Gray's Journal

Thursday, September 19, 2013

10 Things You Didn't Know About Graylyn

Step through the hand-crafted iron gates at the front door and watch Graylyn transform from an innovative hotel and conference center to a lustrous estate filled to the brim with charm and history. Inside these walls tells the story of a prominent Winston-Salem family, Bowman and Nathalie Gray, and their success with the tobacco industry, the establishment of their dream home, and raising their two children, Gordon and Bowman Gray Jr. But whether you're from Winston-Salem or an out-of-town visitor, there's always something to learn about this grand estate.

Here are 10 things you probably didn't know about Graylyn:

1. The iron work throughout the estate was crafted by a 19-year old apprentice by the name of Joseph Barton Benson.

2. The oldest architectural element in Graylyn is the 15th Century French carved stone doorway, which separates the vestibule from the larger entrance hall.

3. The 19th Century handcarved gessoed and gilded Persian Card Room panels were purchased by the Gray family from a mosque in Constantinople, Turkey.

3. An underground tunnel leads from the manor house to the Bernard Cottage. Legend has it there is another tunnel that leads across the street to the Reynolda House - home of R.J. Reynolds and his family.

4. When it was built in 1932, Graylyn had its own telephone system with fifty outlets, a radio system throughout the house, and a floodlight system for extra security (supplementing their watch guards).

5. The miniature furniture found in the Library was collected by Mrs. Gray. When furniture representatives came to the house with samples, she'd buy the furniture and request to keep the samples as well.

6. The Mews (French word for stables), resembles a Normandy quadrangle and which originally had caretaker's quarters, garages, implement storage facilities, a forge, stable and poultry house.

7. In 1935, there were 35 employees working for the Grays, including a greenhouse supervisor, watchmen and a poultryman.

8. Handpainted tiles from the Enfield Pottery and Tile Works of Enfield, Pennsylvania, are used in all the second floor bathrooms, the indoor swimming pool, and in many first floor and basement rooms.

9. Murals of undersea life surrounded the indoor swimming pool when the house was built. The walls deteriorated and the murals were removed in the 1940s.

10. Bowman Gray lived at Graylyn for only three short years. He died aboard an ocean liner in the Northern Atlantic Ocean while vacationing with his family in 1935.

To get the full historical tour of Graylyn, register for our monthly Tour Pour Du JourGuests will be taken back in time during a guided tour of the home while they enjoy Graylyn's select house wines. Learn about the Grays' beginnings in Winston-Salem, and how Graylyn is being used today. We will give you a look into the family's rich history, and even let you in on some of the mysteries that lie beneath the ground and within the walls. 

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