Created By: Preservation Forsyth
The Sunnyside district is 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. The development was platted in 1892 and several industries had landed there by 1900. Henry E. Fries, a Salem industrialist, and entrepreneur was involved in platting Sunnyside. Fries also led two manufacturing firms, and eventually came to own the streetcar company. Additionally, Fries was part of the company that platted the Central Terrace development in 1912. Aimed at middle-income residents, Central Terrace is located immediately west of Sunnyside.
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 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.
In 1860, Shepherd sold 60 acres to Salem merchant Elias A. Vogler, who already owned a contiguous Broadbay Township farm called Sunnyside. Eventually, Vogler would gain an additional 70 acres after Shepherd’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 lines that ran north-south.
The earliest settlement in what would become this neighborhood 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 was settled by about 1806 to the southeast, and from the older 1766 Moravian town of Salem to the north. The construction of the Roanoke and Southern Railroad by 1892, and the streetcar line through the district by 1901, brought about dramatic growth and transformed the area into an industrial and residential suburb.
After the iron bridge carrying the electric trolly line over Salem Creek was built in January 1892, both Sunnyside and Washington Park were platted in March 1892 by civil engineer Jacob Lott Ludlow for the Winston-Salem Land and Investment Company. The Winston and Salem investors were W. A. Blair, Henry Bahnson, T. J. Brown, J. H. Stockton, H. R. Starbuck, A. H. Eller, and H. E. Fries who collectively invested $250,000 in capital. The March 1892 plat does not include a subdivision title, but the western section curves around a green space mapped as, “Sunny Side Park,” which is now Washington Park.
In October 1893, the Winston-Salem Land and Investment Company transferred the previously unsold land in the Sunnyside plat and Washington Park to Southside Land and Investment Company for $44,400. The latter company was incorporated in September 1893 by Henry F. Bahnson, H.E. Fries, J.H. Stockton, T.J. Brown, W.A. Blair, A .H. Eller, J.L. Ludlow, and four other men, three of whom were from New Bern. The Southside Land and Investment Company appears in the Grantor Index having sold many lots in the district between 1894 and 1902. By 1900, the residential area surrounding the park had become known as Washington Park with the grid-plan area to its east as Sunnyside.
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. The family later established the Arista Cotton Mill there in 1880. The Winston-Salem Journal reported that H. E. Fries “played a part in almost every major development in Winston-Salem,” including being the president of companies like the Arista Cotton Mill, the Winston-Salem Southbound Railroad, the Fries Manufacturing and Power Company, and the Forsyth Manufacturing Company. He was an investor in the Winston-Salem Land & Investment Company which platted Sunnyside as well as an original investor in the Wachovia Development Company, incorporated in 1891, that platted the Wachovia Development east of Sunnyside in 1892 which is now 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 Centerville, Washington Park, Sunnyside, and Central Terrace -— was not accidental. The combination of real estate developer, streetcar investor, and industrialist as seen in H. E. Fries was a common theme among influential men across the South at the turn of the twentieth century. Fries intentionally planned for the broad-based industry in the city, partly made possible by the Winston-Salem Southbound Railroad and electricity provided by Fries Manufacturing and Power. The 1900 Sanborn Insurance Map shows Forsyth Manufacturing Company and Southside Mills, both located in Sunnyside, operating with electric and steam power. Also of note, Fries Manufacturing and Power purchased the Winston streetcar system in 1899, extending the line into Southside and Waughtown by 1901.
Forsyth Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1892, employing about two hundred men by 1918 in a plant that sprawled over several acres at the intersection of Sunnyside Avenue with Acadia Avenue and Junia Street. By 1900 significant additions were added to Plant No. 1 and a new dry kiln and lumber shed were built. The plant complex was further expanded between 1900 and 1907 and Plant No. 2 was built on Junia Avenue east of Sunnyside Avenue by 1917.
The furniture industry grew rapidly in the city during the early twentieth century. By about 1906, eight furniture firms were 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 became 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 Forsyth Chair Company was organized by 1900 and had built a plant at the northwest corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Acadia Avenue (just above Forsyth Manufacturing). The Forsyth Iron Bed Company began about 1902 and its plant on Sunnyside Avenue, immediately south of the Forsyth Manufacturing Company plant site, is the only furniture plant remaining in Sunnyside.
Industrial buildings sprang up near the rail corridor, and with the construction of a westward rail spur paralleling Junia Avenue in 1914. The industry flourished in the Haled/Junia/Glendale streets area. In all, nine industrial concerns 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). A large number of houses were built to accommodate the growing number of employees. These houses were modestly-sized, free-standing houses constructed during the first quarter of the 1900s in large numbers in the Sunnyside development, and in a second development on the east side of the Winston-Salem Southbound tracks, the southern part of which is 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. The workers' 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 people worked in the city’s major factories, sales, or 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 H. 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.
A combination of national housing trends, increased population, and the economic capacity among the growing middle class to purchase automobiles created a boom for suburban development. The growth of Winston-Salem was achieved in part by the annexation of developed, outlying areas, including large portions of Southside and Waughtown that were annexed in 1923. Central Terrace was part of this trend of suburbanization being marketed to middle-income citizens.
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 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 an intensely growing congregation and a desire to have a separate church for the community surrounding the mill. The dichotomy of a middle-income suburban neighborhood and lower-income mill worker housing found in the historic district was demarcated during the historic period. 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.) Their 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 is 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. The congregation’s first sanctuary was built in the 300 block of Monmouth Street in 1896-1899.
Children attended South Park Elementary School located south of the historic district. Older students attended Gray High School in Centerville. 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. (Now altered by the construction of I-40.)
Employment patterns in the district followed those found throughout the city with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company the dominant employer during the 1940s and 1950s. Following national trends, the automobile became the primary mode of transport, thus, the streetcar ceased operation in 1936, its route taken over by the more flexible bus operated by the former streetcar company, Duke Power. 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. The Depression forced the closure of several Winston-Salem furniture plants, including Forsyth Furniture Lines, which closed between 1931 and 1933. Several others closed temporarily, reopening 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 a middle-class suburban neighborhood, industrial workers’ housing, and 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.
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.