History of this house is unclear. City directory and Census data suggest that it dates from the 1930s or earlier, but its architectural style matches no particular era (see architectural description).
In 1932, the first year that city directories began listing addresses on Washington Avenue, this address was listed as the residence of Jessie Billingslea, a laborer, and his wife Ola. The 1940 U.S. Census also listed Ola and Jessie Billingslea here at 2020 Washington Avenue. It said he had been born about 1891 in Alabama, and that sons Jessie Jr (age 22), Arthur (21), Melvin (20) and daughter Jessie Mae (15) also resided here. An older son, Edgar Billingslea, had already moved out by 1940. He served in the military in World War II, then went to work for the Charlotte Water Works, likely at the plant adjacent to this house. He retired in 1974 after thirty years.
Jessie Billingslea, Sr., continued living here at 2020 Washington Avenue into the late 1940s.
Mrs. Gladys A. Jeeter, a maid, resided here in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She took out a permit in 1963 to have contractor Earl L. Avant (a McCrorey Heights neighbor) add brick veneer to the dwelling, but there is no evidence today of that work. Earl Lanier Avant from Plainfield, New Jersey, graduated from JCSU in 1949 with a B.S. in biology. Avant came to own the house at 2020 Washington Avenue, taking out a permit to enclose the rear porch in 1973.
One-story wood-frame dwelling with a gable roof. It is not in any particular residential style, but rather resembles barracks built by the military in the first half of the twentieth century (such as Camp Greene in Charlotte during World War II) combined with a horizontality seen in Ranch style house of the 1950s — but the main entrance in the side of a projecting wing has no precedent. Is this an early twentieth century house, much renovated? Or a relatively new structure?
Date issued: January 7, 1963
Owner: Mrs. Gladys Jeter
Contractor: Earl L. Avant
Estimated cost: $300
Other permit info: brick veneer this residence
Date issued: August 9, 1973
Owner: Earl Avant
Contractor: Earl Avant
Estimated cost: $200
Other permit info: Enclose rear porch
First appeared in city directory:
1931 – Street listed but no addresses. 1932 – Jesse Billingslea & Ola.
She: No occupation listed
1933 – Jesse Billingsby. 1936 – Jesse Billingslea. 1945-46 – Jesse Billingslea. 1950 – Jeter Anderson (renter). 1956 – Gladys A. Jeter. Maid.
Charlotte City Council Minutes, January 31, 1972. On-line at: http://www.charlottenc.gov/CityClerk/Minutes/January%2031,%201972.pdf
Golden Bull yearbook, 1949. On-line at: https://archive.org/stream/goldenbull1949john/goldenbull1949john_djvu.txt
Jessie Billingslea in the 1940 U.S. Census. On-line at: https://www.ancestry.com/1940-census/usa/North-Carolina/Jessie-Billingslea_5dd8sy
Billingslea, Edgar, Jr., funeral program in the Obituary Project notebooks, African American Genealogy Interest Group collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Billingslea, Edgar, Sr., Jr., funeral program in the Obituary Project notebooks, African American Genealogy Interest Group collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.