The History of the Burton Street Community

E.W. Pearson Sr. (1872-1946)

E.W. Pearson Sr.

To truly understand the historical significance of The Burton Street Community, one must become familiar with a very distinguished and visionary man: E.W. Pearson Sr. Pearson was born in 1872 in Glen Alpine, NC, after serving as a Buffalo Soldier in the U.S. Army, Pearson moved to Asheville in 1906 where he used his real estate training from his studies in Chicago to create subdivisions for African-Americans In West Asheville, including the Burton Street neighborhood. Mr. Pearson’s vision of colored people having home ownership reflected rising above the challenges of the Jim Crow Period.

"Black Mayor of West Asheville"

In addition to his numerous real estate developments, Pearson established many businesses, organizations and community resources in West Asheville including Pearson Real Estate, Mountain City Mutual Insurance Company, Grocery and Confectionary Company, and Pearson Park. E.W. Pearson made many other contributions to the city of Asheville, Buncombe County, and beyond. He organized Asheville's first African-American semi-pro baseball team, the Asheville Royal Giants (1916), which played at Pearson Park in West Asheville. Pearson founded the area's first regional Agricultural Fair (1913-1947), and organized North Carolina's first chapter of the NAACP (1933), as well as several fraternal and other civic groups. His tireless work to improve the quality of life for African-Americans ultimately garnered him the title the 'Black Mayor of West Asheville". Pearson died in 1946 in Asheville at the age of 74.

The Burton Street School (1916-1965)

The Burton Street School (originally the Buffalo Street School) was established in 1916 as school for African-Americans in West Asheville. The original school was a two-room building that had two teachers and one principal and accommodated 120 students through grade six. A second building was erected in 1928 to accommodate additional students and consisted of four classrooms, an auditorium, a lunchroom, a library, and a principal's office. Integration left the Burton Street School sitting vacant, so in the late 1960s, the site was turned into the Burton Street Community Center and Park by the City of Asheville.

Looking Forward

The Burton Street Community Association has been serving the community for the past 50-plus years and it has been placed in our hands to maintain the culture of the Burton Street Community while welcoming new comers to our community.

Please Join us for this year’s Burton Street Community Agriculture Fair

SEPTEMBER 15, 2018

12:00-5:00pm