Wilson • Arkansas

The Delta Empire

Experience the history of Wilson and the Delta empire told by author and historian Jeannie Whayne. Wilson’s unique past paves the way for its exceptional present.

Play Documentary Video

A New Model for Community

Wilson is a small town with a great ambition: to create a nurturing, inclusive and inspiring community based on the simple values of honesty, authenticity and hard work. Wilson is a town with a vitally important and far-reaching cultural narrative. Distinguished by its rich and fertile landscape, Tudor-inspired town square and unique history, Wilson is a destination with a difference.

wilson-arkansas-history

A Beacon of Change

Once the most important “company town” in the South, Wilson is poised to become a beacon for change in the Mississippi Delta and beyond. Here, collaboration, communication and a singular vision unite the town’s education, arts, food, history and agriculture. The plan is a bold, new model for innovation, sustainable renewal and a strong community.

wilson-gardens-history

Then and Now

For 125 years, the Wilson Family owned and operated the town, as well as the surrounding rich farmland. Life revolved around agriculture and diversified related businesses. By the early twentieth century, Lee Wilson & Company was one of the most significant cotton plantations and agricultural enterprises in the country

In 2010, The Lawrence Group Purchased Lee Wilson & Company, along with many of the town's historic buildings and neighboring agricultural land, ushering in a modern era of renewal. The change in ownership heralded a major transformation that continues today.

wilson-before-and-after

History

Wilson’s history is a vital element of its appeal. From the Wilson family story to its authentic artisan traditions and collection of ancient aboriginal artifacts, the town occupies a unique position in the landscape of the American South.

1886: Originally built around a sawmill operation, “Boss Lee” Wilson and Lee Wilson & Company developed a large-scale, diversified agricultural system in vast and fertile farmland. Using the labor of sharecroppers and tenant farmers, Wilson eventually became the seat of a major cotton empire and the most important “company town” in the South. The Wilson Company ran the store, the bank, the schools and the all-important cotton gin.

1920s: A Wilson son returned from a honeymoon in England with a big idea. The result was the Tudor-inspired buildings in today’s revitalized town square.

1950: Wilson became an incorporated town.

2010: The Lawrence Group purchased Lee Wilson & Company, including many of the town buildings and the surrounding agricultural acreage.

2012: Many of the Town Square Tudor buildings were restored, along with the historic Wilson Cafe. The Lawrence Group worked with leading experts to establish an independent school, as well as new business and development strategies for sustainable growth.

2013: Wilson hosted Chris O’Brien in the inaugural Wilson Music Series concert. The Wilson Music series is a biweekly concert series that features artists such as Phillip Sweet, Mark Collie, Marcella & Her Lovers, Deering and Down, Cally MaRae and others.

2014: Wilson Gardens, a different kind of farm, opened with the mission of helping residents lead healthier lives. The farm also provides farm-to-table offerings for the revitalized Wilson Cafe.

2015: The Delta School, offering a college preparatory education, a world-class campus and a creative learning environment unparalleled in the Delta, is now open. The Grange, a destination for community and cultural events and classes, is both a community gathering spot and a learning lab.

2016: The town secured a historic marker for the Wilson Trade School. The Delta School also voted to add an upper school to serve grades 9–12.

2017: White's Mercantile opened its first location outside of greater Nashville in Wilson. The new Hampson Museum is also slated for a fall opening.

historic-wilson

The Future

With an eye to the future, a diverse and capable group, including the town council, community members and outside consultants, continues working on a master plan for sustainable growth and advancement for all of Wilson’s residents. With longstanding relationships, generations of local families and a team of passionate professionals, Wilson’s community is its strongest asset. From education to infrastructure, agricultural practice, housing, dining, hospitality and entertainment, Wilson is continually exploring opportunities for innovation.

wilson-cotton