In January 1766, the Moravian Brethren inhabiting Wachovia began the construction of their long awaited congregational village. From this simple village begun 250 years ago this month, a thriving industrial town grew into Winston-Salem, North Carolina....the twin city....my hometown.
The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, where is it to be found."
J. B. Priestly
The village was carefully laid out around a central square where stands a firehouse built in the 1803, housing the first community fire company organized in North Carolina. It is in this square that many community events were held, including a brass band concert for President George Washington. Bordering the Salem Square is Salem College, the oldest college for young women in the nation. It opened in 1772.
"Snow provokes responses that reach right back into childhood"
Built in 1800, Home Moravian Church is the located adjacent to Salem College. It is the place of worship chosen by William and Louisa Collins when they arrived in Salem in 1837. On the other side of the square is the Single Brothers House. This building housed the single men of the community where they engaged in many trades. Even Dan'l Boone carried a gun made by the Moravian Brethren.
"The pure air and dazzling snow belong to things beyond the reach of all personal feelings, almost beyond the reach of life." Frederick Soddy
One of the most popular places in Old Salem is the Winkler Bakery where famous Moravian Sugarcake is baked in a wood fired furnace. If you come to Salem, this is a bucket list place to visit. Hot sugarcake fresh from the oven is the orginal "Hot and Now" delicacy. Which by the way....Krispy Kreme Doughnuts first bakery was located on the Salem Square .
"A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky unbidden and seems like a thing of wonder" Susan Orlean
Built in 1816, the current Salem Tavern was originally an annex to the original tavern. It is located on the southern end of Salem, well away from the shops and central square. The Moravians did not mind taking travelers' money and serving them strong drink.
However, they did not care for their revelry, fearing that the "strangers" might
adversely influence members of the congregation. The tavern operates today as a restaurant often times serving garden fresh food prepared with recipes a century old or more. Check it out at http://www.thetaverninoldsalem.ws/
"Silently like thoughts that come and go, the snow flakes fall, each one a gem"
William Hamilton Gibson
William Hamilton Gibson
Also on the southern end of the village is the Museum for Early Southern Decorative Arts. Adjacent to the museum is a covered bridge which connects the Visitors Center with the village. Built in 1998, the covered bridge contains no nails. It was built with period correct construction material and serves as the gateway to the village.
Not far from the covered bridge is original sanctuary St Phillips Moravian Church, the oldest African American church building in North Carolina. Moravians originally allowed African slaves and freedmen to worship with them.
They believed that regardless of one's station in life, everyone stood equal before God. But bowing to the sentiments of the community, the brethren eventually encouraged a separate congregation be formed. They built black Moravians a separate church building in 1861 which stands there today.
"Then come wild weather, come sleet or come snow, we will stand by each other however it blow" Simon Dach
The village has been restored circa 1800. There are many private homes and everyone takes great pride in maintaining a living museum neighborhood.
Walking around taking pictures the FBWG encountered many residents and students who were also taking in the snow sights. One commented to me: "Doesn't feel like we are walking around inside a picture postcard?"
On the northern end of the village, is God's Acre, the resting place of Brethren who are now in the more immediate presence of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Near the entrance is a wonderful building, name "Cedarhurst" which houses the offices of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church.
Adjacent to God's Acre is the Archie Davis Center which houses the archives of the Moravian Church-Southern Province. Note that graves of departed members of the congregation are marked with identical recumbent white stones which signify the unity of death.
"Are there no Moravians in the moon that not a missionary has yet visited this poor planet of ours, to civilize civilization and christianise Christendom?"
What a great evening in Old Salem. The snow made this beautiful place absolutely enchanting. We could have stayed for hours and taken 100 pictures. If you have never visited this historic village, make a point to come visit soon.
The Miksch homestead is the first single family dwelling constructed in Salem. It was built in 1771.
The house was occupied by Johann Matheaus Miksch and his wife, Marie Henrietta. There he raised and processed tobacco for sale. Prior to the restoration of Salem, the site was occupied by Welfare Drug Store, just down the block from Krispy Kreme Doughnut
As we left, looming over the skyline of downtown Winston-Salem is the eerie outline of the white obelisk shaped skyscraper occupied by Wells Fargo. All of which reminds me of how fortunate we are that leaders in Winston-Salem in the 1950s banded together to preserve Old Salem as a living museum. https://www.ourstate.com/old-salem/
Can't rate this as a hike....but for those who want to come visit.... access is a 10...Old Salem is just off Business 40 in downtown Winston-Salem....scenery is a 10...snow and old buildings are a perfect combination....effort to view is about right too...the walk around town was not difficult but the coldness of the falling snow numbed the hands but warmed the heart....Overall it was an exceptional evening.
"We are to tell our brethren in America that
the Savior wills that Salem shall be the town
in Wachovia for trade and professions, and
they shall be move thither from Bethabara"
Records of the Moravian Church