Records (1948-1984) of the Redevelopment Commission of the City of Greenville, North Carolina, primarily for the Shore Drive Urban Renewal area, including appraisals, boundary description, demolition contracts, financial records, relocation files, acquisition records, reports property photographs, etc.
The Housing Act of 1937 created a new requirement for low-income housing and therefore led to the creation of the Redevelopment Commission of the City of Greenville (December 1958) by the City Council. The commission's first task was the Shore Drive Redevelopment Project N.C. R-15 (February 1960).
The mission of the Shore Drive Redevelopment project was to revitalize Greenville's downtown area, but to some it was seen more as "slum clearance" as many people believed as much as two-thirds of the area was "blighted." Furthermore, by some, it was believed the Shore Drive Redevelopment Project was an attempt at rebuilding this area of Greenville. Additional current thought was that most of the area was more suitable for land uses other than single-family residence. Much of this thought came about after a survey was distributed (June 1960) to the current residents of Shore Drive. The survey was initiated to determine feasibility of relocation.
Original estimates indicated the relocations would affect an estimated 268 "colored families" and 23 "white families." However, the records appear to indicate only one of these white families was relocated (September 1964). It was also stated in the records that the families would be relocated to properties planned to have units renting for approximately 8.50-9.50 per week; however, many residents ended up paying from $3.50 – $22.50 per week according to Dwelling Unit Surveys.
After signing an agreement with Pitt County, the project was then called the Urban Renewal Plan. Another agreement also stipulated an equal employment opportunity clause, and a non-discrimination clause based on race, color, creed or national origin as it related to property usage. The project involved the acquisition of properties including Sycamore Hill Baptist Church (which is referenced in the book, "A Journey for Purchasing and Naming the Brown Hill Cemetery" by Sam Barber) that was a major landmark to the vibrant African-American Community living in the Shore Drive area. The acquisition of the church by the RCCG caused controversy resulting in many charges being brought against the RCCG, but none of the ensuing court cases were successful. Some of the people involved with the project through its various stages include A. E. Dubber "Executive Director," John Messick "Real Estate Officer," Lucille Gorham "Relocation Specialist," W. F. Clark "Project Manager," and Warren G. Barnes "Relocation Supervisor." There was a court case concerning the dismissal of Warren G. Barnes which caused lots of controversy.
The Redevelopment Commission acquired property from Moore Street, Greene Street, First Street, Pitt Street, Dickinson Avenue, and others to create what would be dubbed the Central Business District (also known as Newtown or CBD). This was accomplished through the Newtown Redevelopment Program N.C. R-61 which was created in 1968 and approved by the Greenville City Council in 1969. The Central Business District was successfully created, and still exists in name today even though about twenty acres (around East First Street) of the original estimated sixty-seven acres became known as the Town Common.
The Greenville Urban Renewal Files contain the plans, acquisitions of property, minutes, correspondence, maps, and materials related to the Shore Drive project, Newtown and the Redevelopment Commission of the City of Greenville (RCCG). Various complaints are contained throughout, with even their own real estate agent stating that they were offering too little money for owners to sell their homes to them. Whilst many of the properties needed improvement shown in various photographs, many residence owners thought that various properties did not need to be condemned as evidenced by various letters written (1964-1968). Some correspondence concerns a petition to keep the homes on Shore Drive from Helen Brooks to the Mayor and City Council (June 1963) and a list of houses to burn for training of the Greenville fire department. Almost all properties examined belonged to "non-white" people. There were also various court cases concerning imminent domain as evidenced by the relocation records. Other examples of residence owners included some with epilepsy (June 1963), deafness (1967-1969) and one with mental disabilities (March 1965).
Various photographs are included showing the prospective properties.
Maps included in the files depict Shore Drive (September 1966), Newtown (Map 42), and various properties obtained for both projects. Areas depicted include a First Street Apartments Map (December 9, 1966) drawn by Thomas Rivers, the Greenville Redevelopment Community (September 2, 1966), a map of the cemetery at Sycamore Hill Baptist Church, a plot plan for the Sycamore Hill Baptist Church (August 16, 1967), a map of the first-floor plan of the Junior High School on East 5th Street, and a map of the Newtown Redevelopment Area. In addition, included is a map of a plot plan for the Sycamore Baptist Church (August 1967), and a map of Greenville (January 1960) drawn by C. A. Holliday with these labels and a key to the map; standard and substandard areas are represented for residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional areas.
Minutes contained in the files concern the Public Improvement Program including housing for displaced families and citizen participation in the Shore Drive Redevelopment Project (August 1961), changes in personnel policy including the sick leave being capped at 12 days per year (October 1966). Other minutes concern pay roll coming directly from the RCCG Account (October 1966), resolution number 36 concerns how administrative costs will be charged to the RCCG (March 1961), a public hearing concerning information on the Shore Drive Redevelopment Project (June 1963), finances of the RCCG (September 1963), and the meeting of the City Council that established the RCCG (June 1964). These files document the creation of the Greenville Housing Authority as well as the creation of the RCCG, and list various employees working including Warren G. Barnes whom had a court case concerning a possible discrimination brought against the Greenville Housing Authority (transcripts located in the Greenville Housing Authority Collection).
Gift of Planning and Community Development Department, Greenville, N.C.
Encoded by Apex Data Services Processing by Leah Turner and Dale Sauter Completed December 6, 2017
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
For more information concerning the Warren G. Barnes court case, see:
Housing Authority of the City of Greenville(#923) East Carolina Manuscript Colelction, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA