Historic Bethabara Park
Bethabara Park is one of the oldest European settlements in North Carolina. The Park is a priceless cultural and historical monument representing the state’s heritage.
The Bethabara Historic District is located in Winston-Salem City, Forsyth County. The Park sits on 183 acres of land dedicated to preserving historic buildings, grounds, wildlife, and protected wetlands. Winston-Salem’s Recreation and Parks Department manages Bethabara Park.
This North Carolina city has become a tourist attraction for visitors looking to learn and reconstruct the traditional site. In addition, the walking trails in the Park allow guests to see birds and wildlife along the wetlands.
History of Bethabara Park
The Bethabara Historic District was founded in 1753 by a community of German-speaking Moravians. After they arrived in the District, the settlers built the Bethabara Moravian Church.
Before settling in North Carolina, the Moravian Church had come under heavy attack from the Holy Roman Church. In 1620, thousands of Moravian Brethren had been killed, and thousands more expelled from Bohemia. However, Moravian missionaries were offered a land deal in North Carolina, where the Park sits today.
After the French and Indian War broke out in 1754, the Moravian settlement became home to dozens of refugees. However, the Park was only a temporary settlement. Even as the war continued, the Moravians were building a permanent residence in Wachovia Tract, now known as Salem.
By the time the war ended in 1763, most of the buildings in Bethabara were demolished and used for construction in the new Wachovia Tract. By 1766, the City of Salem was established, and both Moravians and refugee communities started moving to the town.
As Salem continued to grow, most of the Moravian population in the District started to decline. Most of the people left in Bethabara were farmers who supplied vegetables and fruits to Wachovia. By 1820, most of the buildings in the District were demolished, and the Moravian settlement ceased to exist.
Historic Buildings and Architecture
1754 Reconstructed Village
The Village is a reconstruction of the buildings found in the Park in 1754 and 1755. Some completed structures include a sleeping hall, a washhouse, a storage house, a cowhouse, an oven, a shed, a lodging, and various fences.
The Gemeinhaus Church is the last eighteenth-century German church in the United States, adjoining residential quarters. The church was built in 1788 and still retains most of its original aspects. The church was also used as a meeting house and school for the community.
The Log House
The Log House represents Park development during the nineteenth century. The Log House was constructed in 1834 on top of an older Moravian family house.
The Brewer’s House
Heinrich Feldhausen built the Brewer’s House in 1756 as a community brewery and distillery. The Moravians drank whiskey, brandy, and beer, made from peaches, as they believed the drinks had healing properties.
The Potter’s House
The Potter’s House is the oldest house (brick) in Forsyth County. The house was constructed in 1782 by Johannes Schaub. Schaub was also a renowned potter in Bethabara, giving the place its name.
The Palisade Fort was built in 1756 by Moravians and their neighbors to protect them during the French and Indian War. The Fort was made from timber, including pine, crooked oak, and cedar logs. The Fort was taken down after the war ended in 1763. However, some of the Fort’s structures remain.
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