The historic Reynolda House was built in 1917 as the home of Richard Joshua (R.J.) Reynolds, the nation’s most renowned tobacco magnate, and his wife Katherine Smith Reynolds. Located on a sprawling 1,067-acre estate, the House was the center around which grew the bustling community of Reynolda, composed almost entirely of servants and employees dedicated to the maintenance of the estate.
Reynolda included a church and school, supervised by a preacher-teacher who catered to adults and children of the community alike. Model farms located on the estate grew cash crops such as tobacco, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables, and were managed using the most current methods available at the time.
Katherine Reynolds introduced a variety of livestock to the area, to provide a variety of food for her family, as well as diversify local stock. The Reynolda Dairy was one of the most state-of-the-art in the nation at the time, established in response to a statewide demand for cleaner milk. All of these facilities supported not only the Reynolds family, but the entire Reynolda community; all members enjoyed the most modern amenities at the time, including steam heat, indoor bathrooms and telephones. The estate constituted a social experiment on a grand scale, a model community in which all members enjoyed a lifestyle vastly improved over that of nearby rural contemporaries.
The Reynolda House remained in the family for nearly half a century. The property was opened as a public institution dedicated to arts and education in 1965, and as a museum in 1967. The interior rooms and furnishings were restored to resemble as closely as possible the period when the family lived at the House. The rest of Reynolda can be explored on foot; twenty-eight of the original thirty buildings remain, and the formal gardens have been restored, famous for their Japanese cryptomeria and weeping cherry trees.
The Museum represents three centuries of American art in its collection, obtained in the mid-1960s and including works by Albert Bierstadt, John Singleton Copley, Georgia O’Keefe and others. Additional holdings include antique decorative arts representing the pinnacle of the American country house movement, as well as a number of design styles from Orientalism to Modernism. Many of the original furnishings remain, and the Museum even features a collection of costumes representing two generations of the Reynolds family from the 1890s to the mid-20th century.
Reynolda House Museum of American Art Information
- Public Transportation: Good (a 2-minute walk from WSTA bus 16 at Reynolda Road/By Way Street)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Sunday 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., Closed Mondays and major holidys
- Admission: Adults $10; Seniors (60+), Teachers (w/ID), and AAA members $9; Museum members, children (18 and under), students (w/ID), military personnel (w/ID), Wake Forest University and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center employees (w/ID and a guest) Free
- Tour: Guided tours for the public are offered every Sunday from 2 p.m.–3 p.m. No reservation is necessary. Guided tours for groups of ten or more adults are available for $8 per person for receptor tours, $9 per person for regular group tours, and $10 per person for special interest tours. Tours may be scheduled Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Sundays 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Tours typically last 90 minutes. Reservations are required at least one month prior to your planned visit
- Audio Tour: Admission to the museum includes use of an Antenna audio guide. Headsets are available at the front desk during regular museum hours
- Membership: Individual membership is $50 (Educator $35; Dual/Family $75). Benefits are tiered with every member receiving free admission; a 10% discount on museum store purchases; discounts on programs and events; special programs; and a subscription to the museum calendar
- Other Benefits: Hudson River School Circle members ($2,500) receive invitations to private dinners with guest performers, lecturers, and artists. Thomas Sears Circle members ($5,000) receive VIP tours for family and friends upon request.