Reich-Hege Site

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Constructed 1830, demolished c. 1920

No ticket required

Archaeology is an important research tool for Old Salem Museums & Gardens. The entire town of Salem is considered an archaeological site, and excavations are undertaken with research goals in mind.

Old Salem Museums’ Department of Archaeology concluded excavations on the Reich-Hege site in January 2006 and revealed much information about the house and occupants. Together with documentary information from the Moravian diaries and photographic records, archaeology brings understanding to the history of this site in Salem.

Shoemaker Emanuel Reich built the first house on this site in 1830. He and his wife Agnes Christiana raised four children here during their twenty-year occupancy. Emanuel usually had one or two apprentices–boys learning the shoemaker’s trade. This household was probably very lively!

As seen in a detail from the map “Salem about the year 1840,” the Reich house is shown with a central chimney and 1 ½ stories with flanking wings, one for his shop and one for his elderly Aunt Verona who lived with the Reichs until her death. This house form was common in Salem at the time, and Reich’s house was probably constructed of timber frame with a wood shingle roof. Outbuildings on the lot would have served additional functions.

The Reichs sold the house in 1851 to George and Maria Hege of Friedberg, a neighboring Moravian settlement. George was a builder and greatly expanded and renovated their new house after 1853. This 1882 photograph shows the Hege house as a 2-story, central hall plan, end chimney house with stylish Greek Revival porch. The left side of Hege’s house contained the original Reich house, and the wing at left may be a remnant of a Reich wing. Additional chimneys seen behind this wing in the photograph indicate outbuildings.

Gathered for this photograph were George Hege with friends and family. George is the man on the right side of the porch. On the left side of the porch is Timothy Vogler who lived around the corner from the Heges, and his restored Gunsmith shop is an exhibit building in Old Salem. The Heges and Voglers celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries in 1881.

When George Hege died in 1891, he was ninety-one years old and the oldest member of the Salem Congregation. Maria died in 1898. They did not have children. Their house stood until at least 1919, a date derived from artifactual evidence. The house was removed for the 1922 construction of Central Park School shown in the photo. It was named for the nearby park along Salem Creek. It is speculated that the Hege House was disassembled and/or moved for other uses because there was a lack of demolition material from the house recovered archaeologically.

In the early 20th century, many lots in Salem were divided. Many additional homes were built, and apartment buildings were also constructed. Central Park School served area children for several decades. Old Salem purchased the empty school building in 1977 and took it down as part of the restoration plan for the museum, and nearly 30 years later, archaeology is used to reveal buried information.

The photograph of the archaeology site shows the stone cellar built by Emanuel Reich in 1830. The size of the cellar indicates that it was a half-cellar, under half of the house. Sometimes cellars were quarter cellars and sometimes whole cellars. The diagonal stone feature on the right side of the photograph is the footing for the Reich house central chimney. Some of George Hege’s dramatic changes to the Reich house may be seen in the cellar. He removed the massive stone central chimney, leaving the stone footing, and added interior end chimneys. The brick feature in the middle of the photograph is the brick footing for a chimney which also tells us that this end of Hege’s house was divided into two rooms. Blocks of steatite or soapstone were found at this footing indicating their use at a fireplace.

The site of the Reich-Hege House is located at the south end of Church Street in Old Salem. An interpretive façade and site information are available for the visitor.

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