Charles C. Dodson was a jeweler who kept a downtown shop on Vine Street around 1900, within easy walking distance of his home at 404 Patton. Though never famous, he and his family enjoyed a middle-class Victorian lifestyle that was an exception in the Jim Crow South. During that era, white supremacists argued that blacks were incapable of maintaining homes of their own. This photo was one of several displayed in an exhibit at the Paris World’s Fair of 1900, selected by W.E.B. Dubois to demonstrate black American families’ pride in home ownership.
The hilltop section of Patton Street, once a neighborhood of affluent blacks, was demolished half a century ago, during urban renewal. A little bit of Patton Street still exists just east of the Old City, but this site, a few blocks south of there, is now within the Townview Terrace development.