Since the Residences at the R.J. Reynolds Building apartments are now leasing and Kimpton’s new Cardinal Hotel is taking reservations for stays beginning May 10, 2016, it seemed like a good time for another post on the Twin City’s best building. If you missed our earlier post on the subject, it can be found here:




In the early days, the RJR offices consisted of a desk and a chair in a corner of the original little red factory. In 1892, they moved to the third floor of the recently completed Plant 256 next door. Plant 8 was the first that had purpose built offices, occupied in 1899. But by 1910, that space was desperately crowded, so the company erected its first real office building, seen here, at the northwest corner of Main and Fifth Streets. It was intentionally designed to look just like the factories. It would be home to three presidents, R.J. and Will Reynolds and Bowman Gray. In April of 1929, office workers began their move into the new 22 story Reynolds Building. The old offices were demolished in 1972.


The R.J. Reynolds office building, designed by Shreve & Lamb of New York, won the American Association of Architects award for best building of 1929. At 22 stories, 315 feet with 65 foot flagpole (NOT designed for mooring dirigibles), it immediately became the tallest building in Winston-Salem, in North Carolina and in the southeastern United States. On March 1, 1928, the construction contract was awarded to the James Baird Construction Company of New York at $1.9 million. The final cost was $2.4 million. On May 1, 1928, the first steel was placed. The building was completed an astonishing seven months later, on December 3, 1928. Workers began moving into the building on April 23, 1929.

The building was air conditioned in 1956 and in 1961 the six public elevators were converted to automatic controls.


Bowman Gray built the Reynolds Building.  He was R.J. Reynolds’ hand picked successor. R.J. always said that Bowman was the best salesman he had ever known, well, maybe besides R.J. himself. Turned out that he was pretty good at building iconic buildings as well

The Reynolds Building also immediately became THE prestigious address for dozens of smaller businesses in the Twin City. The tobacco company occupied only seven floors, from the 7th-9th and 17th-20th. Since we were still in the age of superstition, there was no 13th floor, so that left twelve floors, plus the basement and lobby for others. Below is a list of the other original tenants…look through it for your ancestors, or for some neat surprises::


Reynolds Grill (later the Cavalier, finally the Caravan Room) – W.G. Tennille


Ad for the Reynolds Grill, Winston-Salem Journal, December 1, 1929. At the time, the average Reynolds employee made less than $15 per week. The grill took up almost half the basement space and could seat more than 500 people for banquets and dances.

Reynolds Building Barber Shop – E.E. Heath, H.W. Feimster


Early E. Heath

     Early Heath was the father of Earline Heath, who would marry the artist Joe “Vinciata” King her senior year at R.J. Reynolds HS, become a vaudeville star and, eventually, a well known artist in her own right

See: https://northcarolinaroom.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/joe-king-et-al-the-sultan-of-kuwait-and-a-lot-more/

Medical offices accessible directly from Church Street

Loading docks on Church Street


Bobbitt’s News Stand – H.W. Lee, Jr.

     At the time, the Bobbitt Drug Co. had only one location, in the Robert E. Lee Hotel. The Lockland store opened shortly thereafter.

Mezzanine arcade – J.M. Willis, barber – Willis was a partner in the basement shop and also operated a third elsewhere


First Floor – accessible from the Main Street and Fourth Street entrances

103 First Industrial Bank – P.N. Montague, P. Frank Hanes – Hanes later served as corporate counsel for RJR Tobacco

106 W.A. Wilkinson & Son, insurance & notaries – Washington A. & Marcus S. Wilkinson

107-109 Fenner & Beane, brokers – Thomas A. Lysett

110 B.S. Moore, cotton

111 John F. Clark, cotton

112 Banner Investment Company – W.G. Jerome, H.C. Pollard, Ned M. Smith

       Fealty Building & Loan Association

       Highland Development Company – Granville /Sunset developers

Second Floor

249 New York Life Insurance Company – J.N. Still, J.A. Glenn, S.R. Pearson

Third Floor

307 Brown & D’onofrio, interior decorators – Rena P. Brown, Gilmore D. O’onofrio

308 W.H. Fetter Company, building – W.H. & C.E. Fetter


W.H. Fetter

310 Midland Mutual Life Insurance Company – Brown & Deuschle, general agents – Lot H. Brown, William F. Deutschle

311-312 Underwood Typewriter Company – W.E. Griffith


Luke L. “Tiny” Stuart

319-320 Pilot Life Insurance Company – A.C. Stuart, L.L. Stuart

     Luke “Tiny” Stuart was a star shortstop for the 1913-14 Carolinas-Virginia college baseball champions Guilford College team, which also included Ernie Shore and Charlie Frank Benbow, and also played for the championship Winston-Salem Twins. Later, he would become the first American League player to hit a home run in his first major league at bat, off Walter “Big Train” Johnson, no less. And in retirement, he was a scout for the New York Yankees and had a reserved seat at Alvin Crowder’s “General Crowder Billiards” hangout next to the Carolina Theater where he became known as the “Mayor of Fourth Street”.

See: https://northcarolinaroom.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/take-me-out-to-the-ballgame/


325 T.L. Matlock Company, CPA – Matlock lived in Guilford College, NC

       Conrad Brothers Agency, insurance – H.C. & W.W. Conrad

328 W.T. Smith, division manager, RJR Tobacco

330 A.C. Glenn, attorney

331 P.M. Clark, brick and stone contractor – P. Maine Clark

       USG Haymore & Company, plasterers – Ulysses S. Grant Haymore

332 A.E. Bennett, manufacturers agents

333 W.A. Pegram, real estate

       Doctors Collection Association – P.V. Moon


Henry Elias Fries, along with his brothers, had a finger in almost every pie in the Twin City, from cotton and woolen mills to gas and electric power to transportation and banking. His office was on the 16th floor because the powers on the floors above often needed his advice.

Fourth Floor

420 J.D. Spinks, civil engineer

425 Snyder-Sides-Myers, real estate, insurance & loans – R.H. Sides, N.S. Myers, H.C. Snyder

       Goode Const Co – Floyd Strawn

       Pritchett Brokerage Co, manufacturers agents – J.A. & A.G. Pritchett

       American Sales Book Co – C.W. Kinzer

429 U S Army organized reserves – Colonel James M. Little, executive officer

       Davie Nursery, plants and landscaping, branch – W.W. Walker

       Hedgecock R A, manufacturers agent

433 N Y Life Insurance Company – J.N. Still, J.A. Glenn, S.R. Pearson

Fifth Floor

504 Crews Hall, architect


Hall Crews was an outstanding architect who designed many local buildings, including Ardmore School, which he began working on shortly after he moved into the Reynolds Building

507 Westover Realty Co – Emory James, G.M. Hinshaw, T.W. Wilson

See: https://northcarolinaroom.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/missing-links-found-in-ardmore/

       Reynolds Bldg, ofc bldg mngr

510 Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Co  – Dan M. Hodges, Peter T. Wilson

       Atlanta & West Point R R – A.S. Kenickell, E.K. O’Dwyer

       Western Railway of Alabama & Georgia

512-513 Polikoff & Kirven, attorneys – Benet Polikoff, L.E. Kirven

513-514 McMichael & McMichael, attorneys – Charles O. & J. Erle McMichael

     J. Erle McMichael was the prosecutor who dropped the murder charges against Libby Holman Reynolds and Ab Walker in the mysterious death of Smith Reynolds at Reynolda

518-520 Gray & Wilmerding, brokers – W.K. Willis

523-526 Northup & O’Brien, architects – Willard Northup & Leet O’Brien

     The leading local architecture firm for the first half of the 20th century and then some


Willard Northup designed the Twin City’s second skyscraper, the O’Hanlon Building, at the corner of Fourth and Liberty, shortly before Leet O’Brien became his partner. Together, they would dominate the local architecture scene for almost half a century.

527 Warner Flooring Co – S.R. Warner

528 Kesler Constr Co – J.M. Kesler

529 Carolina Steel & Iron Co – N.P. Hayes, engineer

530 Western Union Telegraph Co, branch – S.B. Clark

531 Simplex Heating Specialty Co – G.E. Brewer

532-533 Engineering Sales Co – T.H. Tise, C. Mark Brusser, G. Richard Brown

Sixth Floor

608 Chesapeake & Ohio Lines, commercial agent – H.M. Morecock

609-610 R.C. Vaughn, atty

611 Piedmont Brokerage Co, merchandise brokers – L.A. Vaughn

615 Costar Heating & Plumbing Co – J.W. Nolan

619 Mutual Life Insurance Co of New York – McL Woodward


Agnew Bahnson also got a 16th floor office because the RJR officers valued his brain. He and his brother Fred founded the Bahson Company, a pioneer in the humidifier and air conditioning business. You can have lunch or dinner in his house, now known as the Spring House Restaurant

Seventh to Ninth Floors

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

Tenth Floor

R.J. Reynolds employees cafeteria

Eleventh Floor

1101-1104 Ernst & Ernst, public accountants – T.D. Meriwether

1105 Sun Life Assurance of Canada – H.T. Licklider, Fred Watson

1107 Norfolk & Western Railway – S.A. Campbell, E.E. Shumate

1112 Carolina Detective Agency – N.E. Pepper

Twelfth Floor

1203 Alan S. O’Neal, attorney

1201-1205 Security Bond & Mortgage Co (Inc) – Alan O’Neal, E.M. Shepherd

1207-1208 Turner Mangum, attorney

1209 West Bros Lumber Co – L.H. & L.T. West

1210 Norfolk-Southern R R – J.B. Queensbury

1211 Hill-McCracken Co, cotton

No Thirteenth Floor


Will Reynolds got a spot on the 16th floor because he was Will Reynolds. When his brother R.J. died in 1918, Will succeeded him as president of RJR. But by the time that the Reynolds Building was built, he had retired and was focused on developing the Westview area, near Forsyth Country Club, along with his many sporting interests

Fourteenth Floor

1401 American Rediscount Corp, purchasing agents – R.G. Norman, F.M. Plumb

1403-1403-A Pennsylvania Railroad Co – F.A. Bross

1406-1407 McClung J A, dentist

1408-1410 New York Central Lines – E.E. Lindauer

                  F.G. Miles, attorney

1412 Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company – P.H. Dowdell

Fifteenth Floor

1504 Dr. Charles J. Alexander, osteopathic physician

1507 to 1512 Dr. J.C. Watkins, dentist

                      Dr. D.W. Holcomb, dentist

                      Dr. J. Fred Hall, dentist

Sixteenth Floor

1601 George W. Coan, Sr.

         George W. Coan, Jr. – city mayor, president of Miller Municipal Airport


George Coan, Sr. (left) with the Twin City’s first mayor, O.B. Eaton. Coan had been president of the local Morris Plan Bank and secretary of RJR Tobacco. His son, George, Jr. was mayor in 1929. 

1602-1604 Washington Mills Company – F.H. Fries, A.H. Bahnson,

1605-160S Bahnson Company, humidifiers – A.H. Bahnson, F.F. Bahnson

1606 Arista Mills Co (Inc) – A.H. Bahnson, Henry E. Fries

1609-1612 Forest Hills Farm – R.E. Lasater, Nancy L. Lasater, J.T. Barnes


Robert and Nancy Lasater owned, and Jack Barnes ran, Forest Hills Farm near Tanglewood. The Smoke House was a restaurant and retail outlet for their products. It later became the home of Town Steak House #2 and WTOB radio/tv. It still stands at the main entrance to Thruway Shopping Center

1612 Piedmont Park Co – T.N. Spencer, L.D. Long

         Westview Development Co – W.N. Reynolds

Seventeenth  to Twentieth Floors

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company