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Edwin Morris Barrett, Sr. (4.12.1921 – 7.29.1996) grew up in Muskogee, Alabama, then attended Lincoln University in Oklahoma, a black college which had been founded shortly after the Civil War.
“In 1943,” noted his funeral program, “he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps flying program at Tuskegee, Alabama. This group, later known as the ‘Tuskegee Airmen,’ was the first group of black pilots in the United States military.” The Tuskegee program admitted only the best and the brightest students. Critics predicted its failure, saying that African Americans did not possess the intelligence nor courage to become pilots. History proved them wrong, as Airmen flew key missions during World War II.
During his military service, Barrett was posted to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. He made time to commute to Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, where he completed his college degree.
After the War, one of the few steady, well-paying jobs open to African Americans was Federal government’s Railway Mail Service (RMS). Trezzvant Anderson, a JCSU alumnus who worked for RMS then went on to become a well-known reporter with black Pittsburgh Courier, used his newspaper columns and personal connections to alert African Americans to the opportunities of postal work. Perhaps that is how Edwin Barrett made his way to Charlotte. He joined RMS in 1950 and served for a quarter of a century, retiring in 1975. Retirement allowed him to step up involvement in his church, Memorial Presbyterian, where he served on the Board of Deacons among other positions.
In 1952, soon after starting his postal career, Edwin Barrett took out the permit for construction of this residence in McCrorey Heights. Back in his military days in Sumpter, he had met and married Miriam Sampson Barrett (4.12.1920 – 1.9.1999), a Sumpter native who earned a degree at Spelman College in Atlanta, perhaps the nation’s preeminent African Americans women’s college. Mrs. Barrett was a nurse at Charlotte Memorial Hospital when the couple moved into this house, then worked for a decade as a teacher in Sumpter, South Carolina. The couple had two sons, Edwin Morris Barrett, Jr., and Terry Wayne Barrett.
Ranch style house, one-story in red-brick. In 1962 the original owners hired Mangie McQueen, one of the city’s most active black contractors and a McCrorey Heights neighbor, to expand the house. McQueen added a rear addition and also extended the main gable roof to cover an inset front porch and create a two-vehicle side carport — giving the house a strong horizontality that makes it an excellent example of the Ranch style.
Date issued: November 18, 1952
Owner: Edwin M. Barrett
Contractor: C. T. Brown
Other permit info: Build residence
Madison 1713 permit a
Date issued: April 25, 1962
Owner: E. M. Barrett
Contractor: Mangie McQueen
Estimated cost: $6,000
Other permit info: side garage, rear addition to house
Barrett, Edwin, funeral program in the Obituary Project notebooks, African American Genealogy Interest Group collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Barrett, Miriam, funeral program in the Obituary Project notebooks, African American Genealogy Interest Group collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.