New post on This Day in North Carolina History

Student artists paint at the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, circa 1964. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.Student artists paint at the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, circa 1964. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

On August 9, 1949, the first locally-established arts council in the United States was formed in Winston-Salem.

The Junior League of Winston-Salem brought national community arts consultant Virginia Lee Comer to town in 1943 to study the cultural life of the community. Her strategy for cultural planning was to build connections between the community and its arts activities.

Seed money of $7,200 was set aside by the Junior League in 1946, and in 1949, representatives from twelve cultural groups convened to form the arts council. The council’s purpose was:

to serve those members and to plan, coordinate, promote, and sponsor the opportunity for, and the appreciation of, cultural activities in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County today works to make Winston-Salem the “City of the Arts,” where center-city revitalization efforts rely on the arts as an economic development resource.

The Arts Council has helped develop new arts organizations, established a united arts fund and constructed an arts center. Its comprehensive cultural program has received national acclaim and gained support for the arts from local business.

More than 4,000 local arts agencies across the country now work to build the presence of the arts in community quality of life. Today there are 74 local arts councils in North Carolina.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

NC Culture | August 9, 2016 at 6:30 AM | Tags: Arts, Forsyth County, Winston-Salem | Categories: Arts | URL: http://wp.me/p2C43o-22b

Bowman Gray

R. J. Reynolds considered himself to be the best salesman in the history of the world. But he generously allowed that if he was not, then Bowman Gray was, which was why he hired him in the first place, and why he anointed Bowman to be his successor as the head of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

Bowman had to wait a few years after R.J.’s death to take the reins, but once in the saddle he rode hard, leading the company to some its best years ever. And while he was at it, he oversaw the construction of two of the best buildings ever put up in North Carolina…the 1929 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company headquarters building and his own residence, the magnificent 1932 French eclectic Graylyn manor house.

In 1940, Bowman’s widow, Natalie Fontaine Lyons Gray and her children donated $750,000 (about $12.8 million in today’s money) in RJR stock and other monies to move the fledgling Wake Forest College medical school to Winston-Salem. Since then, it has flourished and become one of the top medical schools in the world. In 2001, the school commissioned Earline Heath (King) to create a sculpture of Bowman. In real life, Bowman was seldom seen outdoors without a hat on his head, but Earline liked his hairstyle, so put his hat in his hand and rendered him bareheaded.


Earline Heath (King) created the statue of Bowman Gray in 2001

Bowman has been standing for 15 years near Hawthorne Road in Ardmore. But that was never his natural environment. Today he is back where his heart always was, on Vine Street at the center of the bustling R.J. Reynolds complex, renamed and repurposed as the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, a growing center of medical research and education.

The RJR Plant 60 complex was built in the early 20th century and was primarily used for stemming…after cured tobacco leaves were bought at auction, the first step in production was to separate the leaf material from the stems…it was dirty, dusty work which required a good bit of manual dexterity…women were typically better at it than men, but were paid 10¢ per hour less than the men…stay tuned for our coming series on Vine Street which will include the saga of the only successful strike ever against RJR, led by black women stemmers, which rectified that injustice.


Striking stemmers on Vine Street, 1947

But beginning today, Plant 60 becomes the Bowman Gray Medical Education Building of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical School…the most advanced medical school building in the world. Bowman stands out on the plaza, and having had a bit of experience with top notch architecture, I’m sure that he is pleased to be there…in fact, I would swear I saw him smiling just a smidgen today.


Bowman Gray comes home…

For everything you need to know about the new building, including virtual tours, go here:


Allow plenty of time for clicking around and be sure to scroll down to the bottom to see a terrific video of how Bowman got from Hawthorne Road to Vine Street.

And for a huge, illustrated look at the life and times of the extraordinary Earline Heath and her equally extraordinary long time husband and sidekick Joe “Vinciata” King, go here:


Everywhere you go in the Twin City, the shades of Bowman and Earline and Joe are never more than a whisper away.


Sue Macy

A few years ago, Sue Macy, a well known author of illustrated children’s books came to visit the NC Room and spent a couple of days with us. We tried to help her find information and people to interview for a book on legendary sports writer Mary Garber. Today I unzipped a USPS Priority Mail package and out popped this book.





Mary’s football team was called the Buena Vista Devils, or BVDs for short

It is a wonderful book. Get it…read it…our brief blog post about Sue Macy’s visit is here:



Miss Mary Garber


The Belo plot, Salem Cemetery


Belo Garden, Dallas, Texas

Everything is connected. The Salem Moravians knew that. That is why their annual review of events began, not in Salem, but on the world stage, moving ever narrower from Europe to the United States to North Carolina and finally to their beloved home.


The protest in Dallas that was interrupted by the murder of five police officers began at Belo Garden, a spectacular new downtown park that opened in 2012, just a stone’s throw from Dealey Plaza. The park was funded by the A.H. Belo Corporation, the Belo Foundation, Maureen and Robert Decherd, and the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department. The Belo Corporation owns several television stations and newspapers, including the Dallas Morning News, which has the 11th largest circulation in the US. The Belo Corporation was founded in Galveston in 1857 as The News, publisher of two weekly newspapers. Shortly after the Civil War, it was renamed Richardson, Belo & Company. When founder Willard Richardson died in 1875, the surviving partner renamed it A.H. Belo & Company. Who was A.H. Belo?


Frederick Edward Belo was born June 27, 1811 in Salem, NC, the second child of John Frederick and Maria Strupe Belo [Bölow]. After graduating from the Salem Boy’s School, he was apprenticed to the cabinet maker Petersen, eventually taking over the business. But unlike most other young men in Salem, he was not satisfied with a single income. Soon he was operating a linseed mill and a foundry, then another mill, building dams, finally opening a general merchandise store. In 1849 he completed a new building, two stories with 150 feet of frontage on Main Street. The first floor became his wholesale/retail merchandise store, “E. Belo’s Leviathan”, the largest such operation in the region. The family lived on the second floor. In 1860, a third floor, to house employees, was added. That building today is a national register property known simply as the Belo House. Later, Edward Belo would become the president of the local company that began building the first railroad connection to the towns of Winston and Salem, the single most important event in Twin City history.


Belo House, spring, 1861

In 1837, Edward married Amanda Fries. They had three daughters and four sons, the eldest of whom they named Alfred Horatio Belo, born May 27, 1839. After being educated at the Salem Boys School and elsewhere, Alfred went to work in his father’s business. In the spring of 1861, North Carolina reluctantly seceded from the Union. A few days later, on Salem Square, Alfred, about to turn 22, founded the first local company for the Confederate army, the Forsyth Rifles. He was elected captain of the company. A few weeks later, in Danville, VA, the Rifles were assigned to the 11th Regiment, NC Volunteers. They were placed near the center of the line at the Battle of Bull Run, but saw no real action.


Left to right: Edwatd Belo, Alfred Horatio Belo, Robert Belo

When the army was reorganized in early 1862, the Forsyth Rifles were assigned to the 21st NC Regiment, Infantry. But Alfred was not reelected as captain. The 21st would go on to fight in nearly every battle in the eastern theater of the Civil War. Alfred came home briefly, and eventually ended up in the 55th NC Regiment, Infantry. He was wounded in the left leg at Gettysburg and cited in battle reports. He was wounded in the left arm at Cold Harbor and furloughed for the duration. He attempted to return to the regiment more than once, but his wounds prevented his remaining on duty. According to the official records, his final rank was lieutenant colonel. In 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Nathan Bedford Forest, who would later become one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan, sent out a call for all Confederate diehards to join General Kirby Smith who was still fighting in Texas, where they would continue the war, possibly as a guerrilla struggle. Alfred Horatio Belo answered the call.


The official records tell us that Alfred Horatio Belo attained the rank of lieutenant colonel, but in this portrait he is wearing the three stars of a full colonel.

Once in Texas, the men realized that to continue the war was futile. At this point, things get a bit confusing. Several “official” sources, including the Texas Historical Society and another in Montana (?) present biographies of Alfred, but each one contradicts the others. For instance, NCPedia says that Belo became a partner in the Galveston News on March 4, 1866. If so, one wonders why the 1870 US census shows him living in his wealthy father-in-law Cornelius Ennis’ household in Galveston, working as an office clerk in Cornelius’s corn brokerage.


What we do know is that Alfred ended up working for a company called The News, which published the Galveston News and the Texas Almanac, and soon became a partner in that firm, renamed Richardson, Belo & Company. When Willard Richardson died in 1875, Alfred retitled the firm A.H. Belo & Company. For the next decade, employing the latest technology, including what may have been the first telephone line in Texas, Alfred built the News into the most important newspaper in the state. But he already knew that Dallas was the place he needed to be. Having failed in an attempt to purchase the old Dallas Herald, Alfred sent his best man, George Bannerman Dealey, to Dallas to start a new paper. The first edition of the Dallas Morning News hit the streets on October 1, 1885. The Dallas Morning News and the Galveston News were the first newspapers in the United States to publish simultaneous editions. Although the Belo interests sold the newspapers in the 1920s, the parent firm is still known as the Belo Corporation.


The Galveston News, a historic landmark, built by Alfred Horatio Belo in 1885

On June 30, 1868, Alfred married Jeanette “Nettie” Ennis. Their son, Alfred Horatio Belo, Jr. would succeed his father briefly as president of the Belo Company before his own untimely death in 1906. At that point, George Dealey became the general manager of the Belo Company and publisher of the Dallas Morning News. Dealey Plaza, shown on the map above, was named for him.


Left to right: Alfred Horatio Belo, Jr., Nettie Ennis Belo, Jeanette Belo, Alfred Horatio Belo. Nettie’s mother was also named Jeanette, so that name carried down for three consecutive generations.

But Alfred never fully recovered from his war wounds. The Texas heat aggravated his misery to the point that for many years he summered in Asheville, NC. He died in Asheville on April 19, 1901, just a few weeks short of his 62nd birthday. He was buried in the Salem Cemetery. At the funeral, the Forsyth Rifles, the local well regulated militia, fired a salute over his grave.


Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texa



It’s not official until the newspaper of record says so, so now everybody knows that the Pepper Building, at least three times threatened with death by the barbarians, and at least three times saved by the non-barbarians, will be reborn as an Indigo Hotel. We have met all the principals and are impressed by their intelligence and enthusiasm. And we just had a chat with the person who will be dotting and crossing the “i and t” parts to be sure that the architectural history is correct. So now we can move on to produce a big blog post on the complicated and sometimes bizarre history of the building. Watch for it.

The Indigo concept is focused on that history, not just of the building, but also its neighborhood. For the moment, let’s take a quick look at what went on inside the building itself over half a century or so.


The Davis-McCollum Department Store opened Hallowe’en week, 1928. The night before, an open house drew about 3,000 local citizens eager to see the Twin City’s latest wonder.

In the beginning, it was the Davis-McCollum Department Store, one of the finest and most glamorous in the South. But thanks to the fall of Wall Street in October, 1929, that did not last long. In an attempt to save the concept, the original owners handed it off to the first manager, renamed the Van Dyke Department Store, but it could not be saved. By 1932, the building was standing empty, and would remain so until later in the 1930s.


Once the Pepper family gained control of the building in the 1930s, the Huntley Hill Stockton furniture company occupied most of the building for the next decade.


From the early 1940s until around 1960, WAIR radio occupied the fifth floor of the Pepper Building. There, Gil Stamper, “Uncle Gil” to his fans, produced a live country music show and dance from noon to 1 PM, Monday through Saturday.


This 1951 photo shows shoppers on Fourth Street, with the S&M Clothiers store in the background on the first floor of the Pepper Building.

At  this point, the sixth floor had become the heart of the community, with offices occupied by the Community Chest, Family & Child Services, the Junior League, Social Services Exchange, the Girl Scout Council, the Community Council & the Community Radio Council.

And other office space was filled by some of the top lawyers in the Twin City, including Fred Crumpler, Elledge & Mast, Deal Hutchins & Minor, Edward S. Heefner, Gaither Jenkins, Odell Wagner, Fred Parrish, William H. Boyer, Ransom Averitt and one of the city’s most venerable firms, Craige Parker Brawley Lucas & Hendrix, whose later partner Tom Ross would become president of the University of North Carolina.

Until 1963, there had never been a restaurant in the building. The basement space had been reserved for the building’s management and maintenance force. But in 1964, Elton S. Hudson and John J. Ingle, Jr. completely renovated the basement space and opened The Beefeater, Ltd.


The Beefeater, Ltd. was a high end restaurant, featuring oysters on the half shell and Oysters Rockefeller, and other rare dishes, presenting a challenge to the long time favorites at the Town Steak House and Staley’s Charcoal Steak House, but the concept was not quite working.


So in early 1966, Elton Hudson acquired a new partner, Jack Snyder, repurposed the restaurant for a younger, more vibrant audience and renamed it The Red Lion. Unfortunately, Winston-Salem was not quite ready for that either.


The Red Lion closed in the fall of 1966. It was soon acquired by the Kerrigan family and reopened in 1967 under the management of Jack Kerrigan as the Sir Winston Restaurant. That one worked, having a long run as one of the Twin City’s best restaurants.



Sketch of Bethania by Miss Emma Lehman shows, left to right, the 1807 church, the 1770 Geminhaus (later removed to make way for the parsonage), and the first house in Bethania (1759) built by Gottfried Grabs.

Emma Augusta Lehman was born in 1841 in Bethania, NC to Eugene C. and Amanda Sophia Butner Lehman. Her father operated a general store and owned one slave, a man in his 40s. Her parents were both readers and her father was a member of the county school board and an election judge. Emma was a brilliant child, with wide ranging interests. When she had finished what schooling was available in Bethania, she was sent to the Salem Female Academy at age 13, completing the course there three years later, in 1857.


Miss Emma’s father ran a general store in Bethania. After his death in 1856, his son took over, eventually forming a partnership with the Kapp family.

Beverly Jones was a country doctor who had married the daughter of the wealthiest man in Bethania, Abraham Conrad. Even though she was only 16, Doctor Jones persuaded Emma to take over the school near his plantation. Some of Emma’s students were older than she was. She was a tiny woman, so most of them were taller as well. But she had an innate talent for teaching and discipline, so things went well. A few years later, one of her uncles persuaded her to switch to his school in Mt. Airy.


John Benjamin Chitty’s headstone in the Bethania Moravian God’s Acre

Meanwhile, Emma had gotten to know a young man who worked as a clerk for her father. At some point, she became engaged to marry John Benjamin Chitty. She had a plan…she would marry Benjamin, teach until they had children, then live in the bosom of her family in her hometown…Benjamin would join her brother in running the store…and they would all live happily ’til death did them part. But that plan fell apart before the wedding bells could sound, on August 30, 1863, when Benjamin suddenly died. We do not know the cause of death. Some sources have claimed that he was killed in the Civil War, but there is no record of his having served in the Confederate army.


Salem Female Academy, 1858

Devastated, Emma cut her dark curly hair short, moved into the Single Sisters house in Salem and joined the faculty of the Salem Female Academy in the fall of 1864. She was 23 years old. From that moment until her death 58 years later, she was married only to the Academy and the hundreds of girls who would become her proteges.


This 1856 photograph shows five members of the Salem Female Academy faculty. Left to right, with years served: Elizabeth Chitty (1856-78), Louisa Herman (1849-60), Olivia Warner (1844-56), Theophilia Welfare (1852-63) and Maria Vogler (1853-82). Sisters Chitty and Vogler were still around when Miss Emma arrived.

From the start, Emma taught a wide range of courses. Her principal interest was literature, but she would also teach botany, astronomy, general sciences, philosophy and other subjects, while also serving for a time as the Academy’s part time librarian. But her greatest influence would be instilling the spirit of what it meant to be a Salem girl.


In 1864, the Academy consisted chiefly of two buildings, the original building, begun in 1803 and completed in 1805, and the newer building, begun in 1854 and completed in 1856. At the time, they were known simply as “the old Academy” and “the new Academy”. By the time Emma retired in 1916, so many new buildings had been built that that nomenclature no longer worked and the the original buildings had been renamed South Hall and Main Hall.

The curriculum in 1864 was what might be called “domestic science”…cooking, cleaning, sewing, gardening, handwriting and general household management…in other words, a course in how to get married. Even then, it maintained a high degree of expectation, and many of the girls learned how to teach and so did not immediately marry, ending up teaching in town and country schools or cycling back into the Academy faculty. But at some point, one or more of the girls must have said “Maybe I don’t want to get married. Maybe I don’t want to teach. Maybe I want to go into the business world. Maybe I want to learn how to be independent.” That led to the establishment of the business curriculum, which quickly became one of the most popular areas. There the girls learned bookkeeping, stenography, telegraphy, business law and how a business actually worked…skills that would allow them to escape the need to marry just any old body and wait until the right man came along. Maybe even to create their own businesses and become entirely independent of the status quo. That was certainly a radical idea.


The first certificate awarded by the Academy, October, 1807

For over seventy years, the Academy never granted any kind of diploma, just certificates of attendance. The classes were arranged by years, from youngest to oldest. A girl who finished the course had the equivalent of a middle school education. But after the Civil War, higher classes were organized. In 1878, a senior class was created, and for the first time, high school level diplomas were awarded. But most importantly, Miss Emma Lehman was put in charge of the senior class, permanently. Once that happened, nothing would ever be the same at the Salem Female Academy.


The Academy, 1877. Inspector’s House (Principal’s home and offices) at left. At right is the Single Sisters’ House and Salem Square.

Miss Emma was tiny, and even a bit on the frail side, but she was an accomplished teacher and a strict disciplinarian. The girls quickly learned that she would brook no nonsense. But Miss Emma was totally devoted to her girls…she wanted them to have a first rate education, but she also wanted them to have fun doing it. Diplomas meant commencement exercises and commencement exercises meant caps and gowns. Miss Emma turned that into fun.

Each fall, when the seniors registered for their final year, they were measured and their caps and gowns were ordered. As the date of arrival neared, usually the first week of October, the girls began checking the mail room daily, even hourly, for the shipment. When the boxes finally showed up, the word went out. The girls were allowed to put on their caps and gowns, and Miss Emma, sometimes accompanied by the headmaster, would lead them on a mile long hike up Main Street to the courthouse square in Winston, where they would take a victory lap before returning to the Academy, stopping at the gate to sing the alma mater and give their class yell.


Hat burning, 1916

At some point, that ceremony acquired a second, equally cherished, component. After dark, the other girls, the faculty and staff would gather on the playground, later on the basketball field. The seniors would emerge from their quarters, clad in their new caps and gowns, and march solemnly to the playground, where some wood had been prepared. The president of the senior class would light the bonfire and then the seniors would file past, each one dropping an old everyday straw hat into the flames. Hat burning became a sacred part of Academy life.

But what really set Miss Emma apart was the hallmark of all good leaders…she led by example. In 1889, when it was rare for women to travel anywhere on their own, she led a group of students from the Academy and other area schools on a visit to the Paris Exposition and other European sites. And when she returned, she wrote and published a book about her adventure. In 1892, the first comprehensive compilation of American poets was published. It consisted of hundreds of pages. Miss Emma had her own page, complete with a picture and brief biography along with her best known poem “Sunset on Pilot Mountain.” In 1904, Miss Emma published a book of her selected poems. She also wrote a number of historical sketches of her hometown and of the Academy.


The Victorian era, propelled by Charles Darwin’s writings on evolution, became the first age of popular science. So, of course, Miss Emma became a scientist, combing the countryside around Salem and Winston in quest of new species of fungi. In the 1890s, she found what she thought might be a new one at Roaring Gap. She carefully packed her find and shipped it to the state biologist of New York, who agreed that it was a new species and named it for her, Monotropsis lehmani.

Miss Emma was determined that her girls would understand everything about everything. Each year, she took her seniors on tours of the local tobacco factories, cotton and woolen mills, iron and wagon and carriage works, ice and electric and gas power plants, the railroad, the streetcar line, printing houses and other businesses and the county courthouse and any other place she thought they might learn something. In 1897, the Fries Power & Manufacturing Company built a dam at Idols on the Yadkin River and became one of the first companies in the South to transmit electric power over a significant distance. Among the first to take the tour were Miss Emma’s girls. A few days later, an article appeared in the local papers about the tour. The parts explaining how the power plant worked were clearly written by Miss Emma, no doubt with the assistance of her girls.

By then, the Academy had developed a sophisticated curriculum, consisting of a preparatory program, divided into four parts, lettered from D to A, and the regular Academy program, divided into four years and leading to a diploma. Younger girls were tested in many subjects, then admitted to the appropriate preparatory level, where flexibility prevailed…if a girl was doing top work in math, say, she could work at a different level in math than she was actually assigned to otherwise.

The Academy program itself was rigorous:


The curriculum, 1892-93. The term “college year” is somewhat misleading. This was a high school level curriculum, almost identical to the course of study in the upper grades of the Winston public schools, which were considered to be among the best in the South.

Plus a mixture of other subjects, including philosophy and the social sciences. Many of the jokes produced by the girls in the early Academy yearbooks involve, as one might expect, psychology.

All of this got you what might be considered a high school diploma. In 1890, a “post” year was introduced. A girl who had her diploma could return for a year or more of special interest classes. Upon successful completion of that, she could be granted the AB degree. Eight ABs were granted the first year.


All along, there had been classes in music, both instrumental and vocal, and the various visual arts. In fact, those areas had been perhaps the most important, signature, part of the Academy. By the late 19th century, Academy commencement had become a week long endeavor, featuring a series of concerts and recitals and art exhibits and dramatic productions and debates and receptions that dominated the Twin City in late May. The school was the pride and joy of the community and attendance at all events was standing room only.

In 1913, to celebrate the consolidation of the two towns into the city of Winston-Salem, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West made its first appearance in the city. The promoters were disappointed by the attendance and complained that most of those who showed up seemed to be the less wealthy denizens of the rural areas. Well, that is because they scheduled it during Academy commencement week. There was no way that authentic American Indians and bucking broncos and trick shooters could compete with a bunch of smart, attractive and talented Academy girls.

Meanwhile, the Academy also promoted health and vigor. Physical education classes became a standard feature of Academy life after the Civil War. The girls were expected to attend several classes per week. After Dr. James Naismith invented basketball in the late 1890s, the hoops game became something of a mania at the Academy.


In 1910, as Thanksgiving approached, the freshman girls apparently did a bit of trash talking about  the sophomores. The sophs said nothing back, waiting to give their answer on the field on Thanksgiving Day…both the highest score and the worst beating ever administered to that time.

In those days, the girls did not go home for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving weekend became, for the Academy, the March Madness of its time. There was a basketball court inside the gymnasium, but the main court was outside, east of Annex Hall, and known as the “basketball field”, which was always used except in inclement weather. At Thanksgiving, a tournament was played. The first game pitted the freshgirls against the sophomores. The second saw the juniors take on the seniors. Then the winners played for that year’s school championship and the Haynes cup. If that wasn’t intense enough for you, the day was capped by the real thing, the annual showdown between the Euterpean and the Hesperian literary societies, the two most important organizations in the school…a true blood match.

See “The Madness began in November, not March…”

In 1914, Miss Emma celebrated her 50th year teaching at the academy. During commencement week, at the annual meeting of the Alumni Association, her “old girls”, as they called themselves, presented Miss Emma with a loving cup filled with gold coins. An ordinary person might have put those coins in the bank. Miss Emma turned them over to the school administration and told them to build a memorial to the class of 1914. Instead, they built some memorial steps to her at the front of Annex Hall.

Miss Emma answered the bell at the start of classes in 1915, but in mid-year, a small article appeared in the local papers, stating that she had suffered a severe health setback, but was recovering nicely. At the end of classes in 1916, she retired, having taught 52 years at the Salem Female Academy and College. But she continued to live in her rooms in the Single Sisters House and remained deeply involved in the affairs of the Academy. In 1917, for the first time since 1864, she failed to appear at a major campus event, sending instead a message that was read aloud to those attending. This became the pattern for the next few years. On November 7, 1922, the local papers announced that Miss Emma had died. A look at her almost unreadable death certificate tells us that she had probably had a heart attack in 1915, and had been slowly declining ever since.

A brief and touching memorial service was held at her rooms in the Single Sisters House, where the old Sunday school favorite, “Jesus Makes My Heart Rejoice” was sung by all. She was then buried at her home, the Bethania God’s Acre.


The following Sunday, a public vesper service was held at Memorial Hall. Dean H.A. Shirley gave an organ recital to honor Miss Emma’s devotion to music, and selections from her published poems were read.

From her appointment as head of the senior girls in 1878, Miss Emma had always handed out the diplomas at commencement. When she retired, she had done that close to one thousand times…so figure that one thousand grateful old girls mourned her passing.


In preparing this post, I gathered far too many images to show here, but they will not be wasted…stay tuned for a look at life on the Salem Female Academy & College Campus, 1870s-1910s, which will include a great picture of my all-time favorite class mascot and even a poem about him. Coming soon to a blog near you.

As always, most images can be seen at full size by clicking on them.

So someone sends me this picture and wants to know what Cedar Avenue is or was…


I mention this to several people and am surprised to find that none of them have ever heard of Cedar Avenue either…I decide to do a little amateur poll…so far I’ve asked about 60 people…not one knew anything about Cedar Avenue…so here is the story.

The Moravians began construction of Salem in 1766. On June 7, 1771, John Birkhead became the first Salemite to die and was interred in God’s Acre, about a block north of the church. Eva Anna Berothin (Beroth), who died on September 3, 1773, became the first woman interred there. A path led from the church to the graveyard. Around the time of the first burials, someone began planting cedar trees along both sides of the path. By 1813, the church diary reported that there were plans to fill in all the empty spaces to make two complete rows from the church to the graveyard entrance.



Cedar Avenue begins just north of Home Moravian Church at Cedarhyrst. Cedarhyrst is a Gothic Revival house built in 1894 for Dr. Nathaniel and Eleanor DeSchweinitz Siewers. It was occupied for much of the 20th century by Moravian Bishop Kenneth Pfohl and his wife, Bessie.


Cedar Avenue became an integral part of all Salem Congregation funerals and the annual Easter Sunrise service. And it became a favorite strolling spot every day of the week. Of course, as with any public space, there were a few problems. In 1828 it became necessary for the church to issue a stern warning to those who persisted in cutting branches from the trees. A few years later, handbills had to be posted forbidding bird hunting on the avenue.

But the avenue was, for the most part, the pride of Salem, a slogan that would later be applied to the many postcards depicting Cedar Avenue. It was mentioned frequently in the local newspapers and in poems. An example:


From the start, Cedar Avenue became a haven for sledders. After a January 1893 snow, three of the Twin City’s most distinguished citizens, John Cameron Buxton (noted lawyer and chairman of the school board), Robert B. Glenn (future governor of NC), and James A. Gray (president of Wachovia National Bank) were persuaded to have a go. They all piled on one sled and made a run. They liked it so much that they made another, and another, and another, until finally the driver lost control and they wrecked. Gray was at the bottom of the pile and a local newspaper reported that bystanders feared the worst, but when the other two had risen, Gray was found to be “not quite dead.” Below, l-r, Gray, Buxton, Glenn.


In 1874, one of the oldest trees died. A new tree was planted to replace it, but failed to grow. As other trees died, their replacements would not grow either. Since the avenue was near the railroad, which had opened in 1873, some blamed soot from the railway engines. But that was ridiculous, because other nearby cedars remained unaffected. As each tree died, its wood was harvested and often turned into souvenirs, which explains the 1895 chest that inspired this post. Expert arborists were brought in, but none could explain why cedar trees would no longer grow on Cedar Avenue.


The 1918 removal. The last tree fell at 3:30 PM on Friday, November 1, 1918.

By 1918, the situation was so bad that the church decided to cut down all of the remaining cedars and start over. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the cedars were to be replaced by a hardier species, willow oaks. There has been some confusion about that, because in later years other sources reported that it was red oaks or some other species. In any case, since oaks are slow growing, it was decided to intersperse fast growing Lomabardy poplars in the gaps. As the oaks matured, the poplars were removed. By the mid-20th century, Cedar Avenue had become an avenue of grand oak trees.


The removal of the cedar trees had been carried out quietly. Few people, especially in Winston, knew what had happened. At the beginning of the project, there was a power pole on Cemetery Street which had a guy wire that passed too close to one of the cedars. A new guy wire was attached and anchored to a nearby stone wall. A few days after the last tree was cut, a boy happened along, spotted the new guy wire and decided it would make a nice jungle gym. As he swung, the power pole bent toward him. Finally, he let go and the guy wire sprung upward…the pole bent wildly…electric wires touched each other…there was a bright flash of light and a crack like thunder and the entire town of Winston went dark…factories, stores, the hospital, city hall…the streetcars ground to a halt…of course, as the electric company folks worked to fix the problem, a large crowd gathered at the source of the bright flash of light. So when the lights finally came back on, suddenly everyone knew that the cedars had been removed.


Salem Square, May 5, 1989

But then, disaster struck. In early May, 1989, a huge storm spawned an outbreak of tornadoes in the mid-Atlantic region. Winston-Salem was struck by an F2 tornado. Then an F3 touched down near Clemmons and wreaked havoc all the way to Walkertown. Much damage was done, none worse than in Salem, where a number of the mighty trees on Salem Square succumbed, along with about 80 trees on Cedar Avenue. So once again, the Salem Congregation decided to start over. After the debris was removed, they made a daring decision to replant with cedars. Just to be safe, they interspersed those with Holly trees. It worked.


The north entrance to Cedar Avenue abuts Cemetery Street. There was once a stile here to prevent entry by horses and wagons. At the right is the Fogle Apartments, built by Fogle Brothers in the 1890s. It is now a dormitory for Salem College, housing six students in each three bedroom unit



Congregants stroll past Cedarhyrst at Easter, 1957

Images of Cedar Avenue over the years:



Tom Hege, a noted local photographer, made this image around 1894. That is him leaning against the post. He used a variety of remote devices to put himself in the picture.













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