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Graylyn is located in North Carolina
Graylyn is located in the United States
LocationReynolda Rd., Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Coordinates36°7′02″N 80°16′59″W / 36.11722°N 80.28306°W / 36.11722; -80.28306Coordinates: 36°7′02″N 80°16′59″W / 36.11722°N 80.28306°W / 36.11722; -80.28306
Area87 acres (35 ha)
ArchitectLashmit, Luther; et al.
Architectural styleNorman Revival
NRHP reference #78001949[1]
Added to NRHPAugust 3, 1978

Graylyn is a historic estate located in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1] The construction of the Norman Revival style mansion began in 1928. Associated with the house are a number of contributing outbuildings including a garage-guest house and "farm" complex.[2] Today, Graylyn estate is used as a conference center and hotel.[3]



Graylyn Estate circa 1932

In 1925, spouses Nathalie Lyons Gray and Bowman Gray Sr., chairman of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, purchased the 87 acre estate from R. J. Reynolds with the plan of building “the home of their dreams.”[4] The land had formerly been corn fields and pasture for the Reynolda Estate which is now referred to as the Reynolda Historic District.[5] The Grays then employed artisans and craftsmen from all over the United States to build what was one of the largest private homes in North Carolina.

The groundbreaking for the mansion took place on January 15, 1928 and as many as 136 people worked on the construction of the estate at one time.[5] The mansion was built in the style of Norman architecture and contained approximately 60 rooms.[5] At the time, it was second to George Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina for the largest private home in North Carolina.[5]

The ironwork throughout the property was designed by Joseph Barton Benson, an ironsmith from Philadelphia.[6] Nathalie Gray personally decorated the rooms of Graylyn, and the grounds and gardens were designed by Thomas Warren Sears.[5] The amenities of the house were considered very lavish at the time, and its original telephone system and floodlight system "were at the cutting end of technology for the 1930s."[4]

Later Uses[edit]

Nathalie Gray and her sons gifted the estate to the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of in 1946.[4] The estate was used as a psychiatric hospital from 1947 to 1959.[7] Gordon Gray, the son of Nathalie and Bowman Gray, bought the estate back in 1972 and donated it to Wake Forest University.[8] In the following years, the estate was used for multiple purposes including university programs and community service.[4] From 1977 to 1980, Graylyn was used as a dormitory and housed approximately 40 students a year.[9]

Fire and Reconstruction[edit]

On June 20, 1980, a fire started in the house during a performance on the lawn by the Winston-Salem Symphony.[4] Nearly 7,000 people watched as the fire extensively damaged the interior of the house.[6] The following day, James R. Scales, the president of Wake Forest University at the time, announced that Graylyn would be rebuilt and restored to its 1932 appearance.[4] The restoration of the mansion and Bernard Cottage was completed in 1984 at a cost of $6,000,000.[6]

Current Uses[edit]

Graylyn is currently used as a conference center and contains 85 guest rooms and 15 meeting rooms.[5] Graylyn has 5 separate buildings for guest accommodations, including the Manor House, the Mews, Bernard Cottage, Gardener's Cottage and the Bungalows.[10] Graylyn has multiple dining options offers including the on-site Grille Room and dining served in "elegant dining rooms" in the mansion's interior[11]

Graylyn offers a variety of options for "meeting packages," and is used by companies for conferences and team building events.[12]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ H. McKelden Smith (n.d.). "Graylyn" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2014-11-01.
  3. ^ "Overview". Graylyn. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The Graylyn Estate". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "The Story of Graylyn". Graylyn. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  6. ^ a b c "Local Historic Landmark Program" (PDF). Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission.
  7. ^ Benefield, Kevin (2017-04-12). "Embark on a history-filled weekend retreat in Winston-Salem, North Carolina". Atlanta Magazine. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  8. ^ Gross, Ginelle. "Savoring the Past at Graylyn". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  9. ^ King, Kerry M. (2015-06-01). "Remember When: Graylyn Dormitory". Wake Forest Magazine. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  10. ^ "Overview". Graylyn. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  11. ^ "Graylyn Estate Dining". Graylyn. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  12. ^ "Team Building". Graylyn. Retrieved 2019-04-23.