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Celebrating 250 Years of Salem

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    Trades in Salem

    Although only Moravians lived in Salem, it was an important center for commerce and trades in the region. Moravian and non-Moravian visitors and neighbors came to Salem to purchase goods and services, and their support was critical to the success of the community. Many of the Moravians who settled in Salem were talented artisans who created objects for everyday use as well as decorative items. At the age of 14, many boys moved into the Single Brothers’ House and, following the traditional apprenticeship system practiced in Europe, worked with craftsmen in the town to learn a trade.

    During a trip to Old Salem today, visitors can see a variety of historic trades being practiced just as they would have been in the18th and 19th centuries, including: Tailor: The tailor made garments for the men of Salem and had the difficult balancing act of trying to stay in tune with the latest fashions while also following the directions of the Moravian elders about what attire was appropriate. At times, when the tailor had more work than he could handle, Sisters were enlisted to help with the sewing, although this sometimes caused minor tensions between the tailor and the Sisters. Shoemaker: A visit to the shoemaker’s shop in Old Salem offers a glimpse into the tools (lasts, hammers, awls) and methods used in the early 19th century to make shoes. Shoes were made from leather on a “straight last,” which means the shoes are symmetrical. Over time, they stretched to fit the contours of the feet. Potter: Salem’s pottery was held in high regard throughout the Carolinas because it was not only durable but also beautiful. Pottery-making was the largest commercial enterprise in Salem and included crafting dishes, tableware, storage jars, and more. Salem’s potters also experimented with a variety of glazing techniques including tinglazing (faience), which was rarely used in America at that time. Joiner: Woodworkers were essential to life in early Salem and were skilled in carpentry and cabinetmaking. They made tables, chairs, shelves, desks, case goods, window sashes, and doors for the residents. The Joiners’ products reflected their German origins in their proportions and simplicity of form. These craftsmen took great pride in producing items that were beautiful and used finely grained wood, turned and carved details, and elaborate moldings.


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    April 1772

    Sister Oesterlein begins looking after little girls in a “school room” of the Gemein Haus. From this humble beginning Salem Academy and College of the future will grow.

    Source: The Founding of Salem, 1766, a Time Line (Moravian Archives)

    Learn more about the history of Salem College & Academy here.


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    Five Brethren went from Bethabara to Salem on April 7, 1766, to fell trees and hew logs for the dayworkers cabin. As soon as he can, Michael Ranke will transport building stones to the site and also draw the logs together about where the horse trough stands.

    Surveyor Reuther has also gone to Salem to once again measure the fall of the springs. He finds that the upper spring on the east side of the ridge could be led to the street behind the high knoll which has been proposed for Salem Square. That’s the block to the north of today’s Salem Square.

    Source: 250th Day By Day (Moravian Archives)


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    Of the eight pioneer settlers of Salem, February 19, 1766, six remained there as residents, and when life’s race was run were laid to rest in the Salem “God’s Acre.”

    Records of the Moravians In North Carolina, Volume I, Adelaide L. Fries, M.A., Ed., 1920

    On Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, God’s Acre in Salem will serve as the location of a very special tradition for local Moravians, the 244th Annual Easter Sunrise Service. You can read about this service here at homemoravian.org.


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    Thanks to the Moravian Archives, we know that by March 13, 1766, Salem’s original settlers have planted one apple tree and 40 peach trees. 


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    250 Years of Tourism

    On Friday, March 7, 1766, our first tourists pay a visit — which will be a major money maker for Winston-Salem 250 years later. Granted, they are only a number of Married and Single Brethren from Bethabara (no Sisters yet), but they are here “to look over the place.”

    Source: 250th Day By Day (Moravian Archives)


  • Tradition says that the name “Salem” was selected for the central town of Wachovia by Count Zinzendorf before his death in 1760, he loving the word because of its meaning “Peace.” In the Wachovia Diary, however, it appears for the first time in the entry for January 30, the day the European colony arrived, and thereafter it was not “the new town,” but SALEM to all who wrote of it or labored there.
    Records of the Moravians In North Carolina, Volume I, Adelaide L. Fries, M.A., Ed., 1920


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    The year that followed was a year of “firsts,” of successive beginnings, well-considered, carefully planned. Certain events are recorded in the Diary, and imagination fills the gaps with steady toil, the felling of trees and dressing of lumber, the clearing and planting of fields and orchards, the thousand and one things which so evidently needed to be done that they were not even written down.

    Text from above: Records of the Moravians In North Carolina, Volume I, Adelaide L. Fries, M.A., Ed., 1920


  • Commemorative Walk & Builders' House Lighting


Old Salem Museums & Gardens added an event. ...

Old Salem Spring Festival & Pottery Fair

May 21, 2016, 9:30am - May 21, 2016, 5:00pm

Old Salem Museums & Gardens will commemorate the 225th Anniversary of President George Washington’s 1791 visit for our Spring Festival in 2016. Join us for hands-on activities, historic demonstrations and to interact with George Washington. We will have historic fire engine drills, hearth cooking, make and taste opportunities and much more for the whole family! All activities are included with the purchase of an All-In-One ticket. Purchase a ticket online or at the Visitors Center (900 Old Salem Road). Friends of Old Salem enjoy free admission. Additionally, the 6th annual Old Salem Pottery Fair on the Square will feature more than 30 North Carolina potters from across the state who will be selling their handmade stoneware, earthenware, and folk art in a variety of styles. This outdoor event will be held on Salem Square in the historic district from 10 am-5 pm. No ticket required to attend the Pottery Fair.

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Make this a historic summer for your student (grades 1-12) during one of our unique Summer Adventures camp opportunities! Spaces are filling, so be sure to register soon. ...

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Amazing view of God's Acre and downtown Visit Winston-Salem from the attic of the Vierling (or Doctor's) House in Old Salem. The house is currently undergoing extensive restoration and will feature a new exhibition, The Moravian Way of Health and Healing, for our visitors to enjoy.

Learn more about this project at www.oldsalem.org/?p=7766

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Don't miss this fun (& free!) family event next Thursday evening for those interested in learning more about the New Benefactors of Old Salem, a group of young professionals committed to supporting our continued preservation efforts. ...

Make plans to join us for BRIDGING THE GAP next Thursday, May 12th, 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm. Live music by Stonewashed Bluegrass, Drinks provided with dinner options available for purchase from local food trucks: Street Meat, Inc., Spicy Delight Mobile Café, Mike & Mikes Italian Ices, Taqueria Luciano’s, and LaVie en Rose Crepes. Bring the whole family! We'll have activities for little ones as well! See you there!

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Looking forward to this. ...

From Her Majesty's Special Forces to paint detective, Patrick Baty is the James Bond of Paint. Don't miss his lecture this weekend at our annual MESDA Design Seminar: Inspired by Tradition. Get your tickets before they are gone!

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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