Map of Warnersville, showing J.C. Price School in red. (Before Freeman Mill road expanded and Randleman road was added.) Map was drawn by James Edward Scales, circa 1948. Courtesy of the Greensboro Historical Museum
The Warnersville community is a unique story of perseverance. The neighborhood first began in 1868 when a Pennsylvania Quaker named Yardley Warner sold 35 acres of land to a group of former slaves. Warner then called upon former slave Harmon Unthank to assist him in attracting residents to the fledgling community. Unthank became one of the early leaders in the community, later earning the nickname “the boss.” The community became a haven for ex-slaves and African American migrants through the turn of the century. The idea of having a strong, independent community drove the founders of Warnersville and helped it to last for over 140 years.
By the 1910s, there were a few black schools in the area, including the McAdoo School, the Lutheran School, the Jacksonville School, David D. Jones School, Percy Street School and Old Ashe Street School, which J.C. Price School replaced. By 1920, there were three other black communities within Greensboro.
Over time, the Warnersville community has faced hardships of many kinds, the most obvious being racism. But the residents of Warnersville did not let the idea of race control who they were or what they did.
Citizens created their own businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants, barber shops, night clubs and a funeral home. Not only did these black-owned businesses provide valuable services and jobs for members of the community, but they also helped foster a sense of pride and respect among Warnersville citizens.
The people of Warnersville also created many churches which they built from the ground up, including the following:
- St. Matthews Episcopal Church (Renamed St. Matthews United Methodist Church). Bennett College actually began in the basement of St. Matthews.
- Shiloh Baptist Church
- St. James Baptist Church
- Trinity AME Zion Church
- Haynes Holiness Church
- New Zion Missonary Baptist Church
- St. Phillips AME Zion Church
- Mount Pleasant Christian Church
- Wells Memorial Church of God in Christ
- Gethsemane Baptist Church
The greatest tragedy that Warnersville has faced came in the form of urban renewal. This project, crafted and implemented by the City of Greensboro between 1969 and 1971, destroyed most of the businesses and homes of Warnersville. Urban renewal even resulted in some of the churches’ having to relocate to sites outside of the Warnersville community. While the project was supposedly for the betterment of the citizens, no one in Warnersville shared that sentiment.
Despite the disruption urban renewal caused within the Warnersville community, the residents of Warnersville continue to exhibit a fierce sense of pride in their community to this day.
(To learn about the effects of desegregation on J.C. Price School and the Warnersville community, please see the Desegregation page.)