History of Oliver


The Oliver community was developed in the mid-nineteenth century to early twentieth century, circa 1853-1931. The style of houses were brick row houses.

North Broadway from North Ave.

The earliest settlers in Oliver were predominantly of German and Irish descent, and mostly Catholic. Oliver was named after a merchant named Robert Oliver. Robert Oliver owned the Green Mount estate in the early 1800’s, which encompasses the present day Greenmount Cemetary, and the land surrounding the cemetery.

The development of the Oliver area began shortly after the Civil War where development peaked in the early 1870’s. Hoffman Street was developed sometime in the 1880’s.

St_Joseph_HospitalSt. Joseph’s Hospital was opened at the corner of Caroline and Oliver Street in 1872. This building was replaced by the now Bernard Harris Sr. Elementary School. Dr. Bernard Harris, for whom the elementary school was named after, was a physician who worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Dr. Bernard Harris, for whom the school was named after, both lived and practiced here in Oliver. Dr. Harris had a private practice on N. Eden Street and lived across the street from his practice.

Although Oliver had experienced a decline plaqued by poverty and crime, it is presently experiencing a resurgence and investment. In the early 2000’s from 2002-2008, much of the series, The Wire was filmed here in Oliver.

Year Event
1872 The then, St. Joseph’s Hospital was completed. (located where Bernard Harris Elementary School now stands). Corners of Caroline and Oliver Street.
1886  The church, that is now Memorial Baptist Church, was built in a stone Romanesque Revival style. 1301-1309 N. Caroline Street.
1749 description
1890 Built originally as Grammar School #20, this building is now the Oliver Multi-Purpose Center, 1400 E. Federal Street
1890-1894 Brick and Brownstone house built in a French Chateau style, currently houses part of the Great Blacks in Wax at 1649 E. North Avenue.
1893-1894 A stone Gothic Revival Church, now residing New Antioch Church, was built. 1400 N. Eden Street.
1894 Engine House #19 was built. This building is now occupied by The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. 1601 E. North Avenue
1899 The Church of the Redeemer was built. 1501 E. Oliver Street
1902-1902 A stone Romanesque revival church that is now St. Francis Xavier Church, was built. 1501 East Oliver Street.
1914 A stone Gothic Revival Church, now residing Zion Baptist Church, was built. 1700 N. Caroline Street.
1924 Built originally as St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Nurses Home, now houses Oliver Senior Center. 1401 E. Oliver Street.
1969 Dr. Bernard Harris Sr. Elementary School was built. It was built where St. Joseph’s Hospital used to stand.
1985 The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum relocated to Oliver in the Engine House No. 19 building to accommodate the large number of visitors, since it’s inception in 1983.


Then Now
1500 Bethel Street (circa 1986) Oliver Playscape (present)
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