On Yesterday

Historic Wilkins home renovation reveals a writing from a bygone time.

Discovered in the Wilkins Home's attic was this wood block. Inscribed with the name of builder Jacob Kagle and journeyman James B. Dunn.

A piece of history was unveiled in April, showcasing a unique and uniquely successful public-private partnership to preserve a piece of Greenville’s history.

Owned by Greenville developer Neil Wilson, the Wilkins home was preserved in partnership with the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation. Working together, they arranged for the home’s relocation three years ago—just a few blocks from its commercial-heavy, Augusta Road location to the 100 block of Mills Avenue. While the move made space for an assisted living community on the busy business corridor, it also ensured the safe relocation of the Reconstruction-era, Italianate-style mansion.

Among the countless historic details discovered beneath layers of paint, varnish and drywall, was one item of particular note: A letter written on Friday, Nov. 22, 1878 by the home’s original owner, Upstate businessman William Wilkins to his wife, Harriet Cleveland Wilkins. The letter was first discovered following a fire in 1942 in the tower room of the home, which was then occupied by Jones Funeral Home. Funeral home owner, Floyd Jones, stored the letter in the company safe, where it was kept safe, and now it is on display at the restored home.

New York, 22 Nov, 1878


My Darling Wife,


I wrote you on yesterday that I would leave here on Saturday night which would have brought me into Greenville Monday morning provided I made all the connections. But I am sorry to say that since coming into our new house I find that in justice to my business or in order to get Penniman off all right it will be necessary for me to be here two or three days next week, which I dislike very much but do not like to get off after staying so long half fixed up. I assure you that you cannot possibly think longer of the time than I do.


Your afft husband,

Wm Wilkins

Soot stains from a tower room fire in 1942 are visible on this letter, dated 1878 from Williams Wilkins to his wife, Harriet.


Look for a feature on the historic Wilkins home in Fall issues of atHome.



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