Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Today is the beginning of our “A Southern State of Mind” series! Every now and then, I will highlight a classic Southern city or town. For each place, I will give you the insider’s scoop on where to visit, where to eat, and the history of that place. Originally I was born in Killeen, Texas, but have called Winston-Salem, North Carolina my hometown ever since I was two months old. So, what better way to get this series started than with Winston-Salem?
Winston-Salem, commonly known as the “Twin City,” was originally two separate cities, Winston and Salem. In 1753, the Moravians, a religious group originally from Eastern Europe, traveled from Pennsylvania to the central portion of North Carolina. They settled on more than 100,000 acres and called their new home the Wachovia Tract. Within this tract, in 1766, the Moravians established the town of Salem. This group of people quickly pioneered ways in the arts, culture, and innovation. Because of their highly skilled craftsmen and artisans, the town of Salem became a thriving and sought-after trade center. In addition, Salem’s manufacturing skills played a pivotal and prominent role as a supplier during the American Revolution and the Civil War.
At the same time, a similar Southern industrial center was being formed, just north of Salem. The city of Winston was established in 1851 in honor of Revolutionary war hero and legislator, Major Joseph Winston. But it was not until after the Civil War that the city of Winston was known as a bustling industrial center. With the help of entrepreneurs and business tycoons, R.J. Reynolds and the Hanes family, Winston soon emerged as a national leader in tobacco and textile manufacturing.
The city of Winston and the town of Salem were both successful places on their own and pioneered ways in innovation; however, by 1913, it was clear there was more to be gained from uniting the two cities than remaining separate. The city Winston-Salem was created shortly after and today remains true to it’s independent and innovative roots. Other entrepreneurial successes and big name companies call this Southern city their home, including: Piedmont Airlines (now US Airways), Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation, T.W. Garner Food Company (makers of Texas Pete hot sauce) and Goody’s headache powders.
Nicknamed “the City of Arts and Innovation,” Winston-Salem also became home to the first Arts Council in the United States and created the model for Arts Councils nationwide. Today, Winston-Salem is the fifth largest city in North Carolina and is home to six colleges and universities including Salem College, the longest, continuously running women’s college in the U.S. as well as Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University.
Check back tomorrow and see the classic spots you need stop by when visiting Winston-Salem!