Winston-Salem is a city in North Carolina. It is often referred to as the “Twin City” for its dual heritage, although “Camel City” is another popular nickname, referring to the city’s prominent tobacco industry (after Camel cigarettes). Many locals, however, use the shortened name “Winston” in informal speech. Winston-Salem is the home of Wake Forest University, a nationally distinguished private university, recently named the best law school in the southeast.
Winston Salem Overview
The Old Salem district and related Historic Bethabara site are the city’s oldest historical attractions. Also of historical interest is Reynolda Village (which includes Reynolda Gardens and the Reynolda House Museum of American Art). Other sites of interest include the Horne Creek Historic Farm, Tanglewood Park, the SciWorks educational facility, and SECCA, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. The city’s major sports and entertainment venues are organized in a group known as the Winston-Salem Entertainment-Sports Complex.
Winston Salem History
The origin of the town of Salem dates back to January 1753, when Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg, on behalf of the Moravian Church, selected a settlement site in the three forks of Muddy Creek. He called this area “die Wachau” (Latin form: Wachovia) named after the Austrian estate of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, Wachovia Bank takes its name from this area where it was founded. The land, just short of 99,000 acres, was subsequently purchased from John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville.
A house near Old Salem with the Wachovia Center skyscraper in the background.On November 17, 1753, the first settlers arrived at what would later become the town of Bethabara. This town, despite its rapid growth, was not designed to be the primary settlement on the tract. Instead, lots were drawn to select among suitable sites for the location of a new town.
The town established on the chosen site was given the name of Salem (from the Arabic word Salam for “peace”) chosen for it by the Moravians’ late patron, Count Zinzendorf. On 6 January, 1766, the first tree was felled for the building of Salem. Salem was a typical Moravian settlement congregation with the public buildings of the congregation grouped around a central square, today Salem Square. These included the Church, a Brethren’s House and a Sisters’ House for the unmarried members of the Congregation, which owned all the property in town. For many years only members of the Moravian Church were permitted to live in the settlement. This practice had ended by the American Civil War. Many of the original buildings in the settlement have been restored or rebuilt and are now part of Old Salem. Salem Square and “God’s Acre”, the Moravian Graveyard, are the site each Easter Morning of the world famous Moravian sunrise service. This service, sponsored by all the Moravian church parishes in the City, attracts thousands of worshippers each year and has earned the name of “the Easter City” for Winston-Salem.
In 1849 the town of Winston was founded, named after a local hero of the Revolutionary War, Joseph Winston, who was well-known in the town of Salem. Shortly thereafter both Winston and Salem were incorporated into the newly formed Forsyth County. It thrived as an industrial town, producing tobacco products, furniture and textiles. In 1851 Winston was designated the county seat, and, with plans to connect the cities of Winston and Salem, the county courthouse square was placed just one mile (1.6 km) north of Salem’s square.
C.E. Bennett’s Bottling Works in Salem
In 1889, the United States Post Office Department combined the mail offices for the two towns, and the towns were officially joined as “Winston-Salem” in 1913.
The Reynolds family, namesake of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, played a large role in the history and public life of Winston-Salem.