Celebrate Winston-Salem’s Centennial 1913-2013

Courtesy Winston-Salem Centennial Committee



1913 –  This is the year of “the golden hyphen.”  Winston and Salem consolidate.  O. B. Eaton becomes the mayor of a city which covers 5.35 square miles and has a population of 18,700.

1913 –  R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company begins producing Camel cigarettes.  By 1921, Camels account for almost half of all cigarettes sold in the nation. 

1914 –  City Hospital, which became known as City Memorial Hospital in 1921, Winston-Salem’s first modern medical facility, opens.

1917 –  Reynolda House is completed.        

1917 –  R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company establishes the neighborhood of Reynoldstown (originally known as Cameron Park). In 1931, the neighborhood transitions to an African American neighborhood after the construction of Atkins High School to the north.

1918 –  The Board of Aldermen approves funding to equip five playgrounds, including two for African American children.  

1919 –  P. H. Hanes donates land for Hanes Park, which becomes the nucleus of the city’s public park system. 

1919 –  The Winston-Salem Foundation, the South’s second-oldest community foundation, is started.


1920 –  Winston-Salem’s population is 48,395, the largest in the state.

1920 –  The Hebrew Orthodox congregation is organized. 

1920 –  An African American hospital is opened by Dr. Alexander Hamilton Ray, an African American physician, on 13th Street.                       

 1924 –  Winston-Salem is the world’s largest manufacturer of tobacco products, the nation’s largest producer of men’s knit underwear, the South’s largest manufacturer of knit and woolen goods, and the South’s largest producer of wagons.

1925 –  Slater Normal and Industrial School becomes Winston-Salem Teachers’ College, the first African American institution in the nation to grant degrees for teaching in the elementary grades.

1926 –  The new City Hall at First and Main Streets is completed.

1927 –  The Winston-Salem Journal and the Twin City Sentinel are brought under one ownership. c-Reynolds

1929 –  The R. J. Reynolds Headquarters Building, built on the site of the former Winston Town Hall, is finished. The building is designed by architects Shreve and Lamb, who later went on to design the Empire State Building.


1930 –  The city’s first radio station, WSJS, goes on the air.

1931 –  The city’s first modern high school for African Americans, Atkins High School, opens on Cameron Avenue.    It is named for Simon Green Atkins.

1932 –  The Graylyn estate is completed.

1937 –  Krispy Kreme opens its first doughnut shop in a rented building on South Main Street.

1938 –  Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital opens for African American patients.

1938 –  Bowman Gray Stadium is completed, and on October 22, Duke University plays Wake Forest College in the stadium’s inaugural football game.


1940 –  George Black moves his brickyard to land behind his house on Dellabrook Road.

1941 –  Miller Airport is renamed Z. Smith Reynolds Airport and a new terminal is constructed; the airport is one of the finest municipal airports in the South.

1943 –  The first strike by African American workers at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company leads to establishment of the Food, Tobacco and Agricultural Workers International Union, Local 22.   The union becomes a vehicle for civil rights activism and increases African American registered voters. 

1946 –  The offer to move Wake Forest College from Wake Forest (near Raleigh) to Winston-Salem is made by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and accepted by the Baptist State Convention. 

1946 –  T. W. Garner Food Company, producers of Texas Pete Hot Sauce, is incorporated when Sam, Thad, Ralph, and Harold Garner form a partnership.

1948 –  Piedmont Airlines is established in Winston-Salem, and begins commercial passenger service with a flight from Wilmington to Cincinnati.  The airline carries approximately 40,000 passengers to 22 cities during its first year in operation.


1949 –  The Winston-Salem Arts Council is established. 

1949 –  Bowman Gray Stadium, the oldest NASCAR-sanctioned weekly short track, begins promoting races. 


1950 –  Old Salem, Inc. is chartered to save and restore Salem, the Moravian town settled in 1766. 

1953 –  WSJS-TV, the city’s first television station, goes on the air.  

1954 –  R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company introduces Winstons, which become the best-selling cigarette brand in the country. Salems are introduced in 1956 and become the top menthol cigarette.

1955 –  Thruway Shopping Center opens on the site of a former dairy farm.

1956 –  The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) is established. 

1957 –  Gwendolyn Y. Bailey begins the slow process of integration in the public school system when she enrolls at all-white R. J. Reynolds High School.  It is 14 years before the school system is completely desegregated. 

1959 –  Winston-Salem wins the first of its two All-America City awards.


1960 –  Winston-Salem Teachers College and Wake Forest College students hold a sit-in at the downtown Woolworth’s counter to protest segregated lunch counters.

1963 –  Winston-Salem Teachers College is renamed to Winston-Salem State College. 

1964 –  Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks at Goler Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church on East Fourth Street to promote voter registration. 

1965 –  North Carolina School of the Arts opens in former James A. Gray High School. 

1965 –  The Salem Academy and College Fine Arts Center is constructed.

1965 –  Reynolda House opens as an institution dedicated to the arts and education.    

1965 –  The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) opens. 

1965 –  Hanes Hosiery and the P. H. Hanes Knitting Company merge to form Hanes Corporation.

1967 –  African Americans riot after an African American man is killed by police.  These riots are the most serious of three racial disturbances of the late 1960s.

1969 –  Winston-Salem State College’s name changes to Winston-Salem State University.


1970 –  Hotel Zinzendorf on Main Street is demolished for construction of the Federal Building.

1971 –  The school system approves an attendance plan that totally desegregates schools for the first time.

1972 –  Salem College, the oldest women’s college in the United States, celebrates its 200th academic year.c

1974 –  The Winston-Salem Chronicle, a newspaper serving the city’s African American residents, begins publication.

1977 –  The first two African American women are elected to the Board of Aldermen, Vivian H. Burke and Virginia K. Newell.

1979 –  The North Carolina Black Repertory Company, the first professional African American theatre company in the state, is founded by Larry Leon Hamlin. 


1980 –  Internationally renowned African American brick maker George Black dies at the age of 101.

1983 –  North Carolina School of the Arts opens its downtown arts center, the Roger L. Stevens Center for the Performing Arts, in the remodeled Carolina Theater.

1983 –  Wachovia Corporation merges with First Atlanta Corporation to become First Wachovia Corporation, one of the 30 largest banks in the country.

1986 –  Brenner Children’s Hospital and Health Services at North Carolina Baptist Hospital is established.

1986 –  Piedmont Airlines is bought by USAir for almost $1.6 billion and Piedmont disappears into USAir within two years. 

1988 –  The city’s first female mayor, Martha S. Wood, is elected. 

1989 –  The National Black Theatre Festival is founded by Larry Leon Hamlin.

1989 –  Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is the first hospital in North Carolina to perform a single-lung transplant. 

1989 –  The Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum opens with a dedication ceremony honoring Lawrence Joel, an African American who won the Medal of Honor in Vietnam, and for all Forsyth County veterans who died in battle.


1990s –  Officials with the Chamber of Commerce and Bowman Gray School of Medicine begin an initiative to create a research park to diversify the city’s economy.  Eventually the park is established in underutilized R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company industrial buildings and the surrounding area, and is later named the Piedmont Triad Research Park.

1992 –  The long-awaited Interstate 40 Business opens south of Winston-Salem, easing congestion through downtown.  The 24.4-mile section of road costs almost $191 million and takes five years to build. 

1992 –  The Winston-Salem Hispanic League is founded and hosts its first Fiesta downtown.

1994 –  Qué Pasa Media is founded by José Isasi.  Qué Pasa, a newspaper serving the city’s Hispanic residents, begins publication.

1995 –  BB&T and Winston-Salem-based Southern National Corporation, the state’s fifth largest bank-holding company, complete a “merger of equals,” resulting in 437 branches in 220 cities in the Carolinas and Virginia, all carrying the BB&T name.   The merged BB&T headquarters remains in the city.

1996 –  Winston-Salem hosts the first statewide NC Pride parade in support of equality for the LGBTQ community.

1996 –  The Juneteenth Celebration is held in the city for the first time to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.  

1998 –  R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s factory #256 is destroyed by fire.1947---postcard---Greetings-from-Reynolds-Park

1999 –  Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is the first in the world to report the successful use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose significant blockages in blood vessels leading to the heart.


2000 –  Wake Forest School of Medicine establishes a Center for Human Genomics to facilitate the identification of high-risk genes linked to common diseases, enabling improved treatment for such diseases.

2001 –  Wachovia and First Union unite in a “merger of equals” under the name of Wachovia.  The headquarters is moved to Charlotte.

 2003 –  The RiverRun Film Festival moves to Winston-Salem from Brevard, North Carolina.

2003 –  The Board of Aldermen changes its name to City Council.

2003 –  The Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership is created from the merger of the Downtown Development Corporation and the Downtown Winston-Salem Association.

2004 –  The Junior League opens the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem.

2005 –  The Winston Cup Museum, designed to preserve NASCAR history and Winston-Salem’s ties to the sport, opens on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

2006 –  Hanesbrands Inc. becomes a stand-alone, publicly-held company.

2006 –  Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is the first team in the world to announce the first human recipients of laboratory-grown organs. 

2008 –  Wells Fargo acquires Wachovia. 

2008 –  The Winston-Salem Warthogs, the city’s minor league baseball team, are renamed the Winston-Salem Dash.


2010 –  BB&T Ball Park is completed and hosts its first regular season baseball game with the Winston-Salem Dash.

2010 –  The Creative Corridors Coalition is established to promote more attractive highways and roads through 1912---postcard---courthouse2downtown. 

2011 –  The Winston-Salem Open Tennis Tournament is established during the week before the U. S. Open.

2011 –  The city’s first local LGBTQ Pride Parade is launched.

2012 –  Wake Forest Biotech Place, at 575 North Patterson Avenue, is opened.  The facility is located in former R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company warehouses, which were rehabilitated into this modern biotech research laboratory.

2012 –  The Center for Design Innovation (CDI) breaks ground for a new facility in the Piedmont Triad Research Park.  CDI’s founding institutional partners are University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem State University, and Forsyth Technical Community College.

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