Building History

The Wilson Plaza historical development started in 1927 with the construction of the first “skyscraper” in Corpus Christi, a 12-story structure located fifty feet from the water known as the Nixon Building.

The Nixon Building and the famed White Plaza Hotel across the street dominated the skyline of uptown Corpus Christi through the ’30’s and the area became the center of business activity, as it is today.

Today, Wilson Plaza is still the prime location to enjoy the panoramic views of the blue Corpus Christi bay coastal waters.
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ver the years a landfill extended the water’s edge from the bluff to a sea wall providing space for a downtown commercial area and the yacht basin.¬†

By 1935 the economy was dominated by agriculture and an eight-story structure known as the “Cotton Exchange” was added to the Nixon Building. Each of the new building’s floors connected to the original Building. Its first tenants were primarily cotton traders.

In 1947 when oil achieved major economic importance, a legendary oil and real estate financier, Sam E. Wilson, purchased the two buildings. During the 40’s, Mr. Wilson produced 44 consecutive successful oil wells.

In 1951 Mr. Wilson built a 17-story office tower with a four-story penthouse and a 400-car 6 story parking garage. Mr. Wilson had the garage constructed so he could eventually stack a 6 to 10 story office building on top. His floor plans were for 9,200 SF each.

The penthouse was Wilson’s pride and joy. The 20th floor was finished out as a game room with a private bar constructed on a grand scale of mahogany and trimmed in tufted leather and brass. The view from the penthouse was described as rivaling that of the Top of the Mark Restaurant in San Francisco. It was the scene of many “invitation only” parties attended by Corpus’ elite, where Wilson negotiated many of his major business deals. Most of the talk centered on “Sam’s” parties and card games. The 21st floor contained guest rooms for “out-of-town” clients. After Mr. Wilson’s death in 1957, Mrs. Wilson hosted society, civic, bridge and debutante functions in the penthouse.

Today, Wilson Plaza is still the prime location to enjoy the panoramic views of the blue Corpus Christi bay coastal waters. But the complex has been enhanced with the liberal application of marble and tile on the ground floor interiors and completely remodeled ground floor exteriors. A new covered walkway bordered by a patio of brick pavers and landscaping connecting the three buildings has been added. Tenant comfort has been increased by improved air conditioning and lighting. The old world charm of the Wilson Plaza has not been lost where tenants and visitors appreciate daily greetings by the elevator operators in the Tower.

HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS

West Tower Construction – Approx. 1952

Images from the Wilson Plaza archive.