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COMMUNITY HISTORY

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

1752            

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

1753           

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.

1759            

Bethania founded

1766            

Salem founded

1773           

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

1775           

Revolutionary War begins

1783           

Revolutionary War ends

1789           

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

1829          

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

1849           

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.

1850           

The first Forsyth County Courthouse is built. 

1851           

Winston founded. 

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Forsyth County Courthouse, built 1850  (Photo Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, Winston-Salem, NC)

1852 - 1920:  Tobacco and Textiles

1861           

Civil War begins

1865                             

Civil War ends

1867          

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

 

1872           

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.

1872           

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. 

1873           

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

1873           

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.

1873           

Kerners Crossroads is incorporated as Kernersville.

1875           

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

1879          

Wachovia National Bank opens in Winston-Salem.

1887          

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

1892           

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

1897           

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

1899           

The Slater Industrial and State Normal School is established.

1900           

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

1904           

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

1904           

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.

1905           

Land is acquired for Grace Court Park.

1908           

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

1908           

The fairgrounds are established at Piedmont Park.

1909           

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.

1910s          

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

1912           

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.

1913           

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

1914           

World War I begins

1914           

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. 

1918           

World War I ends

1920           

Winston-Salem has become the largest city in North Carolina

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Church Street, circa 1866 (Photo Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, Winston-Salem, NC)
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Little Red Factory
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RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company Building #256, circa 1890
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Hanes Knitting Company
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RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, Camel Cigarettes Sign
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The Pond Historic Marker
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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.

1920s          

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.

1923           

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

1925            

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

1926            

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

1927            

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.

1929          

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

1929           

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

1930s          

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.

1930           

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.  

1933           

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".
 

1934           

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. 

1935           

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.

1937           

The HOLC map for Winston-Salem is published. 

1939            

The Great Depression ends.

1939            

World War II begins. 

1940s          

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.

1940           

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

1941           

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.

1941           

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

1942           

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.

mid-1940s

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.

1945           

World War II ends.

1946           

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

1947           

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)

1948           

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

1948           

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

1949           

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.

1950s          

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.

1950           

Korean War begins.

1951           

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.

1952           

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

1952           

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

1953           

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

1953           

Korean War ends.

1955           

Vietnam War begins.

1956           

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

1958           

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.

1960s          

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.

1962           

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

1963            

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

1963            

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is formed.

1963           

The Clean Air Act is passed.

1964           

The Civil Rights Act is passed.

1964           

Forsyth Medical Centers opens on Silas Creek Parkway.

1965            

North Carolina School of the Arts is opened.

1966          

Hanes Corporation closes its Downtown knitting plants.

1968            

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

1969            

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

 

1969           

Apollo 11 moon landing takes place.

1969           

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

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Safe Bus Company Historic Marker
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1930 Winston-Salem Zone Map
1937 Winston-Salem HOLC Map
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Outhouse c. 1950
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Housing Conditions c. 1950 (Photo Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, Winston-Salem, NC)
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Housing Conditions c. 1950 (Photo Courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, Winston-Salem, NC)
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Happy Hill Gardens c. 1958
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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%

1970s          

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.

1970           

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

1970            

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

1972           

The Clean Water Act is passed.

1972            

WSTA takes over transit service from the Safe Bus Company.

1973            

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

1974            

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

1974            

Town of Rural Hall is incorporated as a municipality.

1975           

Vietnam War ends.

1975           

Hanes Mall opens.

 

1980s          

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.

1980            

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

1983           

The first commercially available cellphone enters the market.

1984            

Town of Walkertown is incorporated as a municipality.

1986            

The Village of Clemmons is incorporated as a municipality.

1987           

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

1989           

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

1990s          

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.

1990         

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

1990           

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

1990           

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is passed.

1991           

The World Wide Web is introduced to the public.

1991            

The Town of Lewisville is incorporated as a municipality.

1991          

The Village of Tobaccoville is incorporated as a municipality.

1992           

The first text message is sent.

1994          

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.

 

1994           

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

1996            

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.

1999           

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.

2002            

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.

 

2007           

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

2012           

Wake Forest BioTech Place in the Innovation Quarter opens.

2020          

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.

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Trade Street Pedestrian Mall, ca. 1970s
The Strollway, ca. 2000s
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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.

Link

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