Hylehurst - The John W. Fries House
Backstory and Context
The Fries family was perhaps the most influential of the many Moravian industrialist families in Winston-Salem. Francis Fries was one of the founders of the Salem Manufacturing Company, a wool mill, in 1835. He left the company soon after and founded a competing wool mill; he was joined by his brother Henry, and the venture became the F. and H. Fries Manufacturing Company around 1846. The Fries brothers built a cotton mill in 1848, then purchased the struggling Salem Manufacturing Company and converted the building into the Wachovia Flour Mill in 1856. Fries family members also built the Arista Mill, a cotton mill, adjacent to the Wachovia Flour Mill in 1880.
John W. Fries was the eldest son of Francis Fries, born on November 7th, 1846. He attended the Salem Boys School, but worked in the family mills during the Civil War. He attended the University of North Carolina in 1866 and 1867, but returned to the mill business when he became a partner of the F. and H. Fries Manufacturing Company. During his career, he was President of both this company and of the Arista Mill Company. He was also a successful inventor. He designed a dye machine for cotton mills and an industrial humidifier, the latter of which became the basis for the Normalair Company (today known as The Bahnson Company).
Fries’s interests and achievements were not confined to the milling business. He served as President of the People’s National Bank of Winston-Salem, the Salem Cemetery Company, the Fealty Building and Loan Association, and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce; Director of the North Carolina Midland Railroad, the Wachovia Loan and Trust Company, and the Fries Manufacturing and Power Company; a member of the Town of Salem Commission, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees, the Salem College Board of Trustees, the Society of Chemical Industry, and the Academy of Social Science; and chairman of the Winston-Salem Foundation. He was also a Salem magistrate and a judge of the Forsyth County Court. He held many of these positions for decades. He was awarded an honorary LLD (or Doctor of Laws) by the University of North Carolina in 1926. In addition, Fries was a staunch supporter of the gold standard; he was elected to a national gold standard committee, wrote articles advocating for the gold standard, and supported William McKinley in the 1896 election. In 1897, after his victory, McKinley appointed Fries to a national Monetary Commission. Finally, Fries was a longtime member of the Home Moravian Church, serving on its Board of Trustees and as its chairman. He was elected to the Southern Provincial Elders Conference and was twice chosen to represent the Southern Province at the decennial General Synods, which were held in Germany.
He married Agnes Sophia de Schweinitz in 1870 and purchased a one-block lot with a small brick home. It was here that their two children, Adelaide and Mary, spent their childhood. This dwelling was also located within sight of the Arista and Wachovia Mills; according to the house’s National Register of Historic Places nomination, this reflects the, “longstanding integration of industrial and residential fabric that was later supplanted by geographic zones of separate uses.” In 1884, Fries commissioned Henry Hudson Holly to design a new house to be built on his property. Holly was a prominent New York City architect who had written multiple books and advertised in several national publications. However, few of his buildings survive today without significant alteration; in North Carolina, Hylehurst is the only remaining example of his work. Holly designed Hylehurst in his “Americanized” version of the Queen Anne style. Significant design elements in the structure include a contrasting second story exterior, with scalloped shingles, and a “free-flowing” interior plan, that stands in stark contrast to the center-hall plans of older homes, as well as intricate wood mantels, one of Holly’s hallmarks. The home was built by the Fogle Brothers Lumber Company, which constructed many industrial and residential buildings in Winston-Salem. Upon its completion, a local newspaper said that Hylehurst is, “one of the most convenient and best dwellings in both towns [Winston and Salem] and reflects credit on the builders Fogle brothers.”
The home has two outbuildings: a brick shed, built prior to 1870, and a frame structure with three entrances. This latter building was used as a cook’s quarters, studio, and the “Hylehurst School,” where a teacher instructed the children of the Fries family and two other prominent families.
The house passed to Adelaide Fries upon John Fries’s death in 1927. Adelaide was a local and church historian and author who published several books and received multiple honorary doctorates. After she died in 1949, the house was given to the family of her sister, Mary Fries Blair. When the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, Mary’s daughter Margaret Blair McCuiston still lived in it. However, it was converted to office space in 1997, and is currently home to The Law Offices of J. Darren Byers, P.A.
1) Archer, Coy. Living Legends, Winston-Salem Monthly. April 29th 2016. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://www.journalnow.com/winstonsalemmonthly/living-legends/article_9ba517f4-08a4-11e6-b2c3-3b6c8f0094fe.html.
2) Bair, Anna Withers. Fries, Adelaide Lisetta, NCPedia. 1986. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/fries-adelaide.
3) Bair, Anna Withers. Fries, John William, NCPedia. 1986. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/fries-john-william.
4) Bishir, Catherine W. Holly, Henry Hudson (1834-1892), North Carolina Architects & Builders: A Biographical Dictionary. 2015. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu/people/P000487.
5) Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission. 036 - Brookstown Mill; Local Historic Landmark Program; Historic Resources Commission; Planning & Development Services Department, City of Winston-Salem, NC. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://www.cityofws.org/DocumentCenter/View/3823/036---Brookstown-Mill-PDF.
6) Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission. 064 - Hylehurst; Local Historic Landmark Program; Historic Resources Commission; Planning & Development Services Department, City of Winston-Salem, NC. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://www.cityofws.org/DocumentCenter/View/3850/064---Hylehurst-PDF.
7) Glass, Brent D. Photographs: Written Historical and Descriptive Data - Salem Manufacturing Company: Arista Cotton Mill - HAER NC-3, Historic American Engineering Record, Library of Congress. 1976. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://cdn.loc.gov/master/pnp/habshaer/nc/nc0000/nc0030/data/nc0030data.pdf.
8) The Law Offices of J. Darren Byers, P.A.. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://www.jdbyers.com/.
9) Lounsbury, Carl R. Bishir, Catherine W. Fogle Brothers (1871-1932), North Carolina Architects & Builders: A Biographical Dictionary (NC State University Libraries). 2010. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu/people/P000340.
10) Taylor, Gwynne S. Hylehurst (John W. Fries House), National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, North Carolina Historic Preservation Office. February 28th 1983. Accessed April 20th 2020. https://files.nc.gov/ncdcr/nr/FY1418.pdf.
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