The first ride of 2016 was our modified WFU route. Instead of basically retracing our route back through the Buena Vista area, we instead took Arbor Road into the northeast neighborhoods to return downtown via Trade Street. In addition to seeing a pretty stark socio-economic divide today, we could also start seeing how the residential neighborhoods began to evolve as the tobacco and textile boom at the turn of the twentieth century started.
Setting out west on Fourth Street, we turn right on Brookstown Avenue and descend into the West End, Winston’s first residential expansion from the downtown. At the bottom of the hill, we turn right and circle around Hanes Park. At the turn of the twentieth century, both of the Hanes brothers had homes in this neighborhood. P.H. Hanes had a home overlooking his dairy farm. Around 1912, he decided to quit farming and develop his land westward for residential expansion. The farm around Peters Creek was on a floodplain, so he conveyed that to the city to become a park. But as we travel up Northwest Blvd turning right to Runnymead, we are entering the land that was developed as West Highland.
We’ll cross over Stratford Road onto Warwick Road and enter land original owned by the other Hanes brother, John, who was also developing his land as Stratford Place. Taking some of the streets parallel to Stratford like Arbor Road and Oaklawn, we will enter yet other land developed in the 1920s with the name Buena Vista. Attractive to families as plans for the construction of Reynolds High School came about, homes were built. In 1924, the city annexed this area. (Trivia: prior to incorporation by Winston Salem, that section of Stratford Road was named Lover’s Lane!)
Moving toward Robinhood Road and across, we’ll see newer, yet still stately homes built during the post-World War II boom. What was certainly seen as rural farmland in the early 1900s was quickly losing ground to city residential expansion. The tobacco and textile millionaires who where building their “country estates” (R.J.Reynolds 1917, Bowman Gray 1927, James Gordon Hanes 1932) in the area we cross through at Graylyn and Reynolda.
This bike route allows an optional spin around the Wake Forest University campus. Wake Forest College was founded in 1834–but about 100 miles east of here in the town of Wake Forest, NC. The Reynolds family offered up about 300 acres their land to relocate the campus here in 1956. (Their 2-year medical school had already relocated here in 1941 to become a 4-year medical school located on the Baptist Hospital grounds, now Wake Forest Medical Center. This was made possible thanks to money bequeathed after Bowman Gray died in 1935. In fact the school’s name was Bowman Gray School of Medicine until 1997 when the connection to tobacco money had become too uncomfortable. Bowman Gray was the president of Reynolds after 1924).
We return back through the Graylyn estate and find our way to Arbor Road at Reynolda Road. We travel along Arbor Road past the former homes of Piedmont Airlines founder Tom Davis and artist Joe King until it becomes 25th Street. We will cross over University Parkway and North Cherry Street before turning south toward downtown. This part of northwest Winston Salem is noted at the “most intact historic African American neighborhoods” in the city by Heather Fearnbach in her architectural heritage book. It was platted as the Alta Vista subdivision in 1927 and developed on into the 1950s.
We cycle over to Kimberly Park and south on Trade Street. After crossing over Glenn Avenue, look for a crossing street on the left named after The Five Royals where members of this Rhythm and Blues band lived. They were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This neighborhood is nicknamed “The Pond” from a flood created by the collapse of a city water reservoir in 1904. A good article about the incident with a lot of oral history of the neighborhood appeared in Yes! Weekly. A historical marker is seen on Trade after crossing Northwest Blvd.
Up we go on this final steep hill and over Eighth Street, through the Downtown Arts District. We’ll cycle on to West Fourth Street, turn right and may stop in to The Washington Perk for refreshments and talk before the last few blocks of the route.