Rich History of Winston-Salem, NC

The history of Winston-Salem, North Carolina dates back to 1753, when a devout, religious group from Eastern Europe called the Moravians immigrated to the American shores. These Moravians were drawn to the North Carolina coast because of its famed, fertile soil and endless possibilities. In 1766 these Moravian settlers established the settlement of Salem. Here the Moravians created a reputation for their city as one of the colony’s centers for innovation, arts, and culture. The Moravians were excellent craftsman and exceled in making furniture, ironworks, tannery, pottery, and clothing. Salem therefore, became one of the colony’s top trading centers through the 18th and into the 19th centuries.

In 1849, the residents of Salem sold some of the city’s land to the county of Forsyth, so that the county could build and establish a county seat. This land was developed into the town of Winston, named after Joseph Winston, a famous Revolutionary War hero. In the late 1800’s the two towns were connected to the North Carolina Railroad. In 1899, the U.S. Post Office moved into Winston. Because of the proximity to Salem, the office began referring to the two together as Winston-Salem. This union remained unofficial until the incorporation of the combined city in 1913.

At the same time as the railroad was moving in, a competition began heating up in North Carolina between the large tobacco companies. Richard Joshua Reynolds had made Winston the home of his tobacco company R.J. Reynolds. The Reynolds’s family and the employees of the tobacco company played an integral role in the establishment of the city we know today. By the 1940’s, over 60 percent of all residents in the city worked for either Reynolds or the Hanes textile factories, which had also made their home in the city. Around this time, the United States designated the city as an official port of entry into the country, even though the city was over 200 miles from the coast. This was because R.J. Reynolds was importing so much French cigarette paper and Turkish tobacco that the city had become the nation’s eight largest import/export center.

In 1920, the city had become the largest in North Carolina. It was even the largest city between Washington D.C. and Atlanta. This meant that commerce and travelers frequently passed through. Businesses such as Wachovia Bank and Trust, Texas Pete, Krispy Kreme, and Piedmont Airlines had mad the city their corporate headquarters and the commercial center of the city began to grow.

Today, the city is the fifth largest in North Carolina. It is home to a thriving commercial and industrial corporate community. The city’s reputation as a home for arts, culture, and innovation still rings true today. This can be seen in the city’s nickname of “the city of arts and innovation”. Over the years the city has gone to great lengths to preserve its rich history and culture. Visitors to the area are sure to find relics of the past on every corner and are even able to walk in the shoes of the Moravian settlers. These twin cities have played and continue to play a significant role in the history of North Carolina and the United States.

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Interested in Learning more about Winston-Salem? Here's some reason's why it's such a great place to live.

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