You are now walking around Terry Manor, a subdivision of houses that consists of Terry Lane, Kennard Drive and Wilson Street. Terry Manor was built in the 1950s by George “Inky” Wilson, one of the most influential men in this neighborhood, and the city of Newark. Before Terry Manor, most of the housing in the New London Road community was subpar, some houses even without indoor plumbing even into the 1970’s. George Wilson took on the mission to provide decent, middle class housing at affordable prices for the community. The first house Inky built was his own; Pedro Swann remembers,
“If you turn right onto church st. when you get all the way to the end of that [inaudible] there's a house, a brick house on the left, that was Inky's house he used to live in, that was the first house he ever built matter of fact that last brick…the James' live in there cause Inky had a house back there that he used to live in…That's the first house that Inky ever built.”
Wilson borrowed housing plans from City Hall and salvaged building materials through his demolition business. Then he and a handful of local men began building houses, many of which still stand today. Wilson named the development and Terry Lane after his daughter and Kennard Drive after his two sons, Kenneth and Richard. Many of the first residents of Terry Manor were actually service men and their families stationed at New Castle County Airbase; these new families were embraced by the community. Other residents of Terry Manor included veterans, postal workers, teachers, and workers from the Chyrsler plant. Terry Manor is remembered by community members for the many fun times had there.
But Terry Manor wasn’t George Wilson’s only contribution to the community. Wilson dedicated his life to improving living conditions for the African Americans of Newark. Wilson was the first and only African American elected to city council. Alvin Hall was directly impacted by Wilson’s election to the city council:
“Well, George was an outspoken and a major person in the community. He did a lot of things to help the black area develop. I know that through some of his legislation—all the houses in Newark used to have little outhouses, and after I was about maybe ten years old, when George got into council, all the outdoor houses were done away with, because the city came through with sewage, and then we were able to be hooked up to sewage, you know.”
George Wilson clearly cared about the community and did his best to make it an even better place to grow up and live in. But Mr. Wilson also had a bit of a sense of humor too, saying of himself
“I’ve always been a bit of a rebel.”
Now go back out the way you came, cross over New London Road, go down Ray Street and turn right onto Rose Street until you can see Mt. Zion Church.