Legendary Locals of Wake Forest

Legendary Locals of Wake Forest

Legendary Locals of Wake Forest is here and now on sale at the museum!

If you wonder what it’s like–attempting to narrow down nearly 200-years of history into a tidy compilation–here are the answers we gave the marketing team at Arcadia Publishing. It was interesting to see what they wanted to know, or considered most important, about the amazing people who’ve made Wake Forest such a wonderful town!

Q: What new things did you learn about while researching the book? Did anything surprise you? Did you uncover any lost hidden treasures or secrets?

We found a number of interesting things while researching the book. We learned about a misguided attempt in the 1970s to pick up and move the historic Calvin Jones House to the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. We uncovered a number of previously unpublished photographs. This project made it necessary to go through the many archival folders and record boxes in the museum’s collection, and so we discovered little seen items that have been stowed away for decades. There are two boxes filled with the tragic mementos documenting the short life of 1950s leukemia patient Audis Jean Phillips. There are original letters written to and from noted college professors. We even found a signed note from famous 20th century English humorist P.G. Wodehouse, written in response to a fan letter from Wake Forest College secretary, Edith Earnshaw.

Q: How many locals do you think people will recognize in your book, versus those who may be lesser known?

I think about 60-70% of these names or faces will be familiar to established Wake Forest citizens. But our town has grown from about 3,000 in 1970 to approximately 35,000 today. For these newer residents, that percentage is likely to flip. I’d expect up to 70% of these photographs will include information that’s not widely known to this larger population.

Q: What is the message you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope readers will understand that Wake Forest isn’t wonderful by accident. For almost two centuries, this town has been shaped and guided by amazing people with remarkable gifts. It is these past generations that have left us with a lasting legacy worth cultivating, remembering, perpetuating, and preserving. Whether these citizens were intellectuals, ministers, business owners, athletes, volunteers, politicians, or children, their hard work and dedication established the foundation on which our community exists today.


About the Authors: Durward Matheny is a native of Wake Forest. Having grown up in the 1940s-50s, he is uniquely qualified to shed new light on what it was like to live in Wake Forest in the mid-to-late twentieth century. Through personal recollections and stories collected from family and friends, he paints a detailed, three-dimensional portrait of the little town that everyone loves. A nationally known forensic documents examiner, Matheny is also a longtime board member of the Wake Forest College Birthplace Society and the Wake Forest Historical Association. In 2013, he was the recipient of the town’s Peggy Allen Lifetime Achievement Award.

Currently the assistant director of the Wake Forest Historical Museum, Jennifer Smart moved to Wake Forest in 1997. She serves on the boards of the Wake Forest Historical Association and Wake Forest Downtown, and resides in the town’s historic district. Her background in broadcast journalism, as a reporter for WTVD-TV, proved invaluable in researching and writing this book. She is also the author of a previous Arcadia title, Images of America: Wake Forest.

Both authors have a deep and abiding love for Wake Forest, town and college. They hope this book will bring back happy memories for those who’ve long called this place home, and they suspect it will confirm for Wake Forest’s many newcomers just how smart they were in choosing to join this special, charming, and very intelligent community.

Leave a Reply