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Celebrating 250 Years of Salem

  • Moravian History Speaker Series: When German Met English

    Tonight in Old Salem

    Heart Religion and the Creation of an American Identity in Wachovia, North Carolina

    The story of how Wachovia’s Moravians became American usually begins like this: Children of the founding generation succumb to the temptations of American ways and lose the religious idealism of their pious parents, who had come to North Carolina to create a religious haven where they could practice their pietistic faith.

    But the real story was actually more interesting than this tale of outside forces undermining a devout religious community. The impetus for change came not just from outside Wachovia but from within the Moravian movement itself. By 1772, Wachovia was home to an arresting blend of settlements, where Moravians of multiple ethnicities lived in diverse communities encompassing three congregation towns (Salem, Bethania, and Bethabara) and three farming congregations (Friedberg, Friedland, and Hope). Acculturation in Wachovia, as a result,was not a “melting pot” where an ethnic minority assimilated into the dominant culture. Instead, acculturation proceeded in two directions: English-speaking Moravians took on the traits of the dominant German Moravian group, at the same time that German-speaking Moravian stook on traits of the English.

    Speaker Scott Rohrer is a historian of early America whose research focuses on religion’s influence on society and the American Revolution. His 2005 book, Hope’s Promise: Religion and Acculturation in the Southern Backcountry, explored the impact of Hope and the two other farm settlements on Wachovia.

    $5 per person ($3 for college students with ID). Pay at the door, no registration required.


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    Did You Know?

    The town of Salem had one of the first organized fire departments in America. In 1785, Salem imported two fire engines from Germany. Shortly thereafter, Brother Stotz was named “Fire Master” and the town organized the first fire company in the state. In 1804, the “Market-Fire Engine House” was built on Salem Square—and today displays a reproduction of an early fire engine. On many event days as well as Science Alive and other School Tour days, Old Salem’s costumed interpreters recreate a “fire brigade.” Participants pass buckets filled at the pump at the corner of the Square down a line to the fire engine. The fire engine is then filled with water from the buckets. Today the fire engine is deployed to spray children and visitors on hot days, but back in early Salem, the Moravians were able to use the engine and hose to target fires accurately and forcefully.


  • Vogler Gunsmith Shop at Old Salem


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    Learn about the “Little Red Man”—and more legends of Salem’s past—at one of our guided Legends & Lanterns tours (October 28 and 29).

    Note: The Widow’s House and the Single Brothers’ House are one in the same. The building was re-purposed as a home for widows after the Single Brothers closed it as a choir house in 1823. It remained such until 1960.


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    September 19, 1766

    At a meeting in Bethabara on September 19, 1766, it is decided that when the company of Older Boys arrives from Pennsylvania with Charles Holder, Br. Praezel will take one boy as an apprentice in his weaver’s trade. But Br. Praezel will have to set up his loom in the First House on Main Street in Salem, because Bethabara has no room for it.

    Meanwhile, Br. Charles Colver, who was sent to Salem on September 9 to take over brickmaking from Joseph Müller, will also make Salem’s roofing tiles. That work had been done by Br. Christoph Schmidt at his brickyard in Bethania.

    Source: Moravian Archives: Salem’s 250th Day by Day 

    Photo: Historic Bethabara Park, visitnc.com


  • Instagram photo by Wings Over Winston • Sep 13, 2016 at 4:16pm UTC

    The Builders’ House

    The fireplace in this Builders’ House Light Project illuminates from dusk until dawn to commemorate Salem’s 250th birthday this year. Imagine this: It’s January 6, 1766. You are one of a dozen Moravian men from Bethania and Bethabara who have set out to establish the new town of Salem. You select a site to build a shelter to live in while you construct, by hand, the entire town. You build the first house on this site in Salem and live in it with nine other men for almost seven years while you and your bretheren build the new town. This structure represents that first home in Salem which came to be known as the Builders’ House; it gave shelter to the men who built the new town from February 1766 until the formal occupation of Salem in 1772; it is true to size and location. This #LightProject #InstallationArt was created by Norman Coates and Jack Miller of @UNCSchoolOfTheArts School of Design and Production. Visit it through the end of 2016 at the corner of Brookstown Avenue and Old Salem Road.

    From Wings Over Winston


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    Today’s City of Arts and Innovation has strong roots in early Salem. The Moravians who settled the Wachovia Tract in 1753 were very innovative and forward thinking in their approach to life. A few examples of their innovation include the fact that Salem was home to one of the nation’s first public waterworks system as well as one of the first organized fire departments in the United States, and was at the forefront of innovative medicine at the time.

    Salem was the first town in the Southeast to build a municipal water system. The Salem Waterworks, built in 1778, worked by gravity. Wooden pipes were used to run water from springs located approximately one mile northwest of Salem. The springs were at a higher elevation than the town and the water built up pressure as it flowed to Salem. It was then diverted to five locations in the town: a standpipe at what is now the corner of Bank and Main Streets near the first houses; the southwest corner of Salem Square, across from the Community Store; and into the kitchens of the Single Brothers’ House, the Tavern, and the Gemein Haus, where it came out of wooden spigots.

    Medicine was an important and integral part of the Moravian lifestyle. A doctor was included as one of the first 15 men who settled the Wachovia Tract and Moravians differed from others in the American colonies in their use of a highly organized health care system that reached across all stages of life. Among
    other innovations, Dr. Vierling, who was Salem’s doctor from 1790-1817, was a pioneer in figuring out the relationship of diet to illness. He suspected that the high incidence of strokes in Salem might be related to the high consumption of salt pork. At his suggestion, the town established a central meat market so more fresh meat would be available.


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    250th Day of the 250th Year

    Members of our Development staff decided to be festive on this, the 250th day of our celebration year.


  • Baking Sugar Cake at Old Salem

    It’s time for your daily pound of bread from Winkler Bakery.


Old Salem Museums & Gardens updated their cover photo. ...

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What an incredible evening honoring 250 years of Salem, NC was had last night at A Shining Night in Old Salem. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Reynolds American, and to all of our patrons and guests. A special thanks to the Old Salem tradespersons and artisans who created the wonderful pieces for the live auction and to our Development staff for their hard work to create such a successful event.

More photos of this historic night to come!

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Old Salem hosts a gala dinner and fund-raising auction in the Old Salem Visitors Center on Friday, October 21, 2016. ...

Celebrating 250 Years of Salem, NC. Gala and Auction on Friday, October 21, 2016.

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The Town of Salem

Experience early American history in the unique Moravian settlement of Salem. Original structures, gardens, tours, artifacts, hands-on workshops, fun family events and shopping.


Stroll through award-winning restorations that create a landscape reminiscent of early Salem where utility, practicality and beauty united. Tours, workshops and plants for your garden.


View history through objects and material culture. Tour a wide range of early southern artistry, craftsmanship and stories found in the world class collection of decorative arts from the early American South, 1660-1860.

Old Salem Museums and Gardens, 600 S. Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101 Phone: 336-721-7300 | visitwinstonsalem.com