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Neighborhood Histories

Run #1

Country Park, Military Park, Old Salisbury Wagon Rd, Battle Forest, The Bluffs, Lake Jeanette Rd, Country Park Acres

Battleground Parks District Plan
Lots of big cities like New York City, Chicago, San Diego, and St. Louis contain parks with large green space, museums, and other attractions for people to enjoy. Greensboro will now have that same type of park – the Battleground Parks District. Near the proposed urban loop in the northwest region of Greensboro is a collection of significant public amenities contained in a 400- acre green space. These facilities: Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Country Park, the Natural Science Center, Forest Lawn Cemetery and the Atlantic and Yadkin (A&Y) Greenway represent a significant opportunity for the city and the region to create a cohesive park that offers rich historic, educational, natural and recreational opportunities for both residents and visitors. Together these facilities will be known as the Battleground Parks District.
 
In 1887, the Guilford Battleground Company was formed. It was conceived by Judge Schenck as an organization dedicated to preserving and adorning the grounds of the Guilford Courthouse battlefield. Through the work of acquiring the battlefield land, the company laid the foundation for its eventual adoption as a national military park. In 1917, the battlefield of Guilford Courthouse, in the state of North Carolina, was declared to be a national military park. Guilford Courthouse, by this time had grown to one hundred and twenty-five acres marked with twenty-eight monuments and graves and was the first Revolutionary War battlefield preserved as a national park. (There’s more on Military Park below.) Country Park, part of a large tract of land purchased in 1924 with cemetery bond funds, officially open to the public on Independence Day in 1934. Work was initiated by Mayor Paul Lindley with assistance from the Civil Works Administration and the Federal Relief Administration. The bathhouse and boardwalks sited along the lakes were the main attraction. In 1957, the Natural Science Center opened. It was called the Greensboro Junior Museum and provided a small nature center and environmental programs. In 1964 the Lewis Center Rec Center was built in Country. In 1971, Greensboro Jaycee Park, the largest athletic complex, developed by the City of Greensboro, was built. In 1973, the Country Park zoo was deeded to the Natural Science Center, Inc. In 1978, the J. Spencer Love Tennis Center at Jaycee Park was built. In 1988, the Tannenbaum Historic Park opened to the public and hosted the first anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Park visitors learned about everyday life in the backcountry of North Carolina before, during and after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. That year, the Hoskins House Historic District, located at Tannenbaum Historic Park, was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1992 the Colonial Heritage Center opened at Tannenbaum Park. Ini 2009 a twenty-million dollar bond for the Natural Science Center expansion and renovation was approved by voters. (Info gathered from the Battleground Parks District Master Plan. For more info on the the proposed Battleground Parks District, check out this N&R article and this Yes Weekly article.)
Guilford County Veteran’s Memorial
This Labor Day Weekend, as the RunTheBoro Runners run through Country Park they will pass the Guilford County Veteran’s Memorial. The Guilford County Veterans Memorial is an approximately one-acre memorial dedicated to the Guilford County, North Carolina, veterans of our nation’s foreign wars. The Guilford County Veterans Memorial was dedicated on September 14, 2002, and the website was originally launched on Veterans’ Day, 2003.

Great Salisbury Wagon Road/Guilford County National Military Park
If you’re a runner from Greensboro, then more than likely you’ve encountered a short stretch of greenway just before the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park parking lot along Old Battleground Rd. that’s not paved with asphalt like the rest of the greenway. That entire stretch of greenway used to be gravel until several years ago when they paved the greenway. I always thought it odd that they left this 5-foot or so stretch unpaved. Well there is a reason.
 
Did you know..… that this pea gravel crossing is a part of the old Great Salisbury Wagon Road? Today this road is better known as New Garden Road. This pea gravel path actually begins near the Visitors Center further down New Garden Rd. and continues through Military park exiting the park across the street from the BP station on Lawndale where the rest of the paved New Garden Road picks up. RunTheBoro Run #1 runners will be running this historic road beginning starting in the middle of the park and then head through the park exiting right on the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway at Old Battleground Rd.
 
On March 15, 1781, having learned that his American counterpart General Nathaniel Greene had formed his army at Guilford Courthouse, Cornwallis advanced up the Great Salisbury Wagon Road to meet him. As he reached the 150-acre Hoskins Farm, the British general’s lead troops discovered the first American line of battle formed behind a rail fence with two pieces of cannon aimed directly down the road.To initiate his attack, Cornwallis moved his 1,800 men onto the grounds and fields of the Hoskins Farm. There he formed his lines of battle, deployed his own cannon, and prepared for the coming fight. A fierce 30-minute cannonade followed, with the British troops then advancing forward across the fields at the American militia waiting directly ahead of them. From this start, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse would accelerate into one of the key battles of the American Revolution. The Americans under Greene would badly bloody the British army and then retreat from the field in good order.Though he secured a tactical victory on the ground, Cornwallis would be forced to fall back to the coast at Wilmington in order to secure supplies and regroup. By fall he would be trapped at Yorktown and forced to surrender. The bloody battle that began on the Hoskins Farm set him on that road. 

Lawndale/Lake Jeanette Road Area
One of the earliest residences in the Lawndale/Lake Jeannette Neighborhood was built in 1917, just south of the intersection of Hillsdale Road (now Lawndale Drive) and Wray Road (now Lake Jeanette Road). The parcel it stands on was originally part of a 75-acre tract purchased by S.P. Westmoreland in 1911 for $900. At that time, the land stood approximately 2 miles outside the city limits. (I’m thinking this is the older wooden house located on the south corner of Lawndale Dr and Lake Jeanette Rd.) Another early house, built in 1939, stood just north of that same intersection, in what became the neighborhood’s first subdivision in the modern sense (I don’t believe this house is still standing). The 1950s mark the advent of a number of subdivisions in the Lawndale/Lake Jeanette neighborhood, and a surge of home building in response to the post-World War II boom.
 
Along what today are Kirk Road, Howell Place, and Country Park Road, Tatum H. Sparger and his wife, Nina, owned a large tract of land which would become the Country Park Acres neighborhood. Phase 1 of Country Park Acres was subdivided in 1955. Phase 2 of Country Park Acres, which included the roads and lots surrounding Sparger Lake, was subdivided in 1956. Together the two subdivisions included 77 lots and the area of the lake. Many of the homes in Country Park Acres were built in the 1950’s, and Sparger placed deed restrictions on most of the lots developed during this time. Restrictions included prohibiting the keeping of animals, although pets, ‘small scale poultry raising, and ponies and saddle horses,’ were allowed.

So what do Horsepen Creek, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, the Francis McNairy House and a library on Lake Jeanette have in common?
Well, around the time of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Francis and Mary McNairy and his family had a two story log house (later it was covered in clapboard) near Horsepen Creek. Today the basic vicinity of the house would be somewhere near the Bicentennial Greenway connect with Old Battleground Rd, near Horsepen Creek (the actual creek not the road.) Remember from reading above, that this was near Martinsville, a town now extinct (basically now Military Park). The couple purchased from Herman Husband a tract on Horsepen Creek, later famous as part of the scene of the Battle of Guilford Court House  during the American Revolution. North Carolina State Records show payment to one John McNairy for services rendered, but no details of his war service remain. Because of the close proximity to the battle, Nathanael Greene declared the McNairy’s house be used as a hospital after the battle. The McNairy’s had ten children between 1763 and 1786. The eldest, John, studied law in Salisbury, NC and became acquainted with Andrew Jackson. When John returned to Guilford County, Jackson came with him and lived in the McNairy home during 1787-8. And so this is how this white clapboard house that now sits downtown got its fame (it was moved to the Greensboro History Museum in 1967).
But what about the library on Lake Jeanette Road? Well this new branch library was named for Glenn McNairy, a direct descendant of a family that has lived in Guilford County for about 250 years. (Yep, you guessed it, Francis McNairy’s family.) According to a News & Record article, “The McNairys settled in Guilford County in the 18th century. American troops under Gen. Nathanael Greene used their home as a hospital in 1781 during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. The structure now sits outside the Greensboro Historical Museum.
In 1783, the son of family patriarch Francis McNairy became the first native-born resident to be granted a law license in Guilford County. Other McNairy family members became lawyers, doctors, teachers and school principals.
Glenn McNairy, the youngest of seven children, attended a one-room schoolhouse about a mile from the new branch library. He and older brother Walton owned and operated Tatum-Dalton Transfer and Storage, which grew from three trucks to 50. Glenn McNairy was active in the Greensboro Lions Club, Industries for the Blind, Meals-On-Wheels and the Greensboro YMCA. He died in 1998.”

Run #2

Kirkwood, Old Irving Park, Latham Park, Latham Park Greenway, Idlewood

KirkwoodOne of the first neighborhoods runners will run through on the second RunTheBoro run/walk is Kirkwood. The Kirkwood Community began as two farms that were purchased and developed on the outskirts of Greensboro in the 1920s. The Kirkpatrick farm homeplace was located at current 906 West Cornwallis and the Holt farm homeplace was located at current 2000 Dellwood Drive. The Holt Farm property was sold and developed into residential lots in the 1930s, and Kirkpatrick Farm property was developed for postwar housing in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The majority of these hundreds of houses were small and built on deep narrow lots approximately 60 years ago. A few newer streets were developed with larger houses on larger lots in the late 1950s through 1990s,At the request of the Kirkwood Garden Club in the early 1950s, the City established Kirkwood Recreational Park (which the RunTheBoro runners/walkers will pass) is part of the City’s park system. Since that time the entire surrounding neighborhood has enjoyed the recreational equipment and the Parks and Recreation Department’s summer programming.The annual Kirkwood 5K (which is a fundraiser for Backpack Beginnings) starts and finishes at Kirkwood Park. 

Old Irving Park

Irving Park is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Greensboro. In 1909, John Nolen, who headed a national landscaping firm in Cambridge, Mass., created the Irving Park neighborhood. The houses and mansions border the neighborhood center piece, the Greensboro Country Club golf course, which was founded the same year as the neighborhood. When Irving Park was expanded, Robert Cridland of Philadelphia completed the job. According to the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, houses in most areas were to cost at least $5,000 (in 1912). I think they’ve increase a tad since 1912. Irving Park has remained the city’s premier neighborhood for more than 100 years. Cridland also designed the grounds of A.W. McAlister’s mansion on Country Club Drive, the still-magnificent courtyard of the Country Club Apartments (now condos) and the enormous grounds of what was from 1924 to 1990 the headquarters of Pilot Life Insurance Company in Sedgefield. Whilerunning on the Latham Park Greenway, RunTheBoro runners doing the longer route will cross over Cridland Rd.(named after Robert Cridland).In 1995, Irving Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. That’s pretty cool!

The beautiful house below is known as the McAdoo-Sanders-Tatum House and is located at 303 Wentworth Street (both routes for RunTheBoro run/walk #2 will pass this house). It’s recognized as a Guilford County landmark property. This house may also be the oldest home in Irving Park. Construction dates (for the stately home) are not certain. Many aspects of the home put it being build around 1890, but other evidence speaks to an earlier farmhouse that may have been on this very spot. This land the home is on was purchased by Colonel Walter D. McAdoo in 1890. McAdoo was a prominent Greensboro resident who built and operated the McAdoo Hotel (built in 1870) which was located on South Elm Street. The supposed farmhouse may have been a retirement retreat for McAdoo. No one knows for sure, but the bigger home may have been constructed absorbing the farmhouse. Hard to believe that stately Irving Park was once considered rural farmland by Greensboro residents.Below the house picture you’ll see a picture of the impressive McAdoo Hotel once located at 301-311 S. Elm St. The hotel was build in the late 1800s. It was destroyed by a fire in 1915. A new hotel was planned, but an office tower (The Guilford Building ) was build in 1927 instead. 

How many times have you passed the stately Irving Park Manor (shown below) while running or driving down Elm Street? Ever wondered about it’s history? Did you know it has a connection to the White House? Yep, that’s right, the White House as in Pennsylvania Ave. White House.
According to Preservation Greensboro, a young man by the name of Lorenzo Simmons Winslow had a hand in quite a bit of architecture found in several of our historic neighborhoods and downtown, including the iconic Irving Park Manor Apartments built in 1929. When the apartments opened they were exclaimed as “North Carolina’s finest” and were quite modern for the time including modern amenities such as electrical refrigerators, electrical stoves, electrical dishwashers, wiring for radios, and colored enamel bathrooms. Winslow is also responsible for many of the unique homes found in the Sunset Hills neighborhood.
During the Great Depression, the housing and building industry suffered greatly in Greensboro, and so Winslow took on government work to fill the gap. This change took tim to Washington DC where he began to work for the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the national Capital. With this position he worked on many notable structures including the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument, bridges and roadways in Washington’s Rock Creek Park. Then Winslow entered a competition for the design of a swimming pool that was to be added to the White House. The heated pool was needed so that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt could practice a regular swimming routine as therapy for his polio affliction. Winslow won the competition and Roosevelt praised Winslow’s work, stating in a letter “I have just examined the new swimming pool and dressing rooms, for which I am informed you did the architectural work. Allow me to commend you for the excellent taste you have exhibited in your selection of colors, materials, and proportions. The whole result is most harmonious and agreeable to the eye. I appreciate your efforts. Very sincerely yours, Franklin D. Roosevelt”
Winslow remained on staff with the White House for the next 20 years, supervising increasingly significant alterations to the People’s House. He became somewhat of a celebrity inside the beltline, profiled occasionally by columnists and national magazines. He gained a reputation for his partiality to tweeds, his love of the arts, his signature corncob pipe, and his ancient car. For more information on Winslow Greensboro history be sure to visit Preservation Greensboro.

Just past Irving park Manor, RunTheBoro runners (long route) will see an impressive set of white brick buildings on their left. Today, this impressive complex is known as the Country Club Condominiums, however, they began as apartments. According to Preservation Greensboro, they were erected in 1937, and were the first “garden-style” apartment complex in the city. The apartment complex was privately financed by investors Julian Price, then president of Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company, and Emry Green, then president of Pilot Life Insurance Company to address a community housing shortage. The George W. Kane Construction Company erected the $525,000 project that was heralded as the “largest apartment house in North Carolina” at the time, and set the stage for a new generation of apartment design in Greensboro.Below is an early picture of the Country Club Apartments. For more information on the Country Club Apartment go to Preservation Greensboro.

Latham Park Greenway

Latham Park was a gift to the people of Greensboro in 1923 by James Edwin Latham. Latham was a cotton merchant, textile manufacturer, real estate developer, hotel builder, civic leader and philanthropist…..busy man. He gave the gift “For the preservation of its natural beauty and the inspiration and enjoyment of his fellow citizens.”Latham Park Greenway winds through Latham Park parallel to North Buffalo Creek. This paved multi-use path features 20 fitness stations. The fitness trail section starts at the intersection of Wendover Avenue and Cridland Road and extends northeast to the North Elm Street trailhead. In addition, there are tennis facilities, basketball courts, and Little League baseball fields available in the park. The new Latham Skate Park is located on the greenway near Hill Street.

After running through Irving Park, Latham Park, and Idlewoodhe, the 9-Mile RunTheBoro Runners will run along Battleground Ave. At Battleground and Northwood, runners will see Havana Phil’s. Many of you probably remember this building as the home of Anton’s restaurant. According to Images of America: Greensboro Volume II Neighborhoods, by Gayle Hicks Fripp, The building was purchased in 1962 by the Anton brothers. Did you know that prior to Anton’s, the building was home to the Irving Park Delicatessen that was owned by Ernest Kahn and Ernest Katz. Fripp states that by 1950, the Irving Park Delicatessen was a one of Battlegrounds best known attractions. The delicatessen has limited inside seating and a take-out window. When the Anton brothers bought the building, the added a full restaurant in the basement of the building known at Cellar Anton’s.

If runners look to their right as they cross over Northwood, they’ll see the tall multi-story traditional First Citizens Bank building. This location was originally the home of the Janus Theatres.  According to cinematreasures.org, the Janus Theatres in Greensboro North Carolina opened its doors to the public on December 20, 1968 as a twin theatre. It was the South’s most elegant theatre and it was the second twin theatre to open in North Carolina. At the time of its opening the Janus 1 & 2 was one of the first modern ultra theatres in the South between Washington and Atlanta to have full automated projection and stereophonic sound. The first films shown were “Yellow Submarine” and “Elvira Madigan”. By 1970 it expanded to four screens and by 1975 three more screens were added to expand to seven screens. By 1981, it eventually grew to eight screens and was Greensboro’s top entertainment showplace when it closed in 2000. It was demolished to make way for luxury condos and speciality shops. The shops and condos never happened and the bank was erected instead. The Janus Theatres showed many first-run blockbusters and well as smaller independent and art films, as well as special features of interest.Below is an early picture of the Janus Theatres.