Taylor Street Park
Amenities and Features
- one and one-half acre park
- home to the Alston-Massenburg Center
- playground offering tot swings, a sand box with excavators, X-Wave, spiral slide, children's swings, and green areas
- picnic shelter
- picnic tables
- charcoal grills
Park open daily from dawn to dusk.
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
Smoking is limited to parking areas only.
Use of personal grills (gas and/or charcoal) is prohibited.
Dogs must be on a leash. Also, please clean up after your dog. Dog waste receptacles and bags are provided.
The land where the Alston Massenburg Center and Taylor Street Park are located at the Southeast Corner of N. Taylor and E. Juniper Streets, has served the Northeast Community in a variety of purposes since 1865. Across N. Taylor Street from the Olive Branch Baptist Church, the site has been the location of a Public School, a residential duplex, volunteer fire department, a basketball court and a public pool.
A Public School is shown on the 1915 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for the Town of Wake Forest at the southeast corner of Cemetery Street (now N. Taylor Street) and Church Street (now E. Juniper Street). Oral tradition offers that Grades one through seventh or eighth were taught there. Little is known about the first public school including how long it operated and who taught there. In 1928, the Rosenwald Fund assisted financially in the construction of a new public school building between Franklin Street and N. Allen Road. This school would become the site of the W.E.B. DuBois High School in 1939. It is believed that the first public school on N. Taylor Street closed at the time the Rosenwald-funded school was built.
The first public school building was converted to a residential duplex after 1928. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps show that the footprint of the building did not change between 1926 and 1936. In 1926, the building is labeled as a public school but in 1936 the two sections of the building are simply marked with a “D” indicating a “dwelling” or house. It appears that the building was converted into a duplex housing two families. Two families who lived in the duplex were Robert and Mary Watkins and their family; and George and Marie Massenburg and their family. Mr. Massenburg was employed by the Town of Wake Forest as an electrician. He also served on the volunteer fire department.
The site later became the home of the Colored Volunteer Fire Company of Wake Forest on May 7, 1942. Also known as Wake Forest Fire Department # 2, the African American volunteers manned this department until 1979 and officially merged with Fire Department # 1 in 1982. A 300,000-gallon elevated Water Tank and Tower was also on the site. Some of the men who volunteered for the fire department were Robert “Buster” Alston, Edward Alston, James Brodie, Anderson Forte, Joseph Gill, Lewis Hampton, Jr., Herman Harris, Sr., Raymond Harris, Sr., Arthur Hayes, Alan Jeffereys, Charlie Jeffereys, Andrew Jefferies, Arthur Jefferies, William Herbert Lucas, Sr., Lonnie Mangum, Jr., George Massenburg, J.D. Massenburg, James O. Massenburg, Linwood Massenburg, Edward Mitchell, Jr., McKinley Mitchell Sr., Jesse Rumsey, James R. Smith, Oscar Smith, Matthew Williams, and Woodrow Williams.
In 1950, the Town opened Taylor Street Pool at the corner of N. Taylor and E. Juniper Streets. The pool served the Northeast Community for many years and was the center of the community during the summer months. The pool was closed in 1993 and filled in the following year. A basketball court was installed on the site but was eventually moved to the nearby W.E.B. DuBois Campus. The pool house had been neglected up until 1986 when a grant from Wake County provided much needed renovation funds. The building was rededicated and named the Alston-Massenburg Center in honor of two of the community’s most upstanding citizens, Edward Alston and George Massenburg. Alston is remembered for serving his neighbors during his lifetime in the Northeast and as the Chief of Fire Station # 2. Massenburg served the Town of Wake Forest as an electrician for 43 years and served as a member of the fire department.
Taylor Street Park is a one-and-one-half acre park located at the corner of N. Taylor and E Juniper Streets. Adjacent to the Alston-Massenburg Center, it provides outdoor space with swings, sandbox, X-wave, spiral slide, green areas, picnic shelter, and a spray ground.
Compiled by Michelle Michael and edited by Dianne Laws
Hotchkiss, Courtney; Jordan Scott and Ashely Parker, NC State Northeast Community History Project – Alston-Massenburg Center Site Group, April 28, 2020
Pelosi, Carol W. Connections: 100 Years of Wake Forest History. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Publishers, 2008.