Sometimes called the “Twin City,” Winston-Salem, NC began as two adjacent towns. Moravian Church settlers, a devout Protestant sect from Germany, founded Salem in the mid-1700s. Many of its original buildings have been restored or rebuilt, creating Old Salem, a National Historic Landmark and popular tourist destination. Winston, named for Revolutionary War hero Joseph Winston, got its start in 1849 and two years later became the county seat of Forsyth County. The two towns merged in 1913.
Winston-Salem thrived as an industrial center producing tobacco, furniture and textiles for more than a century. Home to the iconic RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company and Hanes Hosiery Company that made L’eggs Eggs famous, Winston-Salem also is home to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, BB&T Bank and Texas Pete hot sauce.
Known as the City of Arts and Innovation because of its industrious history and creative culture, Winston-Salem today is often rated among the nation’s most desirable places to live and work.
Creativity and innovation are fueled by the presence of numerous top colleges and universities, including Wake Forest University, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem State University, Salem College and Forsyth Technical Community College. All of those institutions have a presence at Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, the growing mixed-use center on the eastern side of downtown that is becoming a hub for innovation in biosciences and information technology.
The city’s music, arts and innovation tradition date to its origin. The Moravians formed the first community orchestras and chamber music ensembles in the colonies, and built some of the first organs and stringed instruments. American classical music was first written in Salem in 1789 by Johann Friedrich Peter. The first arts council in the U.S. was created here in 1949 and launched the arts council movement in America’s cities and towns. The Winston-Salem Symphony is the oldest city orchestra in North Carolina. Founded in 1903 as North Carolina School of the Arts, the famed arts school today is part of the University of North Carolina system. It features internationally acclaimed programs in dance, design, production, drama, filmmaking, music and the visual arts.
The synergy of these artistic resources result in myriad events, festivals and performances, so at any time of year visitors enjoy a range of cultural options for their leisure time.