Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Signs in abundance

This is not a clever or particularly informative blog entry. We saw these signs near the Forsyth County Career Center on Sunday evening. The Career Center offers advanced placement courses to studenst from all of the high schools in Winston-Salem. It is inaccessible except by car. Perhaps arguments over parking spaces fuel the implicit violence?

Monday, September 28, 2009

HIdden in plain view at Forsyth Tech

Everything that the blog dislikes about the suburban nature of our city appears, at first glance, to be epitomized by Forsyth Technical Community College, which is located off Silas Creek Parkway near Interstate 40 Peters Creek Parkway. It's great to have a community college, but the buildings - mainly brutal 1970s type concrete - are islands in a sea of parking lots. The campus is accessible only by car and is not connected in any direct way to the surrounding neighborhoods. On a short walk on Sunday evening, however, the blog discovered the Kristin Hartz Memorial Garden, and its view is now a bit more nuanced. This garden, which is maintained by the horticulture students at Forsyth Tech, transforms one of Winston-Salem's creeksides into a place of quiet natural beauty. Here's a brief account from the Summer 2008 Tech Quarterly: The Hartz Garden welcomes students and visitors to the Main Campus, and might be called Forsyth Tech’s most beautiful lab. The garden is named for Kristin Hartz, an honors graduate of UNC–Chapel Hill, who decided that horticulture was her true calling. She was a student in the young horticulture program in 1988 when she tragically died in a car accident. Her family established a trust that has helped the garden grow and thrive. Now that we know the origin of the garden and who tends it, one mystery still remains: Does anyone but the occasional wayward blog ever walk there?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Orderly obelisks

A lovely parade of carefully tended obelisks was spied recently near Polo Pool, just behind Speas School. Jon was proud because these are the first photos he has sent to the blog directly from his iPhone.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I want a walkway just like this...

...over Silas Creek Parkway. This walkway was photographed by Susan, who drove her trusty Toyota over the Appalachian mountains to give a talk at East Tennessee State University on Wednesday. Her hosts were highly amused by her fascination with this walkway, which allowed her to cross safely from her hotel to the biology building.

Gridlock in Winston!

One of the advantages of living in Winston-Salem is the relative absence of "traffic." But some road work on southbound Silas Creek Parkway early in the week backed up traffic on Wake Forest Drive. Jon alertly captured the unusual scene.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Work is underway on the...

Sherwood Forest Elementary School Addition

Addition of approximately 13,753 sq. ft. and renovation of approximately 6,500 sq. ft.

Projected Opening Date: Fall, 2010

Plans Available: January 2009

Actual Bid Date: February 24, 2009

Contractor: Shelco, Inc.

Contract Amount: $3,629,300.00

Architect: Smith Norwood Architecture - (336) 744-8100

WS/FCS Construction Specialist: Chris Radesi

Visited by the blog on Monday evening, September 21, 2009. It's hard to tell what the function of the new space with all the windows will be. Jon thinks: a new library.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Even the idea is appealing...

The blog found this bench in the woods near Bethel Church to be surprisingly sturdy and comfortable. The busy blog wishes it was there right now.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The blog apologizes...

...for being so boring. All it seems to do these days is work non-stop, with an occasional break for a football game. The stands at BB&T field were nearly full at the start of the Wake-Elon contest on Saturday, but few stayed until the predictable but pleasing end (Deacons 35, Phoenix 7).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Too bad...

...the architect wasn't paying attention when the professor pointed out that houses are 3-dimensional...

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Some of the nicest houses in Winston-Salem have some of the most fortress-like sides...these houses were all photographed on a walk last week in a single neighborhood ...modern American house plans allow homeowners to live in the suburbs with the same amount of natural light as they would get if they lived in a row house in Philadelphia...it's puzzling, and it's quite possible that looking at so much bad design is what put Jon in his current state of being "under the weather."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sign of bad parenting?

Jon took this photo earlier this week in his neighborhood, near Sherwood Forest School. Note the emphasis on safety, and that the child who is depicted walking is shown walking with an adult (although it seems that the gator is allowed to walk on his own). The blog, which is definitely in favor of walking everywhere, has two comments. First, earlier this school year Susan was contacted by Nate's school because they were "concerned" that instead of being picked up at carpool he was walking (less than a mile) over to her lab on the the Wake Forest campus (Nate is a 7th grader). Second there was an article in this past Sunday's New York Times Style section about how many schools (and parents) assume that allowing a child to walk even a short distance to and from school is a sign of bad parenting...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bethel Church Nature Trail

Acting on a tip from Mary's friend, Davis, the blog went to the end of Bethel Church Road on Sunday evening (off Burke Mill Road, more or less behind the medical facilities behind Hanes Mall) and found a well-tended 19th century cemetery adjacent to a 1970s-style Methodist Church. The church itself is architecturally undistinguished, but it seems to be in the process of converting the adjacent land into a DIY nature preserve. The blog was impressed by the careful maintenance of the cemetery (which features many early 19th century grave markers) and the overall sense of welcome conveyed by the signs. The blog was unhappy that the chruch's website did not convey any historical information about the site, only the cryptic comment that "we have not been the ideal church in the past and we know this." If you are looking for a peaceful walk in Winston-Salem, this is it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The blog lives the high life

The blog typically thinks of itself as shy and retiring, and its idea of a good time is an evening spent at home calculating walk scores. But occasionally the blog steps out. On Friday the blog went to Tanglewood Park in Forsyth County for the Department of Biology's annual picnic; on Saturday the blog tailgated with friends, including the remarkably cuddly and chubby Ian Eastman-Mullins, before watching the Deacons come back to beat the Stanford Cardinal 24-17. Friday wine had to be deferred until Saturday evening, at which time all the blog had the energy to do was watch the USC Trojans beat OSU. Despite the Buckeyes' unexpected loss, it was nice to see their mascot in action (see post on September 9 to see why Jon now "gets" the OSU mascot)...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Old and new urbanism

Ardmore is a good example of old urbanism because, from its origins early in the 20th century, its structures and streets were built with the automobile in mind. We found a pocket of near "new urbanism" on our recent walk in Ardmore. It's hard to say exactly why or how, but the tiny development of Ashview conveyed the sense of a street in a small New England town. See how close the house fronts are to the street - very unusual for Winston-Salem.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hard questions

Is this a buckeye? Susan and Nate think that the seeds, which are very smooth and pleasant to handle, look like they are buckeyes, but Nate pointed out that the seed pod is spikier than he remembers playing with as a child...Also, would your house look as good as this Ardmore house if you removed all of its siding? The blog walked last night in developments off Shallowford Road...new territory but a very hard place to walk along the main road after dark. Susan is therefore assigning (by fiat) all of Lewisville a negative walk score.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Crafton Heights obelisk

The past lingers in Ardmore in the form of one of the earliest neighborhood names and an obelisk.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The blog peeks in the window...

of the one room schoolhouse in the Oak Grove section of Winston-Salem, where the blog walked on the Sunday evening before Labor Day. The Winston-Salem Foundation supported the restoration - one of the board members is a former student at the school. His comment pretty much tells the story: "If you learned a little something, you wouldn't be a tenant farmer." Jon was chagrined that he had lived in an apartment nearby and never previously known of the school's existence, but at the time he lived nearby it was clearly just another shack...unfortunately the domain name for www.historicoakgrovesc expired on 08/08/2009 and is pending renewal or deletion, so the blog was stumped in its quest for historic photographs...The building was restored by the Rural Initiative Project, Inc., and deeded to the Forsyth County YWCA when completed.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Royal Cake now a carpet cleaning company...

The Royal Cake Company building on Academy Road in Ardmore just managed to sneak onto the National Register of Historic Places (because it was built in 1955, and the cut-off is 1956). Can you see the "ghost" letters in the brick? Here's the description in the National Register: two-story concrete block and brick building with stepped parapet, one story wing with stepped parapet and metal windows. (I think the date cut-off may mean that Jon is historic and Susan is not, but that's another story entirely.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Best doors in Winston-Salem

The key is to commit to the right color...the blog spied these doors while walking Thursday evening in an enigmatic Ardmore neighborhood bounded by Peters Creek Parkway and Interstate 40...not the quaint Ardmore of cute little cottages inhabited by medical students and Birkenstock-wearing academic types, but the original working man's Ardmore of Crafton Heights. It turns out that we were walking past the oldest homes in Ardmore, as several on Corona Street and Sunset drive date from 1910. The blog will have more to say about this topic in a subsequent posting, but it was stunned to learn from the neighborhood association website that approximately 2000 structures built before 1956 (mostly small houses) in Ardmore are listed on the National Historic Register. That's a whole lot of lead paint that needs to be remediated...it's entirely possible that the existence of Ardmore is one of the primary factors responsible for poor school performance in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to walking!

The blog actually took a walk last night in the quiet neighborhood behind Stratford Road businesses such as Total Wine...the photo is from a non-walking day earlier this week when Susan still had the flu and Jon had leadership training at Graylyn, the home of Bowman Gray, Sr...which is not to imply that the flu and leadership are in any way equivalent... Gray is one of the leading figures in Winston-Salem history. He was the son of the founder of Wachovia Bank and Trust whose first job was as a salesman for the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Of course, by the time Graylyn was built in the late 1920s, Gray was Chairman of the Board of the company.