Wilson, North Carolina-Home of the Historic Freeman Roundhouse

Freeman Roundhouse, Wilson, NC

In the town of Wilson, North Carolina sits an African-American house in the round, built by my father’s Uncle Nestus.  Today the Freeman Roundhouse is on the North Carolina Register of Historic Places.  Along with the Roundhouse  is an African-American Museum highlighting the culture and contributions of African-Americans in the town of  Wilson and surrounding areas.


“Drivers traveling east on Nash Street can’t help but notice a small round building made of stone – known as the Oliver Nestus Round House Museum.  The house originally built in 1946 by Freeman, was turned into a museum. dedicated to preserve the culture, history and contributions of Wilson’s African-American community.  Freeman, a Wilson County native was a master stone mason.  Born in 1882, the son of a former slave, Freeman was educated at the Tuskegee Normal School in Tuskegee Ala.  He died in 1955.

Freeman Street signs, Wilson, North Carolina


Freeman Place Plaque. Recognizing the neighborhood where 44 affordable homes were built.

He worked as a mason most of his life and strove for fair and affordable housing for returning soldiers after World War II.  In fact Freeman helped build many of the houses in the area where the round house now stands.  Located at 1202 E. Nast St., the museum sits in a park-like triangular lot in the heart of Freeman Place, a city redevelopment area that has provided 44 affordable new houses for owner-occupants (link opens in new tab).

Freeman Park, Wilson, North Carolina

Although the building appears to be tiny, it is much larger on the inside than it seems.  Before the house was moved to the lot in December 2000, it served as a three-bedroom house on Freeman.  Several people who had lived in the round house have already come by to visit in its new incarnation as a museum.”
(-Alex Keown, Staff Writer, The Wilson Daily Times, Saturday, October 6, 2001)

This is what my dad (P. Frank) wrote about his Uncle Nestus.

“He use to throw me down in the grass and rub his heavy black beard into my face and act like a big bear.  He did have some full grown black bears which he use to wrestle.  Obviously the bears wore muzzles so they could not bite.  Also their claws were clipped.

One of the things Uncle Nestus got lots of enjoyment from was standing on the corner and staring up at the sky.  Then watch the people gather around him trying to see what uncle Nestus was looking at.

Uncle Nestus was a strong admirer of R.R. trains.  He would take a train from Wilson, NC to Cleveland, Ohio and take the next train back to Wilson….having never left the station.

Uncle Nestus owned his own personal mini zoo.  With deer, snakes, raccoons, and other small animals.  Once he let one of his baby bears chase me all over the place.  He did not call off the bear until I ran into his dining room and jumped atop his stuffed reindeer.  Two outstanding features of his zoo was a good size fishing pond and an underground house.  My understanding is that the State of North Carolina is considering making his property a historical site.  His home home was so beautiful.  Built it himself out of graystones.

The Freeman Roundhouse African-American Museum

Early Wilson-Community (Part 1 – 11 slides)Click here
Music (Part 2 – 8 slides) Click here
Education (Part 3- 7 slides) Click here

Whirligig Park (Preserving a Legacy). https://www.wilsonwhirligigpark.org/the-story(link opens in new tab).

“Wilson, North Carolina’s story has captivated the imagination of the country. Farm machinery repairman, Vollis Simpson, began making gigantic kinetic sculptures at his family farm in Wilson County when he was nearing retirement age. He kept making his “whirligigs”–seven days a week–until about six months before he died at the age of 94 in May of 2013. By that time he was famous. The story of Wilson’s campaign to use the renowned whirligigs to recharge its downtown has catapulted the community into the national spotlight. Grants from ArtPlace America, the Kresge Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts have helped the project come close to its goal of opening the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum”.  Whirligig slides (link opens in new tab).

North Carolina Baseball Museum (27 slides) Click here

TOBS Baseball Team bus.

Home of the North Carolina Baseball Museum,   located at the Historic 1938 Fleming Stadium.  The Wilson TOBS Baseball team calls this stadium home.  Why the name TOBS?  Well, the name is a shorten version of the word tobacco. Once upon a time tobacco harvesting, curing, and shipping was a major industry in the area.

“…the museum has over 3328 square feet and showcases memorabilia of many aspects from across North Carolina.  Memorabilia is from ball players that are native North Carolinians, and the museum is highlighted by showcases for Luke Appling, Rick Ferrell, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Gaylord Perry, Buck Leonard, Enos Slaughter, and Hoyt Wilheim, the seven Hall of Fame inductees in Cooperstown from North Carolina.  Players that have played at Fleming Stadium such as Rod Carew, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts and Ted Williams are also highlighted, along with such notables as Trot Nixon, Josh Hamilton, Freddie Bynum and Landon Powell.  T/he museum features a “Walk of Fame”, a collection of bricks to show memory, honor and recognition to players, fans and their families. ”  https://ncbaseballmuseum.com  (link opens in new tab).


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