LOCAL HISTORIC DISTRICTS
Historic districts are designed to preserve historic buildings and other resources that reflect the City of Wilson’s history and embody the community’s traditional qualities and characteristics.
The City of Wilson has three designated historic districts: Old Wilson, West Nash, and Broad-Kenan. These districts include approximately 740 parcels under the jurisdiction of the Historic Preservation Commission.
Wilson also has two National Register Historic Districts: East Wilson and Downtown/Tobacco Warehouse. These areas are currently not included in Wilson’s Local Historic District and are not under the purview of the Historic Preservation Commission.
Old Wilson Historic District
This district consists of 361 properties, encompassing all or parts of five loosely defined residential neighborhoods that date form the 1850s through the 1920s. These neighborhoods — Maplewood, Woodard Circle, Whitehead Place, College Place, and Rountree Place — were the places of residence for many of the business leaders in Wilson and for most of the middle tier of merchants, clerks, and salesmen. Although many of the stylish old houses have been razed, several survivors are included in this district.
Old Wilson contains a representation of the major architectural styles from the mid- and late-nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. Particularly notable is the large and varied collection of bungalows which were erected during the 1910s and 1920s when Wilson’s agriculturally-based economy — primarily tobacco and cotton — was booming.
Maplewood Cemetery and several historic churches are located in Old Wilson, including the (former) Primitive Baptist Church, First Christian Church, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, and Our Redeemer Lutheran Church.
West Nash Historic District
This district stretches nine blocks along the main thoroughfare of Wilson, and contains the homes of some of the city’s most prominent merchants, professionals, and tobacconists. It includes 99 properties that were constructed primarily in the 1910s and 1920s, and the majority of these homes reflect the popular Colonial Revival and Bungalow styles of the day. The beautiful homes and tree arcaded street made the area one of the loveliest streets in the state.
Broad-Kenan Historic District
This district embodies Wilson‘s decades of expansion between 1890 and the Depression. According to local lore, the City of Wilson purchased farmland in the portion of the district that is now east of Daniel Street in order to develop a town park. It is said that Park Avenue was named for the proposed park, and that Broad Street, at the time the widest in Wilson, was planned to become a major thoroughfare. However, the high demand for residential expansion in areas convenient to downtown businesses and public offices led the city to sell house lots in this section.
The 280 properties in this district represent a remarkably intact residential neighborhood — more than 60% of the structures are bungalows. Other properties are typically Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival houses.
When the City of Wilson began conducting surveys of its architectural and cultural resources in 1979, a large number of properties were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the federal government’s list of significant historic places in the United States.
Wilson’s six landmark properties include: Branch Banking and Trust, Cherry Hotel, General Joshua Barnes House, Moses Rountree House, Davis-Whitehead-Harriss House, and the Wilson County Courthouse.