Wilson's History


A history of the Historic Preservation Commission

During the United States Bicentennial in 1976, citizens across the country sought to save, protect and document some of their heritage. Local residents realized the volume of significant late 18 th and early 19th century architecture in Wilson and decided to do their part to save, protect and document these structures and promote their preservation.

On May 27, 1976, the Wilson City Council established the Wilson Historic Properties Commission, whose duty was to safeguard the heritage of the City of Wilson by "protecting or preserving any property therein that embodies important elements of its cultural, social, economic, political or architectural history". Furthermore, the Historic Properties Commission was to "promote the conservation and use of such property for the education, pleasure and enrichments of the residents of the City of Wilson and the State as a whole". On June 17, 1976, members were appointed to serve on the Commission: Chairman Edward E. Fulford, John G. Ashe, Jr., Wortley Herring Forbes, Nancy Gray Watson, Frances W. Griggs and Marion W. Moore.

After thorough research and documentation, the first 6 structures were designated as historic properties on June 16, 1977. They included: the General Joshua Barnes Home (ca. 1844); Olzie Whitehead Williams Home (ca. 1860); Moses Rountree Home (1869); James Rountree Home (ca. 1892); London's Church (1895) and Branch Bank (1903).

In July of 1988 the City of Wilson adopted an Historic Districts ordinance and established the Historic Districts Commission to oversee changes in local historic districts; the Old Wilson and West Nash historic districts were designated as local historic districts in August. At the request of the property owners, another ordinance was adopted designating Broad-Kenan as a local district in June 1997.

In order to consolidate the efforts of the commissions, whose roles were identical but whose jurisdictions different, the Historic Properties and Historic Districts Commissions were merged to become the Wilson Historic Preservation Commission in 2002. The same year, Wilson County withdrew from the Preservation program. The Commission currently oversees changes to approximately 740 local district and landmark properties.