From the desk of Katharine Smith Reynolds: furnishing two dens at Reynolda, Winston-Salem, NC
University of Delaware
Katharine Smith Reynolds (1880-1924) was the wife of Richard “Dick” Joshua Reynolds (1850-1918) and a prominent figure in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the New South. Between 1912 and 1917 Katharine designed and built Reynolda, a large country bungalow on a 1,067 acre estate that would be her family’s home and the base of her many enterprises. At Reynolda, Katharine used two spaces – Katharine’s Den and Dick’s Den – as a form of home office. Katharine decorated her Den in historic styles of French influence that utilize tapered legs, lively veneer, and gilding to create a sophisticated, tasteful room. For Dick’s Den, she drew on the English tradition for its furniture and embellished it with items of Asian influence. In addition to fine decoration, each Den had technology for business communication and was arranged for sociability and efficiency. Dick passed away before being able to use his Den as intended. Instead, Katharine and her staff used both Dens to handle family business, run the estate, and fulfill Katharine’s many obligations to charities and causes throughout North Carolina. As workspaces the Dens provide insight into Katharine’s personality. More than a social space designed to create a certain impression, these rooms are direct evidence of the priorities Katharine set within her home and the way she spent her own time. She was a wealthy southern woman who chose to engage with business as well as philanthropy, while remaining rooted in her home and family life.