WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Several city of Winston-Salem offices have officially moved into the historic Winston Mutual Building in eastern Winston-Salem, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
The Winston-Salem Police Department’s Community Resources Unit is on the second floor and the city’s engineering field offices are housed on the third and fourth floors of the 18,760-square-foot building at 1225 E. Fifth St.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do is have police in the community and also have some police facilities in the communities that we serve, so this is of the first steps in that plan to move toward that,” said Police Chief Barry Rountree.
The Community Resources Unit has six employees in the building. The unit conducts various crime prevention and community relations activities, including the organization of neighborhood watch groups, residential and business security inspections, the Citizen’s Police Academy and appearances of McGruff, the crime-fighting dog.
Sgt. M.J. Snow, the supervising officer for the Community Resources Unit, said that the Winston Mutual Building provides more space for the unit.
“We lacked some of that over at the police department because of manpower issues and size, and it’s given us an opportunity to be in the community,” Snow said.
Eight engineering field offices surveyors are on the third floor and an additional eight engineering construction inspectors are on the fourth floor. The division was previously in the City Yard but it had to move to make way for the Salem Creek Connector road project. The division expects to be in the building for 2½ years.
“This has worked out fine,” said David Doss, engineering field manager. “The nice thing about it was when I first came in here, the building was gutted and we were able to design our own space.”
The Winston Mutual Building is a landmark in eastern Winston-Salem. Over the years, it has been home to various civic and political groups but had fallen into disrepair.
The four-story Modernist building was built in 1969 for the offices of the Winston Mutual Life Insurance Co. It sits on 1.6 acres.
The words “Winston-Mutual” are still on the side of the building.
Winston Mutual was founded in 1906 by 12 black business officials who wanted to provide insurance and home mortgage products in their community.
Besides the business that was conducted in the Winston Mutual Building, its historic significance was derived from community leaders using the site to discuss social issues and organize political campaigns.
In the mid-1980s, Winston Mutual was sold to Golden State, which put the building up for sale. As Golden State began experiencing financial difficulties, the building fell into disrepair. Fifth Street Investments LLC is the building’s current owner.
Now that several city offices have moved into the building, Council Member Derwin Montgomery, who represents the East Ward, believes that it’s an opportunity for the building and the community, particularly because the Winston Mutual Building had been vacant for several years.
“By the city leasing space there, it helps show the economic investment there, and also gave the opportunity for the owners of the property to really bring it back up to a standard that I think is great in that community,” Montgomery said.
He believes that the changes at the Winston Mutual Building “only gives a glimpse of what is to come in terms of development as it continues to move east from downtown.”