986, 21-37).
One of the provisions of the Fleming Bill was that the location of the new school would be determined by the State Board of Education and would be awarded to the town offering the most financial assistance coupled with desirability and suitability. Simply stated, Greenville outbid seven other eastern North Carolina towns to secure the new institution. Greenville was able to offer a bid of $100,000 through two $50,000 bond referendums, one each in Greenville and Pitt County. Prior to the referendum, Senator Fleming was successful in having a bill passed which would allow the town's limits to be extended in order to provide enough land for the pending location of the school. The publicity the bond issue received in the Daily Reflector newspaper in Greenville overshadowed all stories during the months leading up to the election. On May 7 the city referendum was held and as expected the bond issue passed with a near unanimous decision.
The county referendum on May 14 was yet another significant victory with a 352 vote margin. The significance of the victory was that for the first time in North Carolina's history a county had voted to tax its property for purposes of financially supporting a state institution of higher education. Greenville residents would actually be taxed twice for the support they pledged (Bratton 1986, 38-63).
Greenville was selected as the site for the new normal school by a narrow margin in the State Board of Education Selection Committee on July 10. The location for the school in Greenville was also decided that day with the selection of a 47.5 acre tract east of the downtown commercial district (Bratton 1986, 63). The location of the normal school in Greenville was, for the small, agricultural-based county seat, perhaps the most significant event in its twentieth century development. Recognizing the potential affects of the decision by the State Board of Education, the Raleigh News and Observer editorialized the action as one which would place eastern North Carolina and Greenville "on the threshold of larger growth and development" (News and Observer, July 11, September 8, 1907).
The site selected for the new school was located approximately one-quarter mile east of the downtown commercial district on the farm of Walter H. Harrington. The site was a mere "ten minutes" from downtown and real estate agents and property owners capitalized on the new facility by advertising the close proximity of their property to the school. To accommodate the school the city completed Fifth Street from Cotanche past the new campus and installed a plank sidewalk to the main entrance. Construction on the school's first four buildings was commenced in July of 1908 and by October of 1909 the first classes began.
East Carolina University had a significant impact on the growth of Greenville during the town's early twentieth century advancement. At the turn of the century the town was in the midst of transforming itself from a typical courthouse village sustained by agriculturally-based trade into a bustling city, urban-minded with aims of progress and growth. The school affected Greenville in many ways such as increasing the population with students and professors which in turn created new markets and a need for additional public services and housing for its growing population.
After the completion of Fifth Street past the school, the wooded farmland stretching north from East Fifth Street to the Tar River became prime property for the development of a new residential suburb to provide housing for Greenville's growing population. Residential development in the area began in 1910 with the construction of houses on the north side of East Fifth Street and the 400 block of East Fourth Street. The neighborhood's fairly close proximity to the central business district and governmental offices made it an attractive area for merchants, business owners and government workers who needed to be close to their places of employment. Convenience and handsome modern houses in the neighborhood enticed many of Greenville's early twentieth century residents to locate there and, as suggested by the broad range of house types, styles and sizes, a wide variety of backgrounds were represented in the neighborhood. Among the residents who first lived there were dentist Dr. Paul Fitzgerald, garage owner J.E. McGowan, Immanuel Baptist Church pastor the Reverend Leland O'Brian, stable owner Martin L. Wright, postmaster J. Knott Proctor, and carpenter Henry Corey (City Directory). In 1914 the residence for the president of E.C.T.T.S. was built on East Fifth Street facing the campus. This spacious two-story dwelling provided the initial link between the college and the evolving neighborhood insomuch as it became the center of social affairs for many community functions. Prominent citizens making their homes in the neighborhood were frequently invited to affairs held at the president's home.
Unlike the previous suburbs established in Greenville that were developed by one or two individuals at once, the neighborhood north of the campus was developed by several prominent property owners and real estate speculators who purchased large tracts from land-owning families in the area. Exactly when the neighborhood gained its name is unclear, but by 1916 the name "College View" was being recorded on plats made of the area. Today the name is used to identify the large residential area stretching north of the campus, but the area formally given this name by plats is much smaller and roughly defined by the boundaries of the College View Historic District, within viewing distance of the campus.
During the nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries, the area that became College View comprised the farms of several Greenville families, namely the Harringtons and Johnstons. After 1907, following the sale of his 47.5 acre tract for the campus of E.C.T.T.S., prominent local politician and farmer Walter H. Harrington (1846-1918) saw the potential to develop the northern portion of his farm for the purposes of new residential construction. The Harrington family farmhouse (307 Summit Street), according to original plats of the neighborhood, was located in the middle of the proposed route for Summit Street between East Fourth Street and the old County Road (renamed Johnston Street). The house was subsequently moved and reoriented to face Summit Street and fit in with the proposed street plan. Following Harrington's death in 1918, his children and widow, Emily, continued to sell lots laid out in the College View neighborhood. Members of the Johnston family led by Franklin Vines Johnston also subdivided their individual portions of the family farm for purposes of residential development. Franklin Vines Johnston built his own house in the College View neighborhood on the site of the former Johnston farmhouse which was moved preparatory to the construction of the new Johnston home in 1923 (Pitt County Deeds, Pitt County Courthouse).
The area emerged as a recognized neighborhood in 1916 when a section of property bounded by East Fifth Street to the south, Holly Street to the west, Rotary Avenue to the east, and County Road (Johnston Street) to the north was platted as College View. The plat showed a typical plan including a strict grid pattern of streets interrupted only by County Road (Johnston Street) which previously existed through the area and bisected the neighborhood at a forty-five degree angle. Although a few houses were built in the area prior to 1916, the overwhelming majority of houses date from the 1920s. The next major planned addition to the College View neighborhood came in 1923 and the plat map entitled "First Addition to College View — Greenville, N.C.," dated 17 November, 1923, showed a new section including an adjacent block east of the original plan running to newly created Harding Street. In 1924 a "Second Addition" map continued the established development pattern, moving one more block east to Library Street. Three large lots facing East Fifth Street are shown in the "Third Addition" map of College View, dated February 1925 and the lots between Library and Eastern streets first appear in the May, 1925 "Fourth Addition" map. The "Fifth Addition" map continued lot delineations to Meade Street east of the College View Historic District boundary and to Johnston Street to the north. The final College View plat, a revised "Fifth Addition" map, showed corrections to the angle where Johnston Street meets East Fourth Street.
The east-west streets in College View — from First on the north to East Fifth on the south — all extended from the central business district. Many of the newly created north-south streets were named for prominent individuals living in the neighborhood, such as Harding Street named for Judge Fordyce C. Harding and Johnston Street (formerly known as County Road) for Franklin V. Johnston. Other street names referred to nearby landmarks: for example, Library Street was so named for its terminus at East Fifth Street directly in front of the (former) Whichard Library Building and Rotary Street for its location adjacent to the 1921 Rotary Club Building.
Beyond the area covered under the original five plat maps of College View are several separate, subsequent developments which have been generally referred to as College View. These auxiliary suburbs were platted as Chatham Circle, Highland Pines, and Johnston Heights. Wilson Acres and Highland Pines Extension (east and north of the historic district, respectively) were platted at the same time as the others, but development in these two areas lagged a few years behind the rest of the College View neighborhood. Chatham Circle, subdivided in 1928, was developed by the Greenville Development Company. Its curvilinear plan breaks from the original grid pattern of streets to give the streetscape a more open appearance. Highland Pines, platted in March of 1928 by developers Franklin Vines Johnston and M.A. Johnston, included Johnston family farmland. The area provided for a wealth of new construction due to its proximity both to the college and the newly erected Pitt Community Hospital which was located in the neighborhood on the corner of Johnston Street and Woodlawn Avenue in 1923 (Copeland 1982, 42). Highland Pines Extension lies directly to the north of the original development. Johnston Heights was opened for development in June, 1928 when Willis Johnston followed his family's lead and opened his portion of the Johnston farm for residential use. Wilson Acres is directly adjacent to Johnston Heights on the east.
Real estate speculators in Greenville took advantage of the creation of the College View subdivisions by purchasing tracts and offering them for resale with or without domiciles. Deed research reveals several names reoccurring on property records, indicating this type of real estate activity. Martin L. Wright, who resided on East Fourth Street, held deed to numerous properties within the College View Historic District. Virginia R. Wright, Martin's wife, and Mildred H. Wright (relation unknown) also owned numerous lots in the College View neighborhood. Martin Wright owned a large, profitable stable in Greenville. The fact that he resided in College View as early as 1914 makes it quite possible that his land holdings were even more extensive than represented in the deeds (Pitt County Register of Deeds).
Although the neighborhood developed as a result of the establishment and growth of E.C.T.T.S., it did not provide housing to any significant degree for faculty and students during its formative period of development. This was due mainly to the fact that early faculty at the school — mainly single women — resided on campus in dormitories until the 1940s. Because dormitory space was plentiful during the school's early period of growth, off-campus housing was unnecessary and did not become an issue until the post-World War II era when housing shortages affected all of society including college campuses. This is not to say, however, that the growth of the school did not affect the neighborhood. When the college entered an expansive phase in the 1920s and Greenville grew to accommodate new businesses and their owners, so too did College View experience growth, particularly since it was one of the town's newest and little developed residential areas. Construction began in force at the beginning of the 1920s but soon slowed temporarily due to the crash in eastern North Carolina tobacco markets. The economy recovered by the mid-1920s and construction accelerated in College View until the outbreak of the Depression. Building during the Depression was restricted to a few houses and St. Paul's Episcopal Church erected in 1930. The latter part of the 1930s brought a large amount of construction to the College View neighborhood when the area between Johnston and First streets, which had seen little construction prior to 1930, was gradually developed.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, College View expanded beyond its original boundaries and small "suburban additions," extending out East Fifth Street from the eastern edge of campus and north toward the Tar River. Most of the houses constructed in the immediate post-World War II era were modest frame and brick Colonial Revival style dwellings with the exception of some larger, more sophisticated houses on East Fifth Street.
The tremendous growth in the campus of East Carolina University and its student enrollment from the 1950s to the present created a need for rental housing which had not previously existed. The few vacant lots left in College View following World War II were developed by the end of the 1970s. A few single-family dwellings were built as well as several apartment houses and a doctors office. A more frequent occurrence in the neighborhood was the conversion of single-family houses to multi-family apartment use. At the same time, some of the neighborhood's largest single-family dwellings were purchased for use as sorority and fraternity houses. During the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, a renewed interest in the older housing stock in College View has brought back many professional people to the neighborhood; unlike the area's formative years, many faculty and staff of the university now reside in College View. The number of rehabilitation projects completed here has continued to rise each year. Several of the larger residences on the north side of East Fifth Street have been purchased in recent years by East Carolina University and converted to office functions, but they have retained their overall exterior integrity.
Now, more than ever before, the university and the College View neighborhood are tied together, both physically and socially. The university owns a significant number of properties in the neighborhood, including the former William H. Dail, Jr. House (605 East Fifth Street) which now acts as the Chancellor's home, and College View provides the largest concentration of off-campus housing of any neighborhood in Greenville. The constant flow of students, faculty and staff between the historic campus buildings and neighborhood create the atmosphere of a large collegiate event. This constant activity coupled with sorority and fraternity functions is the basis of the relationship between the College View neighborhood and university — a relationship which has existed and grown for over eighty years.
During the early twentieth century in Pitt County, architecture tended toward modest interpretations of nationally-popular styles. Each municipality has notable exceptions, such as the Craftsman Bungalow executed for Dr. Paul Jones in Farmville, the former Town Hall in Ayden erected in the Venetian Gothic style, and the Spanish Mission styled St. Jude's Catholic Church in Grifton. Although each municipality can claim at least one local landmark, the vast majority of buildings constructed in the county during the first quarter of the twentieth century were modest examples of prevailing styles, illustrating the agricultural- and small commercial-based economy of Pitt County. Rural architecture tended even more toward vernacular interpretations of popular early twentieth century styles and the most widely constructed houses in the period 1900 to 1930 were traditional I-houses with Colonial Revival decoration, followed by modest Craftsman Bungalows. Commercial buildings in the rural areas such as crossroad country stores carried on the traditional frame, one- and two-story, parapet roof forms while church buildings most often were executed in typical frame, rectangular gable front forms with Gothic-inspired motifs.
Greenville's early twentieth century architectural development no doubt influenced the appearance of Pitt County's small municipalities. The county seat was the commercial and social center of the county and by 1900 its commercial district and evolving residential areas were displaying stylish examples of prevailing national styles. Greenville's first suburb, South Greenville, by the turn of the century became the town's most fashionable neighborhood with houses constructed in fanciful Victorian, Italianate and Classical Revival designs. South Greenville was the home of many of the town's prominent merchants, doctors, factory owners and politicians (Cotter 1988, 25-27).
The town's next important neighborhoods to develop were Skinnerville and Higgs in the western section of town. These suburbs, though home to some of Greenville's premier Victorian residences, were primarily composed of modest one-story frame cottages with L or T configurations. These houses, like the majority of dwellings constructed in Pitt County prior to the proliferation of nationally-popular styles, were often eclectic designs combining Victorian elements such as shingles, stained glass windows, turned and sawn millwork, and asymmetrical massing with Colonial Revival details (Cotter 1988, 25-28).
Greenville's architectural development at the turn of the century and into the first decade of the twentieth was affected by a number of important events in the town's history. In 1890 a branch line of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was laid through Greenville, stimulating development of a local tobacco market, lumber mill and brickyard. These developments increased the availability of architectural pattern books arriving by train, locally produced building materials, and a prospering economy which allowed many to construct new homes. The Greenville Manufacturing Company was in operation by 1907 and offered a variety of building products including sashes, doors, blinds, moldings, mantels and turned work. The use of brick, not in great supply, had primarily been restricted to the construction of commercial and warehouse buildings. In 1907 William H. Dail, Jr. opened a second brickworks in Greenville producing as many as 30,000 bricks a day. Following the opening of Dail's brickyard, the number of houses constructed of brick dramatically increased (Cotter 1988, 24-29).
In 1907 the Norfolk and Southern Railroad laid a line through Greenville, spurring additional growth in the town. Also that year the East Carolina Teachers Training School was established in Greenville and the architectural design of the campus buildings had a tremendous impact on the subsequent appearance of the town. The initial six buildings erected on the campus were executed in academic examples of Colonial Revival design with a decidedly Spanish influence denoted by low hip roofs covered with red terra cotta tiles. The buildings were designed by two architectural firms, Hook and Rogers of Charlotte and H.W. Simpson of New Bern. Original designs called for gray slate roofs, but at the urging of former governor Thomas J. Jarvis, ardent supporter of the institution, red tile roofs were substituted. His inspiration for red tile roofs is said to have come from his stay in Rio de Janeiro as United States minister to Brazil. In the 1920s when the school underwent a phase of expansion, ten additional buildings were constructed, six in the Italian Renaissance style and four in the popular Colonial Revival style. Five of the new buildings were designed by H.A. Underwood of Raleigh, while the remaining buildings were designed by George R. Berryman, also of Raleigh. Although the Spanish Colonial Revival style was a popular architectural idiom throughout many areas of the United States during the early twentieth century, the style had not been used in Pitt County until its introduction by way of the campus buildings at East Carolina.
The impact of the campus buildings on the architectural development of Greenville and Pitt County from 1910 through the 1930s was significant. Professionally designed and academically rendered, the campus buildings were considered by Pitt County residents to be the most sophisticated works of architecture ever constructed in the county. The institution alone was considered a marvel of local political engineering and stood for progress and development unheralded in the county's history. It is understandable then that the prestigious buildings constructed on the campus should be emulated by local builders and contractors as well as architects. Stylistic references to the collegiate buildings abounded on structures built not only in Greenville, but throughout the county during the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s. Examples constructed in the small rural towns of the county include the Falkland consolidated school built in 1922, St. Jude's Catholic Church built in 1933 in Grifton, and the 1925 Standard Oil Company service station erected in Winterville. In Greenville examples of Spanish or Italian-inspired design include the 1914 United States Post Office built in the Florentine Revival style, the 1917 Immanuel Baptist Church constructed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, and the 1935 Clark Service Station erected in the Spanish Mission Revival style.
The stylistic influences were also used throughout Greenville on numerous houses built after the construction of the campus buildings. This is most evident in the College View neighborhood where a significant number of dwellings with stucco exteriors and red tile roofs remain. The use of Spanish elements on houses in College View Historic District ranges from modest examples of Spanish Mission Revival, such as the Dr. Paul Fitzgerald House (1203 East Fifth Street) built in the late 1920s, to the academically-rendered William H. Dail, Jr. House (605 East Fifth Street)) built from 1921 to 1930 in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. According to early twentieth century Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, a much larger percentage of terra cotta tile roofs were built in the neighborhood than exist today.
Another significant aspect of the College View neighborhood is the higher incidence of brick-veneered construction, greater than found in Greenville's other early twentieth century suburbs. This occurrence was an outcome of the more widespread availability of brick following the opening of William H. Dail's brickyard in 1907 and the generally prosperous economic conditions existing in Greenville during the era of the neighborhood's development. Dail's own impressive residence completed in 1930 on East Fifth Street likely inspired many to choose brick over the more traditional weatherboard.
Although Spanish-inspired designs can be readily evidenced in the College View neighborhood, a variety of other nationally-popular early twentieth century styles can be found throughout the suburb. The majority of houses consist of one-story weatherboarded Craftsman Bungalows. The neighborhood's overall character is defined by these predominantly modest dwellings. By the second decade of the twentieth century the Craftsman Bungalow had become the most pervasive house style built throughout the rural areas and small towns of Pitt County. The availability of house plans in magazines and pattern books coupled with mail-order house catalogues such as Sears Roebuck and Company's made the Craftsman Bungalow a preference for a wide section of the American public. The Craftsman Bungalow evolved into the traditional modest-income home for the middle-class family and its use was prevalent in the College View neighborhood until World War II.
Another popular style built in College View was the Colonial Revival which, like the Craftsman Bungalow, was a major national idiom. A number of fine two-story red brick houses with classical motifs were built in the neighborhood, including the Dr. Louis C. Skinner House (805 East Fifth Street) built in the 1920s and the Luther H. Bowling House (401 Summit Street) built in the late 1920s. The most ambitious of the Colonial Revival houses built in College View Historic District and unquestionably the most monumental residence in the neighborhood is the Franklin V. Johnston House (805 Johnston Street) erected in 1923 on Johnston Street. Although the house was built by Ballard and Ballard, a local residential design/build firm, its designer remains unidentified.
Architecturally, the College View Historic District represents an intact collection of modest and sophisticated house styles of the early twentieth century as well as an assemblage of impressive high-style collegiate buildings. Local builders and architects active in Greenville, particularly College View, appear to have been significantly influenced by the massive institutional buildings located just to the south of the evolving early twentieth century neighborhood. Developed at a time when Greenville was prospering economically, the neighborhood and campus buildings illustrate the growing preference for masonry construction and the greater affordability of the popular material during the formative years of the area's development.
Bratton, Mary Jo Jackson. East Carolina University: Formative Years, 1907-1982. Greenville, North Carolina: East Carolina University Alumni Association, 1986.
Copeland, Elizabeth II, editor. Chronicles of Pitt County. Greenville, North Carolina: Pitt County Historical Society in cooperation with Hunter Publishing Company, 1982.
Corbitt, David Leroy. The Formation of North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943. Raleigh, North Carolina: Department of Archives and History, 1975.
Cotter, Michael, editor. The Architectural Heritage of Greenville, North Carolina. Greenville, North Carolina: Greenville Area Preservation Association, 1988.
Daily Reflector. Greenville, North Carolina: 14 March, 1908; 9 December 1912; 7 March, 1919; 31 March, 1930.
East Carolina University, Archives and Manuscripts Department, Joyner Library. Greenville, North Carolina. Various files.
East Carolina University, Microfilm Collection, Joyner Library.
Eastern Office of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. Greenville, North Carolina. Survey site files, research files, miscellaneous files on Greenville.
Eastern Reflector. 25 March, 1898.
Lefler, Hugh T. and Albert R. Newsome. The History of a Southern State: North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979 edition.
Powell, William S. Higher Education in North Carolina. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Second printing, 1970.
McAlester, Virginia and Lee McAlester. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Knopf Publishing Company, 1984.
News and Observer. 11 July and 8 September, 1907.
Pitt County Register of Deeds. Pitt County Courthouse. Greenville, North Carolina.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. May, 1896; March, 1898; February, 1900; February, 1905; January, 1911; May, 1916; April, 1923; May, 1929; April, 1946.
Williams, Thomas A. editor. A Greenville Album: The Bicentennial Book. Greenville, North Carolina: Era Press, 1974.
Interview with Mrs. Leslie (Blanche) Jones. Greenville, North Carolina: 4 January, 1991.
Interview with Mr. Howard Whitehurst. Greenville, North Carolina: 12 November, 1990 and 6 January, 1991.
Interview with Miss Francis Smith and Miss Tucker Smith. Greenville, North Carolina: 4 January, 1991.
Interview with Mrs. Phoebe Owens. Greenville, North Carolina: 5 January, 1991.
† Scott Power, Preservation Consultant, College View Historic District, Greenville, Pitt County, NC, nomination document, 1991, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.