The Heges

Hege detail 1882

1882 photograph (detail) by E.F. Small, Winston, NC. George Hege was 83 years old when the photograph was made with family and neighbors. The Heges had no children but many nieces and nephews. The identified people in the photograph are: seated on the porch “Aunt Polly Hege” and standing left to right: Timothy Vogler, George Hege, and Mary Jane Hamilton Horton. The families were closely related.

1976 central school

Central Park School was built on Lot 101 in 1922. Following its use as a school, Old Salem purchased the lot and in 1977 cleared it of buildings as part of long term planning for the museum. Archaeological excavation of the site in 2005-2006 revealed much information.

George Hege was a prosperous farmer and mill owner who grew up in the Moravian community of Friedberg in southern Wachovia. He was married to Mary Catherine Beroth, and they were outside members of the Salem Congregation until subsequently moving into Salem in 1853.

In 1851 George Hege purchased Emanuel Reich’s house on Lot 101 in Salem and renovated the traditional German Moravian house form into a large center hall, end chimney plan with fashionable 2-story Greek Revival front porch. This change reflected the Hege’s tastes and means, as well as Salem’s 19th-century development and transition into a Southern town.

When the Heges moved into Salem, they brought enslaved people from their farm, including Rachel and her teenage son Lewis, who also lived on Lot 101. Rachel and Lewis became members of the African Church in Salem next door. Lewis Hege became a significant leader of the church, named St. Philips in 1914.

George and Mary Catherine Hege lived out their lives in the house on Lot 101 at the south end of Church Street. Following Mary Catherine’s death in 1898, the house was sold and used by various families until it was removed to make way for Central Park School in 1922. Archaeological information suggests that the Hege House was moved or carefully dismantled, as excavation recovered no indication of its demolition.