Old Salem Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Boys’ School Restoration Project

News media contact
Scott Carpenter
336.722.9660 or scott@capturevalue.com

Winston-Salem, NC (January 24, 2017)—Old Salem Museums & Gardens held a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Boys’ School Restoration Project at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, January 24. The Boys’ School is located at 3 Academy Street (at the corner of Main and Academy adjacent to Salem Square). The ceremony included remarks by Ragan Folan, Former President & CEO, Old Salem Museums & Gardens and Don Martin, Vice Chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

Old Salem has selected Frank L. Blum Construction Company as the contractor for the restoration work and their work will begin immediately.

“The 1794 Boys’ School is historically significant. We now have a perfect opportunity to restore the building, one of the few original 18th-century structures in Old Salem, and develop the site as a center of excellence in which to tell the story of education in Salem,” said Folan. “Visitors will learn about the importance the residents of Salem placed on education for both boys and girls, discover what children were learning in 18th-century Salem, and understand the career choices that were available to boys and girls following their schooling.

“There are many people and organizations who helped make this project a reality,” Folan continued. “The Old Salem Residents were the first group to come together to support this restoration project with a lead gift. In addition, I would like to thank our Forsyth County Commissioners, who committed $1.5 million to this project. Without the support of the county, this restoration project could not have happened.”

The Boys’ School is historically significant as the world’s oldest Moravian school building still standing and among the earliest existing structures in America built specifically for pre-collegiate education. The Boys’ School was built in 1794 and provided classroom instruction for Salem boys (and commuting boys from nearby Moravian towns) between the ages of six and 14. Moravians placed a high value on education, nowhere more evident than in Salem, where the settlers of this theocracy erected the Boys’ School before building their permanent church in 1800.

By 1897, the School had been repurposed as a museum, where the Wachovia Historical Society stored and displayed its collection of artifacts. When Old Salem was formed in 1950, it assumed responsibility for the restoration, maintenance, and interpretation of the Boys’ School. Old Salem restored and re-opened the Boys’ School in 1954 as its first exhibition building. However, the Boys’ School has always housed exhibits. It has never been utilized as an interpretive site to tell the story of education in Salem.

Old Salem plans to add educational programming and costumed interpretation to provide an authentic view of 18th- and 19th-century education for boys and girls in Salem. Opening this site will also allow Old Salem to continue making the Old Salem experience a more personal one for visitors, demonstrating the connections among the buildings, the families, and the stories of early Salem. In addition, Old Salem wants to enhance its educational mission by using the site to build its training programs for North Carolina teachers. By doing all of this, Old Salem will be increasing its capacity and enhancing its experiences for future generations of visitors, school children, and teachers.

The Boys’ School Restoration Project has been made possible by the support of: The Cannon Foundation, The Marion Stedman Covington Foundation, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Forsyth County, James G. Hanes Memorial Fund, Hillsdale Fund, Inc., Institute of Museums and Library Services, Miracles in Sight, Inc., Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Wachovia Historical Society, The Winston-Salem Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Larry C. Berry, Mr. and Mrs. Louis S. Blancato, Mrs. Carole R. Brandon, Mr. Wayne Cardwell, Mr. and Mrs. Mark W. Chandler, Mr. D. Elwood Clinard, Mr. Daniel W. Coughlin, Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Driscoll, Mr. and Mrs. H. Mason Epperly, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony L. Furr, Ms. Sally Gant, Mr. Mark Haake, Mr. John A. Hauser, II and Ms. Carol Wooly, Ms. Linda A. Hobbs, Mrs. Barbara Wall Holcomb, Mr. and Mrs. Frank H. Holcomb, Mr. and Mrs. William K. Hoyt, Jr., Ms. Eleanor L. Leavy, Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Mayville, Mr. and Mrs. David E. Norman, Mr. and Mrs. David F. Rowe, Mr. and Mrs. Everette C. Sherrill, Ms. Kelly Green Sowers and Mr. Jeffrey Sowers, Dr. and Mrs. Keith B. Wheeler, Mr. John D. Whipple, Mr. and Mrs. John C. Whitaker, Jr., Ms. M. Elaine Williams, Ms. Karen Wilson, and Mr. and Mrs. James E. Yarbrough, Jr.In addition, Old Salem Museums & Gardens wishes to acknowledge Salem Congregation for a strong and continued partnership in the stewardship of Old Salem’s historic buildings including the Boys’ School.

About Old Salem

Old Salem Museums & Gardens is one of America’s most comprehensive history attractions. Its museums—the Historic Town of Salem, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), and the Gardens at Old Salem—engage visitors in an educational and memorable historical experience about those who lived and worked in the early South. Old Salem Museums & Gardens is located at 600 South Main Street in Winston-Salem. For more information call 336-721-7300 or visit oldsalem.org