A lot has changed in the 149-year history of Happy Hill.
But Winston-Salem’s oldest Black neighborhood has remained a source of pride for residents there since its beginning in 1872.
Happy Hill is among the oldest Black neighborhoods in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Like other neighborhoods, it has suffered growing pains over the decades, but Happy Hill has produced its share of prominent people.
“Happy Hill was the first black community in this community where ex-slaves were allowed to buy property,” said Amatullah Saleem, a storyteller and the president of the Happy Hill Neighborhood Association. “It’s where our ancestors first started homes in the United States. It was a thriving community.”
In its heyday, the neighborhood had a skating ring, a theater, a playground, local schools, churches, a nightspot, several small stores and single-family homes, many of which were shotgun houses, current and former residents said.
It was home to high school and collegiate athletes, musicians, teachers, artisans, small-business owners, homemakers and community leaders.
Over the years, exhibits gave the public insights into Happy Hill.
In February 1998, Old Salem Museum and Gardens staged the exhibit, “Across the Creek: The Story of Happy Hill, 1816-1952.”
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