A portion of the original lunch counter from the former Woolworth’s store in Greensboro is preserved at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. It was this lunch counter where four young black men staged a non-violent sit-in when they were refused service because of their skin color. They became known as the “Greensboro Four” and sparked similar sit-ins across the country.
Greensboro has a notable place in Civil War history as the final capital city of the Confederacy. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and members of his Cabinet left the Confederate Capital in Richmond, Va., and moved to Danville, Va., but fled Danville by train when threatened by Union cavalry. They all met up again in Greensboro on April 11, 1865, and decided to head overseas to avoid capture.
Dolley Madison, a Greensboro/Triad native, was the only First Lady born in North Carolina. While many of her personal effects were sold after her death to pay off bills, the Greensboro Historical Museum takes pride in its Dolley Madison Collection, which includes items used at the Madison home—Montpelier. The museum also has contemporary items honoring Dolley: a 1980 postage stamp and silver dollar minted in 1999.
One of World War II’s top flying aces was a Greensboro native. Among American pilots of all wars, George E. Preddy ranked seventh with 26.83 aerial victories. Historians think he would have become the nation’s premier ace if he had not died on Christmas Day in 1944, when his plane fell prey to friendly fire.
Vernon Rudolph, the founder of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, opened his first shop in Winston-Salem on July 13, 1937. He planned to sell his products directly to grocery stores, but potential customers were soon drawn to his building by the sweet aroma of his creations. Rudolph cut a hole in the wall and sold doughnuts while they were hot. Today, stores feature a sign that lights up when hot doughnuts are available.
When people in Winston-Salem saw a 1913 newspaper ad that said, “The camels are coming,” they thought it was a joke. But it was the way the R.J. Reynolds Company introduced its new Camel cigarettes. The company brought circus camels to town and handed out free samples. The mascot for the product was a camel named “Old Joe.” Camels remain in the top five best-selling cigarettes today.
Famed sports announcer Howard Cosell made his entry into the world in Winston-Salem. He created a legacy as a sportscaster who freely expressed his opinions with a “tell it like it is” philosophy. He also served as one of the original commentators for “Monday Night Football.” While he had N.C. roots, he grew up in Brooklyn and carried a very identifiable accent.
High Point is the only city in North Carolina that crosses into four counties. Most of High Point is in Guilford County, but it also creeps into the counties of Randolph, Davidson, and Forsyth. The big draw is the biannual High Point Market, the largest furnishing industry trade show in the world. The market covers 180 buildings and 12 million square feet of showroom space.
While High Point is known as the “Furniture Capital of the World,” it’s also home to the miniature variety as well. The Doll & Miniature Museum of High Point (formerly known as the Angela Peterson Doll & Miniature Museum) features generations of childhood treasures. The collection includes highly detailed miniature bedroom suites and other furniture, as well as more than 3,000 dolls made from a variety of materials including wood and wax.
Fantasia Barrino, the 2004 winner of American Idol, is a native daughter of High Point. After the show, Barrino recorded the single “I Believe,” which made her the first recording artist to ever have a debut single come out first as No. 1 on Billboard charts. Her album, “Free Yourself,” went platinum in 2005. She’s been nominated for eight Grammy awards.
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