Old Salem Blog

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    “It was very cold during the night, and at sunrise the thermometer was three degrees below zero. The cold forced its way into the houses so that in the cellars the milk, beer, and other foods froze.”

     - Salem Diary, December, 1796


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    An Update from #OldSalemFrank

    December 14, 2017

    By now, you may have heard about how this past weekend’s winter storm and power outage caused us to cancel our beloved Salem Christmas, candlelight tours, and St. Nick photo opportunities.  Due to a power surge, we suffered a physical loss to parts of our IT infrastructure, and, because of that, Old Salem has been unable to operate at full capacity.  This has all resulted in not only an estimated gross operating loss of between $150,000 and $175,000, but also a fresh-baked product loss.  We are happy to tell you that we have partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank, and we have been able to donate all of our fresh-baked products to their clients!

    The outpouring of love and support for Old Salem over the last few days is heartwarming – and, we have to thank our local and national media outlets for covering our story.  Many of you have asked how you can help, and, in response to these requests, we have set up a special “Year-End President’s Fund.”  All of the gifts received to this fund will directly benefit our affected operations.

    Thank you for loving Old Salem and thank you for your year-end support!


    Franklin D. Vagnone
    President and CEO
    Old Salem Museums & Gardens
    600 S. Main Street
    Winston-Salem, NC  27101


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    A message from Old Salem President Franklin Vagnone:

    Dear Friends,

    As I sit in my cozy living room in the “Fourth House” on Main Street in Old Salem, the beautiful December sun is streaming through our windows. Yogi, our dog, has found the streak of sun on the carpet to lie in and I am looking out onto the landscape, calmed by the serenity of the beautiful, crisp, and snowy world of the historic district.  This afternoon affords me an opportunity to reflect on the last few days here at Old Salem.  Due to the snow storm and the power outage, and our subsequent server damage from the electricity troubles, we have been forced into canceling many of our treasured Christmas events. This past weekend we cancelled our sold-out “Candlelight Christmas Tours,” “St. Nicholas in Salem,”  and the highly anticipated “Salem Christmas Festival.” We also have had to cancel our first-ever “A Special Day with St. Nicholas,” an event for families of children with diverse abilities or special needs.

    I am so saddened to have to cancel these events, but all of our behind-the-scenes operations (ticket sales, retail processing, and administrative functions) stopped in their tracks as a result of the unforeseen weather events and related damage.  Beyond the disappointment we feel knowing that we cannot host the many families and children who love to make Old Salem a holiday tradition, we are now facing an extraordinary financial shortfall in our budget.  As is the case with most sites like ours, Christmas is the busiest of seasons.

    We ask that all of you send us good Christmas thoughts with the hope that we can quickly restore operations.  Once we are back and running, we would love to see you chatting with our amazing interpreters, eating our delicious Moravian cookies and sugar cake, and of course buying some wonderful Christmas presents in our stores.  

    Many thanks for your love and support,

    Franklin Vagnone

    President and CEO Old Salem


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    If you’ve ever wanted a very easy way to support Old Salem Museums & Gardens’ education and restoration efforts (as well as community events like this weekend’s Halloween festivities) here is your chance! Thank you for your support.


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    Group Tours Office Relocation

    To better serve our visitors, our Group Tours staff was recently moved to the Visitor Center to streamline check-in and ensure that scheduled group tours have the best possible start to their Old Salem experience.


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    Representatives from the Cherokee Nation visit Old Salem

    This week, we were delighted to welcome representatives of the Cherokee Nation, including the Secretary of State for the Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin, his wife January, as well as Jack Baker, former head of the Tribal Council and board chair for the Oklahoma History.

    Their visit was part of a continuing relationship with the Moravian Archives, which is publishing “The Records of the Moravians Among the Cherokees” with funding from the Cherokee Nation.

    The group toured the historic district, including an opportunity to see the Cherokee-related artifacts at Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.


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    Old Salem Sampler

    The daughter of John Gottlieb and Martha Elizabeth Spach, Christina Spach (1792-1863) stitched this sampler when she was twelve years old. She included her initials in the center wreath, and those of her parents in the plinth. The wreath, plinth, and well are common motifs on Salem samplers as well as on samplers made at the Moravian seminaries in Pennsylvania. The exchange of teachers between Moravian communities accounts for motifs appearing on samplers from both regions.

    View pieces like this in the Dianne H. Furr Moravian Decorative Arts Gallery on your next visit to Old Salem Museums & Gardens at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.


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    June 26, 1820

    “Br. Herbst sent the plan for his house through the Chairman of the Collegium. He wishes to make steps from the street to the second story, and plans a porch on the second story on the side toward the street. This has not been done on any house, and Br. Herbst must be careful not to bock the sidewalk.” - Salem Board Minutes, 1820

    📷 The Herbst House (pictured currently) is available as a
    rental preparation location for weddings held in Old Salem.


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    It’s Flag Day!

    As you tour Old Salem, you may see historic flags flying from our buildings representing the time period of each. These flags are flown from Flag Day to Independence Day in the historic district.

    Pictured on the Single Brothers’ House is the First Stars and Stripes (1777-1795), also called the Betsy Ross Flag. An official flag was adopted by Congress June 14, 1777 and was the first internationally recognized flag. It has thirteen stripes alternating red and white, and thirteen stars on a blue field representing a new constellation. The layout of the stars was left to the individual maker. it was not until 1912 that the law was amended to specify the layout of the stars.


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    May 31, 1791

    “At the end of this month the congregation in Salem had the pleasure of welcoming the President of the United States, George Washington, who was returning from his tour of the Southern States. We had previously been informed that he would pass through our town on his way to Virginia. Today we received word that he had left Salisbury, thirty-five miles from here, this morning, so the Brn. Marshall, Kohler, and Benzien rode out to meet him. As he approached the town several tunes were played, partly by trumpets and French horns, partly by the trombones. In his company were only his secretary, Major Jackson, and the necessary servants. As he decended from his coach he greeted those who stood around in a friendly manner, showing his good will especially to the children who were there.”

    - Salem Diary, 1791 


Everything is ready for our first "Salem Saturday at Christmas" St. Nick's Workshop is ready and waiting for you and your kids.


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7 hours ago

Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Here are a few more pictures from today's 900+ students that visited Old Salem. Our new interpretations are fully immersive and hands-on - we even ask them make up a bed! ...

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11 hours ago

Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Part of our efforts at Old Salem have been to define the outdoor ticketed spaces, increase landscape interpretation. In this case the Tavern barn yard now is interpreted as a working yard with HiddenTown narrative. ...

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Old Salem Museums & Gardens
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The Town of Salem

Experience early American history in the unique Moravian settlement of Salem. Original structures, gardens, tours, artifacts, hands-on workshops, fun family events and shopping.


Stroll through award-winning restorations that create a landscape reminiscent of early Salem where utility, practicality and beauty united. Tours, workshops and plants for your garden.


View history through objects and material culture. Tour a wide range of early southern artistry, craftsmanship and stories found in the world class collection of decorative arts from the early American South, 1660-1860.

Old Salem Museums and Gardens, 600 S. Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101 Phone: 336-721-7300 | visitwinstonsalem.com | Privacy Policy