As always, click on pix for full size
The first ad using the Ardmore name ran in the Twin City Sentinel, Saturday, April 12, 1913
Early plat of the Ardmore Company, circa 1917. Bank Street later became Academy. The Highland Park name had originally been used for an area that included Brent and Sunset, and by this time had been dropped, but somehow remained on the map.
Following a brief post on early golf course history in the Twin City, there was a burst of interest in the little known Westover Park Golf Course that once existed in Ardmore. My old friend Charles Elkins mentioned that he had edited a piece for the Winston-Salem Journal in the 1990s, written and photographed by David Rolfe, about the course. I was able to find that article, headlined “Missing Links”, which consisted of an interview and guided tour of the old course site with a man who had caddied at and played the course as a youth. The article included a course map, which, due to the quality of the microfilm, was unusable. But using Photoshop, I was able to create a new map, overlaid on the existing topography, which led to more research, and thus to the following epic.
In the Beginning
In May, 1913, when the already joined in so many ways towns of Winston and Salem formally became one, the new city of Winston-Salem had a population of 18,700. By then, Edmunds, Jerome & Johnson (T.V. Edmunds, W.G. Jerome and W. Ray Johnson) had begun developing a small suburb to the southwest of the West End. That went well, so in 1916, Jerome and Johnson, joined by J.S. Kuykendall, chartered the Ardmore Company, with $100,000 authorized capital, $3,000 of that already subscribed. They bought 150 acres of land surrounding the intersection of Bank Street (now Academy) and Ardmore Road (now Hawthorne) and told a reporter that they thought full development of the acreage would cost about $80,000.
A couple of annexations later, the 1920 US Census announced that the population of the Twin City had reached 48,000, making it the most populous city in North Carolina. There was rapid development going on all over town…in Southside, Easton, Montview and Fairview to the north, West Highlands, Buena Vista, Westview…but Ardmore was the driving force. Everybody and his brother moved to get in on the game, but all together they couldn’t build streets and lay water and sewer lines fast enough to keep up with the demand.
On September 1, 1922, the Twin City Daily Sentinel announced the formation of Westover Park, Inc. to develop the 292 acre Branchland Farm, formerly owned by Col. G.W. Hinshaw, one of the city’s pioneer merchants, as an expansion of the Ardmore neighborhood. An important part of the project would include the extension of Ardmore Road (now Hawthorne Road) from Miller Street to connect with the concrete road at Hanestown. The development would have all city conveniences, including sidewalks, water, sewer and lights, provided by the developers. Also mentioned, though not confirmed, was the addition of the city’s fourth golf course.
The corporation was composed of the Atlantic Coast Realty Company, former mayor Oscar B. Eaton, K.E. Shore, the James-Conrad Company, the Franklin Real Estate Company, J.S. Kuykendall, Fred Sheets, G. Miller Hinshaw and W.L. Ferrell, Jr. Founding officers were E. Vernon Ferrell, president; G. Miller Hinshaw, vice president and Thomas Wilson, secretary-treasurer. Wilson, who would devote his full time to the business, had already established offices in room 103 of the Masonic Temple. Right next door, in room 104, was the James-Conrad Company. And Vernon Ferrell’s company, Atlantic Coast Realty, had recently established a branch office in the Wachovia Bank building, adding to its existing locations in Petersburg, Virginia and Greenville, NC.
E. Vernon Ferrell, 1925
At the time, Ardmore Road had just been paved from Shallowford Road (First Street), past the under construction Baptist Hospital, all the way to Miller Street. Lockland Avenue was being graded and scheduled for paving within weeks, as was Northwest Boulevard from North Winston to Shallowford, and Bank Street (later Academy) from Main Street in Salem into the heart of Ardmore. Ardmore Road was then to be paved using the “sand clay” method from Miller to Hanestown.
The Golf Course
Eleven days later, the Winston-Salem Journal announced that Paul Andress, golf “expert” at Forsyth Country Club, had been engaged to lay out the golf course, based on scientific principles. The course would occupy the area between Melrose Street, Westover Drive, Knollwood Street and Ardmore Road, with a 1 1/2 hole overlap of Ardmore Road at its intersection with Knollwood and Magnolia Street. It would be adjacent to phase one of the Westover Park residential development, consisting of 130 lots, averaging 60-70 front feet with a depth of 175 feet, priced between $1,200 and $1,500 each.
The first newspaper ad for Westover Park appeared in the Journal on October 8, 1922. The next day, 20 lots were sold. An ad appearing a few weeks later bragged that 49 lots had been sold in 46 days. At the time, construction of a new house was beginning every day or two in the general Ardmore area.
The engineering firm of Hinshaw & Ziglar surveyed the golf course according to Paul Andress’s specifications. The W.C. Bryant landscaping company was contracted to build the course. In mid-November, equipment began arriving at the site and construction began on Thursday, November 23. The fairways were to be 300 feet wide and the total length of the nine hole course was specified as 3,200 yards. Opening of the course was promised for spring, 1924.
The Journal stated that the course was being designed for amateurs, so “…the numerous hazards found on so many golf courses will not be used on these grounds.” It is true that there were no bunkers on the course, but there was a little creek that ran between the first and ninth fairways and another that ran through much of the rest of the course. Anyone who has ever swung a club knows that there is a magical magnetic attraction between water and golf balls.
And there was a very special hazard on hole number 5, because the players had to hit across Ardmore Road. At the time, it was still a dirt track to not much of any place with minimal traffic, but cars and trucks occasionally got hit. I don’t think there is anything in the USGA rule book about black eyes as penalties.
Click for much bigger
The last section of streetcar line in Winston-Salem was built to the new Reynolds High School in 1923. By then, the Southern Public Utilities Company, later Duke Power, was operating bus lines around the city, but none reached the Westover Park area. So in December, Westover Park announced that chauffeured automobiles would be made available through the end of the year at no cost for anyone wishing to tour the new development and golf course. All you had to do was call Tom Wilson at 541…no obligation.
On January 19, 1923, Westover Park signed a contract with Boyd, Higgins & Goforth of Charlotte to lay water mains. A few days later, the same firm won the contract for the sewer system. The contract for building a mile and a half of sidewalks, curbs and gutters was awarded to a local firm, C.M. Thomas.
By then, the first house in the development was being built by the James-Conrad Company. It would be the home of A.C. Stuart, manager of the Southern Life & Insurance Company. There was actually already one home in the development, built by Emory James near the corner of Miller and Maplewood Streets. He was the real estate half of the James-Conrad outfit. His partner, Fuller Conrad, a UNC graduate who had served as principal of the Clemmons School before entering the real estate/construction business, also operated the Standard Homes Company, which would build many of the houses in Westover. Because of their dual capabilities, the James-Conrad company would become a dominant force in the Westover development. Despite miserable, rainy winter weather, James-Conrad sold 12 lots the first week of February, 1923.
In 1926, citizens of several local neighborhoods petitioned the Winston-Salem board of aldermen to annex their neighborhoods. In such circumstances, a referendum was required, with only those living in the affected neighborhoods allowed to vote. An overwhelming “yes” vote in Westover Park was able to barely overcome the negative vote in Reynolda Park and Buena Vista. This and another annexation the next year brought the city’s population count to 79,200. There would not be annexation until 1947.
The Golf Course, Part II
This photograph of the Westover Park Golf Course was taken after a few bunkers had been added, probably around 1930. Below is a blended picture/map so that you can know what you are actually looking at. Thanks to Charlie Elkins for inspiring this.
As previously mentioned, the opening of the golf course was promised for spring, 1924. By then, only half the tees and greens had been completed, but the developers assured everyone that the course would open that fall. Not quite. The course would not actually get its first players until the summer of 1925. By then, the Westover Park Golf Club had around 200 members, champing at the bit. The old Hinshaw farmhouse at the corner of Maplewood and Fairway was refurbished as the clubhouse.
The first club championship tournament was held in October, 1925. It was a match play event. In the semi-final round, Ed Conrad defeated J.E. Bergman 9 up, while Tom Crawford downed W.M. Harrison 3 and 2. Conrad then won the championship the next day. The following Easter a two round medal play event was held. It also was won by Conrad with a final round 83. The next year, club president Emory James bought a trophy and began the President’s Cup tournament. By then, the city’s estimated population was nearing 70,000, an increase of almost 50% in just six years.
The club formed a team which competed frequently against teams from other Piedmont area golf clubs, winning more often than not. There was only one other golf club in Forsyth County, the Forsyth Country Club. Despite efforts by the Westover group to schedule a match against Forsyth, that never happened. The local newspapers got on that bandwagon, repeatedly urging that the two clubs compete. Westover was more than willing, but Forsyth was not.
A.J. Ogilvie was the first pro at the Westover Club. By all accounts he was an amiable and well liked fellow. He did well in the many area pro and pro-am tournaments. But on September 29, 1925, he was arrested and hauled into court, charged with violating the prohibition laws.
Ogilvie’s name was misspelled in the Journal head
This was part of a complicated and somewhat ridiculous matter involving a supposed drink and party house, even, perhaps, a brothel, right square in the middle of the most staid and proper Ardmore neighborhood, barely a block from the Ardmore church triangle. A number of women were arrested, both in Ardmore and at the downtown hotels, mainly the Zinzendorf and the Robert E. Lee, and three Winston-Salem police detectives got fired in the course of the matter. That story is too much for this post and will be covered in the very next one.
Judge Watson’s fit of intemperance was nothing new for him. As we shall see in the full post on the great Ardmore scandal of 1925, coming soon to a blog near you, his performance a few weeks later was of a nature that would have gotten him impeached and disbarred today.
Suffice to say that Ogilvie was not only acquitted, but his case was thrown violently out of court by the presiding judge, which ended a two week orgy of newspaper headlines in the Winston-Salem Journal.
The Business District
On February 17, 1928, Westover Park, Inc asked the board of aldermen to rezone some of the golf course land for an “upscale” business district. When the matter came before the board, a number of Westover residents appeared at the meeting with a petition signed by many other residents opposing the move. Westover, Inc backed down at the time, but returned a few weeks later with their own petition. The matter was referred to the Public Works Committee.
The street car safety zone was a concrete island that allowed passengers to get on and off the streetcars without stepping into the street. The reason given for moving it was to avoid the coming congestion around “the new Gilmers building” which was under construction at the time and scheduled to open Hallowe’en weekend as the Davis-McCollum Department Store. Today it is known as the Pepper Building…it’s fascinating history is the subject of a blog post on the horizon. The reference to Bell Grogan is also interesting. Bell, who lived on Vine Street downtown and worked at the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, owned a rental house in an area known as Silver Hill, about a block from Reynolds High School. This small black neighborhood dated well back into the 19th century, and at one time had had a church and a graveyard. But when Reynolds High School opened, the surrounding neighborhood was quickly developed, and soon Bell’s renters found that they had to walk nearly a mile to simply cross Hawthorne Road because they had been landlocked by the developers and their white neighbors would not let them cut across their land. She never got her easement.
A few days later, about 30 people, most of them women, attended a hearing held by the Public Works Committee. Fuller Conrad explained that the district would occupy the space presently used by several holes of the golf course, on Maplewood Avenue between Melrose and Fairway, and that it was a future project, timed to coincide with the expiration of the golf course’s guaranteed lifetime in 1935.
Mrs. A.W. Schaum of 503 Melrose Street, objected strenuously, saying that her deed was a contract with the James-Conrad Company guaranteeing that no commercial enterprise would ever be built on Westover Park land and that she would not “be molested in such manner.” Other women living on the fringe of the golf course agreed, one stating that she feared that the business district would be made up of filling stations and “weiner joints”.
Needless to say, the committee gave a negative report, the board of aldermen concurred and no weiner joints ever appeared on Maplewood Avenue.
That same year, Westover added a new street, which opened more lots for development. At the same time, the first part of Robinhood Road was being built. Note that the article spells it as two words, “Robin Hood”. The part of Stratford that Robinhood connected to was still widely known at the time as “Lover’s Lane”.
Decline and Fall
As everyone knows, the stock market crashed in 1929. Winston-Salem fared better than most cities, because when people are stressed out, they chew and smoke more, and everybody still needed underwear and socks.
But the Ardmore boom was slowed considerably, and people had less to spend on recreation. When the Westover Golf Club opened in 1925, the course maps had a curious statement printed on them, which said that the land was reserved for golf until 1935. That was probably in anticipation of a future time when that land would become too valuable to be used as a golf course.
Whatever the thinking, sometime in the mid-1930s, the course was sold to a local dentist, Karom M. Yokely, who clearly intended to develop the property for residential purposes. He must have bought the land then because he got it for a bargain, because there was little hope of profiting from any sort of real estate development in 1935.
We do not know if he closed the course right away. The Westover Club disappears from the city directories at about that time. But he still might have kept the course open for play.
The only evidence that we have as to Yokely’s progress is an aerial view taken around 1943 from near the intersection of First and Hawthorne Road, looking along the line of Cloverdale Avenue. The golf course is in the far distance, so little detail shows, but there is no evidence of houses, just a lot of trees.
And if we look at the available Sanborn Insurance maps from 1950 and even 1958, we can see that the perimeter of the old golf course site had been developed, but the core area had no new streets and very few buildings. Even today, the area between Westover, Magnolia and Bellview is one of the least densely populated parts of Ardmore.
Over the years, at least half a dozen people have told me that the original Westover clubhouse is still standing. One even took me there and pointed at the current building on that spot. Sorry, but no cigar.
The Westover Clubhouse as seen on the 1928 Sanborn Insurance map. It was a modernized single story farmhouse, in no way resembling the home currently occupying the site.