During the past couple decades, a few blocks of East Hargett Street in downtown have gone from a black business district to a collection of coffee shops, bars and restaurants. A few black-owned barbershops and nightclubs still remain. The face of these couple blocks, from Fayetteville Street to Moore Square, has changed. This collection of photographs attempts to explore that change and what it means to the city.
“We do not want to lose the fabric of this street,” said Greg Hatem, often called the Mayor of Hargett Street.
The “fabric” of this street might make Hargett the most quintessential street in the history of the City of Raleigh.
During the past 100 years this street has told the story of segregation and desegregation, moving from a separate black business district to the 21st century of becoming the melting pot for anybody who wants to drink, dine, exercise or shop.
In the early 20th century the 100 block east was the black business district and the 200 block east was part of the white business district. Hargett Street has witnessed history from the stories that still circulate, of black women being told not to touch a garment in a dress shop because the white women would not want to buy it, to the spontaneous party that erupted in the intersection of Hargett and Wilmington streets when Barack Obama was elected president.
One of the most history-filled buildings is at 115 E. Hargett St., which as early as 1903 housed the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, a black fraternal organization. The large open third floor space which held the Odd Fellows meetings is now home to The Studio @ Hargett.
If one can ignore the pilates machines, looking into The Studio @ Hargett is like a peek into history as the room remains very much the way it was 100 years ago.
For more than 30 years, the offices of black attorney Fred J. Carnage were located on the second floor of 115 E. Hargett St. He is remembered for his 20-year tenure on the Raleigh City School Board during the years of desegregation. Carnage Middle School was named in his honor in 1965. Adam Cave of Adam Cave Fine Art now has his office located in the same space.
This rich history probably explains Hargett Street’s vibrancy. Restaurants with outdoor dining, bars, barbers, exercise studios and the creative arts all thrive on today’s Hargett Street.