Happy Hill celebrates 200 years with event

Members of the Happy Hill Neighborhood Association came together to throw a 200th anniver-sary celebra-tion for their community on Saturday, May 21.

Happy Hill celebrates 200 years with event
May 26
05:30 2016

Photo by Todd Luck



The Happy Hill Neighborhood Association (HHNA) held a celebration of Happy Hill’s 200th Anniversary at Sims Recreation Center.

The event– which featured, games, food, historic trivia and music– encouraged residents to sign up for the group. HHNA had gone dormant for a few years, but started holding meetings again this year.

HHNA already has big plans. The group is partnering with the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont in hopes of building a community multicultural center that will include a dormitory for students from Liberia attending local colleges.

HHNA is also doing a mentoring program for boys, an intergenerational reading program that brings youth together with seniors, and has plans to bring fresh produce into the community. The group is also supportive of rehabbing the historic shotgun houses, located on Alder Street, into a museum and shop, and the efforts to restore the Happy Hill Cemetery.

HHNA President Amatullah Saleem was raised in Happy Hill and has lived there off and on. She said when she came back to Winston-Salem in the 1970s, Happy Hill had become a public housing project plagued by drugs and crime. Now that she’s moved back to retire, living at Alder’s Point, she said Happy Hill now has far less crime but also less sense of community.

“It’s now totally different,” she said. “However, what is missing is the cohesiveness of the community.”

Happy Hill has been many things over the last two centuries. In 1816, Dr. Friedrich Schumann relocated his farm and slaves outside the town of Salem to what would become known as Happy Hill. In 1836, he freed his slaves and paid for them to migrate to Liberia. African Americans eventually settled into the Happy Hill area and created a community that was also called Liberia.

In 1952, Happy Hill Gardens was completed and became the state’s first federally funded housing project. The project was demolished in 2004 and Hope VI funding allowed for the construction of new, low-income housing: Alder’s Point senior apartments and Providence Place apartments. There are also residents living in Habitat for Humanity homes and other home-owners in the neighborhood.

Happy Hill now has residents of different cultural and economic backgrounds. Bringing them all together is a challenge for the HHNA.

“If we work together, we support each other, we can empower, educate and encourage each other through our trials and tribulations.” said Antonia Imes, an HHNA member who lives in Providence Place with her four children.

HHNA past president Edith Jones, pastor of Ecclesiastes Deliverance Center and owner of R-U Happy Child Care on Liberia Street, grew up in Happy Hill in the 1930s and returned to the neighborhood 17 years ago. She said in her youth, Happy Hill was a close-knit community, where neighbors looked after each other’s children.

“It was really great growing up,” she said. “I have no complaints.”

HHNA members said they’re hoping to make it a great place to grow up for the children who are there now.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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