Wright's Motel

Years Listed
1956-1957, 1959-1967
Region
Coastal Plain
County
Edgecombe

Wright’s Motel was advertised in the Green Book from 1956-1957 as “Wright’s Motel—State Highway 95,” from 1959-1960 as “Wright’s Motel—State Hwy. No. 95 & Raleigh Rd.,” and from 1961-1967 as “Wright’s Motel—P.O. Box 43.” The motel was located in Rocky Mount. An exact street address was not given.1

Wright’s Chick-Shack Motel opened to the public on November 3, 1944. The business, located in the Nannie E. Parker & Son Building at 501 Raleigh Road, was the newest incarnation of the Bryant family’s business enterprises. William A. and Nannie E. Bryant opened a grocery store on N. Main Street in 1909. The grocery store moved to the D.J. Rose building, then to the Douglas Building as a grocery store and cafe (in a retail space later occupied by another Green Book business, the Dixie Cafe), then to 1916 Peter Street. Finally, the business was moved into a new building at 501 Raleigh Road. The building housed a service station, cafe, grocery store, barber shop, beauty parlor, and pool parlor. William A. Bryant died two years later, in 1922.2

Nannie E. Bryant took over the grocery store and cafe after her husband’s death and was joined in the business by her second husband, Alan Wright Parker, by 1940. In 1944, her son, Alexander H. “Tuffy” Bryant, took over the family’s businesses. These included the newly established Wright’s Chick-Shack Motel (named for Alan Wright Parker, who served as the business’s co-proprietor alongside Tuffy Bryant), Bryant’s Music Company, and Bryant’s Realty Agency.3

Wright’s Chick-Shack did not advertise rooms for rent when it first opened in 1953, nor did it originally include “motel” in its title. Wright’s offered a modern, up-to-date dining room along with a private “blue room” for clubs, societies, and private parties. The restaurant’s specialty was fried chicken; seafood, barbeque, steaks, blue plates, sandwiches, milk, wine, beer, and other drinks were also on the menu.4

Alexander Hamilton “Tuffy” Bryant was born in 1912. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University and began his career as an educator, teaching in the Rocky Mount City Schools for 10 years. In addition to managing the Bryant family’s businesses, Tuffy Bryant served as a local politician who was active in numerous local organizations and was known for his work to promote affordable housing. Bryant was the first African American broker and developer with a VA-FHA approved housing program in eastern North Carolina. He used grant money to build low-income housing, served as chairman of the Minority Housing Committee of Rocky Mount, and served as Vice-Chairman of the Rocky Mount Housing Authority. Tuffy Bryant married Ethel Lucas in 1950. The couple had three children. Bryant’s brother, Kelly W. Bryant, joined him in the family business after Nanny Bryant Parker’s health began to decline, around 1965.5

Alan Wright Parker was born in 1893. He and Nannie Barnes Bryant began their relationship around 1940; prior to that, Parker served in the Army and owned a grocery store. Wright Parker passed away in 1964.6

Nannie Elizabeth Barnes Bryant Parker, born in 1888, was a well-respected and accomplished businesswoman. She was active in the National Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. and was named their Woman of the Year in 1963. She raised four children while maintaining the family business on her own after her first husband’s death and enjoyed mentoring local young men. She passed away in 1978.7

The historical Nannie E. Parker & Son Building is now The Wright’s Center, an adult day health care facility for seniors and disabled adults. Tuffy Bryant’s daughter, attorney and former State Senator Angela Bryant, established the center in 1989. It is located at 513 W. Raleigh Blvd.8

Essay by Brandie K. Ragghianti, 2022

Notes

  1. Victor Green, 1956 Green Book, 46; Green, 1957 Green Book, 47; Victor Green, 1959 Green Book, 52; Green, 1960 Green Book, 73;  Victor Green, 1961 Green Book, 70; Green, 1962 Green Book, 75; Green, 1963-1964 Green Book, 58; Green, 1966-1967 Green Book, 58.
  2. Nannie Barnes and Wm A Bryant, February 27, 1907, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, US Marriage Records, 1741-2011, accessed from www.ancestry.com; R.D. Armstrong, “Mrs. Nannie B. Parker Woman of the Year,” Rocky Mount Telegram, January 28, 1963, 5, accessed from www.newspapers.com; “We Invite You . . .” (ad), Rocky Mount Telegram, November 2, 1944, 15, accessed from www.newspapers.com; William Augustus Bryant, September 11, 1922, Rocky Mount, North Carolina, US Death Certificates, 1909-1976, accessed from www.ancestry.com.
  3. R.D. Armstrong, “Mrs. Nannie B. Parker Woman of the Year,” Rocky Mount Telegram, January 28, 1963, 5, accessed from www.newspapers.com; “A.H. Bryant Jr.” (obituary), The Carolina Times (Durham, NC), September 21, 1985, 6, accessed from http://newspapers.digitalnc.org
  4. “We Invite You . . .” (ad), Rocky Mount Telegram, November 2, 1944, 15, accessed from www.newspapers.com.
  5. “A.H. Bryant Jr.” (obituary), The Carolina Times (Durham, NC), September 21, 1985, 6, accessed from http://newspapers.digitalnc.org; Coscolluela, Nicole, Malorey Henderson, and Claire Kempa, “North Carolina Green Books Historic Preservation Study Report: Beaufort, Bertie, Caldwell, Davidson, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Nash, Pasquotank, Pitt, Rowan, and Wilson Counties,” HI 587: Cultural Resource Management, North Carolina State University, Spring 2016, 23; (Alexander H. Bryant and Ethel Lucas, June 22, 1950, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, US Marriage Records, 1741-2011, accessed from www.ancestry.com; J.B. Harren, “Hopping Around Tarheelia,” The Carolinian (Raleigh, NC), July 24, 1965, 12, accessed from https://newspapers.digitalnc.org
  6. Wright Parker, January 7, 1893, Service No. 3039596, US Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970, accessed from www.ancestry.com; 1940 United States Federal Census, Rocky Mount, Nash County, North Carolina, digital image s.v. “Wright Parker,” accessed from www.ancestry.com; 1950 United States Federal Census, Rocky Mount, Nash County, North Carolina, digital image s.v. “Alan Wright Parker,” accessed from www.ancestry.com; “Wright Parker Interred,” The Carolinian (Raleigh, NC), February 8, 1964, 12, accessed from https://newspapers.digitalnc.org.
  7. 1900 United States Federal Census, Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, digital image s.v. “Nannie E. Barnes,” accessed from www.ancestry.com; ay Bee Aytch, “Hopping Around Tarheelia, The Carolinian (Raleigh, NC), February 2, 1963, 16, accessed from https://newspapers.digitalnc.org; J.B. Harren, “Hopping Around Tarheelia,” The Carolinian (Raleigh, NC), July 24, 1965, 12, accessed from https://newspapers.digitalnc.org; Nannie Barnes Parker, February 4, 1887, Nash County, North Carolina, US Death Indexes, 1908-2004, accessed from www.ancestry.com.
  8. Coscolluela, Nicole, Malorey Henderson, and Claire Kempa, “North Carolina Green Books Historic Preservation Study Report: Beaufort, Bertie, Caldwell, Davidson, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Nash, Pasquotank, Pitt, Rowan, and Wilson Counties,” HI 587: Cultural Resource Management, North Carolina State University, Spring 2016, 23. 
Former site of Wright's Motel

Lisa R. Withers, 2019

Former site of Wright's Motel

Lisa R. Withers, 2019

Former site of Wright's Motel

Lisa R. Withers, 2019

Advertisement, The Carolinian, September 21, 1946

Advertisement, The Carolinian, September 21, 1946

Advertisement, The Carolinian, April 6, 1957

Advertisement, The Carolinian, April 6, 1957

Portion of Wright's Chick Shack Menu

Portion of Wright's Chick Shack Menu

Wright's Chick Shack & Greenleaf Ballroom Postcard

Wright's Chick Shack & Greenleaf Ballroom Postcard

AKA Dinner, Green Leaf Ballroom

AKA Dinner, Green Leaf Ballroom

Green Leaf Ball Room & Bryant Music Company, ca. mid-20th century

Green Leaf Ball Room & Bryant Music Company, ca. mid-20th century

Wright's Chick Shack & Motel, late 20th century

Wright's Chick Shack & Motel, late 20th century

Patrons at grand opening, 1944

Patrons at grand opening, 1944

Alexander "Tuffy" & Ethel Bryant, May 1971

Alexander "Tuffy" & Ethel Bryant, May 1971

Newspaper clipping of motel from family scrapbook

Newspaper clipping of motel from family scrapbook