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SciWorks: 1964-2014

It was the year 1962 when Mrs. Claude Strickland, Mrs. James Hancock, Mrs. Louis Owen and Mrs. Robert Cordell —  on behalf of the Junior League of Winston-Salem — introduced a new idea for a nature sciences center to the Winston-Salem Recreation Committee. These forward-thinking women, innovators of their time, planned for the center to become a permanent part of the educational and recreational landscape of the city. They sought to create a place that would plant the seeds of scientific learning — a place where “people of all ages, especially the youngsters, can learn more about the stars, plant life, rocks, minerals, birds, fish and animals around them.”Silo

By January 1964, the decision was made to locate the center in the barn at Reynolda Estate, which was graciously made available by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. Through the cooperation of Wake Forest College, the 100 acres surrounding the building were also made available for outdoor study and conservation. Plans for the center included educational programs in the natural and physical sciences, displays, dramas, field trips, nature walks and a small planetarium in the barn’s silo. At this time, Mrs. Robert Cordell was president of the Junior League, and Mrs. Matt Long was chair of the Project Findings Committee.

During the summer of 1964, the center’s first director, Myron Vourax, a Museum Preparator for Southern Illinois University Museum, was hired. He moved to Winston-Salem with his wife and 18-month-old daughter and a goal of offering a program that “will enrich the present program in the schools.” In a flurry of activity during the fall, exhibit cases were filled with donations by local children and adults, including books, magazines, mounted birds and mammals, rock and mineral collections, and other natural history items from within the borders of North Carolina.

Co-sponsored by the Recreation Department of the City of Winston-Salem, the Winston-Salem Foundation, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and the Junior League of Winston-Salem, the Nature Science Center formally opened its doors on December 12, 1964. Almost a year later in October 1965, the science center had a formal ribbon-cutting and dedication. Over the years, the center moved to its present location on Hanes Mill Road, changed its name to SciWorks, expanded its exhibits and revised its mission to reflect its responsiveness to the changing needs of the community.

Presently, as SciWorks begins to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the science center is undergoing a transformation to better fulfill its mission of inspiring creative scientific learning for the Winston-Salem community and beyond. With the vision of the new Executive Director Dr. Paul Kortenaar, the stage is set for SciWorks to preserve its past while moving into the future to create a center that provides every child in Winston-Salem with the opportunity to genuinely engage in individual science exploration and experimentation  — to be the place “Where Innovation Begins.”

The First Nature Science Center Board of Trustees in 1964

Mr. P. Frank Hanes
Mr. G. Kempton, Sr.
Mr. James Norman
Dr. Walter Flory
Mr. Douglas Carter
Mr. Joe White
Mrs. Joyce Sutton
Mrs. Ted Blount
Mr. Gardner Gidley
Dr. Frank Albright
Dr. Alphonso Vick
Mr. M.C. Benton
Mr. Carl R. Martin
Mr. Irving Carlyle
Dr. Rachel Meschan
Mr. Tully Blair
Mrs. Ray Reed
Dr. Lillian Lewis.

Junior League Representatives
Mrs. Glenn Sawyer
Mrs. Robert Sartin
Mrs. Matt Long

Executive Directors of the Nature Science Center/SciWorks
Myron Vourax (1964-71)
Lee C. Finneran  (1971-78)
Robert W. Wolk, Ph.D. (1971-81)
Robert D. Richardson (Interim) (1981-83)
David D. Bonney, II (1983-91)
Robert O. Russ (Interim) (January-June, 1991)
Chris J. Pendleton (1991-95)
William F. Hohman (Interim) (July-December, 1995)
Beverly S. Sanford, Ph.D. (1996-2012)
Paul Kortenaar, Ph.D. (2013-Present)

President/Chairs of the Board of Directors of the Nature Science Center/SciWorks
Mrs. Matt Long, Jr.  (1964-65)
Mrs. A. Robert Cordell (1965-67)
Mrs. A. Lincoln Sherk (1967-68)
Mr. Gardener Gidley (1968-89)
Mrs. William O. Spencer, III (1969-70)
Mrs. A. Robert Cordell (1970-71)
Mrs. Robert Sartin (1971-72)
Mr. C. Royce Hough (1972-73)
Mr. Eldridge C. Hanes (1973-74)
Mrs. W.T. Wilson (1974-75)
Mr. William A. Davis, II (1975-76)
Mrs. Louise Womble (1976-77)
Mr. David Irvin (1977-79)
Mr. F. Borden Hanes, Jr. (1979-80)
Mr. William E. Hollan (1980-81)
Mr. Jerry Shiffert (1981-82)
Mr. David Butler (1982-83)
Mr. Walter W. Pitt, Jr. (1983-85)
Mr. Emmett McCall (1985-86)
Mr. G.W. Holden (1986-87)
Mr. Paul Wold (1987-88)
Mr. James W. Douglas (1988-89)
Mr. Walter W. Pitt (1989-92)
Mr. Patrick J. Considine (1992-93)
Mr. David Irvin (1993-95)
Mr. F. Borden Hanes, Jr. (1995-97)
Mrs. Anne Owen Armfield (1997-99)
Mr. Victor F. Harllee, Jr. (1999-01)
Mr. Randy Britton (2001-02)
Mr. Victor F. Harllee, Jr. (2002-03)
Mr. Stephen D. Poe (2003-05)
Mr. Mark Leach (2005-07)
Mr. Michael P. Gwyn (2007-08)
Mr. Jimmy Flythe (2008-10)
Mr. Chuck Greene (2010-11)
Dr. Ann Lambros (2011-11)
Mr. Michael Myers (2011-Present)