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History of Wilson Park and its Homes

As natives of the beautiful Shoals area, we have all taken our kids to see the breathtaking fountain. Or maybe, taken a stroll along the pathways after date night that leave us in awe. Or seen a band play while sitting in a ballpark chair visiting with friends. Woodrow Wilson Park has memories for all of us.

First designed as a Public Walk, was laid out as part of the original plans of Florence in 1818. On February 20, 1924, the Board of City Commissioners officially changed its name from City Park to Woodrow Wilson Park in honor of the former U.S. President following his death on February 3, 1924. After retiring in 1924 as minister of the Trinity Episcopal Church, the Reverend Cassius Lee Price, and his wife, Mary Emily Savage Price, planned and supervised the landscaping and the planting of the trees in this park.

There are three houses that surround Wilson Park that are historical landmarks labeled as The Wilson Park houses. All three were Built as upper-class residences between 1890 and 1918, the houses are adjacent to Wilson Park, laid out as a public space upon the city’s founding and later renamed for President Woodrow Wilson

The Southall House at 209 Tuscaloosa Street is the oldest of the three, having been built in 1890. It was purchased in 1894 by Charles M. Southall, founder of Southall Drugs. The house remained in the family until after 1979, when it was donated to the city to join the Arts Center.

The Kennedy-Douglas house was built by James Josephus Douglass in 1918, a merchant and farm owner, and later passed to his son, Hiram Kennedy Douglass. The younger Douglass, an educated minister at Oxford, filled the house with period furniture and other items that were donated along with the house. The house is known for its Georgian Revival style.

The Wright-Douglas house is located on the corner of Tuscaloosa and Wood Ave.  Built in 1910. It was physician E. B. Wright and sold to an uncle of Hiram Douglass and then to other family members before being purchased by Hiram himself. The house was divided into apartments then later donated to the museum.

When you are out visiting downtown Florence, make sure to check out the history of the iconic Woodrow Wilson Park and all its surrounding beauty, including all three houses.

Shoals Insider: Lyndsey Wilson

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