Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Lewisville, NC

Old Salem Museums and Gardens is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Winston-Salem City. It offers the opportunity to learn more about North Carolina’s history and culture after the first European settlers moved to the city.


Old Salem Museums and Gardens is a collection of different exhibits and recreations of Salem. The Museums and Gardens are located in Winston-Salem, NC. The sites act as educational museums, showcasing how the Moravians established and developed the small eighteenth-century town of Old Salem.

History of Old Salem

Old Salem was started by a group of Moravian settlers in 1766. Initially, Moravian Missionaries settled in Bethabara Historic District in 1753. However, the place was only a temporary settlement as the community started constructing the Wachovia Tracts, now known as Salem.

By 1766, Wachovia Tract was founded, and most Moravians moved from Bethabara into the town. At the time, the Moravian Church regulated all its residents’ architectural details, economic activities, and livelihoods.

However, in the Nineteenth Century, exposure to the outside world changed many aspects of the Moravian community. In particular, the strict control of the church on personal lifestyle and property began to ease. People were allowed to own land instead of leasing it from the church.

Historic Architecture in Old Salem

Moravian Buildings

Old Salem Museum and Gardens is full of the earliest Moravian buildings. Most of these houses have a medieval aspect to their architecture, made from mostly brick and timber. The house’s interiors utilize an old floor plan style called the German Continental.

Classical Federal Style Architecture

Most residential homes in Old Salem built in the Nineteenth Century have a Federal Style design. The houses have a combination of both traditional Moravian/German architecture and Classical American designs.


Another fascinating element of Old Salem is the cobblestone sidewalks. The sidewalks offer a historic feel to the town as tourists visit the different exhibits.

Exhibitions in the Old Salem Museums and Gardens

Selections from Across the Creek: Happy Hill

Across the Creek from Salem; The Story of Happy Hill, 1816-1952, was a landmark exhibit created in 1998. The exhibition is a recollection of photographs, artifacts, and stories told by the first African American neighborhood that settled in Winston-Salem. The settlement was called Happy Hill.

On the Road Again with the Material Culture of Travel

Old Salem Visitor Center allows guests to see some of the travel accessories used by the Moravians while on the road. The museum showcases shoes, carriages, wagons, bicycles, trucks, and chests used when traveling.

Art in Clay: Masterworks of North Carolina Earthenware

Old Salem Museums and Gardens also exhibits the work of some of North Carolina’s first earthenware potters. The exhibit showcases some of the finest pottery work done by Moravian artists and artisans.

From Congregation Town to Cradle of Industry: A Century of North Carolina Moravian Landscapes, 1790-1890

This exhibit showcases the progression of Old Salem’s land policies. The art depictions showcase Wachovia’s different landscapes and buildings, reflecting the changes in the town’s economic and cultural development.

Old Salem Gardens

The Salem gardens and landscape offer lovely scenery for nature lovers to enjoy a warm afternoon. The town is full of beautiful meadows, gardens, and orchards that preserve the local flora.

In addition, the Horticulture Program at Old Salem educates people on the importance of sustainable gardening practices through programs and tours around the gardens and museums.


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