A cotton gin in operation is a deafeningly noisy, dusty, and dangerous spectacle. And yet, for two decades, Wilson County Gin Company’s gin roared into action every fall within feet of two Baptist churches, Darden and Sons funeral home, a row of stores, and duplex housing near the corner of East Barnes and Stantonsburg (now Pender) Streets.
Detail from 1930 Sanborn fire insurance map.
The gin was built in 1919 and competed with another across Barnes Street in the enormous Farmers Cotton Oil Mill complex. (That gin was older and, in successive buildings, operated into the 1960s.) Wilson County Gin operated into the 1930s; Faulkner Neon took over the site in 1945. At the right angle, a “ghost sign” can be seen above Faulkner Neon’s lettering: WILSON COUNTY GIN.
Nomination form, Wilson Central Business-Tobacco Warehouse Historic District; Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2023.