Old Salem Blog

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    Representatives from the Cherokee Nation visit Old Salem

    This week, we were delighted to welcome representatives of the Cherokee Nation, including the Secretary of State for the Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin, his wife January, as well as Jack Baker, former head of the Tribal Council and board chair for the Oklahoma History.

    Their visit was part of a continuing relationship with the Moravian Archives, which is publishing “The Records of the Moravians Among the Cherokees” with funding from the Cherokee Nation.

    The group toured the historic district, including an opportunity to see the Cherokee-related artifacts at Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.


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    Old Salem Sampler

    The daughter of John Gottlieb and Martha Elizabeth Spach, Christina Spach (1792-1863) stitched this sampler when she was twelve years old. She included her initials in the center wreath, and those of her parents in the plinth. The wreath, plinth, and well are common motifs on Salem samplers as well as on samplers made at the Moravian seminaries in Pennsylvania. The exchange of teachers between Moravian communities accounts for motifs appearing on samplers from both regions.

    View pieces like this in the Dianne H. Furr Moravian Decorative Arts Gallery on your next visit to Old Salem Museums & Gardens at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.


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    June 26, 1820

    “Br. Herbst sent the plan for his house through the Chairman of the Collegium. He wishes to make steps from the street to the second story, and plans a porch on the second story on the side toward the street. This has not been done on any house, and Br. Herbst must be careful not to bock the sidewalk.” - Salem Board Minutes, 1820

    📷 The Herbst House (pictured currently) is available as a
    rental preparation location for weddings held in Old Salem.


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    It’s Flag Day!

    As you tour Old Salem, you may see historic flags flying from our buildings representing the time period of each. These flags are flown from Flag Day to Independence Day in the historic district.

    Pictured on the Single Brothers’ House is the First Stars and Stripes (1777-1795), also called the Betsy Ross Flag. An official flag was adopted by Congress June 14, 1777 and was the first internationally recognized flag. It has thirteen stripes alternating red and white, and thirteen stars on a blue field representing a new constellation. The layout of the stars was left to the individual maker. it was not until 1912 that the law was amended to specify the layout of the stars.


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    May 31, 1791

    “At the end of this month the congregation in Salem had the pleasure of welcoming the President of the United States, George Washington, who was returning from his tour of the Southern States. We had previously been informed that he would pass through our town on his way to Virginia. Today we received word that he had left Salisbury, thirty-five miles from here, this morning, so the Brn. Marshall, Kohler, and Benzien rode out to meet him. As he approached the town several tunes were played, partly by trumpets and French horns, partly by the trombones. In his company were only his secretary, Major Jackson, and the necessary servants. As he decended from his coach he greeted those who stood around in a friendly manner, showing his good will especially to the children who were there.”

    - Salem Diary, 1791 


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    The John C. Blum House cir. 1890

    Built by John Christian Blum, the house served as Salem’s first print shop. Having been a tavern keeper with his wife, Maria, for the first five years of their marriage, they built this house and at that time Blum became the local agent for Cape Fear Bank. He suffered a catastropic fire of the bank funds that bankrupted him but his family continued to live in the house. In addition to local newspapers, in 1828 he began printing the Farmers and Planters Almanac, which is continues today as the local Blum’s Almanac. The original building was only a story and a half tall, and was raised to two stories by his sons after J. Blum’s death when they were finally able to repurchase the family homestead.

    While the home is currently closed for tours, a bright and innovative future is planned for it as it’s actual renovation will be part of historic interpretation for visitors.


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    Today a special presentation was given in Salem Square to commemorate the  new National Historic Landmark plaque recognizing the expansion of Old Salem’s acreage and time periods of significance. 

    The plaque text reads:

    This district possesses national significance as an exceptional reflection of the culture of German immigrants who established a theocratically governed, utopian town of Salem, the town maintained itself through time by adaptation, innovation, industrialization, and secularization of the town government and economy. The district is also significant as an archaeological site and as a pioneering effort to restore and preserve the buildings and landscape of the town of Salem.

    Expanded 2016

    United States Department of the Interior
    United States of America


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    April 26, 1838

    Complaints were reported about the hogs nightly rambling through the community, about the nightly noise of too many dogs, the bulls and the cows in the streets and the great number of  doves causing damage in the gardens. We wish that all this which harms the love and harmony in the community be removed. 

    Source: Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, Volume IX: 1838-1847.


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    “Of this month it may be noted that our doctor trepanned the skull of a German man, named Swing, about fifty years old, of Guilford County, who for a number of years had suffered extra-ordinary pain and has had a constant hammering and humming in his ears. This was probably the result of a blow with an axe and great fright, and sometimes he could get no rest day or night, and feared that he would lose his mind. He felt some relief from the operation, and we wish earnestly that it may serve for his entire recovery.” - Salem Diary, 1806

    This image is from the new Moravian Way of Health and Healing exhibit in the Doctor’s House. 


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    “It is well known that white lead and varnish is not a durable paint, and we wish we had something better for our new church. It was proposed to paint the well-house in the Square this year with a paint proposed in last year’s Almanac, which is not expensive and may last longer. The receipt calls for three parts of unslaked lime, two parts of ashes, one part of fine sand, mixed with linseed oil as for other paints.”

    - Salem Board Minutes, April 17, 1798


With the fall leaves starting to turn, the stones of the Christian David House ruin stand tall against the backdrop of the Doctor's House. Christian David, an enslaved man owned by the Moravian Church, lived in a structure that stood on this very foundation just behind the Doctor's House. Today it is the only remnant of a slave dwelling in Salem that remains. #HiddenTownFact ...

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The "Hidden Town Project" mapping research has produced a series of time-based, locational images of the town of Salem.
The red areas are locations that slave dwellings existed - or the enslaved resided within other buildings. This information is being presented by the Co-Chairs for the new "Hidden Town Project" at the "Slavery & Public Memory" Conference this weekend at the University of Virginia. www.oldsalem.org/news/old-salem-announces-new-initiative-the-hidden-town-project/

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Old Salem is off to The University of Virginia with Co-Chairs for the new landmark "Hidden Town Project". We were selected to present at the "Slavery & Public Memory" Conference this weekend. www.oldsalem.org/…/old-salem-announces-new-initiati…/ ...

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It's Moonshine Monday!

This jug was made by the potter Leonard Cain in Sullivan County, Tennessee, for John Wolfe of neighboring Scott County, Virginia, in 1826. Wolfe owned a distillery among other businesses. "True Blue" inscribed on the jar probably refers to either political support or a race horse. Both involved the consumption of large amounts of alcohol!

Love Moonshine? Make sure to get your tickets for Old Salem Museums & Gardens Moonshine in the Meadow this Friday.

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Have you experienced the streets of Old Salem at night? Register for a guided Legends & Lanterns tour (Oct. 27 & 28) as part of our Halloween in Old Salem (Oct. 27-29) activities. 🎃 ...

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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 | Privacy Policy