Warner Complex

Play Video

Warner Complex

For three decades, the Warner Complex on Corbin Street was a place where a Black business owner could have “their shot” to build a successful enterprise in Hillsborough.

Roosevelt Warner, Sr., knew what it was like to need an opportunity in life. He grew up in an orphanage in Oxford, N.C., where he learned the brick-laying trade. He married Fanny Warner in 1929 and she became both a life and a business partner.

As he became more successful as a contractor, he expanded into owning several businesses in Hillsborough. Some of his enterprises included laundromats, a soda shop, and Warner’s Motel, the first to serve Black patrons in Hillsborough.

The property that he owned at 114 Corbin Street also became a hub for Black entrepreneurship with his own and other businesses like a popular barber shop. At one point, Warner’s properties housed 95 percent of the Black-owned businesses in town, according to his grandson Roosevelt “Ronnie” Warner, III.

Roosevelt Warner, Sr., left his mark throughout Hillsborough – from the construction projects he oversaw to his role as the first Black member of the City Council to his entrepreneurship. And, in true partnership, every business check bore Fanny Warner’s handwriting.

“He was a hub for entrepreneurship in the black community. So it wasn’t just about him. He leased out to people. So, to me, one of the most important aspects of his entrepreneurship is that he provided a place for people to grow their businesses.” – Ronnie Warner