When Richard Emmett walks the streets of downtown Winston-Salem, his mind looks past the present landscape and sees shades of the past. Before Trade Street was the Arts District, it was known as Old Town Street, and it drew rural famers into town to sell their crops, specifically tobacco, at the city’s many tobacco warehouses.

Between the corn and tobacco, musicians would take up a spot, particularly old-time string bands hoping to gather a crowd from the streets. Artists like Ernest Thompson and the North Carolina Cooper Boys made their start here and in other corners of North Carolina before finding the limelight.