Community Place Era, 1964-present

In 1964, Charlie Babcock established Reynolda House, Inc., as a non-profit institution dedicated to the arts and education. Mary and Charlie’s daughter Barbara Babcock Millhouse became its first president. Under Barbara’s leadership, Reynolda House Museum of American Art became the setting for a premier collection of American art in 1967. From its beginnings as nine hangings in the historic house—including works by Frederic Church, Gilbert Stuart, Albert Bierstadt, William Harnett, and William Merritt Chase—the collection has continued to grow. Significant later additions include works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Grant Wood, Stuart Davis, and Jacob Lawrence. Paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture now total approximately three hundred works dating from 1755 to the present, many of which have been included in national and international exhibitions. The collections of decorative arts, furnishings, costumes, and children’s toys enhance the visitor’s experience and are among the favorite attractions of the historic house.

Katharine Smith Reynolds’s vision for Reynolda remains an inspiration. Continuing her family’s thoughtful stewardship of the historic house and exceptional art collection, in 2002, the Board of Directors, under her granddaughter Barbara Babcock Millhouse’s leadership, concluded a formal affiliation of Reynolda House Museum of American Art with Wake Forest University. A year later, the University and Museum broke ground on the 31,619 square-foot Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing, featuring education facilities, a 3,000 square-foot gallery for temporary exhibitions, an auditorium for programs, and fine art and archival storage spaces. While the Babcock Wing was under construction, the historic house underwent a restoration and the first floor returned to its appearance in 1917 when the Reynolds family first moved to the estate. The basement recreation areas were also restored, in this case to the period when the Babcocks assumed ownership and created areas for indoor games and social activities.

Meanwhile, Reynolda Village has operated as a collection of boutique shops, restaurants, and offices, serving both the Winston-Salem and Wake Forest campus communities. For sixty years, Reynolda Gardens serves the intent behind the Babcock Deed of Gift to be a “botanical garden having an aesthetic and educational value… for the respite and recreation of all mankind.” To bring the original Garden back to its original design intent, a major restoration project was undertaken in the mid 1990s and completed in 1998, with the years 1912 -1936 selected as the period of significance. In 2010, the University and Museum commissioned a Cultural Landscape Report for the complete 170 acres of the Reynolda Historic District, guiding planning for further reintegration of a uniquely well-preserved example of the American Country Place Era.

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