A well-known – and decidedly charming – historic destination in Winston-Salem, Old Salem Museums & Gardens shares the stories of German Moravian, African American and Indigenous peoples in early North Carolina. A popular outing for all ages, Old Salem brings history to life for children and adults alike – utilizing the true Moravian experience as its framework.
Director of Education Tara Logue develops immersive programs that show families with kids of all ages what life was like in the Town of Salem in the 1800s. Old Salem is open Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. There will also be special activities on Saturdays in October. Check the website oldsalem.org for more details.
“October’s theme is – appropriately – Harvest & Winter Preparation,” Tara explains. “Visitors will learn that the skills of food preservation and pickling were lifelong staples of life in Salem, relying on abundant harvests of pumpkins, gourds and squash. Pumpkins were their main survival food – not only were they tasty, but they kept well. Other fruits could be dried or turned into jams and jellies for the following year.”
The Old Salem horticulture staff also conducts garden tours where children can learn to identify native plants. “We really want kids to get their hands in the garden soil, for example, and we want them to feel the texture of an actual wood shaving, see someone weaving or another artisan shaping clay into something beautiful with their hands. We feel these activities help demystify how kids see characters from history – our programs offer them an entirely new understanding.”
A tour of Old Salem today will also find tradesmen presenting demonstrations of pottery, woodworking and metalworking, along with hands-on games that were popular during the time period.
Visitors view real-life Salem via demonstrations depicting daily life and also get a glimpse of the relationship between the Moravian community and the rest of the world. The Tavern Museum, reopened in September following renovations, was a church-owned business that housed outsiders coming to do business in the town of Salem. The community was tightly regulated, so the Tavern kept visitors contained, and even George Washington slept in one of the rooms during some of his travels!
Programs for school groups – not only from Forsyth County but within a short driving radius that includes the Charlotte and Triangle areas – are scheduled Wednesday through Friday, and a special Home School experience centered around the Salem culture and lifestyle is planned for November 1st.
Also this October, ages 12 and up can participate in Old Salem’s Halloween Escape Room – which will be a mix of historic tour and escape room activities. Participants can explore the unique ghost story of Andreas Kremser, known in Old Salem lore as the “Little Red Man.” Tickets for this event – held in the evenings on October 20, 21, 27 and 28 at the Single Brothers’ House – must be booked in advance and do sell out quickly!
As one of the nation’s most comprehensive history attractions, the museums – the Historic Town of Salem, the galleries at Frank L. Horton Museum Center, including the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), and the Gardens at Old Salem – engage families in a memorable historical experience. The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) contains the finest collection of its kind in the United States, featuring architecture, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, needlework, paintings, prints and other decorative arts from the early American South.
For more information on Learning in Place educational programs at Old Salem or to purchase tickets online, visit oldsalem.org. Old Salem Museums & Gardens is located at 900 Old Salem Road, Winston-Salem, NC 336.721.7350 and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Follow them on Instagram @oldsaleminc for updates and events.