The ruins that grace the Village Green at Palmetto Bluff are all that remains of R.T. Wilson, Jr.'s "Palmetto Lodge." Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, R.T. Wilson, Jr. entertained lavishly in his magnificent 72-room home, complete with grand ballroom. The Palmetto Bluff estate was designed with guests in mind. Visitors arrived at the estate by way of a Savannah Line steamship, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, or the Seaboard Airline train. The social pages of the New York Times listed the comings and goings of the New York elite with frequent mention of individuals “leaving today to visit Mr. and Mrs. R.T. Wilson of Palmetto Bluff, S.C.” Guests would stay for weeks, enjoying Mrs. Wilson’s lavish parties. One can only imagine the elegance and bounty of the meals served there, with the freshest of ingredients harvested from the surrounding waters and woods, and the produce of Wilson’s extensive farms.
The Wilsons' pastoral winters at Palmetto Bluff came to a sudden and tragic halt in 1926 when, during their occupancy, a fire broke out in the attic of their mansion that could not be controlled. The destruction of the 14-year-old mansion was heartbreaking to Richard Wilson Jr., who is reported to have wept profusely at the loss and had to be twice carried from the burning building. In ill health, with liver and other problems, he made no attempt to rebuild the mansion and sold the entire property, including the sawmill and other business properties, to the Varn Turpentine and Cattle Company in 1926.