What’s in a Name? Giving New Life to “Robert Hall”
The building that houses Robert Hall has seen its fair share of iterations since the early 1900s. At the turn of the 20th century it got its start as a doctor’s office, then a cafe. In the mid-1930s, it became the site of one of the largest sign shops in the Southeast, after that, a fabrication shop.
We purchased the building in 2005. Since then, it’s been a dream of ours to transform the space and bring even more character to our corner of downtown Winston-Salem. Now, after almost twenty years, we are proud to say that the building boasts multiple venue spaces and a boutique Airbnb destination. But, you might be wondering… Why is it called Robert Hall?
A Name that “Suits”
If you’re a Baby Boomer or grew up as a part of Gen X the name “Robert Hall” might sound a little familiar.
Robert Hall Clothing was an American retailer that flourished in more than 30 states between the 1930s and 1970s. Known for pioneering the big-box store merchandising technique, Robert Hall Clothing made means by combining inexpensively made clothing with lots of television commercials and catchy radio jingles. Robert Hall Clothing ultimately met its end in 1977 after United Merchants and Manufacturers, the store’s parent company, filed for bankruptcy after citing losses from the chain.
The joint buildings that JKS Incorporated and Robert Hall occupy now used to be owned by Coe & Hartman Signs (that large sign company I mentioned at the beginning of this blog). When we purchased the property four decades ago we knew that a few signs had been left in the basement, but it wasn’t until we started our most recent renovation that we realized just how many there were. Stowed away and forgotten, there was the neon sign that had once belonged to the Robert Hall Clothing store that sat along Highway 52 in Winston-Salem in the 1950s and 1960s. After the store had closed, its sign had somehow made its way back to where it had been made and was ours to find.
An Ode to Bob
In addition to having access to such an amazing piece of our building’s history, we ultimately decided to refurbish the Robert Hall sign and adopt the name as a homage to our late friend, Bob McCormick.
Bob owned and operated his business, Bob’s Machine and Metal Fabricator, out of the very building that Robert Hall sits in now. We used to say that Bob was like a real-life Popeye. He raced sprint cares and motorcycles for more than three decades, but, above all, he was a true friend and mentor throughout the years.
After breathing new life into the name, we have transformed Robert Hall into a place that honors its history and opens the door for people to come and experience the vibrant neighborhood that is Industry Hill. Steps away from downtown and minutes from colleges and universities, museums, and concert venues, Robert Hall is where the eclectic and unique are discovered, embraced, and celebrated.