Happy Birthday Winston-Salem

Happy Birthday Winston-Salem

12:35am May 10, 2013
Several free activities are planned for the Winston-Salem community through Sunday, as part of the city's centennial celebration.
Keri Brown

The city of Winston-Salem is celebrating 100 years of rich history.

The four day centennial birthday celebration in Winston-Salem kicked off Thursday with the unveiling of a historic marker in front of city hall. City council members, state lawmakers, local schools and community members participated in the event.

The marker will be placed downtown in Corpening plaza.

“The marker is just a way for us to acknowledge our consolidation and the merging of the two cities. It’s not about a Moravian or a tobacco town, it really was about a town that was already merged. This whole weekend is about how we are all part of Winston-Salem,” says Michelle McCullough, historic resources coordinator for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

An open house in city hall followed the marker dedication on Thursday. Several displays recount each decade of the city’s first 100 years and a typical day in Winston-Salem in 1913. Mayor Allen Joines says the city has come a long way over the years.

“I think we have become such a much more diverse community, and we have embraced that diversity as we have come together as a community. We have had to reinvent ourselves from an old manufacturing city to one based on a technology industry, so I’m so proud that we held together and we have a healthy future moving forward,” says Joines.

86 year-old Willie J. Carter was one of Winston-Salem’s first black firefighters. He worked for the city’s fire department for 35 years beginning in 1951. Carter advocated for more racial integration in the city.

“Those were tough times, but a lot has improved,” says Carter.

Carter says he’s proud to call the hyphenated city his home.

“I was born and raised here and this is my home. When I was in the Navy in World War II, I bragged a lot about Winston-Salem. No one knew about the city but everyone knew about Camel cigarettes and RJR. I would stick my chest out because I had something to brag about,” added Carter.

Many people who attended the opening event also acknowledged the city’s growth in the arts. The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County was founded in 1949 and was the First Arts Council in the country.

“When I was in school way back then, they removed the orchestra program from our school system and the music you hear in the background is from my students at Reynolds High School, we now have a booming orchestra band and chorus program that continues to grow in numbers and quality and that speaks volumes to our community,” says Margaret Rehder, who has lived in Winston-Salem her whole life.

Friday’s birthday festivities will include a Blue Moon Gallery Hop and centennial toast. Foothills brewery has also made a special beer to commemorate the event. McCullough says everyone is invited to celebrate the city’s history.  

“Saturday morning, Old-Salem is having a community day and everything is free, so you can come to the exhibits. Then the parade starts from Old-Salem and comes into Winston. There will be a scavenger hunt and music in Corpening plaza all night long. On Sunday we will have an interfaith worship service at the May Dell on the campus of Old Salem College,” says McCullough.

For more information about centennial events go to W-S100Years.com.

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