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Graylyn Estate and Conference Center earns rank in “Best Boutique Hotels” list

Editors and readers at USA TODAY call the property “Winston-Salem’s own version of Downton Abbey.” The history of the 55-acre hotel and conference center stretches back nearly 100 years.

front of Graylyn Estate and Conference Center

Graylyn was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Photo by Graylyn Estate and Conference Center

When USA TODAY asked readers which boutique hotels across the US offered the best stays, the Graylyn Estate and Conference Center was one of their top choices. The historic property on Reynolda Road earned the number five slot on its readers’ choice list — but do you know the history behind it?

Bowman and Nathalie Gray built the estate in the late 1920s. Bowman was a former president and chairman of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. When he and his wife moved into the estate in 1932, the home was the second largest in NC, behind only the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.

In 1946, Nathalie and her sons donated the estate to the Bowman Gray School of Medicine. It served as an academic hospital until 1972, when younger son Gordon bought the property and donated it to Wake Forest University.

Graylyn International Conference Center opened in 1984 and continues to welcome guests today.