A Walking Tour of Old Salem
Old Salem is a historic area of Winston-Salem, NC, located 90 minutes from Raleigh off of I-40. My family has been several times over the years, and on October 3rd, Cindy and I decided to take a drive out and see how the area was faring from COVID-19.
The day was absolutely beautiful, a great day for a drive and a walk. Although the visitor center and the museum parts of Old Salem have not reopened yet, we are hopeful that they will reopen in time for the upcoming holidays. Also, while we weren’t able to purchase tickets for the exhibit, the town itself is still accessible, and it was great to be able to explore on our own, taking pictures and videos. Here is a YouTube video I pieced together from some of the videos and pictures that Cindy and I took.
Old Salem’s official name is the Old Salem Museum & Gardens, and they have a rich history in the area. From their About page:
Who We Are: We are a historic site and museum combating food insecurity and exploring the stories of people, including Moravian, Black, and Indigenous peoples, in the American South. As one of America’s most comprehensive history attractions, our 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 is also the site of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) which contains the finest collection of its kind in the nation, featuring architecture, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, needlework, paintings, prints and other decorative arts made & used by the early settlers of the American South.
Our Mission: Old Salem Museums & Gardens shares the rich, authentic, and diverse cultural history of the early South–with special emphasis on the Moravians in North Carolina, enslaved and free people of African descent, and Indigenous peoples of the Southern Woodland, through the preservation and interpretation of material culture, architecture, and cultural landscapes.
Our Institutional History: In 1950, a group of dedicated volunteers established Old Salem, Inc. as a way to begin preserving and restoring the town and gardens of Salem for future generations. As Old Salem grew, more buildings were restored and new facilities were added–including the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) and St. Phillips Moravian Church. In addition to having two National Historic Landmark buildings, the Salem Tavern and the Single Brother’s House, Old Salem was designated as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) District in 1966. The dedicated staff at Old Salem have worked since the 1990s to expand the historic district and engage community stakeholders in order to share a more authentic and diverse history of Salem and the early South. In 2016 the National Park Service approved an expansion of the NHL district, including changes to the boundaries, additional time periods of significance, and additional resources that allow us to share a more comprehensive history of Salem and the neighboring freedmen’s community of Happy Hill.About Old Salem Museums & Gardens
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