08/03/07 — Former Cherry Hospital homes now dot Wayne landscape

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Former Cherry Hospital homes now dot Wayne landscape

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 3, 2007 1:45 PM

Wayne County natives and local historians may remember a time when the grounds surrounding Cherry Hospital resembled a little village.

In its heyday, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the hospital had its own power plant and the adjacent farmland produced food, livestock and eggs. Patients at the hospital worked on the farm for therapy.

To simplify things, employees were required to live nearby in state housing.

At one point in time, there were probably about 200 houses lining those streets, said Don Edwards, facility maintenance manager, who also grew up there. As a child, his father, Donald Sr., was the farm manager.

In the early days, there were houses with wooden siding, duplex apartments and single family houses with asbestos siding, Edwards said. The siding was self-contained, he explained, and not considered dangerous.

The structures could be found in a variety of colors -- brown, light gray, light yellow, purple or off-white, as well as brick.

The duplexes date back to 1954, constructed as part of a building project that year, Edwards said.

"Most of those houses had hardwood floors in them, plastered walls versus drywall -- there wasn't much sheetrock back then -- and a lot of them had the central floor furnaces. ... central heating units," he said. "Back in those days, all of those houses met in the hall in the center."

Around the time Edwards began working there, in 1979, several were still being rented out. Most have since been sold. Only 12 remain on campus today, being used for offices or other purposes, Edwards said. Some have been demolished or are in disrepair. Still others have been moved to other parts of the county, although passersby may not realize they were once part of the Cherry property.

"They're everywhere," Edwards said. He is aware of several, which he recognizes in his travels around the county.

Single family wood frame residences, of course, can still be seen along Stevens Mill Road near the railroad tracks, about two miles west of the Cherry campus.

Similar models can be seen along Royall Avenue, among the cluster of buildings that now comprise The Inside Shop Complex. One is painted a deep blue and houses the "Thistle Bee Quilt Shoppe." Another is for sale.

Along Indian Springs Road near Mount Olive is one of the duplex homes, featuring the original purple asbestos siding and near the fairgrounds and N.C. 13, just off Durham Lake Road is a small wooden home.

Another duplex is currently located on Tommy's Road on the outskirts of Goldsboro. It now has vinyl siding and the front porch has been reduced and the front gable end has been shortened.