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Winston–Salem Treasure Hunt:When Winston Met Salem!
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Ways to Experience Old Salem Museums & Gardens
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Reviewed October 31, 2017

Historical buildings, presented accurately, by interpreters who all seem to really enjoy their work. The story of the Moravian Church seems to be told with balance, as the tough side of Moravian history relating to slaves and slavery is compassionately presented, along with the uplifting spiritual story of this church. The buildings are originals- the imperfections in the glass windows have been there for 200 years!
We debated, after we passed the plaque commemorating the site of the original Krispy Kreme, whether or not they should have kept that "historic" building in its place. (They did not keep it... I guess the pioneer feel to the street would not be quite the same.)

Date of experience: October 2017
1  Thank R W
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed October 31, 2017

We fell upon Old Salem by mistake, but loved it! Old Salem is the classic colonial town, with a giant town green with thick maple and oak trees (glorious colors in Fall) surrounded by brick salt-box and cape like houses with candles in every window and meandering brick sidewalks (bumpy because of the old growth tree roots).

Salem College (established 1772 - women's college) sits off the town green and is lovely to stroll through. In particular, do not miss the Greek-style outdoor theatre bulit into the hillside along a babbling brook. Gorgeous and serene.

The town green has a white fence all around it and at Halloween they sponsor pumpkin carving for everyone and then put the pumpkins on top of the flat fence completely encircling the green - hundreds of expressive jack o lanterns - it is very cool and some have elaborate artistry.

Main Street emanates from the town green and is lined with the restored colonial buildings. Various crafts are sponsored (e.g. pottery, etc), the stores are tasteful and have a nice collection of wares. Each house is dedicated to a craft, such as the Potter, the Gunsmith, etc, which makes it interesting for everyone.

We went during October while the leaves were falling and changing which added an invigorating crispness to the air while walking (you can warm up at the local tea houses), the pumpkin festival and the changing leaves. There were also historical and ghost tours which sold out immediately.

I didn't give this a 5 star only because it is not as an immersive historical experience as, for example, Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, but it is absolutely a fun and interesting excursion if you are in the Winston-Salem area.

Date of experience: October 2017
1  Thank John B
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed October 31, 2017

It was a great way to learn about the history in that time and the type of people and work they did. It is essential to have the full experience. Purchase the option to see all. The period people were wonderful guides and were willing to take time to answer questions. So glad they preserved this bit of history. My big surprise was that modern cars were on the street and people lived in some of the houses. The gunsmith explained how that came about.

Date of experience: October 2017
Thank KAREN V
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed October 21, 2017 via mobile

My husband and I came down to the area for a short visit. We had a great time touring Old Salem. There are lots of very friendly people to help you around and some really interesting history. I highly recommend the Tavern!

Date of experience: October 2017
2  Thank Lisa M
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed October 18, 2017 via mobile

Old Salem is a Moravian community that allows visitors to see the workshops, houses, churches, buildings, and relics from the mid-18th century. The Moravians were persecuted Protestants who fled the (now) Czech Republic to settle in Pennsylvania, and eventually on 99,000 acres in Salem, naming it Wachovia. The history of the Moravians, their settlement, and the development of their community is displayed in the Old Salem Visitors Center Museum. This is where tickets are purchased, and is a great place to start to get some background knowledge before touring the community. Parking is free at the Visitors Center, and I'd recommend using it since street parking in Old Salem is restricted to the private citizens who live there.

An adult all-inclusive ticket to visit every building (valid for 2 days) is $27. I bought this and didn't regret it. There's a lot to see. I spent all day there. If you study the (free) map from the museum, and know what you'd like to see specifically, you can buy a 2-stop ticket which allows you entrance to two of the (non-free) buildings of your choice within the community. This ticket is $18. They also have guided tours for sale, but every building is manned by at least one enthusiastic "character actor" volunteer/employee who punches your ticket, and then explains the history and function of the building/shop/artifacts. If you live near Salem-Winston, they sell passes for the year. There are also many workshop classes, activities, and seasonal special events. They have a website with all that information.

Visitors may roam the community without a ticket and visit the "free" buildings: the museum, the gift shop, the candy/garden/hat shops, the Home Moravian Church, the tavern restaurant, the Winkler Bakery (you MUST buy some baked goods or jam here. HUGE selection of flavors of freshly baked breads, strudels,  jelly rolls, cookies, pound cake, sugar bread, and the traditional love feast bread). Every morning, wood is burned in the stone oven for 3 hours. Then all the wood and ashes are removed and the cookies and sweetbreads are cooked from the remaining heat in the oven. The bakery is crowded, and on busy days, they sell out of the most popular breads by 10 or 11am. You might want to head here first...

The town is open to visitors Tuesday–Saturday from 9:30 a.m.– 4:30 p.m., and for a limited time on Sunday from 1–4:30 p.m. The museum and buildings are CLOSED on Mondays and holidays. I visited on a Tuesday in August and I usually only encountered one or two other people in each building, which was nice because naturally, the buildings are very small. Definitely go during the week, if possible.

It was very hot the day I visited, but the buildings are well ventilated and cool inside, and the church and a few buildings had A/C. The main street is well shaded, but watch your step outside on the uneven brick sidewalks. As a town built long before the ADA act, many buildings have a step or two leading to the door, and very narrow hallways and spaces inside. A handful of buildings have a second floor, accessed by a narrow staircase. I only saw a few wheelchair access ramps, and visitors are not allowed to bring strollers inside the buildings. It's too bad the residents park along the main street as it mars the historic ambience outside, and obstructs full-length pictures of the buildings.

 I enjoyed hearing the organist play the original David Tannerberg pipe organ in the Single Brother's House. She usually plays around 1:30 or 2pm. I circled back so that I could hear her play. Two more organs can be found in the Home Moravian Church and in the Visitors Center (museum). I also enjoyed the working craft shops and talking with the volunteer docents. The brochure description mentions "gardens" on site, and I think I should clarify that the garden is the traditional crop garden area, not a botanical garden. There aren't really any pretty flowers or landscaping here. The focus is on the buildings and their history.

In the Single Sisters House, I learned about how everyone's role in society was clearly established and marked by the color and style of clothes, and by the color of hair ribbon worn (females). All community members lived in an assigned dorm or house according to his/her identity in the community - child, Single Sister, Married Sister, Widow, Elder, Slave, Stranger, etc. Spouses and jobs were arranged after careful observation and consideration from the Elders.

I ate lunch at the Tavern restaurant and the honey mustard and pecan chicken salad croissant sandwich and smoked gouda and bacon potato salad were delicious. If it hadn't been such a hot day, I would have loved to try the tomato and smoked blue cheese bisque, the chicken pot pie, strawberry ginger and candied pecan salad, or the chicken and grits! Lots of delicious choices on that modest menu, and the prices are reasonable - equivalent to the quality. Entrees are $10 a plate. The waitress was efficient and extremely friendly. There's no children's menu, so I wouldn't recommend eating here with kids unless they have sophisticated taste.

I loved spending the day here immersed in a micro-world from the past. I think there's plenty for the family to see even without purchasing tickets. I had anticipated spending about 3-4 hours here, not realizing how big the town is, but there are more buildings than I thought, with private homes between them, so there's a fair amount of area to be explored. I ended up spending about 6 hours here and really enjoyed it. Photos are allowed, so I took a million, of course, but I didn't upload any since there are already almost 700 photos posted, and they all give you a good idea of what you'll see there.

Hope that helps! Enjoy Old Salem!

 

Date of experience: October 2017
15  Thank 311queenj
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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