TOBACCO BUILT this town, tobacco and R.J. Reynolds. Between the time Reynolds arrived in Winston-Salem in 1875 and his death in 1918, this town grew 90-fold. His packaged cigarette and knack for advertising took Winston-Salem from a country town to Camel City.
When his heirs decided to turn the Reynolds home into a public space, they planned a museum honoring the story of tobacco in Winston-Salem. That plan changed on January 11, 1964, when the U.S. Surgeon General released a report so monumental that it was timed for a Saturday to minimize its effect on the stock market. It revealed proof that cigarettes could cause lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and, ultimately, death.
So much for the tobacco museum.
Later that year, the Reynolds estate established the family home, Reynolda House, as an educational facility honoring the family’s love of art. The home is now a dual art and history museum, showcasing an impressive collection of American art while telling the Reynolds family story.
Winston-Salem would again pivot from tobacco to art.