Continuing on with the road trip that I took from Boston to Nashville, and back, this month for a conference! Starting from the beginning…..
After tripping through the Smokey Mountains for a while, I ultimately continued to head east, ending up in Winston-Salem, NC, for the evening. I arrived quite late, so there was no time for exploring then – I was all about curling up with a glass of wine at that point after another long drive!
But next morning, I got up bright and early, and headed off into Old Salem for an hour. It’s a beautiful historic district where you can take a step back in time and experience some early American history – with lots of buildings, churches, shops, and costumed workers that form a living museum dedicated to the culture of the Moravian settlement in North Carolina during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Moravians were a Protestant group that had their beginnings in Europe, in the region we today know as the Czech Republic. They founded Salem in 1766, and apparently kept meticulous records and written accounts of their lives, enabling their stories to be recounted like this today. The district itself was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
Additionally, the Salem Tavern is one of a couple of buildings in the community that has actually been designated individually as a National Historic Landmark. The tavern had one especially famous guest when George Washington stayed for a couple of nights as he was passing through in 1791!
It’s lovely just wandering around the town, soaking up all the history in its restored buildings.
The town’s St. Philips African Moravian Church is the oldest African American church still standing in NC – it actually turned 150 years old on December 15th this year – and one was one of the first in the country. Its cemetery is something to behold. Known as “God’s Acre”, the Moravian term for grayeyard, it is quite a sight when you first arrive and see the thousands of identical headstones arranged so symmetrically.
I was so glad that I took an hour or so for an early wander around this beautiful historic district. It’s a stark contrast to the surrounding skyscrapers and hustle-bustle of city life. It’s well worth carving out some time for a visit if you’re in the Winston-Salem area at any point.