Created By: Preservation Forsyth
Much of the area that became Centerville, Washington Park, Sunnyside, and Central Terrace belonged to lawyer and politician Augustine Henry Shepperd and his wife Martha during the mid-1800s. Shepherd served one term in the NC State House of Representatives (1822-1826) prior to his 1827 election to the U. S. Congress, where he served 24 years. In 1842, the Shepperds purchased 41 acres of the Moravian’s Wachovia Tract southeast of Salem and commissioned a residence where they lived with their slaves when not in Washington, DC. The estate, known as Good Spring, grew to 230 acres, abutting property owned by Salem Tavern and Dr. Schumann’s plantation that would become the Happy Hill neighborhood. (The spring for which the estate as named was bought by the Salem Water Company in 1890 and connected to a reservoir and pumping station that served the Town of Salem.)
In 1860, Shepperd sold 60 acres to Salem merchant Elias Alexander Vogler, who already owned a contiguous Broadbay Township farm called Sunny Side. Eventually, Vogler would gain an additional 70 acres after Shepperd’s death, creating what was known as the Sunny Side plantation. The plantation was slowly subdivided over the ensuing years, and eventually separated from the Waughtown area by the 1892 Roanoke and Southern Railroad line running north-south.
The earliest settlement in the area of the Sunnyside-Central Terrace Historic District took place in Centerville, immediately north of the district. Centerville was one of several small rural communities that developed during the second quarter of the 1800s as growth spilled over from the community of Waughtown, which began to emerge to the southeast about 1800, and from the older 1766 Moravian town of Salem to the north. The construction of the Roanoke and Southern Railroad by 1892, and of the streetcar line through the district by 1901, brought about dramatic growth and transformed the area into an industrial and residential suburb. (Centerville NR Historic District Nomination, https://files.nc.gov/ncdcr/nr/FY3009.pdf).
The iron bridge carrying the electric trolley line over Salem Creek was built in January 1892, with today’s Sunnyside and Washington Park neighborhoods platted in March 1892 by civil engineer Jacob Lott Ludlow for the Winston-Salem Land & Investment Company. It had been incorporated in 1890 by investors from Winston, Salem, High Point, New Bern, and Goldsboro to include local investors W. A. Blair, Henry Bahnson, T. J. Brown, J. H. Stockton, H. R. Starbuck, A. H. Eller, and Henry E. Fries. The March 1892 plat does not include a subdivision title, although the western section curves around a green space mapped as “Sunny Side Park.” (Today’s Washington Park.)
In October 1893, the Winston-Salem Land & Investment Company transferred the previously unsold land in the Sunnyside/Washington Park plat to Southside Land and Investment Company. This second development company was incorporated in September 1893 by investors that included Henry F. Bahnson, Henry E. Fries, J. H. Stockton, T. J. Brown, W. A. Blair, A. H. Eller, and Jacob L. Ludlow himself. It appears in the county deed Grantor Index as selling many lots in the district between 1894 and 1902. (Bahnson, Eller, and Fries all built significant homes on Cascade Avenue in Washington Park as well.) By 1900, the curvilinear residential area surrounding the park had become known as Washington Park with the grid-plan area to its east as Sunnyside. (Actually, the name for what is today both the Washington Park neighborhood, and the park itself, fluctuates during the early 1900s. This is the “short” version of the more complex story.)
Henry E. Fries figures prominently in both of these land companies as one of the most influential men in Winston-Salem during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A member of the prominent Fries family of Salem, his father Francis L. Fries had founded a woolen mill in Salem in 1840, then the family established the Arista Cotton Mill there in 1880. At his death in 1949, the Winston-Salem Journal reported that H. E. Fries “played a part in almost every major development in Winston-Salem” including holding the office of president in the Arista Cotton Mill, the Winston-Salem Southbound Railroad, the Fries Manufacturing and Power Company, and the Forsyth Manufacturing Company located in Sunnyside. He was an investor in the Winston-Salem Land & Investment Company as well as an original investor in the 1891 Wachovia Development Company that platted the Wachovia Development east of Sunnyside. (Today’s Belview historic district.)
The close coordination of industrial development, transportation networks, and residential development that marked the evolution of Winston-Salem's “Southside” — a name that encompasses the neighborhoods of Waughtown, Belview, Centerville, Sunnyside, Central Terrace, and Washington Park -— was not accidental. The combination of real estate developer, streetcar investor, and industrialist as seen in Henry Elias Fries was a common theme among influential men across the South at the turn of the twentieth century.
Fries intentionally planned for broad-based industry in the city, partly made possible by the completion of the Winston-Salem Southbound Railroad, but also through electricity provided by Fries Manufacturing and Power. The 1900 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows that Forsyth Manufacturing Company and Southside Mills, both located in Sunnyside, were already operating with electric and steam power. Moreover, Fries Manufacturing and Power purchased the Winston streetcar system in 1899, extending the line into Sunnyside and Waughtown by 1901 which, in turn, spurred rapid residential and industrial development in both areas over the next decade.
For instance, Forsyth Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1892, eventually employing about two hundred men in a plant that sprawled over several acres at the intersection of Sunnyside Avenue with Acadia Avenue and Junia Street. By 1900 significant additions had been added to Plant No. 1 and a new dry kiln and lumber shed built. The plant complex was further expanded between 1900 and 1907 and Plant No. 2 built on Junia Avenue east of Sunnyside Avenue by 1917.
The burgeoning furniture industry grew rapidly in the city during the early twentieth century. By about 1906, there were eight furniture firms operating in the city: United States Veneer Company (veneer), Salem Parlor Furniture Company (lounges, couches, etc.), Oakland Manufacturing Company (general line of furniture), Winston Furniture Company (desks), Forsyth Chair Company (chairs and rockers), Forsyth Iron Bed Company (brass and iron bedsteads), Forsyth Furniture Company (general line of furniture), and Forsyth Manufacturing Company (chairs).
Furniture proved an important part of the city's diverse economy, which in 1913 included 200 separate manufactured products. By 1928, furniture manufacturing was Winston-Salem’s second largest industry with four of the above firms located in Sunnyside. The 1900 Forsyth Chair Company built a plant at the northwest corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Acadia Avenue, just above Forsyth Manufacturing while the 1902 Forsyth Iron Bed Company built its plant on Sunnyside Avenue immediately south of the Forsyth Manufacturing Company site. Today it is the only furniture industry structure still standing in Sunnyside.
Additional companies sprang up near the rail corridor, and with the construction of a westward rail spur paralleling Junia Avenue in 1914, industry flourished in the Haled/ Junia/ Glendale streets area. In all, nine businesses were built in Sunnyside during the early twentieth century, including Southside Cotton Mills (1895); Southside Roller Mills (by 1912); Southside Lumber Co. (by 1917); Forsyth Dining Room & Furniture Co. (by 1917); C. M. Thomas & Co. Coal Yard (by 1917); Fogle Furniture Co. (by 1928); Phillips Lumber Company's Planing Mill (by 1928); and Crystal Ice Company's Plant No. 3 (by 1928). Many of the employee’s at these companies were local, so large numbers of houses were built to accommodate them. Many modestly-sized, free-standing houses were constructed during the first quarter of the 1900s in both the Sunnyside development, and the Wachovia Development on the east side of the Winston-Salem Southbound tracks, today known as Belview.
The Sunnyside neighborhood developed as an unusual mix of industrial areas, workers' housing, middle income housing, and a few homes for affluent families. Worker housing tended to be concentrated in the vicinity of Southside Mills on Goldfloss Street while the choice building lots on Sprague Street, which carried the streetcar line, contained the few large, high style houses. These affluent homeowners were not the norm along Sprague Street by the 1920s, nor in any other part of the historic district. Most residents worked in the city’s major factories, in sales, or in the trades.
The Central Terrace development was platted in 1912 on a relatively small tract of land between Sunnyside and Washington Park to the west by Henry E. Fries and W. A. Lemly, trustees. These two men, along with W. A. Wright, formed the Central Terrace Company which was incorporated on June 3, 1918. The Central Terrace Company is listed as a grantor in Forsyth County deed books from 1918 through 1927. By the latter date, the neighborhood was largely built out.
Unlike Sunnyside, Central Terrace was entirely residential except for one church and two small corner stores: the circa 1925 Central Terrace Pay and Tote located at 201 East Devonshire Street and Jones Grocery built about 1935 at 2123 South Main Street. Central Terrace, and likely many sections of Sunnyside as well, were served by traveling merchants every Saturday morning. This pattern was typical of Winston-Salem's suburban neighborhoods. During the 1940s, two men traveled regularly through Central Terrace; one selling country hams and the other selling produce from his farm. Milk was also delivered door-to-door.
Supporting the new residents moving into Sunnyside and Central Terrace during the early twentieth century was a wave of institutional development beginning with the 1911-12 construction of Trinity Moravian Church’s sanctuary at 220 East Sprague Street. The nearby brick Pine Chapel Moravian Church was constructed in 1928, replacing an earlier wooden sanctuary built between 1900 and 1907. (A wing on the original church housed a public school in 1912.) The close proximity of Pine Chapel to Trinity Moravian suggests both a rapidly growing congregation and a desire to have a separate church for the community surrounding the mill. The division between the middle class suburban neighborhood and lower-income mill worker housing found nearer Southside Mill was clearly demarcated. A resident who moved into his home on Stockton Street in 1940 recalled Lomond Street as the dividing line between the two areas.
The third church located within the historic district is the Central Terrace United Methodist Church. Established in 1901 as Southside Methodist Episcopal Church, this congregation, like that of Southside Baptist Church and Trinity Moravian Church, initially met in the Centerville School auditorium. (The corner of Wood and Vargrave Streets.) Its first sanctuary was completed on Sprague Street at Dacian Street in 1902 and served until the larger facility was built on East Devonshire Street at Stockton Street in 1924-1925. The largest church in the district was Southside Baptist Church, completed in 1925, but founded in the Centerville School auditorium in 1892 as a mission church of the New Friendship Baptist Church in Davidson County. That congregation’s first sanctuary was built in the 300 block of Monmouth Street, 1896-1899.
Children attended South Park Elementary School located south of the historic district. Older students attended Gray High School in Centerville. (One of the first buildings repurposed for UNC School of the Arts.) Footpaths from Central Terrace, the workers housing area near Southside Mills, and other sections of the district converged at the end of Patria Street where a footbridge crossed Fogle Creek and a path led southward across a farm to the elementary school. (The southern section of Sunnyside is now separated from the original plat by I-40, which also destroyed much of Fogle Creek.)
Employment patterns in the district followed those found throughout the city as R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company became the dominant employer during the 1940s and 1950s. And as the automobile became the primary mode of transport, the streetcar system shut down in 1936, its route taken over by the more flexible bus operated by the former streetcar company, Duke Power. In fact, the bus was an important part of life in the historic district, taking workers downtown to Reynolds Tobacco Company, Hanes Hosiery Mills, P. H. Hanes Knitting Company, and elsewhere for employment. During the 1940s, the South Main – Stockton Street bus stopped at each corner on Stockton Street in Central Terrace, then turned onto South Main Street at Sprague Street to continue its journey downtown.
By the 1940s and 1950s, Southside Mills (by then part of Arista Mills) was still a thriving industry, but the furniture industry was declining in importance to the district. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company was utilizing the former Forsyth Chair Company plant, and Butler Enterprises, toy wholesalers, occupied the Forsyth Iron Bed Company building. Forsyth Manufacturing joined a trend of consolidation among the city's furniture companies, merging with Forsyth Dining Room Furniture Company and the Forsyth Chair Company to create Forsyth Furniture Lines around 1922.
Several furniture plants closed during the Depression, including Forsyth Furniture Lines which closed between 1931 and 1933. Several others closed temporarily, but were able to reopen in the mid-1930s. Question Manufacturing, a furniture manufacturer, occupied the entire former Forsyth Manufacturing Company complex until about 1945 and Winston Manufacturing, another furniture company. occupied Plant No. 1 in 1951. Southern Steel Stamping Company occupied Plant No. 2 (demolished) from 1947 until about 1969 when the property fell vacant.
The movement of the population to new suburban developments further away from the city core during the 1970s and 1980s brought about demographic changes in Sunnyside-Central Terrace. In response to these changes, the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association was formed about 1976. Today the neighborhood is a diverse mix of ethnicity and income levels that in some ways is a replication of the historic diversity of the area. The district's historic character of middle-class suburban neighborhood, industrial worker housing, and an industrial area, is an important key to our understanding of the varied suburban development that occurred in southeastern Winston-Salem at the turn of the twentieth century. (This district is today roughly bounded by Haled, Junia, and Monmouth Streets on the north; Glendale Street on the east; Goldfloss and Brookline Streets on the south; and South Main Street on the west.)
Fearnbach, Heather. Winston-Salem’s Architectural Heritage. Winston-Salem: Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission and City of Winston-Salem, 2015.
Harris, Cyril M. American Architecture: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998.
McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1989.
Taylor, Gwynne Stephens. From Frontier to Factory: An Architectural History of Forsyth County. Winston-Salem: City County Planning Board of Forsyth Co. and Winston-Salem, 1981.
Wyatt, Sherry Joines. “Sunnyside-Central Terrace Historic District, 2007.” National Register Nomination, Raleigh: State Historic Preservation Office.