Old Salem | A Living History Experience

Recently The Husband and I took a day and went exploring. We love taking a day trip somewhere and North Carolina is full of so many wonderful places that you can explore in a day’s drive from where we live. This time we headed west from Raleigh to Winston-Salem and ended up exploring Old Salem. Old Salem is a historic district of Winston-Salem. It is a living history of the restored Moravian community that showcases the culture of the Moravian settlement during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Salem was founded in 1766 by the Moravians (a Protestant group of people that began in what is now known as the Czech Republic).  In 1913 Salem merged with nearby Winston and became known as Winston-Salem. The Old Salem Historic District was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The Moravian Church and the Salem residents kept wonderful detailed records of their lives and their buildings in this community and the evolution into the town of Winston-Salem. The records and diaries of the inhabitants have provided a wonderful backdrop for this historic area.

Old Salem | Plaque

Old Salem | Church

The residents of Salem were respected for their architecture and attention to detail and many of the original structures remain today.

Old Salem | Yellow Building

The town was known as a “trades town” because of their production of so many essential goods like ceramics, furniture, metals and of course food!  This is the C. Winkler Bakery.

Old Salem | Kitchen

Old Salem | Home Interior

Today, costumed tradesmen and women re-create life in the 18th and 19th century using traditional methods.

Old Salem | Costumed Tradesmen

This shop caught me eye.   The A. Butner Hat Shop.

Old Salem | The A. Butner Hat Shop

Located in Old Salem on a 64-acre campus is Salem College. Established in 1776 it is the oldest women’s college in the nation by founding date and the 13th oldest college overall.

Old Salem | Salem College

The Moravian’s believed that women deserved an education comparable to that given men (a very radical view for that era). In the early years of the college, it was run by unmarried women of the Moravian community known as “Single Sisters.” They were economically self-sufficient which was a rare condition for women of the 18th century. The detailed records kept show that the college educated girls of African-American heritage as early as 1785 and in the 1820′s the daughter of a Cherokee Indian chief attended the school.

This was a remarkable day in a wonderful place. I thoroughly enjoyed this walk back through time and the history of Old Salem. A perfect day trip destination in the Carolinas!

One Response to Old Salem | A Living History Experience

  1. Wonderful post! Love reading historical information and seeing sights from across the country. Thank you!

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