Homes at 206-202 North Main Street, facing south, WInton Historic District. The District was isted on the National Register of Historic Places in 2023. Photographed by Cheri L. Szcodronski and Elizabeth Jones. own work, 2020 for the Historic District nomination document, National Park Service.
The Winton Historic District [†] includes the majority of the historic resources in the Town of Winton. Established in 1766 as the county seat of Hertford County, the town is located on the south bank of the Chowan River, centered on the northern boundary of the county. It stands approximately eight miles northeast of Ahoskie, the county's largest city, and nearly ten miles southeast of Murfreesboro. The town was burned by Union troops during the Civil War, and the remaining above-ground historic resources largely date from the late 1860s through the late 1960s.
The district is largely residential, though includes a number of commercial resources in the 100 and the 400-500 blocks of North Main Street, governmental resources in the 700-800 blocks of North King Street, and institutional resources centered on the C. S. Brown School west of the 500 block of South Main Street. The district also includes churches and cemeteries located throughout the district. In total, there are 103 primary resources including ninety-nine buildings and four sites as well as secondary resources including forty-two outbuildings, three structures, seven sites, and four objects that were constructed between circa 1863 and 1970 and contribute to the significance of the district. Twenty-seven primary resources, twenty-eight outbuildings, and four structures do not contribute to the district as they were either not present during the period of significance or have been so altered that they have lost sufficient historic integrity. There are fifteen vacant lots in the district. Seventy-nine percent of the total principal resources contribute to the historical and architectural significance of the district.
The town of Winton is laid out on a grid plan with Main Street, King Street, and Murfree Street extending southwest from the Chowan River. Cross streets are arranged perpendicular to these streets, and thus extend from the northwest to the southeast, resulting in a grid plan that is skewed east of true north. The topography of the district is largely flat with hills only at the north end of King Street where it extends to the Chowan River. Fences and walls are rare, largely relegated to rear and side yards. Mature trees and plantings are located throughout the district, but do not form a distinctive tree canopy or distinctive landscape feature.
Lot sizes vary greatly, due to the gradual development of the district over the course of 100 years. Many lots along Main Street and King Street extend the full depth of a city block, though are interspersed with shallower lots of half-block depth. Lot widths also vary with commercial parcels as narrow as twenty-five feet, twentieth century residential lots as narrow as sixty feet wide, and late-nineteenth century houses located on lots as wide as 160 feet. Despite the range of lot sizes and building ages, building setbacks are relatively consistent with commercial buildings abutting the sidewalk and residential resources set back twenty-five to thirty feet in most cases.
The Winton Historic District served as an important commercial hub for farmers in Hertford and the surrounding counties, who brought cotton, peanuts, and corn, to market in town. The early-twentieth-century commercial buildings located on Main Street provided a variety of services to both the farmers in the region and the local residents, including a post office, banks, law offices, pharmacies, restaurants, department stores, and grocery stores. Located on the Chowan River, the river supported the growth of the herring fishing and pulpwood industries in Winton throughout the twentieth century, which in turn supported the businesses within the historic district.
The district haas been the county seat of Hertford County since 1766. The 1956 Hertford County Courthouse is the county's fourth. The first court was established along with the county itself in 1759, and although it is unclear whether an existing building was used or a new building constructed to house the court, it was destroyed by an arsonist in 1830. The second courthouse was burned in 1862 by Union troops, along with nearly all of the town. An 1870 courthouse was demolished for the construction of the current building. Together with the courthouse, the 1950-1951 Hertford County Office Building and the 1950-1951 Hertford County Health Department remain the center of government for the county, which is one of Winton's primary employers.
The Winton Historic District is significant in Native American Ethnic Heritage, African American Ethnic Heritage, and Education. The southern portion of the district includes a historically significant school for students of color, including African American, Native American, and multiracial children. The C.S. Brown School opened in 1886 as Chowan Academy, a boarding school for students of color and the only high school for students of color in Hertford County until 1937. In 1950, the Pleasant Plains School, which was located just outside Winton and served Native American and African American elementary students, was consolidated with C.S. Brown School. Adjacent to the school is the historically African American First Baptist Church of Winton, founded in 1895, and Manley Field, the former Chowan Bees baseball stadium, which provided popular recreational opportunities for African Americans from the late 1930s until the early 1950s. These institutions formed the foundation of the African American residential community that developed in this area of Winton, near the southern end of the district. The Winton Historic District is significant at the local level under Criterion C for Architecture. It contains residential, commercial, governmental, and institutional buildings in styles and forms that illustrate national trends. Late-nineteenth century buildings include examples of the Italianate, Queen Anne, and Gothic Revival styles. Early twentieth century styles include the Colonial Revival, Neoclassical, Craftsman, and Period Cottage styles, while most mid-twentieth century buildings were constructed in the Minimal Traditional, Modernist, and Ranch styles. There is also a significant representation of standard early-twentieth-century commercial buildings and nineteenth- and twentieth-century vernacular residential buildings within the district.
The historic district includes the C.S. Brown School Auditorium, significant for Education and for its association with Calvin Scott Brown, one of North Carolina's best known African American educators and religious leaders. In 1886, Brown founded the Chowan Academy, which was later renamed in his honor, and the circa 1905 C.S. Brown School Auditorium was listed in the National Register as the oldest unaltered building associated with the school. It was also significant as a Colonial Revival-style building that embodies the characteristics of educational buildings constructed during the early twentieth century. The historic district also includes <>Grey Gables, listed in the National Register as the best example of Queen Anne architecture surviving in Winton and one of a few high style buildings of this era in the county. It is also associated with prominent planter and politician James Saunders Mitchell, II.
† Adapted from: Heather M. Slane, Architectural Historian and Cheri L. Szcodronski, Architectural Historian, hmwPreservation, Winton Historic District, nomination document, 2019, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Brickell Street East • Brickell Street West • Brown School Drive • Brown Street East • Camp Street South • Cross Street East • Cross Street West • Dickinson Street East • King Street North • Main Street North • Main Street South • Mulberry Street West • Murfree Street • Richard Street East • Richard Street West • Tyron Street West • Weaver Street East