MapForsyth has an interactive map that allows users to research the history of how roads got their name in Forsyth County.
The Historic Centerlines Web App lets users search by road name, address, parcels or zip code to find documents on how a street was named. Most of the documentation is for streets that were renamed from 1979-2000, though some streets that were renamed after that have documents as well. The changes in names can be as small as just altering its spelling or as big as completely changing the street name to honor a prominent community figure.
The amount of available information can vary between streets, with some having a trove of documents. For instance, if you search “Carl Russell Ave” and click on the result, it’ll pull up documents from 1988 when the Winston-Salem Board of Alderman (which is now the City Council) renamed the street after Carl Russell, who was a former city alderman and owner of Russell Funeral Home. This includes an 800 signature petition, a summary of minutes from city meetings, a newspaper article, and other historical documents.
The app came from requests MapForsyth would get for documents on roads. They’d have to go though through binders with thousands of documents to find the answer, which could take hours. To simplify the process, each of the documents were scanned, and can now be searched by anyone using the app. MapForsyth’s Addressing Coordinator Matthew Hamby led the effort to create the app.
“Matthew and his entire team did this on a zero dollar budget,” said MapForsyth Geographic Information Officer Joseph Sloop. “We had an intern come in and help scan in the documents. The software we already have, so there was no cost. It was a huge undertaking, and Matthew and his group did an amazing job.”