Our neighborhood is getting a new name – and many new “residents”. And Winston Cup Museum owner, Will Spencer, has had a hand in it. Here’s a bit of background on Industry Hill a sneak peek into what’s on the horizon for this up-and-coming area.
The neighborhood where our museum is located has a working-class history. Back in the day, Winston-Salem used to be referred to as “The City of Industry”. But the factories have gone, and a lot of empty space has been hanging around unutilized…until now. The revitalization started with Big Winston Warehouse, home to Fiddlin’ Fish brewery and Black Mountain Chocolate…and continued with the Ramkat opening in the former Ziggy’s space and Wise Man Brewing.
So what’s next?
The Spencer Connection
Industry Hill encompasses a few blocks north of Innovation Quarter along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Spencer’s museum is within this area – and Spencer owns property on Liberty Street nearby. His stake in the area, his family’s past ownership of factories there and his marketing acumen as the owner of JKS Incorporated made him the right person to partner with AirType Studio to rebrand the area.
“We didn’t want anything too specific to previous businesses or owners,” says Spencer. “Airtype came back with Industry Hill, and we loved it.”
Spencer’s Liberty Street building used to house a sign company. Coe & Hartman produced signs for many decades for companies now defunct in Winston-Salem. Some of them include Holsum bread, American Gasoline, Salem Restaurant and Staley’s Steakhouse, which is where Fratelli’s Italian Steakhouse is now located. Many old signs were found in the basement of the building, and Spencer plans to refurbish them.
One sign is already refurbished and hanging on the front of the building. Robert Hall was the name of a clothing store off of Highway 52 in the 1950s and 1960s. Spencer found the sign in the basement of the building during renovation and decided to install it and name one part of the building “Robert Hall”.
Before the sign company was using the entire building, half of the space may have included a restaurant while the other half was a grocery with an apartment above. Spencer refers to that side as the “Booie Building” after Mr. Booie, the grocer.
“In 1983 when I was first starting JKS, I rented this space as our first corporate office,” shared Spencer.
Plans for Robert Hall and The Booe Building
Going forward, the Booe Building will remain corporate space, becoming the new home for Nu expression, a local marketing agency. The Robert Hall side will be all about the consumer, however. Plans are in the works for a mixture of experiences including a restaurant, an indoor and outdoor event space, Airbnb rooms, a brewery and a beer garden.
Spencer’s vision is that all parts of the space would work in tandem. Folks could rent rooms in the Airbnb while they were hosting events, such as weddings. The restaurant could act as the caterer for the events, with beer supplied by the brewery. Of course, each part could operate as stand-alone, with customer coming just to grab a beer or have a meal.
In the empty lot next door, Spencer has had a dream in mind for a while to convert it into an old-timey, drive-in movie theater. In the down time of screening films, the space could accommodate flea markets, car shows and live music events.
The Booe Building will be ready to house its new tenant in the spring. Robert Hall will take a bit longer, with construction continuing throughout this year.
In the meantime….
While Spencer’s Liberty Street project is being completed, there is no shortage of places to visit in the area.
- Wiseman Brewing – a local microbrewery hosting live music and food trucks weekly
- The Ramkat – a music venue next door to Wiseman Brewing featuring mostly rock music but other genres as well
- Big Winston Warehouse – home to many businesses, including Fiddlin’ Fish Brewery and Black Mountain Chocolate
- Earl’s – a pub/restaurant featuring southern food, a whiskey bar and live bluegrass and folk music
- Mixxer Community Maker Space – a community maker space for technology and fabric enthusiasts next door to our museum. Cut, weld, print, carve, design and more.
And of course, visitors or residents of the area can always stop by the Winston Cup Museum to get their fill of racing history!