Local History, Winston-Salem

Ardmore: The beginning…

As always, click the pictures for larger size where available…

In early 1910, the Southern Development Company, T.V. Edmunds and A.H. Galloway, purchased the farm of Captain H.L. Riggins near the end of the streetcar line on Fourth Street and began preparing the land for development under the new name Crafton Heights.

Crafton Heights lots went on sale on Wednesday, May 10. Four were sold the first day. By the 27th, most of the first block of lots were gone. In June, they held a contest to name seven new streets, offering a prize of $2 per street. The prizes were awarded, but only two of the street names, Sunset, at the far western edge of the development, suggested by Edward Markland, and Windmere Boulevard, suggested by Marvin Ferrell, were ever used, and Windmere was changed to Crafton before the street was even built.

Crafton Heights was developed on the farm of Henry Riggins, an industrialist and businessman who also served as the treasurer of Forsyth County and the chief of the Winston-Salem fire department.

The Crafton Heights development was an immediate success, so spurred the beginning of Ardmore two years later. At the time, both were merely seen as an extension of the West End. Most of the early homes in both developments were more like West End houses than like later Ardmore houses. Many households had servants, some of whom lived in built-in apartments, others who lived nearby in small houses on Ardmore Avenue or along Queen Street, or in small nearby neighborhoods.

Those who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s might remember “Sidestown”, a fairly large area southwest of the city which extended from about the Salisbury Road to west of Ebert Street.

For information about the Juvenile Relief Home see note at the end of this post.

The Ardmore component of Sidestown (shown on the 1950 Sanborn Insurance Map above) was a vibrant black neighborhood that began just beyond the 900 block of Madison Street.  It extended along both sides of Alspaugh (later Madison) and the east side of Watson for about half a mile. Sidestown predated Ardmore by at least 25 years and probably more.

Sidestown AME Zion cemetery, 1300 block of Madison

The first mention we find in the newspapers is the names of some residents published in 1890. In 1898 we find an announcement that the county school board has agreed to combine the existing schools at Craters (near New Philadelphia Moravian Church) and Sidestown to better serve the South Fork township. The earliest graves in the Sidestown AME Zion Cemetery date to 1900. An early minister of the church was the Reverend J.G. Williams, who also served the Bethania AME church. He was shot in January, 1900 by a jealous husband, but survived. The church closed and was demolished shortly after World War II, but the cemetery remained in use into the 1970s. 115 people are buried there. For a list of burials, search Find A Grave for Ardmore or Sidestown AME Zion church. Most of the people who lived in Sidestown in the early days apparently worked on the large farms in the area and later as servants, gardeners and drivers. But the best known one was the junk man, who drove his mule drawn wagon through Ardmore collecting disused pots, pans and other items, which he repaired for resale. He would let the little boys ride on the tailgate of his wagon until one of the many busybody mothers ordered them off.

A few Sidestown original houses still survive on Madison Avenue

In 1912, W.G. Jerome and T.V. Edmunds purchased “the beautiful Lockett farm”, located southwest of Crafton Heights and began developing a new suburb. They held a contest to name the area. They received hundreds of possible names. On February 21, 1913, the judges, Robert S. Galloway, W.S. Wilkinson and James A. Gray, Jr. announced that the name would be “Ardmore”, and presented the $10 (about $260 in 2018 dollars) prize to Mrs. H.L. Neisser. The Neissers were Moravians with local connections who had lived in or near Ardmore, a Mainline suburb of Philadelphia.

Ardmore plat, section 1

Ardmore, PA was originally Athensville, renamed in 1873 by the Pennsylvania Railroad for the village of Ardmore in County Waterford, Ireland. The word “Ardmore” is derived from the Irish Ard Mór or the Scottish Gaelic: Àird Mhòr, meaning “great height”.

E. L. Lockett was a tobacco manufacturer. Ardmore development began on his farm.

The old Burk road, also known as Paper Mill Road, which would eventually connect all of the new development, was paved and the name changed to Ardmore Road, then Ardmore Avenue, then in the 1920s, Hawthorne Road. By then, Ray Johnson and J.S. Kuykendall had joined Jerome and Edmunds. The first three houses in the new development were built on Ardmore Avenue in 1914 by Johnson, Jerome and Kuykendall. Johnson’s home was demolished in the late 1980s to make way for the large parking deck at the corner of Hawthorne and Queen. Jerome’s house was moved across Queen Street to the southeast corner, where it still stands. Kuykendall’s house is a few doors south at 419 South Hawthorne. In 1919 Jerome and Kuykendall built new homes on Elizabeth Avenue and moved there. Johnson followed in the next year or two. During the depths of the Great Depression, Jerome fell into desperate circumstances and was forced to sell his Ardmore holdings. He moved to Greensboro in 1938 and never returned.

W.G. Jerome’s 1914 house still stands at the corner of Hawthorne and Queen. It has been moved from its original site directly to the north across Queen.

The Lockett farm was famous for its springs. The developers set up a company to pipe “Ardmore Springs” water to their new development and also to deliver bottled water to drugstores, businesses and residences. There is no evidence that the company ever began operation. At virtually the same time, the White Star Company, a large retail/wholesale grocery business began a years long advertising blitz for bottled water from Moore’s Springs in Stokes County. And it is doubtful that the new residents would have welcomed the heavy truck traffic required to deliver the “Ardmore Springs” water.

J. S. Kuykendall’s house was also one of the first three built in Ardmore. It stands at 419 South Hawthorne.

This is just the beginning. Ardmore was even a bigger success than Crafton Heights. Soon other developers, including K.E. Shore, E. Vernon Ferrell and his Atlantic Coast Realty, Smithdeal Realty and Emory James and Fuller Conrad, began flocking to the area. Some simply added to the Ardmore name, others had their own names for a while – Westover, Westfield, Melrose – but eventually it all became Ardmore. During the Great War (WW I), it was said that they were building a house per week in Ardmore, which would continue for over twenty years.

Ray Johnson’s second Ardmore house, 2032 Elizabeth Avenue

Much of the later part of Ardmore, heading south out beyond Academy Street was built on two large farms, one belonging to William and Martha Ebert (thus Ebert Street…learn to pronounce it correctly…it is “eh-bert”, not “ee-bert”) and the other being the grand John and Dorsey Nading “plantation”.

Because of the terrain, some of the early Crafton Heights houses had elaborate stone retaining walls. 260 Sunset

The new homeowners wanted the best in city services, especially the fire department, so frequently petitioned to be annexed, which led to Winston-Salem becoming the most populous city in North Carolina in the 1920 US Census at over 47,000. By 1926, the population had reached 76,000, but Charlotte had already overtaken the Twin City, never to be headed. Today, with more than 2,200 properties, Ardmore is one of the largest historic districts in the state. Stay tuned for much more.

Ad in the Twin City Daily Sentinel, April 5, 1913

Also see the story of the Ardmore golf course here:


The orphaned baby hospital and the Junior League of Winston-Salem

In 1923, Katharine Smith Reynolds Johnston founded a hospital for orphaned babies in Ardmore. The facility later became the Juvenile Relief Home, and is today a private residence standing at the corner of Madison Avenue and Ardsley Street. That same year, 40 young women in the community received invitations to a luncheon at Reynolda. After lunch, Katharine invited them to become volunteers at the new orphaned baby hospital. There was a legal problem that prevented the hospital from directly engaging volunteers. Marian Blair mentioned that she had just read an article about a new national service organization. If they founded a local chapter, the chapter could adopt the hospital and provide volunteers. So the 46th local chapter of the Association of Junior Leagues of America was formed. It was the first in North Carolina, and has been a major force in the Twin City ever since.

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