Manson, North Carolina: Soul City - Unrealized Utopia

Plenty of paved roads go nowhere in this failed exercise in 1970s social engineering.
Address:
Hwy 158, Manson, NC
Directions:
Hwy 158 close to the town of Manson, NC.
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Soul City. Soul City

Soul City is now basically down to a series of neighborhoods. A few recent health care facilites are closed, as is the assisted living center. There's a prison there now -- I believe this may be the old SoulTech I site.

[Walker, 05/25/2012]

Soul City was to be a model community where all races could live in harmony. The brainchild of civil rights leader Floyd McKissick, it even had its own factory: SoulTech I. The town was bankrolled by HUD -- reportedly a kickback from Republican Richard Nixon in exchange for McKissick's support in the 1972 presidential election. Floyd, who died in 1991, envisioned Soul City as home to more than 50,000 by the year 2000, but it was a ghost town by the end of the 1970s.

Soul City - Unrealized Utopia

I just went up to Soul City -- it's still there and starting to get some more people. At the old firehouse they were having a cookout.

They moved the original Soul City sign to another part of the town, in front of a housing complex and near and old library. Drive around for a couple of minutes and you'll find it.

[Jack Ball, 03/21/2011]
Soul City

I first saw Soul City from a distance in the late 1980s. I'd heard about it in college poli-sci class in the early 80s, but didn't remember a thing except it was in Warren Co NC...My last encounter was a quick drive-thru on my way up I-85 to Va, cir 1997.

This is a sad place. It reminds me of an earlier era that includes the old Soviet Union and Communism as our enemy, when the liberalism of the 70s was strong. Socialism, collectivization experiments and all that "stuff" thats fallen by the wayside. Soul City seems a part of it all. Floyd McKissick had a real dream I guess, but Warren Co was (and is) in the middle of nowhere and in hindsight there was zero hope of attracting any sustaining industry there back then...

It's worth a look, as a slice of history, if you're in the area.

[Hydro, 01/11/2008]
Soul City Boulevard street sign. Soul City

First Baptist Church of Soul City has been reconstructed and is in operation. There are worship services there every 1, 2 and 4th Sundays at 11:00 am. Bible Study is on Wednesday at 7:00 pm. All are welcome to come and visit with us as we seek first the kingdom of God.

[Charles Burwell, 07/29/2005]
Soul City

I happened to be in the Soul City area today so I popped in for a look. I was suprised to find that someone had done a little maintenance on the Soul City sign. The trees that were obscuring the sign are now either cut back or removed and lights have been installed at the base of the sign. This piqued my curiosity.

Sadly, the rest of Soul City was in the same condition as my last visit. The sportswear company was deserted and there were still miles of roads going nowhere. The First Baptist Church of Soul City had suffered a fire since my last visit but a sign out front read "We are Rebuilding." In the end Soul City still appears to be in much the same state as it was six months ago - just the sign looks better.

[Greg Brown, 03/03/2001]

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