Oldest Commercial Airport in North Carolina
Date: May 08, 2008 03:23PM
I know this may be a BIT of a stretch to post here... but since Piedmont was born in Winston-Salem... I thought some folks might find this interesting.
Old Salem Curator’s Research Leads to Historic Marker
Winston-Salem, N.C. – It’s a little-known fact today that in 1919, the first commercial airport in North Carolina was established on 35 acres of land off Kernersville Road, around present-day Maynard Drive and Corbin Street. Maynard Field, as it was called, was named after Belvin W. Maynard, an ordained minister and World War I test pilot.
Maynard Field, which closed in the mid 1930’s, has a special meaning to Jennifer Bean Bower, the Associate Curator of Photographic Archives and Visual Resources at Old Salem Museums & Gardens. Bower’s grandmother grew up on a farm that partially bordered the airfield and used to walk across the airfield on her way to school. Bower’s grandparents later built a house near the end of the runway.
Bower, who has researched the site for ten years, said that Maynard Field had intersecting runways, which allowed fliers to take off and land from any direction. Fifteen-feet-wide letters that spelled out “Maynard Field,” were erected for aerial navigation, as well as directional markers that were placed at each end of the runways, she said.
“The airfield was really advanced for its day,” Bower said. “I was concerned that there was no sign of its ever being in the area. I wanted to get a historic marker put up so that the community would be aware of another aspect of their city’s history.”
Bower appealed to Forsyth County’s Historic Resources Commission and the City of Winston-Salem, which have since approved placing a historic marker at the site. A public dedication will take place there at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 18.
LeAnn Pegram, a historic resource officer for the Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission, said, “Recognizing the airfield is an event of tremendous importance to the local community, and a pretty significant aviation event for North Carolina.”
As a preface to the dedication, Bower will present a free lecture, titled “Maynard Field: A Beacon for Early Aviation,” at noon on Wednesday, May 14.
The lecture, at Old Salem’s Horton Museum Center Auditorium, is also part of a series observing May as “Historic Preservation Month.” Other lectures in the Wednesday series include “Reynoldstown Historic District” on May 21, and “Saving Downtown: The Pepper Building & Tax Credits” on May 28. All lectures are at noon at the Horton Museum Center Auditorium.