north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
     Katharine Smith Reynolds, wife of tobacco magnate R. J. Reynolds, developed Reynolda as a self-sufficient country estate and model progressive farm. Built on 1,065 acres in an area that was, at the time, about two miles northwest of Winston, the house was designed by Charles Barton Keen of Philadelphia and constructed between 1909 and 1917. Despite its sixty rooms, Reynolds always referred to her home as “the bungalow.” The estate featured a farm village, formal gardens, nine-hole golf course, polo fields, man-made lake, and freshwater swimming pool. The model farm included a dairy, greenhouse, and blacksmith’s shop.

     Katharine Reynolds conceived and established a modern farm that employed the most current, progressive ideas in scientific and diversified farming. At Reynolda, Reynolds merged the traditional country estate with the progressive farm in the rapidly industrializing South. The influence that Reynolda had in the agricultural community was comparable that of R. J. Reynolds’s tobacco factories in the manufacturing realm. Area farmers were invited to tour the farm starting in the summer of 1917, even before the family had moved in.

     R. J. Reynolds died at Reynolda in 1918. Katharine continued to oversee the estate until her death in 1924. Reynolda was held in trust for the Reynolds children until the eldest daughter, Mary Reynolds Babcock, acquired it in the 1930s. Babcock and her husband Charles, renovated the home, added several recreational facilities, and donated a portion of the estate’s land to Wake Forest University for its relocation to Winston-Salem. In 1964, eleven years after his wife’s death, Charles Babcock created Reynolda House, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to maintain and preserve the house and its contents for the cultural enjoyment and education of the public. He deeded Reynolda and about twenty acres of grounds to the corporation. Reynolda opened to the public in 1967 with a collection of twelve works of American art. The collection now exceeding 130 pieces, Reynolda has added an education and exhibition wing. The buildings that encompassed the farm village have been adapted into shops, offices, and restaurants.


References:
Barbara Mayer, Reynolda: A History of an American Country House (1997)
Margaret Supplee Smith, “Reynolda: A Rural Vision in an Industrializing South,” North Carolina Historical Review (July 1988): 287-313
Reynolda House website: http://www.reynoldahouse.org
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Reynolda House

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