The Town of Kernersville purchased the land upon which the Kernersville Community House now sits on November 12, 1935 from A.N. Linville and wife, Sadie L. Linville.
There is a plaque on the side of the building, to the right of the front door, which states that the building, now known as the Kernersville Community House (or KCH, for short) was built between 1935 and 1937 by the Works Progress Administration of North Carolina (WPA in NC). In April of 1935, along with the New Deal passed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Congress, the WPA was created to alleviate joblessness and homelessness following the stock market crash in 1929. The federal government distributed money to the individual states and the states created various jobs for its citizens and paid those citizens from the federal funds.
However, contemporaneous news articles published in the Greensboro Record indicate that on October 17, 1930 that “The Kernersville Woman’s Club held a meeting at Mrs. Marvin Whittington’s tea room Thursday afternoon with twelve members present…The club will work toward the building of a club house and town meeting house and representatives were appointed to meet with the old Betterment Association committee and representatives from the Lions club to work out plans.” As it so happens, the Kernersville Woman’s Club still meets in the evenings on the third Thursday of each month (except during the summertime).
On August 20, 1936, the Greensboro Record reported that the “Kernersville community house is nearing completion and will soon be ready for use. The following women met in the economics room of the school building Tuesday and sewed on the window drapes: Mesdames Wood Black, chairman of the house furnishing committee, Tom Street, King Grogan, A.L. Roberts, Zeb Deaton and J. R. Blackwell.” I wonder which of them had the steadiest hand with a needle and thread.
On September 16, 1936, the Greensboro Record reported that “A large crowd attended the dedication of Kernersville’s memorial community house Sunday afternoon. The building, a memorial to the 65 boys going to the world war from the Kernersville community, will be used for club meetings, private parties, and other public meetings. The names of the boys have been placed on a bronze tablet over the fireplace at one end of the assembly room and were unveiled during the service by Clay Vance Ring, Jr., nephew of John Ring, who died in action. Laurie Hill’s orchestra furnished music during the afternoon and Laurie Hill played Taps after Rev. O. B. Williams of the Methodist Protestant Church read the list. Mr. Williams was a chaplain during the war. A history of the building was read by Dr. O. L. Joyner, mayor, who presided at the meeting and introduced Rev. Douglas Rights, pastor of Trinity Moravian Church, Winston-Salem, who delivered the dedicatory address and prayer. The Kernersville Woman’s Club will hold its first meeting after a summer vacation in the memorial community house Thursday afternoon.”
On a side note, the wooden table in the corner of the meeting room, now covered with a marble top, was originally made by Isaac Morris in 1884 and was donated to the Community House in 1937 by Mr. and Mrs. S. G. Ring. Isaac Morris was the grandfather of Mr. S. G. Ring. The local ring family has a long history of dedication to the armed services as well as dedication to the betterment of the Kernersville community.
None of the articles published in or around the time period of construction of the KCH references the Works Progress Administration of North Carolina, so it is unclear just how the building was financed whether by the WPA of NC or a combination of KWC members, Lions Club members, or old Kernersville Betterment Association. Perhaps the WPA of NC was instrumental in hiring and disbursing wages to qualified workers and used funds collected by the aforementioned civic organizations.
The Kernersville Community House property is currently owned by the Town of Kernersville. The Town of Kernersville has rented the building to the Kernersville Woman’s Club for decades and the Kernersville Woman’s Club (or KWC, for short) has used the house for its monthly club meetings ever since. The KWC is also in charge of maintaining and preserving the house so that it can be rented out to community members who would like to hold meetings or host parties, for a rental fee. This rental fee is used primarily to cover utility expenses (such as electricity, fuel for heating, cleaning/toiletries, maintenance and repairs, insurance, security, landscaping, and managing rentals). Several KWC members volunteer their time to clear away debris, weeding, and planting flowers around the exterior of the building.
Since it began managing the KCH, the Kernersville Woman’s club has updated the décor and plumbing to keep with the times and style, purchased a central heating unit, and added gravel to the parking area (in 1973-1974). In the 1970s, new chandeliers were purchased along with several pieces of furniture to provide a more comfortable atmosphere for all who would use the space. The Kernersville Woman’s Club has added an air conditioning unit as well as a telephone, paved the gravel parking lot and driveway, installed security lights, and again, remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms (a continuous project). In 2012-2013, the house was completely redecorated, with new paint on the walls, new furniture and shutters, and new lighting, as well as an update to the electrical system. Guests of the KCH also may now enjoy free access to WIFI.
The KWC Board has decided to use any extra funds generated from rentals to provide scholarship money to local graduating seniors. In carrying out its service mission of bettering its local Kernersville community, the KWC Board meets regularly to determine how best to use any extra funds generated, making sure to allot sufficient funds to protect and maintain the house itself, as well as finance upgrades and added features, as needed from time. The overall goal is to make the Kernersville Community House more accessible, more comfortable, and more practical for the club members and the people of Kernersville.
The Kernersville Community House is an absolute GEM. We hope that community members who wish to rent the house for parties and gatherings will honor the rich history of the house and help the Kernersville Woman’s Club protect and preserve it for generations to come.