Review: Winston-Salem’s Architectural Heritage a Book We All Need

by Chad Nance

winston-salem's architectural heritage
winston-salem’s architectural heritage

Comprehensive and unprecedented, “Winston-Salem’s Architectural-Heritage” is a book like no other in Camel City history.  Providing historical context along with the meticulous research this project has produced a “must have” volume for Winston-Salem citizens.  Our city has a rich, deep, and tumultuous history that is told in the built environment that we all occupy every day.  From the ever-changing and evolving downtown, to East Winston’s storied neighborhoods and architecture, to Buena Vista’s timeless elegance this encyclopedic volume takes us to every corner of Winston-Salem, including many that have been forgotten or lost to the brutalities of time.

“Winston-Salem’s Architectural Heritage” is the culmination of an eight-year survey and research project paid for by the state Historic Preservation Office and the City of Winston-Salem. The project expanded the scope of previous historic architectural resource analyses, including Forsyth County’s first comprehensive survey which was completed by Gwynne Stephens Taylor in 1980.

The book (including index) is over 800 pages long and contains over 900 rare and rarely seen photographs.  There has simply never been a single resource that provides this must solid historical research with a structure that allows readers to find and explore the parts of the city they want to, went they want to.  Some readers may be confused, at first, when they realize that their neighborhood might not be called what they thought it was.  Winston-Salem’s Architectural Heritage is organized with neighborhood names being pulled from the original plats and deed documents.  This allows for the reader to experience Winston-Salem in a nuanced way.  Like many cities, Winston-Salem is a collection of smaller communities knitted together over the years through economic development, population movement, and social engineering.  This narrative is clearly displayed in our architecture.  All of the successes, tragedies, and aspirations of this city play out in our architecture.  The imposing, and sadly ironic, permanence of the Reynolds Building tells one tale, while the grandeur and grace of Centenary United Methodist Church tell another.  “Winston-Salem’s Architectural Heritage” provides a codex with which to decode the story.

The book is written by Heather Fearnbach.   Heather served as an architectural historian for Edwards-Pitman Environmental, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and the Historic Sites Section of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. She has worked throughout North Carolina and in South Carolina and Tennessee, successfully completing historic architectural surveys and reports for transportation projects; municipal and county architectural surveys; and numerous nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, local historic designation reports, and rehabilitation tax credit applications. Heather is a lecturer in the Art and Design Department and the coordinator of the Historic Preservation Certificate program at Salem College in Winston-Salem.  She owns Fearnbach History Services, Inc., a firm offering historic resource research, documentation, analysis, and management services.

Ms. Fearnbach’s work in “Winston-Salem’s Architectural Heritage” is exhaustive and essential.  This isn’t just an academic reference book, however.  The narrative pull of each and every neighborhood is compelling reading and pulling yourself away from “Winston-Salem’s Architectural History” is a real challenge.

This book needs to be purchased and digested slowly.  Even better, get in the car with the kids or someone you love.  Let them drive. Put the book on your knees and use it to guide you through our city as you learn where we’ve come from and where we’re heading.  “Winston-Salem’s Architectural Heritage” is a monumental local achievement that will be enjoyed for generations to come.

The easiest way to get a copy if you live in town is to go to the Bryce A. Stuart Municipal Building at 100 E. First Street (at the corner of First and Church Streets) in Winston-Salem and go to the Revenue County on the first floor.  They will take any form of legal tender and will have the books at the counter.

If you would like the book mailed to you, for an additional charge of $16.00, please order on-line HERE.


Also, many of our locally owned businesses are featuring the book for sale at their Winston-Salem locations, including:


Camel City Goods

Camel City News

Twin City Hive

Old Salem

Reynolda House (after July 16th)

Bethabara Visitor’s Center


Heather will be making her way around Winston-Salem so that every part of the City has an opportunity to hear about their buildings and neighborhoods.  Books will be sold at each presentation.

Here is the schedule for June and July:


Hanes Hosiery Community Center

501 Reynolds Boulevard

June 30, 2015

Northwest Ward Presentation


Reynolda Manor Branch Library

2839 Fairlawn Drive

July 16, 2015

Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Second Launch Party

12:00 Noon

Reynolda House

2250 Reynolda Road

July 21, 2015

East Ward Presentation


Rupert Bell Community Center

1501 Mt Zion Place

July 28, 2015

Southeast Ward Presentation


Sprague Street Community Center

1350 E. Sprague Street