As always, click the pics for full size

The worst eyesore on Fourth Street for many years has been this hideous building at 265 West Fourth. That will soon change. Mike Coe has bought the building and has already removed some of the worst stuff and has begun preparatory demolition with the idea of restoring the original facade. To do that, he will need to know what the original facade looked like. We have already found a few pics that show the upper facade, but will need help in finding ground floor images.

This 1959 photo of high school girls having fun in the snow shows the area in question, extending from 235 to 201 West Fourth. From the left, the businesses are Tiny Town, juvenile furniture and toys; Lynne Shops, lingerie; Ballerina Bootery; Cohen’s-Robin’s, women’s clothing; Marken’s, children’s clothing; Lee’s Shoe Store; Hine’s Shoe Store; Spainhour’s Department Store; Galeski Optical; and the Walgreen Drugstore at the corner of Fourth and Trade. Despite the continuing confusion of street adresses, this was the most promising of the photographs because it clearly showed 217 (Marken’s) with an arched entrance, which could conceivably be the original street level facade. We were told that a later architectural rendering for a proposed renovation showed a similar arch. But as it turns out, that idea was wrong. The arched entrance was probably created in the late 1920s when Cohen’s womenswear moved into the building. Forsyth County Public Library Picture Collection.


Other pics taken in the early 1960s provided no help. Both Forsyth County Public Library Picture Collection.

At this point, there was nothing left to do except a complete history of that block. The research was hindered by confusing street addresses, garbled city directory information and mistakes in the Winston-Salem Journal. Fortunately we could eliminate the late 19th / early 20th century era, because only two buildings had stood on that block prior to 1906. One was the Wyatt F. Bowman (one of the founders of Wachovia National Bank) residence at the corner of Cherry and Fourth. The other was the Piedmont Warehouse at the corner of Trade and Fourth.

In 1905, the Piedmont Warehouse was demolished to make way for the Masonic Temple, completed in 1906 at the corner of Fourth and Trade. Nothing else happened until 1912, when C.J. Ogburn put up a building that wrapped around the Masonic Temple from Trade to Fourth, which soon became the Ideal Company, general merchandise, with entrances on both Trade and Fourth.

Later in 1912, the Stewart Printing Company building nearby at 116 West Fourth burned. The Stewart brothers purchased a lot on Fourth near Ogburn’s building and erected a new home for their printing operation in 1913. The Stewarts installed their printing plant on the second floor and leased the street level to Ogburn & Weir’s grocery business. In 1915, Ogburn added a second building between his 1912 structure and Stewart’s Printing house and leased it to Efird Hine, who moved his growing shoe business from Main Street to the new building.

Finally, in 1916, Bunyon Womble, one of the founding partners of what would become the Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice law firm, built a large store building to the west of the Stewart shop. That building was immediately occupied by the Anchor Department Store. So by 1916, the block looked like this.

This photograph, taken between 1916 and 1919, shows a parade of city and county school children. The flag at the left is that of the new Winston-Salem Central School at the southern end of Salem. The buildings, from left to right, are the Womble Building (Anchor Department Store); the 1913 Stewart’s printing house; the 1915 Hine’s Shoe Store; the 1912 Ideal Store (east of the telephone pole); and the Masonic Temple. Beyond Trade Street can be seen the 1912 Efird’s Department Store, the 1915 O’Hanlon Building and, in the distance, the 1892 Winston Town Hall. The focus of our interest is the vacant space between the Womble Building and Stewart’s, where the structure now known as 265 West Fourth Street would soon be erected. Most viewers think that the ad on the side of the Stewart Building is for Coca Cola. But it is not. After about 1895, the Coke logo was always written in script. The ad is for Chero Cola, whose advertising signboard can be seen at the left. That will be explained in a postscript at the end of this post. Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

So now all the buildings in that part of the block are accounted for. Let us fill in the missing link. On Friday, October 9, 1919, the Winston-Salem Journal announced a new business in that spot. A new, purpose built structure would house the Winston-Salem Bake-Rite Bakery, the first all-electric bakery in North Carolina, opening that Saturday morning. The article contained a lengthy description of the business, including the fact that the interior would be finished in white enamel for sanitary purposes, and that the main feature would be the electric oven, which would be located in the street level window of the business. There, citizens passing by on the sidewalk would be able to view through a window in the oven a ferris wheel type apparatus doing the actual baking of the bread. For centuries, certain types of merchants had made it possible for the public to observe the process of making their products, but this was a major breakthrough in the marketing of the staple of life, bread.

The Journal article gives a detailed description of the building, something very rare at the time. But there are two mistakes in the first paragraph. The lesser is the misspelling “Make-Rite”. The more egregious is “located in the Womble building”, which is, at least, corrected in the second paragraph, which tells us that the building is brand new and purpose built. This was not just the first all-electric bakery in the Twin City, but also the first in the entire state.

We have been unable to find any picture of that particular building. But the business was a franchise, so we knew that all of the buildings had to be essentially the same. The Bake-Rite franchise originated in Chicago. A search of the Chicago Tribune newspaper of the time turned up a couple of the ads used to promote the franchise, which contained drawings of the stores. So we know that the street level facade was a simple glass construction which allowed potential customers to view the operation of the oven from the sidewalk.

One of the patent drawings for the Bake-Rite oven. The viewing window is at the left.


This pic of the Yakima, Washington store shows the same staggered entry as the ads, so we can assume that that was the standard design.

The Bake-Rite bakery did not last long. In 1922, the building was purchased by the Quality Bakery, which removed the electric oven and replaced it with a standard coke fired oven which was placed at the rear of the store. After a second bakery failed at the site in the mid-1920s, Cohen’s, a womenswear store, moved in. They would remain in the building until around 1950, when they merged with Robin’s, another womenswear store, to form Cohen’s-Robin’s and moved into the Womble Building next door. They were replaced by Marken’s, which sold children’s clothing.

Chero Cola

In 1905, after a price dispute with the distributor of Coca-Cola syrup, Claud Hatcher of Columbus, GA developed his own soft drink brand. The first product was Royal Crown Ginger Ale, followed closely by Royal Crown Strawberry and Royal Crown Root Beer. In 1910, Hatcher introduced a new cola drink and renamed the company for it…Chero Cola. Because of the popularity of its fruit flavored drinks, the company was again renamed in 1925 as the Nehi Corporation. But in 1935, Chero Cola was reformulated as Royal Crown Cola and the company name changed once again…the rest, as they say, is history. In 1954, RC became the first canned soft drink, and a few years later the first in aluminum cans. In 1958, they introduced the first diet soft drink, Diet-Rite. Ever have an RC and a Moon Pie for lunch?

Arson on Fourth Street

When the Stewart Printing building burned in 1912, it was clear to firefighters on the scene that the fire had been deliberately set. An investigator from the state insurance commission arrived in town two days later. After a thorough workup, he handed over his information to the district solicitor, and even as the Stewarts were erecting their new building across the street, the Forsyth County grand jury indicted them for arson. A series of continuances stretched the timeline, until, in May of 1913, with a new trial opening days away, the elder brother, Moses I. Stewart, was committed to the state insane asylum in Morganton. Of course, that brought about yet another continuance. Moses spent several weeks in a private hospital near Morganton, then returned home, but was declared too ill to attend trial. A couple of continuances later the Winston-Salem Journal noted that there would be no trial until Moses Stewart was available, and added the opinion that the end of the matter had been reached. Moses Stewart then left for the Pacific Northwest, where he continued his recuperation for several months, returning in August of 1915. The case, having been declared a nol pros with leave, was reinstated. Moses moved to a sanitarium in Richmond and the case was again declared nol pros with leave. Moses Stewart then moved permanently to Denver, CO and the case was never reinstated. The Stewart Printing House remained in operation under John C. Stewart well into the 1920s.