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West End Association News Letter

June 1997

Happy Birthday, America! July4,1997
Anniversary Waltz
Use Ajax, The Foaming Cleaner
Mixed Bag
Abandon Ship!
Cars, Cars, Everywhere and not a Parkinglot did Shrink
Burke Street Blues
Music at Grace Court


Hot dog! It is the Fourth of July, again! The Republic has made it through another year. So has West End. From the mountains to the prairies, it's party time. Our Independence Day celebration begins at 11:00 a.m., Friday, July 4, with the children's program at Grace Court. The children's bike parade from Grace Court down Fourth Street starts at 12:15 p.m.

Following the bike parade will be the annual potluck lunch at 1101 West Fourth Street. Hot dogs, iced tea and lemonade will be provided. Kathy Otterbourg, our social chair, expects an enthusiastic and hungry crowd. Last year she was awarded first prize in the hot-dog cooking contest.


All hands are encouraged to join in the festivities this year, which marks the 25th Anniversary of the back-zoning of the neighborhood. In 1972 the Board of Alderman took the unprecedented step of rezoning most of West End to make it more restrictive for commercial interests. Attorney Edward Green, who was an alderman at the time, said when the issue was being debated by the board that he wanted to give the folks of West End an opportunity to see what they could do. The board, with one dissent (Carl Russell), approved the rezoning.

At the height of the debate over rezoning, the West End residents made compromises on some parcels in order to gain support for the overall concept. Today it appears that both sides, the residents and the commercial interests, benefited greatly from the 1972 "deal."

The overall appearance of the neighborhood is much better today than in 1972. The gazebo that is a West End trademark did not exist in 1972. The City of Winston-Salem in cooperation with the Armfield Family, the West End Garden Club and other organizations, gave new life to Grace Court.


In 1972 the dominant structure in Grace Court was an unsightly waterfountain. It had virtually no redeeming aesthetic value. What had been a proud centerpiece of the park was nothing more than an open-air laundromat. Less thoughtful souls poured boxes of detergent into the fountain. The result was a small mountain of soap bubbles, a big nuisance for the city parks and recreation people.

Neighborhood housing stock was in a slight decline in 1972. But, like Grace Court, it snapped back. This is particularly true from the prospective of the city-county tax appraiser. He's had no trouble bumping up the values of homes by as much as ONE THOUSAND per cent since 1972.


Business expansion in the area has been dramatic since the rezoning even though the idea was to restrict the commercial use of land. Within two years of the change, the earth started moving in West End. First came under a banner not normally associated with business. It was the YMCA. Leaving its antiquated Spruce Street building in 1975, the YMCA brought a mixed bag to West End. On one hand the YMCA meant a great recreation facility to the neighborhood. On the other hand it meant cars and lots of them. Over the years the YMCA has prospered across from Hanes Park. It has undergone a couple of expansions and has purchased additional real estate in the area. The "Metro Y" has opened a headquarters at Fourth and Burke streets in the building formerly occupied by the law firm of Davis and Harwell.

The YMCA may be a nonprofit organization with a noble purpose but it is big business with lots of customers and lots of cars. Like Wachovia it has expanded over the years. Its summer programs have become so popular that the YMCA has leased some old school buses. They are parked at Brunson School!

Though it came to West End long before 1972, the YWCA has been in an expansion mode. Demand for its services is up. The new Chrissy Gallagher pool and other amenities have brought more folks to the YWCA, forcing it to lease a bus for the summer.


Within three years of the rezoning, Sears Roebuck abandoned its roof-top parking at Four and One-Half Street in favor of Hanes Mall. The days of walking to Sears to get a bike for the kids ended in 1975. West Enders wondered about the white elephant Sears left behind.

For many months, residents of West End had no idea about what was going on at the old Sears building. There was no visible sign that the building was indeed occupied. It quietly became a storage facility and print shop for Wachovia Bank. Ten years later Wachovia made a mighty impact on West End. This time it wasn't much of a secret. A six-story, "Georgetown brick" building was hard to hide.

Wachovia's West End Operations Center was dedicated on a bright, hot May day in 1986. The Reynolds High School band played while Wachovia donated $1,000.00 to the West End Association. Business was booming in West End.


The success of the West End Center as a business location for Wachovia led to the conversion of the old Sears building filled with used furniture to a new office building filled with employees. The latest chapter of the Wachovia West End Story has to do with parking for employees. This is the same issue that the neighborhood faced when Wachovia announced years ago its plan to build the West End Center on Fifth Street.

To meet the demand for parking by its employees, Wachovia operates several surface lots a block or two south of Modern Chevrolet. Today construction has begun on the Fourth Street parking deck, a deck that has doubled in capacity since folks began talking about it. This deck is a big deal and its financial success is virtually guaranteed by Wachovia.

No recitation of business relocation into West End since 1972 would be complete without mentioning the arrival of what was known for years as "Petree Stockton." In 1980 the firm moved from the Reynolds Building to 1001 West Fourth Street. Today it is "Kilpatrick Stockton," having merged with firms in Charlotte and Atlanta.

After the city had issued the firm a building permit but before construction began, the West End Association tried to stop the move by urging the Board of Aldermen to rezone the property. The traditional arguments by the residents failed and the project went forward. Today the firm not only occupies the structure it built when it first moved to West End but also two other significant buildings-- those formerly known as the Child Guidance Clinic and the Jefferson Pilot offices.


At the last two West End Board meetings, the subject loosely defined as "Burke Street" has surfaced. The folks whose homes are close to Burke Street want to see some improvement in the condition of the alley that separates the Fourth Street homes from the Burke Street businesses. The problem was aired at the June West End Board meeting.

Business owners and law enforcement officers joined in a discussion with association members and residents. The business owners appeared to be as eager as the residents to see that improvements were made. In the last few weeks, the presence of law enforcement officers has become more evident in the area. City sanitation officials have taken a greater interest in the area and things have gotten better. Police Captain A. L. Vance, who is in charge of the area, attended the June West End board meeting and made some constructive suggestions.


Social chair Kathy Otterbourg has announced two music programs for Grace Court. The first is August 17 and the second one is September 28. All hands are encouraged to attend these Sunday concerts. Bring a picnic. They should begin around 5:30 p.m.

Former West End President Wanda Merschel announced at the June meeting that she is resigning from the long-range planning committee to run for Northwest Ward alderman.

Thanks to Peggy Merschel, for hosting the June West End Board meeting.

The July West End Board meeting will be at Grace Court, Tuesday, July 1, 7:00 p.m. 1997. Every one is invited.