Narrative Statement of Significance
The Elizabeth City Historic District (Boundary Expansion) is significant as a large residential section that developed during the mid- to late-nineteenth centuries and the early twentieth century as Elizabeth City grew in size and prosperity. This development was dependent upon modern transportation systems and industries that attracted white shop keepers, professionals, and entrepreneurs to the city, particularly after the arrival of the railroad in 1881. Earlier residential development within the expansion area was limited to a small cluster of antebellum dwellings for free blacks in the vicinity of the Colored Methodist Mission, now Mount Lebanon A.M.E. Zion Church (#365), and several widely dispersed farmhouses. Beginning in the early 1890s, building lots were platted to the west of the city along streets that now comprise the vast majority of the expansion area; subdivision plats were laid out in 1892, 1902, 1907. and 1928. The development within the Boundary Expansion is almost exclusively residential. Important historical commercial and church facilities are located within the Elizabeth City Historic District, which was listed in the National Register in 1977. Thus, the resources within the expansion area commemorate the ca. 1840 to ca. 1883 and ca. 1891 to 1943 residential development on what was formerly agricultural land adjoining earlier urban development. The tree-lined avenues of complementary and repetitive dwellings embody the comfortable and tranquil qualities characteristic of traditional suburban neighborhoods of its period in North Carolina.
The period of significance of the Boundary Expansion, ca. 1840 to ca. 1883; ca. 1891 to 1943, reflects the two phases of the area's development. The earlier phase begins with the construction date of the Richardson-Sawyer House (#310), the oldest contributing resource that retains its early appearance. It includes approximately twelve primary resources that are either associated with the area's agricultural beginnings; are part of a small neighborhood of blacks located near the city's only antebellum black church, now Mount Lebanon A. M. E. Zion Church (#365); or were not included within the original Elizabeth City Historic District in the 1977 nomination due to lack of information. While the core of the Shirley-Armstrong House (#163) dates to ca. 1793 and is the oldest house in the city, the original farmhouse was and educational development, and transportation development. The area's varied buildings are discussed in the MPDF under Property Type 1, Residential Architecture; Property Type 2, Outbuildings; Property Type 3, Institutional Architecture; Property Type 4, Industrial and Commercial Architecture; and Property Type 5, Cemeteries, Monuments, and Bridges.