Friday, May 11, 2012

Reynolda Gardens and The Wake Forest University Campus

I live on an old parcel of Kate Reynolds' "Reynolda" estate. I have been fascinated by the American Country House Movement, Arts and Crafts, and Pre Raphaelite aesthetics rising from the prosperity of the industrial revolution. Fueled with fresh cash and ironically reacting to mechanization, this romantic movement celebrated sweeter, more bucolic times. I walk through the estate nearly every day, and often attend exhibits and events at Reynolda House Museum of American Art. The generosity and vision of the Reynolds family has had a profound impact on Winston-Salem. Wake Forest University was transferred and expanded to the estate by the Reynolds family, and since then most of the Reynolda property has been absorbed by the University.

The long, low slung "Bungalow" with deep eaves, is too large to capture in a single frame. Charles Barton Keen (1868-19310), of Philadelphia, was commissioned to site and design the main house, farm buildings, church and other dependencies on the assemblage of farms that Kate's husband, Richard Joshua Reynolds purchased for her, in her name--remarkable in 1917.

Charles Barton Keen's signature use of white stucco and green Ludowici roof tiles, makes his craftsman  style easy to spot throughout North Carolina. The craftsman bungalow aesthetic is marked by: emphasis on natural materials, numerous windows and doors to exterior porches or verandas,  a substantial roof overhang supported by columns.

Additionally, open floor plans with the front entry opening directly into the living room, inglenooks and large fireplaces created a toned down, yet grand country house. The open floor plan with natural air  circulation reflects the era's preoccupation with health. Like Biltmore, and many of the other estates in the American Country House Movement, Reynolda was designed to be self sufficient. Kate Reynolds was extremely detail oriented and handled every aspect of this complicated agrarian, social and personal project. John Wanamaker, of Philadelphia provided the furnishings.

The farm has been converted into "Reynolda Village" and is full of shops, restaurants studios and open space.

All Through the House is my friends' fabulous shop. Agnes has superb taste and it is full of her eclectic treasures. If you are in Winston-Salem during market--stop in.

A partial aerial view of the estate shows the farm and gardens at the bottom. The main house is at two o'clock. The wilderness above the lake is the current location of Wake Forest University. Noted architect and graduate of Harvard's first landscape architecture class, Thomas Sears (1880-1966), was recommended by Keen to do the gardens.  Vigilance on the part of the Reynolds family has kept the gardens and greenhouses intact. I wander through the estate regularly, and the beauty keeps me sane. I'm sending you a slide show. I photograph it all year. Kate Reynolds dream and the family's preservation and persistence has brought visitors and students many a pastoral pause in our hectic lives.

Espaliered apple trees define the perimeters of vegetables and flowers, and is very much like Jefferson's Monticello.  

Nancy and Mary Reynolds' playhouse at the end of the garden has a roof pitched and curved to resemble thatch. It's a scene straight out of Beatrix Potter.

Wake Forest University does a meticulous job of landscaping and maintaining the estate and village.  J. McLaughlin, in the background is a fabulous clothing line that is a go-to spot for smart-casual attire. Blogger friend, Patricia van Essche, of PVE has painted many of the J. McLaughlin shops. I contacted her when I started blogging, and she was very generous with ideas and tips. We love her loose energetic style. Jay likes to place his stores in historic districts and charming pedestrian villages. Here is our local store and a fun Montage Patricia did of the J. McLauglin shops.

The grand Lord and Burnham conservatory greets us at the entrance and is filled with lush tropical plants that would have been highly prized in an era when it was difficult to transport specimens from exotic lands. Below is the garden side view.

When you come to High Point, consider staying in Winston-Salem, which is only 30 minutes away from the IHFC, and visiting our charming historic Reynolda corridor. You can stay across the street at the fabulous Graylyn Estate. That's another post. It is the second largest house in North Carolina, after Biltmore.

Built by RJR CEO, Bowman Gray and his wife Natalie Lyons Gray, Graylyn is also now owned by Wake Forest University.  I can tell you, it is the most spectacular campus in the world. Below, we have the Graylyn gardens from the back of the property.

 I can recommend a few good books on the Reynolds family. Because of their great wealth, it is a complex and interesting story.

R.J. Reynolds J.R. 
A Tobacco Fortune and the Mysterious Death of a Southern Icon
by: Heidi Schnakenberg

Katherine Smith Reynolds and the Landscape of Reynolda
by: Catherine Howett

Winston-Salem were still smokin! 

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  1. L...I've just finished my tea and this article...thanks for a nice Friday morning moment.....passing it on to friends...k

  2. Hi Liz, thanks for the follow. I am following you back. Love your site and images. That old rock house is just what I'm going for..not quite that large..but. I look forward to more!

  3. Liz this is so wonderfully fascinating, and I must read Kid Carolina, how intriguing!

    Thank you so much for sharing this historically significant property! To live there must be a dream!


    Art by Karena

  4. How lovely to be able to walk this property daily! The low-slung bungalow is a gem. Great post and look at the American Country House movement. And, PVE... another gem!

  5. i have been in the dark, completely unaware of this historical treasure......and you live there! how absolutely lovely

    ps; that arts and crafts bungalow you referred to on my blog, is it from the village?

  6. Liz-
    Thank you so much for sharing the history of this property. Can you image walking out and pulling your fresh apple off of the tree and return to your quaint home with a pitched and curved roof. I love it!
    I am not certain I would ever leave if I got there. There is enough on the property to keep you busy.
    I hope that you have a wonderful Mother's Day with your family!

  7. Penelope Bianchi left this e-mail
    Hi Liz! I filled in the subscription request by email. It says you have to "write what is in the box"; but there are no letters and no "box" I thought you would want to know!!

    Also; another small world story! My godmother Winifred, married Charlie Babcock; whose wife who died was brought up here at Reynolda; My Aunt Win invited me to come stay on some week-ends when I was in boarding school in Massachusetts! What a lovely house; and she had sheep eating the lawn because she didn't like the sound of lawn mowers!! Very innovative; and picturesque!

    I can't get the pictures when I try to go to your main blog side to make comments! I am sure it is me!!

  8. Liz, I loved reading this. I love Reynolda House and gardens. I went to school of the arts in high school one summer and loved that entire area. It is such a wonderful place. I also loved old Salem!

  9. I have toured this lovely area just once before and am eager to return.

    I've been rearranging furniture in my home again. Stop by the blog to see where the tortoiseshell chest is now. :)

  10. Hi Liz;
    I really enjoyed all your beautiful pictures. This is such an exquisite property and i had a wonderful time walking along its paths. You make a wonderful guise. Hope to see you soon, Francine

  11. What a wonderful post of beautiful Reynolda. I would love to visit it one day. Very handsome buildings and gorgeous grounds. Thank goodness that Wake Forest is a thoughtful and appreciative steward of this asset. How lucky you are to live among such beauty. Reggie

  12. A very enjoyable read and I'll confess my prior lack of knowledge of the splendid Greylyn manor house. What a gem!

    Kate's sister Nancy owned a lovely stone manor and farm complex in Greenwich, CT known as Quarry Farm. Designed by Frank J. Forester it really was and remains a spectacular place. She would sell it in 1977 to Batman actor ('The Riddler') Frank Gorshin who then sold it to current owner singer/actress Diana Ross in 1980.

    1. Nancy was actually Katherine's daughter.

  13. Jack: Do get back to me. I want to know more about this story. You are not linked.

  14. Oh why did I have to see this post? Such wonderful buildings! I have tried to no avail to get at least one of my three children to attend Wake Forest because I looooove it so much...such a beautiful the wild daylilies in the medians of the highways, but not a one has done what I wanted. I did a post a few weeks ago on our NC college tours if you'd like to read it It includes a photo of the interior of the Wake Forest admissions building - another beautiful but new building.

  15. Hi Liz I have just started Kid Carolina!

    2012 Artist Series featuring the gifted Decorative Painter Theresa Cheek ( a wonderful resource)

    Art by Karena

  16. Liz, Thank you so much for the wonderful post on Reynolda Village and of course J. McLaughlin! We are so proud to be a part of this charming and historic area. Also, did you know that the above mentioned new Admissions and Welcome Center at Wake Forest was designed by Winston-Salem's Lambert Architecture and Interiors and my cute husband, Stuart? Hope to see you soon!! Sara-Peyton

  17. as a frequent visitor in Winston-there are so many special places-this one especially the art assembled alone is worth a visit to to mention the house and grounds. I love it. thanks for perpetuating best of NC! my brother lives right downtown near Old Salem and that too is like nothing else one comes across often. pgt

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