Frederick Edward Belo
Born: June 27, 1811
Died: October 2, 1883
Frederick Edward Belo was born in Salem, North Carolina on the 27th of June, 1811. Belo was part of a significant second wave of building in the Salem community, contributing one of the major structures that has survived to modern day. He is also considered one of the four great industrialists that built Winston-Salem.
The Aufseher Collegium reported that “Edward Belo is going to learn the joiner trade from Br. Petersen,” on September 23rd 1827 at the age of sixteen. Belo was a promising student who had been given a leg up over the competition. Edward Belo had received training from his father Johann Frederick, a noted local joiner, before entering the shop of Karsten Petersen. It is mentioned that he was sent to Brother Petersen’s shop to only fine tune the skills he already possessed to the necessary level to become a joiner in Salem.
In March of 1828 Belo was sent to the shop of Brother Benjamin Eckert in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to finish his training as a joiner. This was sponsored by the community in order for Belo to open up his own joiner shop in Salem after completing his apprenticeship. The Aufseher Collegium notes that their motivations for this move was so that Belo could help regulate the price of joiner work as Petersen was known for overcharging for his labor, sometimes double the accepted rates.
In 1834 Belo returned, his petition to open up a cabinet making shop was immediately granted. This shop was built by Belo himself and saw immediate success. He married Carolina Amanda Fries during this period as well. In July of 1837 Belo took his an apprentice of his own, a young boy named Hauser from Hope, North Carolina.
Belo was an industrious man, often looking for different ways to help earn income for his family. In July, 1840 he petitioned to open a dry goods store. However this worried the community leaders who attempted to regulate fair competition in business throughout the town that this may cause undue hardship on the other dry goods dealers in town and placed the ultimatum on Belo that if he were to continue selling for over a year he would have to quit the joiner trade. Ultimately Belo gave up the joiner’s trade, instead becoming a merchant.
Edward Belo supplied what could not be obtained easily in North Carolina. He is known for establishing the Belo Ironworks which was a major supplier of cast iron ornamentation that can be seen to this day on his distinctive house. It is also recorded that his linseed oil mill was the only one of its kind in the state.
Belo was also an important community member at this time. In January of 1843 he was elected to the Aufseher Collegium as a representative to help govern the town. He continued this office, minus a brief stint in 1845, until 1857.
On the 21st of May 1849, Belo petitioned to settle him and his family on Lot 35, where his father and brother had built a home and workshop. These were the initial buildings that developed over the years into the Belo House. As originally planned there was to be a two storey frame house, incorporating his brother’s former house, and his store to connect the two brick end buildings on the lot. The two brick buildings were 20’x50’ and the connector was 110’x24’. It was all two stories with a tin roof. The store was situated on the first floor and would be used partly as living quarters for his family and partly as storage rooms. Construction continued on the lot between 1839 and 1859 leading to a large, imposing structure that is out of style and form of the typical Salem home. Belo chose a Greek Revival façade in order to be in line with his competition in the dry goods business.
On May 23rd 1853, Belo, along with fellow community leader Francis Fries, applied for permission for the construction on the hill near the northwest corner of the former Philip Blum Plantation. This offer was accepted and the building constructed. What this building was used for was not specified in the community documents, but was likely a storage building for each other’s enterprises.
Belo retired from the community diaconate in 1857 to become a sitting member of the first Winston-Salem Board of Commissioners. Belo still helped to administer a railroad connection for Winston-Salem, and became vice president of the early Wachovia Bank. Belo died in 1884 and left his considerable estate to be divided equally among his surviving children, leaving a legacy of business and change in Salem.