History of the Historic Shaffner House
A bit of Shaffner History……
This Queen Anne Tudor styled dwelling was originally the residence of Henry Fries Shaffner and Agnes Gertrude Siewers Shaffner. Their marriage produced five children. Mr. Shaffner was both a businessman and a local politician. Born on September 19, 1867 in Salem and to Moravian parents, Dr. John Francis and Caroline Louisa Fries Shaffner, Mr. Shaffner stayed close to his roots. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, he returned home to run his father’s pharmacy. Later, he spent many years as an officer in the Briggs-Shaffner Company, which made tobacco-cutting machines. When the towns of Salem and Winston were joined, he became a member of the new town’s first board of alderman. He also served ten years as a commissioner of the town of Salem. However, Mr. Shaffner earned his reputation as a prominent businessman in 1893 when he and his uncle, Colonel F. H. Fries, organized the Wachovia Loan and Trust Company. Mr. Shaffner served as its secretary and treasurer until 1911, when the company was merged with the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company, creating one of the largest banks in the Southeast. He was vice-president of Wachovia Bank and Trust Company in Winston-Salem from 1911 to 1931 and chairman of its board of directors from 1931 to 1941. In 2008, Wells Fargo & Company acquired Wachovia Corporation for $15.1 Billion.
Mr. Shaffner built his palatial Victorian-style home in 1907. Designed by Northup and O’Brien, the residence had both standard features of the time and innovations that were quite modern for the period. Each room is equipped with its own fireplace even though the house had central heating created by circulating hot water from a coal-fired furnace. The house was wired for electricity; however, each area also had gas fixtures. The formal living room is to the left of the entrance hall and contains a set of screen doors bearing a patent for being the first to swing inward. It is interesting to note the carved wooden mantel in the formal dining room has affixed brass plates with engraved dates “1776-1907”. The mantel and columns to which these brass plates are attached came from a log cabin built in Salem to shelter the workmen who had come to erect the first house there. The cabin collapsed in 1907. Mr. Shaffner salvaged the wood from this cabin and the fireplace mantel and columns were made from this wood. Family members resided in the home until 1948.