Winston-Salem Historical Facts

This post may contain affiliate links and we’ll be compensated if you make a purchase. This doesn’t affect rankings.

Downtown Winston-Salem, Town SquareEver wondered about the history of some of the buildings in downtown Winston-Salem? There’s lots of history there, and many stories to be told, but we’d be writing a book if we told you them all. Instead, here’s some interesting facts to tickle your curiosity. Want to learn more? Search the site for more articles. More are added every week.

  • 1889: Winston and Salem consolidated their post offices and became the hyphenated city of Winston-Salem. The city officially merged in 1913.
  • 1892: The Zindendorf hotel on Glade St burned to the ground on Thanksgiving Day. The fire ended a brief dream that Winston might become a resort town.
  • 1926: The Safe Bus Company is founded by a group of private bus drivers and is believed to be the largest black-owned transit system in the world until 1972.
  • 1929: The R.J. Reynold’s office building is completed. The building was designed by architects Shreve and Lamb, who later went on to design the Empire State Building.
  • 1930: Dewey’s bakery opens its doors at 114 W. 4th St in Winston-Salem.
  • 1937: Krispy Kreme opened its first doughnut shop in Winston-Salem, in a rented building on S. Main St. The shop sold directly to customers in the historic district.
  • 1940’s: 60% of W-S workers worked either for Reynolds or in the Hanes textile factories.
  • 1983: Stevens Center for the Performing Arts opens in the old Carolina Theater.
  • 1989: A tornado produces over $25 million in F3 damage on a SW to NE track through the city, striking colonial-era neighborhoods and parts of downtown.
  • 1999: RJR and Nabisco are split into two companies, returning the RJR headquarters to Winston-Salem.

Winston-Salem Scavenger Hunt

If you go on the Winston-Salem Scavenger Hunt you can learn about all these places and more. Scavenge across the city searching for clues as you learn about Winston’s past and travel through time to places and times from the days of old. The Scavenger hunt will be in its third season this year, and will most likely take place in the Spring (as the first one, which took place in the summer, proved a tad toasty). Stay tuned to We Love Winston for details, coming soon.

About The Author:

Alex has lived in Winston-Salem since 2004. He has seen the city grow up from a time when almost no one gathered downtown, to today's thriving and bustling city with great selections of restaurants, events, concerts, and more. He's proud to be part of the Arts and Innovation movement.

When he's not sipping a draft at Foothills brewery, chowing down on a tomato pie at Mozelle's for lunch, or dancing to bluegrass at the Ramkat, you'll catch him hitting balls at Miller Park, or hiking Pilot Mountain with his wife and two pups.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

Oldest Most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gloria Clyburn
February 22, 2022 3:53 pm

Who owned the College Grill on Claremont Ave back in the day when it was very popular with Winston-Salem Teachers College students?

Fam Brownlee
April 30, 2015 8:08 pm

See our blog for the story of the fire and the 42 mules buried near the NC School of the Arts and some information about the Powell Paving Company:

Michelle Schenker
May 1, 2015 10:30 am
Reply to  Fam Brownlee

Thanks Fam for the great story!!

Lisa Blake
May 20, 2013 6:51 am

What was the former name of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard?

Gloria Thomas Clyburn
March 2, 2022 3:13 pm
Reply to  Lisa Blake

Claremont Ave.

Linda Causey
July 19, 2012 7:09 pm

My dad was born in Winston-Salem.  His father had a small grocery store in the 40's (Charlie Walser).  I plan to visit the city soon and would like to know where the store was located.  Is there any information available?

My Winston-Salem
July 24, 2012 10:26 am
Reply to  Linda Causey

Hi Linda!

Do you have any other information about the store? Perhaps the name of it? The street or neighborhood it might have been in? It may require a trip to the NC Room in our Central Library, located at 660 W. Fifth Street, Winston-Salem. It's a wonderful room full of local history, maps, genealogy, etc., with very knowledgeable and helpful staff. If not there, then search nearby at the Winston-Salem Journal/Sentinel archives on 418 N. Marshall Street, Winston-Salem, by your grandfather's name. Good luck and enjoy your visit to Winston-Salem!

Alex Schenker
May 23, 2013 9:44 am

According to this historical map, the north-south part of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. used to be Claremont, while the east-west part was Ninth Street. The two did not link originally.

March 29, 2012 7:44 am

Have you checked out the new Treks in the City app for iPhone and Android? It is a great FREE downtown virtual tour guide with lots of great recommendations and information on the various spots to visit. It was created in conjunction with Scene in Winston-Salem Scavenger Hunt and includes as a bonus all of the Scavenger Hunt locations and their historical significance for each year of the Hunt! Download it for free and you will love it.

June 14, 2011 2:52 am

Winston (and Salem) have such a broad and significant history. I wish the downtown area had some more monuments or artistic elements to help tourists and visitors see just how much interesting history there is to this lovely little place.

February 27, 2012 11:48 am

I lived in Charlotte, NC, for several years prior to moving to Winston Salem and have been blown away from the differences that an hour and 15 minute drive can make! While Charlotte somehow has virtually missed all historical moments in our country’s history, including the Civil War (how?!?), Winston-Salem was founded as a Moravian settlement by the Germans in the area that you can visit today of Old Salem. It is a living history “museum” that you can walk through any day of the week for a step back in time and a great taste of real history of the town. There is also Bethabra Park, many colleges with Wake Forest, Winston-Salem State, Salem College and even the UNC School of the Arts. Culture and history abound in WS! Then there is all the manufacturing history of Hanes, Reynolds and more. Moving to Winston Salem was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do!

May 21, 2010 8:46 pm

Hi Mrs. Gillis,

We did some research, and unfortunately weren’t able to find all that much, but here’s what we found:

From the city of Winston-Salem Directing Board (1920 – 1929):

February 18, 1927- During the period from 1920-1930, it was the policy of the Board to order the construction of concrete sidewalks on streets following the installation of curbing and the paving of the streets. On Feb 18, the Board ordered sidewalks on both sides of 13 streets and on only one side of 10 streets. The entire cost of the sidewalk improvements was assessed against the abutting property owners. (18-346)

These streets included: Academy Street from Granville to Duke St, Holton Street from Acadia Ave to Hollyrood, Hollyrood St from Holton to the City Limits, Waughtown St from Salem Creek to Peachtree St, West 25th St from Druid Hill Drive to North Cherry St and Sunset Drive from West End Blvd to Glade St.

March 11, 1927- The Health Committee declared that an emergency exists in the condition caused by fire at Powell Paving company’s stables in which 42 mules were burned. Owing to impassible condition of street leading to the stable and the condition of the carcasses, Powell Paving Company was directed to bury the carcasses at the place were the stable was located.

The only other thing we found is a link to with the following description:

Liens. Priority of State Tax Claim over Federal Tax Claim
17 For support of this position see Winston-Salem v. Powell Paving Co., 7 Fed. Supp. 424 (M. D. N. C. 1934); in Sherwood v. United States, 5 Fed.

I would suggest going to a local or state library and searching their archives, as it appears the existence of Powell Paving Co. dates back quite a bit (to the early 1900’s).

May 21, 2010 7:35 pm

My mother is trying to find some information about this company.

She remembers this company when she was a little girl and said that she remembers it burning down, but she can’t find any information on this or anyone who may remember it. She’s 87 but said this was a family owned company. The streets were made of pavement and this company did it. Can you help and this was between 1920 and 1930.

Mrs. Gillis