•   90th birthday picture of RJR

    A History of the events leading up to the day that
    the location of
    Richard J. Reynolds High School
    Richard J. Reynolds Memorial Auditorium
    the uses of P.H. Hanes Park
    were determined
    In 1919, the City of Winston-Salem was looking to build to a new high school.  The existing schools were wooden, and were not large enough to adequately handle all of the students.  The City wanted to construct more modern and fire-proof school buildings.  The towns of Winston and Salem had merged in 1913, and the population in this municipality had essentially doubled since 1910….which meant that the number of children attending schools had also incredibly increased.  Also that year, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company had introduced Camel cigarettes.  In addition to that , the various Hanes companies (P.H. Hanes Knitting, Hanes Dye and Finishing, and Hanes Hosiery), as well as Indera Mills and Chatham Mills, were all doing very well (and all of these were labor intensive firms).  Folks were moving from all over to Winston-Salem for the jobs offered at these (and other) local businesses.

    In 1910, the town of Winston, N.C. was very fortunate to have Mr. R.H. Latham become the Superintendent of city schools (a position that he held for twenty-five years).  Among other things while in office, he instituted school libraries, added an eleventh grade, and improved the curriculum. 

    Being the Superintendent, he oversaw the search for property for new schools.  The first proposed site considered for a new high school in 1919 was a parcel of land owned by Mr. Pleasant Henderson Hanes (who happened to be one of those initially elected as a school commissioner).  This tract of land was on the western side of town, essentially adjacent to the West Highlands residential subdivision (which was also owned by Mr. Hanes).  Even though Mrs. Katharine Smith Reynolds (the widow of Richard J. Reynolds) had made a pledge to the Mayor of $50,000 to go towards the purchase of land for a new high school, a price could not be agreed upon.  Thus the search continued for another site. 

    There was a parcel of land (held in Mr. Reynolds’ estate) between 3rd Street and 5th Street…just east of the City Hospital, that Mrs. Reynolds believed would make a very good site for this school.  On June 6th, she made another offer to Mayor R.W. Gorrell.  The front-page headlines of the Winston-Salem Journal the following day is shown below:
    headlines of June 7, 1919 local newspaper
    In this offer...which can be seen by clicking here ( * ), she stated this parcel could be purchased at a very reasonable price, that her offer of giving $50,000 towards the purchase of this land still stood, and if this parcel was selected:  she would also “erect a beautiful auditorium with a seating capacity of several thousand to form a central building of the group as a personal memorial” (to her husband).

    Also in June, Mr. P.H. Hanes made an offer to the City of 47 acres of land (from his West End Dairy cow pasture) for a public park.  The original plans for this contained allocation of space for a vocational high school and a gymnasium…as well as recreational facilities.  This would also have also served the purpose of being an enticement for folks to purchase lots in his West Highlands residential subdivision...which was located next to this.  (To read more about this subdivision, click here [ * ] to view an article written by Margaret Supplee Smith {“Historic Buena Vista”} in the April, 2017 edition of the Buena Vista Life Magazine).
    P.H. Hanes West End Dairy
    P.H. Hanes West End Dairy - established in 1906

    On July 3rd Mrs. Reynolds made yet another offer to Mayor Gorrell…which can be seen by clicking here
    ( * ):  that she would purchase 25 acres located on a knoll (referred to as Silver Hill) directly above the proposed Hanes Park.  Her offer to spend $50,000 towards the purchase of that land still stood, and her offer to build an auditorium seating several thousand folks also still stood, as long as the high school buildings (which included her offer to build an auditorium) were built on that site.

    Also on July 3rd, Mr. P.H. Hanes made another offer to the city…which can be seen by clicking here ( * ).  It stated he would donate a 47-acre tract (that used to be part of his West End Dairy) to be used forever as only a park and place where school buildings could be built.  This park would have to be named the “P.H. Hanes Park,” would have to be developed per plans submitted by Mr. Louis J. Miller, would have to be kept up by the City, and could only be used as a public park with school buildings (and thus no roads nor rail lines nor homes nor businesses could ever be built in it).

    Below are the front-page headlines of the July 4, 1919 Winston-Salem Journal:
    headlines of July 4, 1919 local newspaper

    In the afternoon of July 3rd, a very important meeting was staged by Superintendent Latham.  As stated in the above mentioned July 4, 1919 edition of the Winston-Salem Journal:

    “Mr. Latham stated that a conference was held yesterday afternoon (July 3rd) when Mr. George W. Orr, representing Mrs. Reynolds, and Mr. P.H. Hanes each read the proposal of the other to be made to the city.  They looked over the proposals and found them satisfactory in all things concerned.  The offer of Mr. Hanes is for a park and playground, and it was agreed between the parties concerned that the high school plant may be located on the Reynolds’ property.  Mr. Hanes included in his offer permission to use his site for school purposes in case the city wished to do so.  Mr. Latham brought out very clearly that the letters do not unfold two separate propositions as one may be lead to believe, but that both are offers to the city and that an agreement has been reached between Mr. Hanes and Mrs. Reynolds on that point.  Schools do not necessarily have to be erected on both sites, all of that having been cleared up in the conference held yesterday afternoon (July 3rd).  ‘I want to say that the fine spirit of co-operation of all has been a wonderful revelation to me,’ said Mr. Latham.  ‘It is an index to the spirit that has built this city and made Winston-Salem what it is and is going to make Winston-Salem one of the greatest cities in the South.'"


                                                    Katharine Smith Reynolds      

                                                        Katharine Smith Reynolds


    Richard J. Reynolds

    Richard J. Reynolds

                                                                                  Superintendent R.H. Latham

    Superintendent R.H. Latham


     Pleasant H. Hanes

     Pleasant Hames

     John Wesley Hanes

     John Wesley Hanes

    Then later that evening (on July 3, 1919), at an 8 PM called meeting of the Winston-Salem Board of Alderman, the proposals of Mr. Hanes and Mrs. Reynolds were made public.  Also made public was a proposal made by James Gordon Hanes, who was a son of John Wesley Hanes (who was the deceased brother of P.H. Hanes).  His proposal stated that a small part of the plot of land contemplated to be P.H. Hanes Park was actually owned by the estate of his deceased father: John Wesley Hanes.  James Gordon Hanes agreed to donate this to the City if (and only if) the City accepted the offer of Mr. P.H. Hanes.

    The Board of Aldermen then voted unanimously to accept all three offers (with each Alderman showing their approval by standing).  To read the minutes of that Board of Aldermen meeting, click here ( * ).  FYI:  the total cost of the Auditorium donated by Mrs. Reynolds ended up being $394,000, with an additional $100,000 (for interior decoration and equipment) coming from the estate of her husband (R.J. Reynolds).  Also, the value of the land donated by the Hanes brothers was estimated to be $250,000.  When combined, these two gifts (from Mrs. Reynolds and the Hanes brothers) were the 3rd largest gift from private individuals to a public school system in the history of our nation!  Mrs. Reynolds deeded the land to the city for $1.00 in 1919.

    On August 14, 1919 the preliminary plans for the development of what would become known as Hanes Park were shown on the font-page of the Winston-Salem Journal (pictured below). 

    preliminary plans for PH Hanes Park  

    The park was designed by Mr. Louis L. Miller (who had previously developed the site plan for the Reynolds family “Reynolda Estate” and landscaping for the Methodist Childrens Home…and had worked with Mr. Hanes in laying out the West Highlands residential subdivision).  Mr. Miller stated this park would be “the finest public park south of Washington.”  This park would be accessible by all types of existing modern transportation at that time (i.e., railroad, streetcars and automobiles).  The street next to the park would be the widest public paved road in the state at that time (so that folks could park to watch high school athletic events).  Among other things, the park would have a football field, a baseball field, tennis courts and a race a track.  And to show how much global warming has taken place since then:  the plans called for a 6-acre lake (to be fed by three existing streams) that could be used for boating, swimming, and ice skating.

    As stated in Heather Fearnbach's book "Winston-Salem Architectural Heritage":  Although the city did not develop the entire site via (Mr.) Miller's plan, the recreational facility, named Hanes Park by the Board of aldermen, was in use by 1920."

    Later in 1919, the City overwhelmingly passed a bond referendum for $800,000 (half of which went to construct R.J. Reynolds High School). The original plans called for two school buildings…one on either side of the Auditorium. The Household Arts and Industrial Arts Building would be built at the completion of the construction of the Auditorium and the first school building (referred to as the Academic Art Building).

    picture of proposed RJR school buildings

    Above is an October 12, 1919 Winston-Salem Journal front page picture of the original plans for Richard J. Reynolds High School and Richard J. Reynolds Memorial Auditorium.  The caption under the picture reads:  "This is the first picture of Winston-Salem's splendid new high school plant which will be located in West End, the cut having been taken from a photo made from a water color drawing of the buildings by the aerchitect. The central building of the group is the Memorial Auditorium which will be erected by Mrs. R.J. Reynolds as a personal memorial to the late Mr. R.J.  Reynolds.  The building is 80 feet wide and about 150 feet long.  It will seat 2,000 on the main floor and 1,000 in the galleries.  On one side of the building is the Household Arts and Industrial Arts building.  On the other side is the Academic Building.  Each of these buildings has a frontage of 300 feet and extends back 160 feet.  The buildings are of Georgian or Colonial style of architecture, and are connected with the Memorial Auditorium by porticos supported by Colonial columns similar to the style followed out at the University of Virginia.  The buildings are fire-proof, built of reinforced concrete.  The plans are by Mr. Charles Keeton, architect, of Philadelphia.  Photo by Matthews, Winston-Salem, N.C.”


    Below are two pictures found in Heather Fearnbach's book "Winston-Salem's Architectural Heritage."  They were taken around 1925.


    Reynolds High School

    Richard J. Reynolds High School


    Reynolds Auditorium

    Richard J. Reynolds Memorial Auditorium


    To quote directly from the book “Richard J. Reynolds Memorial Auditorium:  Vision and Triumph” by Ellen Kutcher:  “To locate the new high school away from center city on the large open tract Mrs. Reynolds had acquired from W.L. Ferrell, C.M. Thomas and the Standard Improvement Company followed (then) current ideas of building public schools along the lines of college campuses.  One newspaper, in fact, actually referred to the new high school as a college for children of Winston-Salem – appropriate, perhaps, because only 5 percent of local students went on to institutions of higher education in 1919.”

    At the beginning of 1923, Winston-Salem had two high schools:  Winston High School on Cherry Street (for what were considered “white” students) and East Winston High School (for what were considered “colored” students). As can be seen via the front-page headlines of the January 10, 1923 Winston-Salem Journal (shown below):

    headlines of January 10, 2912 local newspaper

    on January 9th, 1923, fire destroyed Winston High School. As noted in the box titled “High School Will Open Monday in New Building:  “The Winston-Salem High School will be opened again next Monday morning, January 16, in the new High School building now nearing completion.  The second floor of the new building will be ready and twenty rooms will be available for pupils.  This announcement is made on authority of representatives of the school board, of the board of aldermen, the superintendent of the city public schools and the officials of the DuPont Construction Co., which is building the new High School plant.  Board walks will be laid at once so that the children may reach the new school building without wading through mud.  The Elks offered their home and several churches, among them the First Presbyterian, for which authorities expressed deep appreciation last night.” 

    This school building, when completed, was designed to accommodate 1,200 students in 60 rooms for classes and administration. Students began a full-time schedule in February when the cafeteria was completed.  The Buena Vista bus line revised its schedule so that it could transport children who lived downtown to and from the new school….for a fare of five cents.

    Below is a picture of a bronze plaque in the front "lobby" of the school (on the first floor).


     bronze plaque on 1st floor of RJR


    One year later, in May of 1924, an $800,000 bond referendum was overwhelmingly passed, to pay for the construction of four new schools, as well as a gymnasium for Reynolds High School on the Hanes Park property.

     1920's picture of Reynolds Auditorium and Hanes Park

    Once the gymnasium construction was completed, the physical plant of R.J. Reynolds High School was the third largest public high school campus in the nation!  The Richard J. Reynolds Memorial Auditorium was dedicated in May of 1924 (in a 4-day celebration, between May 8 – May 11).  A copy of the program given to attendees can be seen by clicking here ( * ).


    RJR Gymnasium

    The Richard J. Reynolds High School Gymnasium in 1927

     Picture from Heather Fearnbach's Book "Winston-Salem's Architectural Heritage"

    Katharine Smith Reynolds never saw the completed building.  She had by that time re-married (to J. Edward Johnston, from New York City, in 1921), and thus was Katharine Smith Reynolds Johnston. She was warned not to become pregnant, as she suffered from conjunctive heart failure. However, she did become pregnant, and during the Auditorium’s Grand Opening ceremonies she was in New York City, under the care of child-birth specialists. She died on May 24, 1924 giving birth to their son (J. Edward Johnston, Jr.).

    Katharine’s dreams for future usage of the Auditorium were:

    1. To showcase accomplishments of public school students
    2. For civic or memorial occassions
    3. For religious programs
    4. For musical and cultural programs featuring renowned artists.

    Reynolds High School & Reynolds Auditorium

    RJ Reynolds High School and Reynolds Memorial Auditorium

    and the surrounding neighborhood in the 1940's

    Picture from Heather Fearnbach's book "Winston-Salaem's Architectural Heritage"

    A little bit about Winston-Salem at that time:  because the towns of Winston and Salem had merged as one city in 1913, and because the various Hanes companies and RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company and Indera Mills and Chatham Mills were all doing well (all being in labor intensive industries), the population of the city more than doubled between1910 and 1920, and Winston-Salem was (via the census in 1920) the state’s largest and most prosperous city.  There was a big demand for new school buildings throughout the city for students of all ages. To meet that city-wide need, and to keep a control on the debt load of the taxpayers, the second (Household Arts and Industrial Arts) building at R.J. Reynolds High School was never constructed.

    early picture of Hanes Park

    Above is an April 4, 1935 picture of Hanes Park after the gymnasium had been built.

    It shows N.C. Emergency Relief Administration workers.

    The picture above and below, and the following, is found Heather Fearnbach's book "Winston-Salem's Architectural Heritage":  "Between 1933 and 1935 the Civil Works and Emergency Administrations contributed just under $39,000 to fund improvements including the curved stone wall with built-in benches that frames the main entrance on West End Boulevard, as well as stone steps and foot-bridges throughout the park.  Works Progress Administration employees continued landscaping initiatives in the late 1930's.  The city has since added athletic fields and courts, lighting, parking, seating, briedges, and a playground."

    Wiley School

    A 1925 picture of Wiley Middle School 

    Two schools have been built on Hanes Park property.  In 1925, what was known at the time as Wiley Elementary School was built.  And then in 1959, Brunson Elementary School was built (and during its construction, this was referred to as the Hanes Park School).

    To learn more and Hanes Park (such as what entity controls what happens at the Park and how does Hanes Park being located in a flood plain affect what changes are made at the park), click here ( * ).

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