An Architectural Walking Tour of Downtown Winston-Salem
Sunday, September 19 2:00 pm

The R. J. Reynolds Building, 1960s

This Sunday looks like it’s going to be a warm and pretty day to get out for a walk with special On the Same Page guest Rence Callahan. Callahan, architect with Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce, in cooperation with the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, will show off Winston-Salem’s own downtown architectural heritage. The  tour will begin in the Chatham Building lobby, 305 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem.

In 1929, only a year before Dashiell Hammett published The Maltese Falcon, the R.J. Reynolds Building, shown to the left, won a major architectural award. The New York architectural firm Shreve & Lamb accepted the 1929 American Institute of Architect’s Building of the Year award for Winston-Salem’s first skyscraper which showcased the up-to-the-minute elegance of Art Deco style in a Winston-Salem that was experiencing a period of tremendous prosperity and influence in North Carolina. If you are new to the area and don’t actually know, I bet you suspect what actually is the case, that Shreve & Lamb’s Reynolds Building is a prototype for the Empire State Building in New York City, completed in 1931.

If you are around my age and grew up in this area, your iconic visual memory of Winston-Salem may well be approaching the city as a child and being awestruck by our two side-by-side skycrapers, the Reynolds Building and its younger brother, the Winston-Tower, formerly the Wachovia Building, completed in 1966. (Before several other of our distinctive high rises joined the skyline!) And if so, then you grew up with two examples of distinct architectural directions in the twentieth century.

Reynolds and Wachovia buildings, 1965

From our tour leader, Rence Callahan: “The primary objective of [our tour and soon-to-be-published book] 20th Century Architecture in Downtown Winston-Salem is to identify and celebrate the rich architectural heritage of Winston-Salem’s walkable downtown.  The city’s urban center over the 20th Century has produced a rich collection of interesting buildings whose architecture mirrors national design trends of their time.  Many of those buildings are currently overlooked, however, and it is the intent of this [tour] to enlighten the larger public to that rich architectural heritage.”

Please feel welcome to come out walking Sunday, to look up, and to look around, and find a fuller picture of what’s special about Winston-Salem’s historical built environment.

Interested in seeing more of historic Winston-Salem?

Winston-Salem’s Tallest Buildings is a fun website, picture-rich, dedicated to our city, its architecture and its neighborhoods. The “Postcards” section has some nice skyline views of downtown in the 1920s. Also a user forum if you’re inclined to discuss related issues.

Don’t miss Digital Forsyth. This amazing collection of photographs from Forsyth County’s history is now digitized and online. One of Forsyth County Public Library’s online resources, this amazing collection is the result of cooperation between the library, Old Salem Museum and Gardens, Winston-Salem State University’s C.G. O’Kelly Library, and Wake Forest University’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library and Coy C. Carpenter Medical Library. Digital Forsyth’s photos are completely searchable, or, you can just browse through and be surprised. The resource is also community oriented, with the ability to join and contribute your own photographs through Digital Forsyth’s Flickr photo group, or leave your comments, stories and memories.

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