Wilson Buildings

The Wilson Buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 5, 2014. They are significant in the context of Commerce, as it relates to commercial development in Clinton. The six story tower building was constructed between 1912 and 1914. First occupancy was announced in 1913. The construction of the two story adjacent annex was started in 1916. This addition was built to be capable of expansion to match the height of the existing tower. No wood was used for the floors or finish in its construction. The halls had wainscoting of marble while the floors of the halls and offices had terrazzo with a marble base. Winkle Terra Cotta Co. of St. Louis provided the terra cotta.  Miller & Ladehoff had the contract for carpentry, masonry, plastering and temporary roofing. C.E. Armstrong was given the contract for heating and plumbing.  Curtis Bros. Co. installed the plate and ornamental glass.  In 1952 the tower cornice was replaced with a concrete cap and the original wooden windows were replaced with aluminum. 

The Wilson buildings are a good example of modern construction technology with the skeletal framework highly visible. It is a fine example of a full terracotta façade. The vertical lines of the building are emphasized by the unbroken piers extending from the storefront to the roofline between the paired windows.  he rich detailing between floors is slightly recessed.  The use of white terra cotta creates a feeling of elegance.

There are two main reasons why the Wilson Buildings are significant in commercial development: firstly, the Wilson family owned and operated one of the largest, industrial steel companies in the country that had a highly respected reputation as Clinton Bridge & Iron Works. The success of the Clinton Bridge & Iron Works under George E. Wilson's investment and supervision led his son, George E. Wilson, Jr. to start his own real estate development company (the George E. Wilson, Jr. Company) which was the foundation of the family's continued success as one of the leading commercial developers in Clinton. They built the Wilson Buildings, as a project that featured the family businesses' product, structural steel. Secondly, the George J. Wilson, Jr. Company constructed the commercial buildings for the sole purpose of furthering commerce and economic prosperity in the downtown area, by creating more available space for lease. The construction of both buildings was driven by expressed local demand and remained at the epicenter of downtown commercial activity for nearly a century, housing a variety of local and national businesses, ranging from retailers to private medical and professional offices and practices. The Wilson Buildings are also significant as prime examples of Chicago Commercial Style and Classical Revival style of architecture, particularly as Clinton was booming in the first quarter of the 20th century and just before World War I. The architects, John Morrell & Son (Albert Henry, or A.H.) were prominent and respected commercial and residential architects in the Clinton area from 1904 to 1953.

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Latitude: 41.840931 Longitude: -90.189474 Elevation: 590 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Mike Kearney

Time Period Represented

1912 to present

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