Reynolda Announces the Brown Family Greenhouse and Reynolda Welcome Center
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (OCTOBER 30, 2023) — Reynolda’s original 1913 Lord & Burnham Greenhouse, the first completed structure on R.J. and Katharine Reynolds’s country estate, is set to undergo an extensive restoration and rehabilitation beginning in early November. Designed as the public entrance to four acres of formal gardens, the conservatory features a central domed roof, making it one of the most iconic architectural elements in the Reynolda landscape.
Through a generous donation from Malcolm and Patricia Brown, the restoration process will return this architectural gem to its original glory and simultaneously update the functionality and efficiency of the greenhouse with modern control systems. The impact of these improvements will allow greater efficiency in operating the greenhouse while using the spaces for elegant exhibitions of plant species and special seasonal displays and events. The restored greenhouse will reopen as the Brown Family Greenhouse in late spring 2024.
“Three generations of our family live here in Winston-Salem. We love to see other families of all ages and walks of life enjoying Reynolda,” said Patty and Malcolm Brown. “We chose to support this project because Reynolda Gardens is a place we love; it is where we spend time almost every day. We’ve watched Reynolda Gardens thrive in recent years, and we’re so excited about the future of this entire property.”
“It is exhilarating to announce that this project, which was approved by the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees in January 2023, will commence in November,” said Allison Perkins, executive director, Reynolda House and Wake Forest University associate provost for Reynolda House & Reynolda Gardens. “Thanks to the generous support of the Browns, the restoration of the Greenhouse will be as transformative for the Gardens as the addition of the Babcock Wing was to the Museum. We’re particularly excited to bring back original features of the building, such as the striking curved glass on the two wings. Visitors can anticipate seasonal plant displays in the Greenhouse and we know this is consistent with the types of displays that Katharine Smith Reynolds showcased in her own era.”
A new Reynolda Welcome Center, which will be located adjacent to the Greenhouse, is slated to open in summer 2024. The Welcome Center will introduce visitors to all aspects of the historic estate: Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Reynolda Gardens of Wake Forest University, and Reynolda Village.
“A logical outgrowth from the restoration of the Greenhouse is the addition of a Welcome Center in that location,” Perkins continued. “More than 140,000 people visit Reynolda each year. Yet, many do not understand the breadth of Reynolda’s offerings. By creating a Welcome Center in the headhouse to the Greenhouse, originally constructed as the Florist Workshop, we will be able to greet more visitors as they arrive and orient them to all of the complementary experiences that await them within the Museum, Gardens, Village and greater grounds throughout the historic Reynolda Estate.”
“There are no fewer than five entrances to Reynolda Village: two from the main road, one from the museum, one from Wake Forest’s Reynolda campus, and this magnificent front door to the Formal Gardens,” said Jenny Bush, Director for Wake Forest Properties. “Our merchants, shoppers, and diners will benefit from having one central location for information to acquaint themselves with the many educational, cultural and recreational opportunities throughout Reynolda.”
Katharine Reynolds, wife of R.J. Reynolds and the driving force behind the creation of the Reynolda estate, commissioned this greenhouse complex to propagate vegetables, to keep melons in winter, and to present large seasonal displays to the community, including a free annual chrysanthemum show that was promoted in the newspapers. To create this iconic structure, she sought out premier greenhouse and conservatory designers Lord & Burnham, which later marketed their design for Reynolda as “Number 539, originally erected for Mrs. R.J. Reynolds at Winston-Salem, N.C.” It was touted as both “practical and decidedly ornamental.” The firm also provided greenhouses at the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, the New York Botanical Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Today, Katharine’s vision continues to fulfill its original purpose of growing plants from around the world for educational display, including orchids, bromeliads, cacti, aroids and palms.
Preservation architect Joseph K. Oppermann, FAIA, APT RP will oversee the rehabilitation of this historic structure with the assistance of premier greenhouse restoration firm Montgomery Smith Inc. Construction management will be overseen by Blum Construction, whose extensive experience in overseeing complex and intricate projects—including the recent Reynolda House roof rehabilitation project—will be an asset. The Greenhouse restoration will pay homage to its significance as one of few early-20th century Lord & Burnham greenhouses still in existence and open to the public.
The Reynolda Welcome Center will be approximately 680 square feet. Located in what was historically constructed as the Florist Workshop and, in more recent years, functioned as the Garden Club Council’s former boutique, it will offer a comprehensive introduction to the entire estate, allow visitors to purchase plants and other retail items, and help to serve as a visitor resource for all attractions in the Village. As part of the rehabilitation of this space, the interior will be reimagined with new Ludowici tiles used on the roof and an accessible walkway and glass doorway connecting the Reynolda Welcome Center to the Greenhouse. The Welcome Center has been funded in part by the State of North Carolina, the estate of Everdina B. Nieuwenhuis, and Wake Forest University. Additional support will be generated through the annual Reynolda Gardens fundraiser held on November 16, 2023.
“Reynolda Gardens is an integral part of our community,” said Jon Roethling, director of Reynolda Gardens. “It is open year-round and free to the public. In fact, it is often perceived and used as a public park, and we are honored to serve as a place of respite and contemplation for our community and the larger region.”
Hours and Admission
Reynolda House Museum of American Art, located at 2250 Reynolda Rd., is open to visitors Tuesday–Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is charged, though several free admission categories apply. Reynolda Gardens is open from dawn to dusk daily, free of charge. Reynolda Village merchants’ hours vary. No ticket is needed to shop at the Reynolda House Museum Store.
Reynolda is set on 170 acres in Winston-Salem, N.C. and comprises Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Reynolda Gardens and Reynolda Village Shops and Restaurants. The Museum presents a renowned art collection in a historic and incomparable setting: the original 1917 interiors of Katharine and R.J. Reynolds’s 34,000-square-foot home. Its collection is a chronology of American art and featured exhibitions are offered in the Museum’s Babcock Wing Gallery and historic house bedrooms. The Gardens serve as a 134-acre outdoor horticultural oasis open to the public year-round, complete with colorful formal gardens, nature trails and a greenhouse. In the Village, the estate’s historic buildings are now home to a vibrant mix of boutiques, restaurants, shops and services. Plan your visit at reynolda.org and use the free mobile app, Reynolda Revealed, to self-tour the estate.