WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – History lurks behind every corner in downtown Wilmington, and one church has quite a presidential past. The stone walls of First Presbyterian Church used to be home to the Wilsons; as in Woodrow Wilson.
Joseph Wilson, father of the eventual president, was pastor at the church from 1874-1885. Woodrow would split time between his studies at Davidson College and his family’s new home in Wilmington.
The church’s extensive files reveal a good number of personal anecdotes; like the nickname young Woodrow had. “At that time, (Woodrow) was referred to as Tommy,” says Joan Ruden of the church’s history committee.
Files also show that Woodrow developed a love of the ocean, and observing the heavy ship traffic of the Cape Fear River that was just blocks away from their home on Orange and 4th Streets.
“He was one of the first people who had a bicycle here,” says longtime church member JD Causey. “It had a large front wheel, and small back wheel. It was really unique.”
Of course, Woodrow’s past here is only history because of his extraordinary political career. He became president of Princeton University, his alma mater. He later became the governor of New Jersey and was elected as the 28th President of the United States in 1912.
He presided over the country during its involvement in World War I, and is perhaps best known through history books for his failed proposal of the League of Nations, which some say paved the way for today’s United Nations.