But even in its current state, the old, vacant house still retains a certain amount of dignity and even to the most casual passer-by, it clearly was once a hub of neighborhood activity. The house was built in 1940 by the late Rev. Ralph Carlton Scotton.
According to the Church of God of Prophecy Center for Biblical Leadership, Scotton and his younger brother, Willie Thomas Scotton, were born Feb. 5, 1909, and Jan. 28, 1912, respectively, in Siler City, N.C., to George M. and Pattie K. Scotton.
At the age of 10, the older brother was saved and joined a holiness church. In the summer of 1931, he sought a deeper experience with God at a Church of God revival at High Point, N.C., where he was reclaimed, later sanctified and baptized with the Holy Ghost. The younger brother, Willie, had a similar experience at a revival in High Point two years later, in 1933. He was saved and sanctified and he also joined the Church of God though he would not receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost until about 12 years later.
Ralph felt the call to the ministry soon after his spiritual baptism. He received his first license in 1932 and began preaching in outdoor services. That same year, he was called to a new church in Asheboro, N.C., where he pastored for the next 10 years. From there, he went to High Point where he cared for a congregation and served as district overseer of Guilford and Randolph counties.
On Jan. 30, 1940, he was licensed as a bishop. In spring 1941, the vision of lost souls haunted him to the point that he was “forced to give up everything and really get on the field for God.” At the general assembly of that same year, he was appointed “general field secretary to the general overseer for the colored race.” In that capacity, he established churches in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana and Pennsylvania.
Willie’s daughter, Lavinia Johnson, said she believes her uncle Ralph built the house at 222 Dooley St. N.E., in 1940.
Lavinia’s brother, Carl Allen, said, “222 Dooley has always been where I call home. I recall the early years when uncle Ralph lived there, the house was like a mansion on Dooley Street. The hedges around the yard were planted by Uncle Ralph and I. I also kept the lawn mowed.
“Our family moved into the house while I was in the military (Army) and coming home after being overseas for three or four years, it was the most beautiful sight to see, and I always enjoyed being there for a short time.”
Lavinia said a man known as Brother Deadrick lived there after Ralph. “Deadrick then sold it to my father and mother, Willie and Elsie Mae. My father moved here from McMinnville to pastor the church on 1st Street, which was directly behind the house.”
According to church records, Willie moved his family to Cleveland on May 8, 1944, when he was transferred to the church on 1st Street. On Jan. 11, 1945, he received the baptism of the Holy Ghost in a revival at that church. He was ordained a deacon at the 42nd Annual Assembly and served as pastor of the church from 1947 through 1948.
Willie, who was also was an educator, was the first African-American to teach at Cleveland High School where he was special education teacher. He and his wife had 10 children: Carl (Ann) Allen, Willene Harley, Thomas (Connie) Scotton, Cynthia (Donald) Humes, Roma Scotton, Gwendolyn Scotton, Christopher Scotton, Lavinia (Terrial) Johnson, Prisavia (Jeff) Croft, and Stephen (Tiffany) Scotton.
Johnson remembered her father made papier mache statues and every Christmas, “he would have the nativity in our yard and would always win the contest for best Christmas decorations. Our house was always decorated at Christmas.
“During the General Assembly for the Church Of God Of Prophecy, Dad was in charge of the accommodations for the delegates. I remember people coming to our house very early in the mornings and very late at night, looking for a room to stay in during the General Assembly. Our parents always opened our home to family members from out of town. We had family sleeping in the basement and he fixed the garage for people to sleep. The house had four bedrooms with two of them upstairs, a bath, living room, dining room and kitchen. There were beautiful hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, and the hallway.”
Johnson said the yard on the left side of the house was filled with fruit trees her father planted.
“We had pear, apple, cherry and peach trees,” she said. “Our yard was always so beautiful.”
But times change. The house still remains in the Scotton family. It now belongs to Candice Milligan, who inherited the house from her late father, Gary Constant. She hasn’t decided whether to tear down the house or renovate it.
“I would love to renovate it. It’s a beautiful house with hardwood floors, but it would take so much to get it up to code,” she said.
Carl said he remembered being home on leave when he and his father painted the house.
“I think that was the last time it was painted,” he said. “Today when I come to Cleveland, I have to go by there and reminisce of how it was back in the day. Even after it’s gone, there will always be memories of 222 Dooley St., the old Scotton place.”