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o l d s a l em mu s e ums & g a r d e n s

Looking out the window at the streets of Old Salem’s historic district, I catch a glimpse of a group of visitors in shorts and flip flops near the water pump on the Square. Summer has been unusually hot this year, and the water pump has been a popular gathering spot. I can’t help but think about the early Salem settlers and how they managed to cope with North Carolina’s heat and humidity as they went about their daily tasks.

dear friends,

No air conditioning. No trips to the beach. No tank tops and sandals for them. They were a resilient, determined lot, purposeful in their approach to life. They took care of one another, and their sense of community and faith created a tightly knit society that enabled them to weather the hardships of life in the North Carolina backwoods.

Although their lives were very different from what we enjoy today, there is so much that we can learn from them, and, if we stop and think about it for a moment, there are values that we share and have in common with the early Moravians and pioneers of the American frontier.

Te Moravians of early Salem placed a high priority on education for all. Tey deeply appreciated the arts, not only as a means of expressing their faith, but also for the beauty and joy that the arts brought to their lives. Astute in business and commerce, they were adept and successful entrepreneurs. And, while they sought to keep their traditions intact in order to bond their society together, they also prized innovation and new technologies that improved their daily lives and helped to define their place within the larger context of American life. In many ways, we are no different today.

I want to provide you with a recap of the past year because it is an important one, but keep these values in mind. I will return to them shortly.

Last year, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of our incorporation as Old Salem, Inc., a nonprofit organization established in 1950 by a small band of visionaries determined not only to preserve the incredible historic properties, architecture, and landscape of Salem, but also the values and traditions of its early residents.

Old Salem held a Community Day on June 12, opening up our historic tours and buildings for the public, free-of-charge. And as a salute to the era in which Old Salem was created, we adopted a 1950s theme on the Square with a display of vintage cars, an Elvis tribute artist, and hoola hoop contests. An additional Community Day was held on September 11, with free access to our buildings and tours once again, and a bike criterium. Te anachronistic introduction of 1950s activities and a bike race within the historic district was intentional – Old Salem is a public space that we are happy to share with the community in a variety of ways, and these events build upon our concept of developing Old Salem as a ‘third place’ for families and friends.

Tis past year, our Education division developed new educational programming called “Science Alive in Old Salem.” Moravians of Salem had an advanced understanding of science and technology in many of its forms – agriculture, astronomy, botany, surveying, architecture, manufacturing, and medicine. Science was a necessary tool to solve the problems of everyday life. So our staff created a number of hands-on science demonstrations for a pilot program of all-day science activities throughout the historic district. We introduced two “Science Alive” days this past year to more than 1,500 schoolchildren who learned, among other things, what elements in gun powder make it explode, how to use ashes to make lye soap, how to dye fabrics using natural materials, and how to light a fire without matches. Its remarkable success not only paves the way for more days of science for school groups, but also serves as a blueprint for the future integration of science into our daily historical interpretations.

Te Gardens of Old Salem are a popular focus for many of our visitors, and so the Restoration division has responded with several initiatives that will not


s h a r e d v a l u e s , s h a r e d d r e ams

Old Salem Museums & Gardens

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