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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 5, 2019, 4:51 PM
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North Carolina 2019: WINSTON-SALEM

The first half of 2019 was the most North Carolina-y of my life. Between January and the 4th of July, I visited the state on 5 separate occasions, all to different destinations. This is the second thread of what will be a multi-part series. The first thread was Durham.

Here's Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem is another one of these mid-size NC cities.

Like clockwork, I go to Winston-Salem every 5 years. Each time I spend an afternoon walking around downtown, which gets better every time. The downside of this arrangement is that I don't take the same pictures every time, and my basic get-to-know-the-city pictures are from my first visit, in 2009. They're low-res and not really worth posting (you can see them on Flickr if you want). So the pictures you'll get here are not necessarily a completely representative tour. But hopefully they're nice anyway.

The epiphany I had about Winston-Salem on this most recent trip, is that it's kind of the ideal car-oriented city. It's old and big enough to have some interesting urbanity (unlike more suburban places), but it's small enough that there's no traffic and you can drive anywhere in 20 minutes. It's easy to understand how 20th Century city planners would look at a place like this and think cars in cities made a lot of sense. Scale the place up to Charlotte size and that breaks down, but with only a few hundred thousand people in the urbanized area, it's pretty convenient.

Here's the skyline. It's kind of amusing to me that there's basically one large building from every major skyscraper architectural era. The white post-modern building with the dome is the tallest, at 460 feet.




The skyscrapers mostly cluster in the southern end of downtown, which ends up being pretty office-park-esque. The largest buildings take up an entire block, and many are surrounded by landscaping.

The northern end of downtown is more walkable & interesting. 4th Street and Trade Street are nice retail main streets. Trade in particular is an arts district with a lot of indie art stores.

This is the corner of Trade & 4th:




6th & Trade:




There's even bikeshare:




Right near the center of downtown there's a nice central bus station. I have no idea about the quality of bus service, but the station is good. Better than a lot of cities twice this size.






Sadly there are no trains to Winston-Salem. North Carolina's state-supported Amtrak line goes from Raleigh to Greensboro to Charlotte, but bypasses Winston-Salem in order to reach Charlotte faster. I really think there should at least be a spur to Winston-Salem. The tracks are there, and a nice station building. Unfortunately the station is a mile or so outside downtown, so maybe that contributes to not providing trains.

Here's the station. The photo is from 2014 when a renovation was just beginning. It's about to re-open, but still won't have trains. When I'm there again in 2024 I'll have to check it out.




On the outskirts of downtown there are a lot of old brick warehouses, from Winston's more industrial past. This is actually the back of the train station, but you get the idea.




A mile or so south of downtown lies Old Salem. "Winston-Salem" used to be two cities, Winston and Salem. Downtown is where Winston was centered, and Old Salem is where Salem was centered.

Old Salem is centered around a little town square. On the south side of the square it's a living history museum, kind of like Colonial Williamsburg. The bigger buildings on the north side are Salem College, the oldest women's college in the US that's still a women's college. It's very picturesque.








A few miles northwest of downtown lies Wake Forest University. I've never stopped there. Just off campus, however, is Reynolda Garden and Village. Named for the Reynolds family of cigarette fortune, Reynolda is the Versailles (or Biltmore) of Winston-Salem: A nice formal garden from the historic monied class, now open to the public.


















Reynolda Village dates from the 1910s and has cute shops and cafes. I'm not sure whether it was originally working out-buildings from the Reynolda house & garden, or whether it was always built as a sort of tourist village. It's cute.






That's pretty much it for pictures. As a parting shot, I'll leave you with this one from a dinner party outside town at a -- wait for it -- llama farm.




Thanks for reading!
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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 5, 2019, 4:59 PM
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Reynolda House is one of the most comfortable homes I've ever visited, and had I the money, I'd want to design a house for myself as close as possible to its aesthetic. They took great pains at Reynolda to marry the indoors to the outdoors, which was a notion very far ahead of its time back when that house was built.

Nice to see Old Salem represented, also! It bears noting that Old Salem actually has more authentic colonial buildings still standing than does Williamsburg.
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Old Posted Aug 5, 2019, 5:19 PM
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Nice!
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Old Posted Aug 5, 2019, 7:56 PM
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my father was a traveling consultant (peoplesoft) during my childhood, and we occasionally got to visit the places in which he was working for extended periods. i remember us all flying to GSO in the summer of '96 (still a kid from florida at the time) and just exploring the town, even as a family. my younger brother and i did a lot of walking around old salem, which was definitely memorable.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 1:09 AM
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Nice tour!
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2019, 5:18 AM
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Thank you for posting this!

Some of these photographs are very old. Like the Efird's Building is now renovated into office space and an eclectic home furnishings and collectables store and this was before the downtown medical school was built. All of the old warehouses in that area are renovated into tech offices, residences, and university classrooms. A development company called Wexford Science + Technology owns the entire eastern third of downtown, including land banked future development sites for their mixed-use innovation district. Sadly, it keeps other developers from infilling those sites. We have for Wexford to sign tenants and build on them, but they are close to building on two more sites, soon.

The Reynolda Neighborhood has the city's three top museums, including a nationally respected American Art Museum (inside architect Charles Barton Keen's Reynolda House), Museum of Anthropology, and SECCA (in the Hanes Mansion). There are more historic mansions in the Reynolda Neighborhood, including an old house moved from South Carolina by a wealthy family and an interesting home converted into a luxury hotel and conference center that was designed around entire rooms and architectural antiques purchased from the family's world travels. It's best described as a French castle. The entrance to the mansion is a hand-carved 15th century stone doorway from France and I think the cardroom is the wooden interior of a mosque from Turkey. Much of the woodwork is from old structures in Paris. I don't think you could do something like that today? It was featured in Fortune magazine in 1930 or 1931 and is across the street from Reynolda House. I would prefer to stay at the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel though, which was the model for the Empire State Building and has signed proof from the ESB on display in the lobby. They have a massive playroom in the basement, with a slide, bowling, and games and it's in downtown.

Union Station was restored into a museum, with the city's DOT moving into the ground floor of the three storey building next month. They restored it so the state could extend Amtrack service to it and for any future local/regional rail transit. Until then, it will become a museum with restaurants/retail and city DOT offices. It will have a place to watch trains and listen to train radios, in addition to train history items on display.

The next time you visit, there is a bike commuter path being constructed along a highway, with tunnels, bridges, and state renderings show flyover ramps where two bike paths intersect. This is under construction, along with a park at that intersection. The old industrial buildings are the nation's fastest growing innovation district and in the middle of them you'll find Winston-Salem's version of the High Line and there is a Low Line project at the power plant, connecting to an office and retail building under construction. I think you would find these interesting. This city tries to do everything right and involves the well-organized cycling community in decisions.

The llama farm is a winery started by architects. It's called Devine Llama Vineyards. Winston-Salem is located in the Yadkin Valley AVA and has wineries in every county in the Winston-Salem metro area, including a winery in the city limits and two along the southwest edge of the city. I think there are two or three AVA appellations in metro Winston-Salem and it's the North Carolina's wine country.

I apologize for such a long response. Thank you for sharing these. It's been a few years since this city had a photography thread in this section.
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Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 4:07 AM
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Nice pictures! Winston-Salem always seems like a nice city. it also seems like you described: big enough for much of what you want, but small enough that there are no hassles.

That building with the dome is easily recognizable from commercial flights. For some reason, I'll always fly over Winston-Salem on my way to Florida or beyond.
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Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 4:14 AM
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The domed building is the work of Cesar Pelli. It's the biggest Moravian-Revival building in the world. Moravian-Revival is a local architectural style, dating back around a century ago, based on the colonial and early-American architecture from the Moravians. The dome is a rosebud from the gardens, made from Moravian arches. You'll also see the Moravian Star and details taken from neighboring buildings. It was the tallest building constructed in the United States in 1995.

Now that I'm more awake. About the bus station...

There is talk of moving half or everything there to the restored Union Station. I'm not sure if they will or not. Developers are pushing the city to move it and sell the site, which is now worth millions. The structure is two-storeys, was completed in 1996, and won an award for the design. The top floor is a traffic command center and the city DOT office I said was moving to the ground floor of Union Station. The building is said to be over-crowded at certain times of the day and there is a need for a second bus station. At present, this bus station is a central transfer hub, where you can access almost any place in the nation, as well as many places in the city. It has WSTA local service, PART regional service, Greyhound national service, I've seen half-sized CATS buses for people living in Winston-Salem and working in Charlotte (not sure if they still do this?), and (something you may find interesting) an Amtrack bus to connect the bus station to rail service. The ground floor has etched glass artwork telling the history of mass transit in Winston-Salem, which is interesting. The city had one of the original Sprague System electric streetcar systems, before Edison bought his company in 1890. Safe Bus was the largest African-American owned transportation company, giving the city two bus systems for many decades, and the city still has one of the original buses with the original livery. Camel City Lines was one of the big interstate bus companies that was bought to form Greyhound, giving the city unusually large Greyhound Stations in its past. You'll find artwork from the famed Mr. Imagination along the western side of the bus station.

I have used WSTA and the Clark Cambell Center, but only as a visitor.
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Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 8:20 PM
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Adding a second bus hub would be fine. *Moving* the bus hub--closing the downtown station and relocating the buses to Union Station--would be tantamount to kicking the poor out of downtown, would destroy transit in the city, and would likely trigger a federal probe.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 4:52 AM
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Bus riders are very vocal and don't want any changes. They are concerned everything will move to Union Station, when it opens. They also don't want a second hub, even if it's a beautiful historic building. City Council usually listens to them, so I'm not expecting much, if anything, to change. The second hub was in the original proposal for Union Station's restoration, but when riders said no, the city seemed to back away from it and say nothing will move there. Just local DOT offices. There is a requirement for the building to be used for transportation. They made a promise to residents in the neighborhoods around Union Station that any future streetcar or light rail systems will stop there and that explains why those proposals usually have an extension to Union Station. Proposed streetcar plans show the streetcar repair yard there. Downtown is visioned to grow in the direction of Union Station, due to the innovation district. There is already soil testing (a few weeks ago) for a possible tall building around a third-of-a-mile from Union Station, on the other side of the expressway intersection. Union Station is on the edge of a university campus and WSSU tried to buy it in the 1980s. It's located there due to a now demolished International Rail Port, created through an act of congress over a century ago. It made it difficult to build a larger train station any closer to downtown. That old rail port was once one of the top ports-of-entry into the United States. Only two rail lines and a few pieces of it remain; much of it as fun rail-themed walking and bike paths. One of the rail lines is preserved for future light rail along a bike and walking path.
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Old Posted Aug 22, 2019, 7:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post


This looks like a nice formal garden to visit!
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Old Posted Aug 27, 2019, 8:34 PM
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Nice tour.
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