Do You Remember…Beneath the Elms?

Beneath the Elms was an indoor ice skating rink that opened on December 30th, 1974.

It was located in the 400 block of N. Cherry Street, beside the Hyatt House Hotel.

The opening of the rink was covered in an earlier post on this website. See December 30, 1974.

While a photo exists of the Hyatt House Hotel during construction (above), there was no photo of the skating rink until recently.

The program for the opening of Beneath the Elms is shown above and it outlines the people and the events of the dedication program.  City officials, Ice Capades performers, ministers, and musicians had a part in the program.  There was even a skating demonstration by the Ice Capades performers to entice the attendees to try out the ice themselves.

The people in the above photo are: Robert C. Vaughn Jr., Titch Stock (husband of Ms. Frei), Ken Shook, Ann-Margreth Frei, Jim Dalrymple (Convention Center manager), and Charles C. Ross (Alderman).  Mr. Vaughn was the Master of Ceremonies as the Chairman of the Convention Center & Coliseum Commission.

The above photo was shared by Ken Shook.  Mr. Shook was a skater with the Ice Capades, as was Ms. Frei.  They were in town to perform with the Ice Capades at the Coliseum and they gave a skating demonstration at the new ice skating rink.   Mr. Shook and Ms. Frei are being handed keys to the city for their participation in the opening event.

Mr. Shook also shared a copy of the letter (above) that was sent to him following the dedication, and there is a photo of the key to the city that he received at the event.

Many residents of all ages enjoyed learning a new sport at the skating rink.  It was a popular place to go with a group of friends and learn to skate together.

Commercial space was available behind the skating rink, but there was little demand for this space.  The Public Safety Career Development Center used some of the space until the Public Safety Center opened.

Articles about the rink and it’s financial viability began appearing in the newspaper, particularly after the rink experienced a deficit for several years, along with the convention center.  1981 marked the third losing season in a row, even though it was used in the off-season for meetings, high school proms, and other events.

In 1995-96 Beneath the Elms was used by the recreation department as a dance hall for special populations.  By 1997 it was vacant and the Board of Aldermen transferred the Beneath the Elms space to the Winston Plaza Hotel project.

A 1998 newspaper article reported on a $7-million renovation to the Adam’s Mark Winston Plaza which also included adding a ballroom in the former Beneath the Elms space.

Today the Downtown Bike Patrol occupies some of the space near the former Beneath the Elms site and the Embassy Suites is the current hotel property.

Dedication photo, program, and letter are courtesy of Ken Shook.  Thanks to Ken and several local citizens who helped with the identifications.

Photo of the Hyatt House courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.

Stay tuned for the next delicious post on February 8th and the next historical post on February 15th.


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