Wilson, Arkansas

Located deep in the heart of the American South, on the Mississippi River Delta, Wilson is a small town with great ambitions. One a ‘company town,’ Wilson has since been sold and is redirecting its efforts from its historic roots of manufacturing and production to art and culture. 

Distinguished by a rich landscape, unique Tudor-inspired town square, historic cotton gin, and rail-line infrastructure, Wilson is a destination with a difference; a location with a vitally important - and far reaching - cultural narrative. Wilson’s singular vision unites education, arts, food, history and agriculture to offer a bold new model for innovation and sustainable renewal.

See this article by the New York Times on Wilson's path to renaissance. 

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Location

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Latitude: 35.568136 Longitude: -90.042034 Elevation: 232 ft
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Wilson Arkansas

History

Founded by Robert E. Lee Wilson in 1886, Wilson was once the most important company town in the South. Originally built around a local sawmill operation, Wilson eventually converted to a large scale and diversified agricultural system. With over 62 square miles of fertile farmland, the Wilson Company prospered using the labor of sharecroppers and tenant farmers, ultimately becoming the seat of a major cotton empire. This system persisted into the 20th century, but with a change to mechanized farming and the outmigration of sharecropping laborers, the empire gradually declined. Despite this, Wilson remained in the hands of the Wilson family until 2010.

In 2010, Gaylon Lawrence Jr. and Gaylon Lawrence Sr. purchased Wilson’s agricultural lands, along with many of its historic buildings. This change in ownership heralded a major transformation. Under new leadership, Wilson has seen the restoration of its famed Tudor-style houses, the establishment of an independent school, and the introduction of local businesses, including a local farm-to-table cafe. Ambitious changes lie ahead: the establishment of a pre-Colombian museum, the introduction of a concert series, the formation of a contemporary artists’ cooperative, and more. 

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