Katharine Smith Reynolds
When I marry, I shall go to Europe on my wedding trip and I shall bring home a wonderful work of art. And then I shall buy a great estate and I shall have a thousand cattle on a hill and flowers all around.
-Katharine Smith to her college roommate, 1899
Katharine Smith was one of many girls who dreamed of living on a great country estate, but she was one of the few whose dream came true. Moreover, she not only lived on a great estate, she created it herself and celebrated that fact by calling it Reynolda, suggesting the feminine form of Reynolds.
In 1905 Katharine Smith, from Mt. Airy, North Carolina, married Richard Joshua Reynolds, founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Like a growing number of women during her time, she was a college graduate and had worked briefly as a secretary before her marriage. While R. J. was the genius driving his tobacco company, it was Katharine who conceived of and built Reynolda.
Katharine would prove to be equal in drive and initiative to her husband, as evidenced by her dominant role in the planning of a self-sufficient estate. Her name alone stands on the deeds - altogether she acquired twenty-five tracts of land totaling 1,067 acres. While unusual in its feminine ownership as well as its scope, Reynolda was not unique, but part of a nationwide trend called the American Country House movement. Many of Katharine's ideas were influenced by, and contributed to, this phenomenon, which embraced large houses in park-like settings with extensive recreational facilities.
After R.J. Reynolds died in 1918, Katharine Reynolds persevered with her work on the estate. Until her death in 1924, she guided Reynolda, fulfilling the new ideal of country living.