NewBuilding(ArchSTUDIO7/Commercial Realty Advisors)

The Central Library is about to get a new neighbor. A few weeks ago, the Winston-Salem Journal announced what many of us already knew, that a five story office building would be erected on the south side of the old Modern Chevrolet truck sales lot on the block bounded by Fourth, Broad, Four-and-One Half and Spring Streets.

Site001(Bing Maps/Fam Brownlee)

The 55,000 square foot building, a $9 million project, is being developed by Commercial Realty Advisors, LLC, whose managing partner, John Reece II, said that the building is already 65% pre leased. It will be the first new multitenant office building downtown since 2002. The city of Winston-Salem will contribute $113,000 in infrastructure improvements.

The really good news is that this is a totally home grown project, thus providing many local jobs. archSTUDIO7, Peter Avetta and Mili Mulic, with offices in the Winston Tower, is the project architect. Frank L. Blum Construction Company, currently celebrating its 90th anniversary, is the general contractor. Stimmel Associates, founded in 1986 and now located in the Arts District, are the civil engineers. A couple of weeks ago, another local firm, Lowder, Inc, began the site preparation.

Here we see one of Lowder’s Hitachi Zaxis excavators loading dirt into dump trucks. Note that before the truck leaves the property that the load is automatically covered, and that as soon as one truck leaves, another is backing into place. Nothing is wasted here.

And this is a tricky site to build on, with steep grades running upward east to west and south to north, with another moderate grade running diagonally downward from southwest to northeast. 100 years ago it would have taken some pretty sharp engineers and dozens of men with picks and shovels months to prep the site for a five story building. But Lowder was an early adapter of 3D GPS technology, so their big tractors waste little time on the site.

And speaking of a hundred years ago, what was here before? Obviously, in most of our lifetimes, this was Modern Chevrolet’s truck sales lot. But what was there when the city of Winston-Salem came to life in 1913?

In the late 19th century, this area was a pleasant residential area. The 1891 Birds-Eye View of Salem and Winston shows the block looking like this:

1891Birds-eye(Digital NC/Forsyth County Public Library/Fam Brownlee)

The house at the corner of Fifth and Spring designated by “a” belonged to tobacco manufacturer T.F. Leak. By 1900 it had been demolished to make room for the home of William Neal Reynolds, youngest brother of R.J. Reynolds, and his wife Kate Bitting Reynolds, the site now occupied by the Central Forsyth County Public Library. In 1904, when R.J. married Katharine Smith of Mount Airy, they took over the house and Will and Kate moved next door. The letter “b” identifies the 1884 Winston Graded School, later known as the West End School, one of the first free public graded schools in the South. And “c” locates the brand new electric street car line, the second in North Carolina, which, at the time, ended at Grace Court. In the early 1920s, it would be extended to the new R.J. Reynolds High School on North Hawthorne Road.

By 1907, the Sanborn Insurance maps showed the block now under development looking like this:

1907Sanborn(Digital NC/Forsyth County Public Library/Fam Brownlee)

The north half of the duplex at 413-15 North Broad was occupied by Anna Huske, the widow of one of the founders of Wall & Huske, retail and wholesale hardware merchants, and her two granddaughters. The southern half was occupied by John and Anna Ambler. John was the Winston city engineer and the superintendent of the Winston water works.

Daingerfield703W4thDaingerfield house, ca 1905 (Digital Forsyth/Forsyth County Public Library)

The house at 703 West Fourth Street was occupied by Archibald and Maria Daingerfield. Archy was the manager of the insurance department of the Wachovia Loan & Trust Company. The next year, Wachovia Loan & trust would merge with the much smaller Wachovia National Bank to form the Wachovia Bank & Trust Company. Their first headquarters still stands on the southwest corner of Third and Main Street.

And the house at 707 West Fourth Street was occupied by Sallie Glenn, the widow of William B. Glenn. In 1876, her husband, a native of Rockingham County, had formed a local law firm with Cyrus B. Watson. A few years later, Watson left the firm to form a partnership with John Cameron Buxton, one of the founders of the local school system.

CWatsonCManlyCyrus Watson, center, and Clement Manly, right, during Watson’s run for governor in the 1890s. (Digital Forsyth/Forsyth County Public Library)

Will Glenn then took as a partner Robert B. Glenn, no relation, of the wealthy Yadkin County Glenn family. In the late 1890s, Will’s former partner Cyrus Watson, ran for governor of North Carolina and fell short in the primaries. But in January 1905, his former partner, Robert Broadnax Glenn, became Winston-Salem’s only governor of North Carolina.


Robert B. Glenn, right, in an early horseless carriage, ca 1905. The driver is Clement Manly.

Rob Glenn’s administration became famous for two things. In 1906, a triple lynching occurred in Salisbury. Governor Glenn was so outraged that, for the first time in NC history, a lynch mob leader was tried and convicted and spent 15 years in the state pen. And a few years later, Rob forced through a state law prohibiting the manufacture or sale of alcoholic beverages, putting North Carolina a decade ahead of national prohibition.

In the meantime, Will Glenn had died and Clement Manly, another force in state politics, had joined the firm as a partner. Rob Glenn and Clement Manly soon took in a new partner, William Hendren. Then in 1911, when Rob Glenn had retired, they added another young lawyer, Bunyon Snipes Womble.

Bunyon was one of the first graduates of the Trinity (later Duke) school of law and would play a major role in the consolidation of Salem and Winston in 1913. The firm was soon known as Manly, Hendren & Womble.

In 1923, the firm added another young lawyer,  Irving Carlyle. By now you can see where we are headed. Another young lawyer, William P. “Pen” Sandridge, joined in 1930. The last of the namesake lawyers, Leon Rice, a tax specialist, would not arrive until 1940.

So Sallie Glenn, who lived at 707 West Fourth Street in 1907, was a part of the founding of the South’s biggest and most important law firm, Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice. Our new neighbors have a lot to live up to.