Historic marker gives Winston Mutual Building status

A resident takes a photo of the historic marker outside the Winston Mutual Building on East Fifth Street.

Historic marker gives Winston Mutual Building status
November 03
10:00 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson



City officials preserved a piece of history when they unveiled a historic marker outside the Winston Mutual building on East Fifth Street last weekend.

The four-story Building was originally built in 1969 to serve as the headquarters of Winston Mutual Life Insurance Co., which provided health and accident insurance for blacks in the area who worked in the tobacco industry. Retired Winston Mutual manager William Fulton said their mission statement was “Strengthening the weak without weakening the strong.”

While reflecting on his time spent with the company, Fulton said Winston Mutual financed some of the homes in East Winston during a time buyers in the community couldn’t get loans anywhere else. He said, “We would take the nickels, dimes and quarters that no one else would take.”

“Winston Mutual had a tremendous economic and social impact,” he said. “We were all about building wealth in our own communities and that’s what we strived for each day we walked in that building.”

After the insurance company was sold to Gold State Life Insurance Co. in the 1980s, rumors began to surface that the building would be demolished to make way for something new, but  black entrepreneurs, business owners and both former and current elected officials fought to ensure the tan-colored building remained a staple in the community well into the late ’90s. During that time the building housed a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, lawyers’ offices, a bank and countless other things, many of which were black-owned and operated.

Former state Sen. Earline Parmon and general assembly Rep. Larry Womble both ran their campaigns out of the Winston Mutual Building. Council member Derwin Montgomery has a connection with the building as well. In 2013, then a student at Winston-Salem State University, Montgomery ran his campaign for City Council out of the building.

After running a successful campaign, one year later Montgomery and other City Council members voted to move the Winston-Salem Engineering Field Office and Winston-Salem Police Department Community Resource Unit inside the building.

Prior to the marker unveiling, Montgomery said, “While it is important that we memorialize the historic nature of the physical building it is equally important that we honor the spirit that still lives today.”

He said, “When we think about Winston Mutual and black-owned businesses, we have a lot of work to do, but Winston Mutual symbolizes what has been and what can be for our community.”

Mayor Tempore Vivian Burke said, “I’m proud to be apart of this historic moment.

“Winston Mutual stood for so much. It made a difference for those who felt they could make a economic impact in this community and in this city.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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