Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Winston Part Five

I noticed this carving on an old office building, "O'Hanlon's." Nothing now in the building seems to have anything to do with that name.

It's like the old Wachovia building, with the name still carved over the doors. When I worked in Winston, at Wachovia, they were a state-wide bank, and their headquarters were in a new blue glass building, diagonally across the street from this old one.

That building no longer says Wachovia - it's now the Winston Tower, under renovation, attempting to make it a
premier space downtown, again.

Some years ago Wachovia moved their Winston presence to this white tower, with a faux dome on top. That was long after I stopped working there to go back to school (in Philosophy at UNC-CH) and Wachovia had burst their NC status, bought banks outside the state, and moved the main headquarters to Georgia.

Tobacco's history in the city was also a series of steps up, to larger and more modern buildings. From this Art Deco tower built in the late 1920's, Reynolds expanded (and moved their top execs) to a new building in the early 1980's.

That newer building used to be World Headquarters for the RJR Nabisco company, but the recent history of smoking and smoking related litigation in the US has forced a series of changes over the years. The tobacco holdings are now made less of, the building is now a "Reynolds American" building, and the company no longer flaunts the camel everywhere - though others in Winston are cashing in on that history.

This rooftop scene sums up a lot of what has changed about Winston-Salem over the last 100 years. The cupola could be on a Moravian church - the Moravians were a highly religious community that founded Salem, and brought a particular architecture to Winton. The crane, while it's presiding over destruction of some early 20th century buildings and the construction of some larger 21st century complexes, looks much the way cranes did in the 1960s. And the satellite dish represents the telecommunications and technology that have given such a boost to all the towns in the Triangle and Triad areas of NC since the 1980s.

I just hope Winston manages to hold onto the best parts of it's past, and the downtown ends up a pleasant patchwork of the old and new for generations to see and enjoy.

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