Jefferson, Cross, and Park streets enclose three sides of a town square and present a unified group of commercial buildings in an English Tudor style. The town was built by the Lee Wilson Company, an agricultural business. Robert E. Lee Wilson, who had inherited 400 acres while still a teenager, expanded his holdings to more than 40,000 acres, clearing it of timber and then developing it for farming, including cotton. He built houses for the workers, commercial and other structures, a church, and a school building (1906; 10 Lake Street), which is now a community house. But the jewel of this town is the town square and its buildings. In the 1920s, Wilson’s son, Roy Wilson, returned from a honeymoon in England and began transforming the downtown buildings in emulation of the Tudor buildings he had seen and admired. While unified in style and in their materials of red brick and wood, the one- and two-story buildings are varied in size and details, presenting a picturesque display of steep roofs, false halftimbering in the tall gables, dormer windows, and arcades supported on wooden posts. He also built an English Tudor Revival house for his family just north of Wilson on U.S. 61. Today, Wilson, an incorporated town, has a population of approximately nine hundred. The company maintained ownership of many of the town’s buildings until 2010, when the town was purchased by Gaylon Lawrence Jr., who began a restoration in 2014.
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Downtown Commercial District
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