top of page


Many may be aware of the early history of our community starting with the Moravian settlements of Bethabara and Salem and continuing to Reynolds tobacco and Hanes textiles. While this history is important to understanding our community's beginning, the history of the last century is equally, if not more, important when discussing the impacts that development, redevelopment, and growth have had and will continue to have on our community. 

This timeline provides details on significant events in our community's past that have played and will continue to play an important role in how we see our community presently and into the future.

Much of the information in this section comes from Winston-Salem's Architectural Heritage, by Heather Fearnbach, copyright 2015. 

Copies of this book are available at local public libraries.

1752 - 1851:  Early History and Founding


100,000 acres known as the Wachovia Tract was deeded to the Moravians by Lord Granville of England


Bethabara founded - 15 Moravian brethren arrived in Bethabara from Pennsylvania after walking 6 weeks along the Great Wagon Road. Land is part of Rowan County.


Bethania founded


Salem founded


Land that will become modern day Forsyth County becomes part of Surry County


Revolutionary War begins


Revolutionary War ends


The majority of land that will become modern day Forsyth County becomes part of newly created Stokes County.


Salem's first newspaper, the Weekly Gleaner, starts to be published by Moravian banker and printer John Christian Blum.


Forsyth County formed by the General Assembly. The Moravians sell 51 acres to the County for the creation of a new town north of Salem.


The first Forsyth County Courthouse is built. 


Winston founded. 

Wachovia of Dobb's Parish.jpg
1st Forsyth County Courthouse.jpg
Forsyth County Courthouse, built 1850  (Photo Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, Winston-Salem, NC)

1852 - 1920:  Tobacco and Textiles


Civil War begins


Civil War ends


By 1867, students can attend a public school that is located at the corner of North Liberty and West First Streets.



Hamilton Scales establishes the first tobacco factory. Major T. J. Brown opens the city’s first tobacco warehouse. P.H. Hanes opens its first plug tobacco factory. All on news of a railroad extension from Greensboro.


The city's earliest outlying neighborhood, recorded in Moravian records as "Liberia", starting in
1872 when streets and lots were laid out on the former Schumann plantation site. By 1874, the name Happy Hill was used for the neighborhood, which grew steadily between 1880 and 1920. 


Northwest North Carolina Railroad completed extension from Greensboro, opening up the town to commerce. Image


R. J. Reynolds moves to Winston from a plantation in Virginia after hearing about the railroad and new tobacco warehouse. He starts business with plug tobacco before moving to cigarettes.


Kerners Crossroads is incorporated as Kernersville.


"Little Red Factory" - Reynolds starts business with one building and 12 workers. 


Wachovia National Bank opens in Winston-Salem.


Winston's first African-American public school began operating on Depot Street.


Land was gifted to the Town of Winston for the creation of what would become Washington Park.


Winston is the 3rd largest manufacturing city in the nation behind St. Louis and Louisville


The Slater Industrial and State Normal School is established.


P.H. Hanes Tobacco Company sold to R.J. Reynolds Company - trading tobacco for textiles. Becomes Hanes Knitting Company.


Forsyth County African American farmers organize first agricultural and industrial fair in Rural Hall.


On November 2, the northside of the wall of Winston's water reservoir, located on where Trade and Eighth Streets intersect, collapses killing nine people and injuring many others. The day remains the most tragic day in Winston and Salem's history. Info Link.


Land is acquired for Grace Court Park.


The Model-T Ford is introduced to the market by Henry Ford.


The fairgrounds are established at Piedmont Park.


As factories became mechanized, work performed at factories moves from seasonal employment to year-round. This shift to year-round employment leads workers to move their families to the area permanently.


Land is acquired for Spring, Lockland, and Hanes Parks.


Board of Alderman adopt ordinance forbidding white and black people to live in homes on blocks where most occupants were not of their racial designation.  Building permits at the time would have whether the building was occupied by whites or colored people. Penalty was  a fine of $50 with possibility of 30 days in prison each day for disobedience.


Consolidation of Winston and Salem into one City - Winston-Salem. Camel Cigarettes introduced to the market. 


World War I begins


State of North Carolina vs. Darnell overturned a previous conviction of Mr. William Darnell for violation of City ordinance by purchasing and residing in a home in a "white" area of the City; thus invalidating current city ordinance. 


World War I ends


Winston-Salem has become the largest city in North Carolina

1866_Church Street_SalemNC.png
Church Street, circa 1866 (Photo Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, Winston-Salem, NC)
RJ Reynolds 1st Building.jpg
Little Red Factory
RJ Reynolds Factory 256_1890.jpg
RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company Building #256, circa 1890
Hanes Knitting Company.jpg
Hanes Knitting Company
Camel Sign.jpg
RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, Camel Cigarettes Sign
The Pond.jpg
The Pond Historic Marker
1915 Slater Industrial Academy Student Body.jpg
1915 Student Body, Slater Industrial Academy (Photo Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, Winston-Salem, NC)

1920s - 1960s:  Housing and Urban Renewal

By 1924, Winston-Salem is the:

World's largest manufacturer of tobacco products

Nation's largest producer of men's knit underwear

South's largest producers of knit and woolen goods and wagons

The success of manufacturing brought a significant demand for workers with the railroad helping to bring them to the area. With the increasing numbers of workers, came an increased demand for housing.


Neighborhoods such as Dreamland Park, Cameron Park/Reynoldstown, Dixie Heights, Congress Heights, Morwell, Bon Air/Greenway Place, Forest Hill, Alta Vista, Reynolda Park, Westview, Stratford Place, Buena Vista, Ardmore, Dixie Heights, Columbia Heights Extension, Skyland, and Country Club Estates are platted and being developed. Land is acquired for Happy Hill, Meadowbrook, Granville, Central, Greenway, and Bon Air Parks.


North Carolina Baptist Hospital opens an 88-bed facility in Winston-Salem.


The Slater Industrial Academy and State Normal School becomes Winston-Salem Teacher's College.


The Safe Bus Company, a Black-owned transportation company, is formed.


A landing field is created, originally known as Miller Municipal, in anticipation of Charles Lindbergh's planning stop following his solo transatlantic flight. The landing field would become Z. Smith Reynolds airport in 1932.


New R. J. Reynolds corporate headquarters opens in Downtown Winston-Salem.


Stock Market crashes in October 1929 leading to the Great Depression.


Neighborhoods such as Woodvale, Burkwood Place, Oak Park, Robinhood Park, Englewood, Oak Crest, Konnoak Hills and Anderleigh, and Meadowbrook Hills have been platted and being developed. Land has been acquired for Reynolds Park. Atkins High School, the first high school built for black students, is opened.


The Winston-Salem Board of Alderman adopt an ordinance dividing the city into different residential and industrial zones.  In addition to regulating use, building height, and size of yards, the ordinance regulates where black and white people could live in the city.  


The Home Owner's Loan Corporation (HOLC) is founded to provide loans for homeowners during the Great Depression.  HOLC employed workers to appraise neighborhoods and give out loans based on its assessment of credit risk.  The HOLC policies assessed neighborhoods occupied by African Americans as “declining” and “hazardous” making it harder for people in these neighborhoods to qualify for loans. By declaring certain neighborhoods too risky for mortgages would strengthen segregation in the city. This process would be later be referred to as "redlining".


The National Housing Act is passed, creating the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) which set national standards for housing and neighborhood development and authorized mutual mortgage insurance. The creation of the FHA significantly overhauled the home building and financing industries. 


The Board of Alderman unanimously declare that there are no slums in Winston-Salem largely due to local real estate interests not wanting a public housing program.


The HOLC map for Winston-Salem is published. 


The Great Depression ends.


World War II begins. 


Neighborhoods such as Easton, Weston, Country Club Hills, Bowen Park, Transou Park, College Park, Lakewood, College Village, Stratford, Holton Park, Fairway Park Estates, Monticello Park, and Huff Hills are platted and being developed. Carver High School, Diggs Elementary School, Mineral Springs High School, and Winston Lake Park are opened. Land is acquired for Salem Lake, Kimberley, Blum-Blanding, and Miller Parks.


The Winston-Salem 1930 zoning ordinance deemed unconstitutional by the North Carolina Supreme Court in case Clinard vs. City of Winston-Salem.


Dick Reynolds, eldest son of RJ Reynolds, is sworn in as Mayor. His two major campaign policy proposals are slum clearance and taking in additional city territory.


Wake Forest Medical School moves to Winston-Salem and becomes the Bowman Gray School of Medicine.


Dick Reynolds resigns as Mayor to enlist in the Navy. The nation's focus shifts to the war effort. Housing improvement programs and code enforcement are placed on hold.


Over half of the City's population lives in substandard housing. In 1944, there are 3,781 families with outside toilets and 57 families without sewer or water connection.


World War II ends.


Wake Forest College accepts an invitation from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to move its campus 100 miles west to Winston-Salem.


The National Urban League publishes Community Relations Project, Book III, Housing. The document attempts "to close some of these gaps and augment existing efforts to improve housing in Winston-Salem. Though our prime responsibility is concern with the housing problems
of Negroes, many of our suggestions will be of value to the over-all housing situation. "(Introduction, page 1)


The first commercial flight at Z. Smith Reynolds Airport in February.


The City-County Planning Board is created with its first meeting held in March. The first of its kind in the State.


While existing prior, public housing programs begin to take shape in 1949. It’s the first component of what will locally termed “urban renewal” in 20th century planning.


Neighborhoods such as Sherwood Forest, Crestwood Place, Ferrell Place, Cummings Court, Shoreland Park, Arbor Acres, Robinhood Trails, Kerrybrook, Gordon Manor, Castle Heights, Slater Park, Fairway Park Estates, Town and Country Estates, Morningside Manor, Monticello Park, Southcrest, Woodvale Heights, Woodvale Forest, The Cloisters, Bachner Park, and Huff Hills are platted and being developed. Carver High School, Diggs Elementary School, and South Fork Elementary School are opened. Land is acquired for Civitan, Winston Lake, Bowen Blvd./Hansel B. Thomas, Stratford Road, Belview, Sprague, W. Clemmonsville Road, Hathaway, Shaffner, and Whitaker Parks.


Korean War begins.


Phase 1 of Happy Hill Gardens is opened. It the first public housing project in the City. A widow of a World War II veteran and her two children are the first tenants to move into a public housing development.


Phase 2 of Happy Hill Gardens is opened. In total, the development contains 498 total units for black renters.


Piedmont Park public housing project is opened. The development contains 240 units for white renters and is located on site of the old fairgrounds.


Phase I of the Kimberly Park Terrace public housing project is opened.


Korean War ends.


Vietnam War begins.


A new 14-building campus for Wake Forest College opens in Winston-Salem.


The Belews Street Neighborhood located east of Downtown is demolished using Federal Urban Renewal funds to make way for the construction of the U.S. 52 and I-40 highways.


Neighborhoods such as Club Haven, Jefferson Gardens, North Oaks, Northwood Estates, Hope Valley, Ashley Forest, Reynolda Woods, and Sheraton Park are platted and being developed. Land is acquired for Brushy Fork, Fourteenth Street, Skyland, Hanes Hosiery, Clark/Mickens, Jerry King, Bethabara, Polo, Hobby, Parkland, South, Forest, Bolton, and Hanestown Parks.


Phase 2 of Kimberly Park Terrace is opened. In total, the development contains 556 total units for black renters.


Winston-Salem Teacher's College becomes Winston-Salem State College.


Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is formed.


The Clean Air Act is passed.


The Civil Rights Act is passed.


Forsyth Medical Centers opens on Silas Creek Parkway.


North Carolina School of the Arts is opened.


Hanes Corporation closes its Downtown knitting plants.


The Winston-Salem Transit Authority (WSTA) is formed.


Winston-Salem State College becomes Winston-Salem State University.



Apollo 11 moon landing takes place.


The U.S. Defense Department creates the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). It will be the precursor to the internet.

Safe Bus Company 2.JPG
Safe Bus Company Historic Marker
WS Zone Map c.1930.jpg
1930 Winston-Salem Zone Map
1937 Winston-Salem HOLC Map
1950s Outhouse.png
Outhouse c. 1950
1950s Housing Conditions 4.png
Housing Conditions c. 1950 (Photo Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, Winston-Salem, NC)
1950s Housing Conditions 3.png
Housing Conditions c. 1950 (Photo Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, Winston-Salem, NC)
Happy Hill Gardens 1958.jpg
Happy Hill Gardens c. 1958
US 52_Belews Street Neighborhood.png
Housing Conditions, ca. 1960s

1970s - Present Day:  Suburbs and Computers

Between 1970 and 2008:

Population increased by 70.9%

Incorporated municipal land increased by 129.7%


Neighborhoods such as McGregor Manor, Fox Run, Sedge Brook Hills, Darwick Acres (Phase I), Chateau Ridge, Spanish Pines, Mountain View, Kings Grant, Old Hollow Estates, Seasons Chase, Spicewood, Country Meadows, Woodvine, Shamrock Country Estates, Balsom Meadows, and The Meadows are platted and being developed . Land is acquired for Rupert Bell, Crystal Towers, Historic Bethabara, Piney Grove, Crawford, Fairview, Downtown, British Woods, Corpening Plaza, Easton, Weston, and Southfork Parks in the City. The County starts to develop parks with land acquired for Union Cross, C. G. Hill, Horizons, and Tanglewood Parks.


The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is passed. The Environmental Protection Agency was created.


Trade Street is closed to vehicular traffic and the Trade Street Pedestrian Mall is opened.


The Clean Water Act is passed.


WSTA takes over transit service from the Safe Bus Company.


The first handheld cellphone  is created. It weighs 2.4 pounds and cost, at the time, $3,995. 


The first personal computer is created. It enters the market in 1977 and becomes common in the 1980s.


Town of Rural Hall is incorporated as a municipality.


Vietnam War ends.


Hanes Mall opens.



Neighborhoods such as Stone Point, River Ridge Run, Pines at Bethabara, Chrisfield, Goslen Acres, Waterford, Bethabara Downs, Bethania Ridge, Falcon Crest, Falcon Point, Greenbriar Estates, Tabor View, and Trinity Acres are platted and being developed. Land is acquired for Little Creek, Ardmore, Griffith, Winston Square, Old Town, Sara Lee Soccer, Harambee, Helen Nichols, Hine, Drayton Pines, and Kingston Greens Parks. The Salem Creek Trail is opened. The Strollway, the State's first rail-to-trail project, is completed.


The Trade Street Pedestrian Mall is closed and Trade Street is reopened for vehicular traffic.


The first commercially available cellphone enters the market.


Town of Walkertown is incorporated as a municipality.


The Village of Clemmons is incorporated as a municipality.


After its purchase of Nabisco brands in 1986, RJR Nabisco moves its headquarters from Winston-Salem to Atlanta.


Piedmont Airlines final flight takes place on August 4, 1989.


Neighborhoods such as Beeson Park, Bethany Square, Darwick Acres (subsequent phases), Trotters Ridge, Traemore, Transou Place, Summer Trails, Alspagh, Spencers Forect, and Spice Meadow are platted and being developed. Land is acquired for Sedge Garden, Oak Summit, Jamison, and Leinbach Parks. Land is acquired for Triad Park by both Forsyth and Guilford Counties. The Bethabara Trail is opened.


The last R.J. Reynolds tobacco facility in Downtown Winston-Salem closes.


HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is created by Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is passed.


The World Wide Web is introduced to the public.


The Town of Lewisville is incorporated as a municipality.


The Village of Tobaccoville is incorporated as a municipality.


The first text message is sent.


Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center first uses a donated former R. J. Reynolds Downtown facility for research purposes in what would become the Innovation Quarter.



The first smartphone is introduced to the public. It is the first cellphone to include apps and a touchscreen.


The Winston-Salem Transit Center is opened in Downtown Winston-Salem. It is renamed the Clark Campbell Transit Center in 2007 after Mr. Clark Campbell who drove for or worked in public transportation for 63 years.


The first cellphones with an internet browser enter the market.

2000s to present

Neighborhoods such as Summerlin Ridge, Belmeade, Bethany Trace, Brookberry, Chatfield, Chatham Farm, Eland Cove, Spicewood Trails, Taylors Run, Milhaven Park, Dar-Ridge, Hampton Hall, Glen Village, Grandview Place, and Hampton Forest are platted and being developed. Land is acquired for Gateway Commons, Long Creek, Malloy, Grant, and Second Street Parks. Land is acquired for Belews Lake Park by the County. The Muddy Creek, Little Creek, Long Branch, Brushy Fork, and Silas Creek Greenways are opened.


The first phase of the adaptive reuse of the W.F. Smith and Sons Leaf House is completed. This project marks the first adaptive reuse of tobacco warehouses in Downtown. A second phase is completed in 2006 and involved the Brown Brothers Tobacco Prizery. The project will be known as the Piedmont Leaf Lofts.



The first iPhone, iPhone1, is released to the market.


Wake Forest BioTech Place in the Innovation Quarter opens.


By 2020, the Innovation Quarter is home to 170 companies, 5 academic institutions, 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students, and 3,700 employees. IQ contains 1.9 million square feet of office, laboratory, and education space along with 1,230 multifamily units representing a $725 million capital investment.

Trade Street Mall 1970s.jpg
Trade Street Pedestrian Mall, ca. 1970s
The Strollway, ca. 2000s
Brushy Fork 1.jpg
Brushy Fork Greenway
Piedmont Leaf Lofts, ca. 2014

For more details on Winston-Salem's past between 1913 and 2013, please view the Centennial Boards created for the Centennial celebration.


bottom of page