Our Town

City of Wilson, North Carolina

Wilson, North Carolina

$250,000

2011

A former farm equipment repairman, Vollis Simpson found a second career as an artist relatively late in life. His whimsical whirligig windmills have won international recognition, and his work is on display across the country.

The City of Wilson is undertaking the repair and conservation of Simpson's original large-scale whirligigs. The project will serve as a national model by establishing conservation protocols for vernacular art, and generating new employment and training opportunities associated with the conservation of Simpson's artworks. The city will concurrently initiate preliminary planning for the establishment of an Industrial Artisan and Cultural District in downtown Wilson. Unemployed residents will benefit from training and job placement in the repair and conservation of the whirligigs, which will be prepped for installation in the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park (currently under design). The park will become a destination for the city's 78,000 residents and more than 10,000 annual cultural tourists.