10/28/14 Tuesday in Advance, NC (Forest Lake-TT)
We were not so organized, thus late getting out on the road, but that’s life. Old Salem (in what is now Winston-Salem,NC) is the original town that the Moravian Church built in the 1700’s. Similar to Williamsburg where Rockefeller financed the rebuilding of that old city, here RJ Reynolds (tobacco) financed the same thing for Old Salem in the ’30s. Old Salem was first Wachovia settlement (yes, the bank got it’s name from its start here); 100,000 acres to the Moravians from the government to encourage people living between the Mississippi River and the East Coast. They chose this spot because it was along the “wagon road” which ran N/S, between port cities, so they’d have lots of customers to serve. These outsiders were called strangers and welcomed via Salem Tavern, where they could eat and lodge before moving on. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
At the Visitor Center ($20/senior) we saw the beautiful restored Home Moravian Church Organ. The first organ built for them by David Tannenberg, the premier 18th century organ builder from Lititz, PA (we were there-just type this into search line to see what we saw), is now in the Single Brothers’ House which you’ll see later. The second, far more grand, is the largest of the 10 (out of 50 built) that have survived. It has two manual keyboards, a pedal keyboard, 644 pipes, and eleven manual and two pedal stops.
At the Frank L Horton Museum Center we got a tour of MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts). I love how they’ve set up rooms built as the kind of house/place where the special furniture/paintings of that time would have resided. Having a guide explain things was nice compared to reading lots of signs too. Unfortunately, no photography. Packs and cameras are locked in a locker just like at Williamsburg Art Museum. We also found out that MESDA had loaned about 40 pieces to the Williamsburg Art Museum, receiving some from them in exchange. Such a small world. If you come here and like fine crafts, make sure you see this.
Nearby is the state’s oldest African American log church. Originally the Africans who joined the community joined the others in their church, but in time the Moravians moved as their neighbors toward separating them. After the log church got to small, they built a brick one. Because the Moravians believe all are equal in God’s eyes, their headstones are flat. In the brick building the fancy chairs were donated from the Lutheran Church in town. They taught Sunday school and had a brass band playing on the second floor. They (the church desegregated later) still have services here every 5th Sunday.
By this time we were starving, so we stopped at Old Salem Tavern. The food was excellent! Lovely setting, great service, reasonable prices. Yum!!
Now oh so full, we checked out the Salem Tavern Museum. The place with the bars is their bar, where they served the drinks! Nearby is the game room, where the guests entertained themselves. The game I highlighted is the early form of “Candy Land.”
The wealthy get this 1st floor bedroom and privacy, the others are upstairs. George Washington slept here for two nights, so I included his thank you note. In the kitchen the “sister” showed us how cocoa was processed: cocoa bean, roasted beans, shell those roasted beans, melt the resulting “nibs” to form large bars. They’d receive the chocolate in this bar form, then grind it to a powder. They’d put this powder into hot water and whip up some foam topped chocolate drink. It was only available in the winter since the chocolate would melt in the summer.
A stop at the Schultz Shoemaker Shop to see the shoemaker. He would make 6 pairs a week, generally.
The Single Brothers’ House, where the group (they called groups choirs) of single men lived and apprenticed in various trades. The Moravians even buried their people according to these choirs. The first half was built using timbers, to save on expensive limestone, then they added the second half. Those black buckets are fire buckets (for hauling water from source to fire engine). Here is that first organ of David Tannenberg. Note the hat on our tailor. He said it was the easiest thing to make (a tube) and generally worn inside. The last image is of a faucet in the kitchen. Salem was the first place in this part of the country to have water brought inside the house this way-there were 4 in the town.
On to the Mirksch Gardens and House where the Mirksch kept a garden for the townspeople and was their Master Gardener. Everyone had their own garden here (large spaces behind their houses), so he didn’t make lots of money. The Moravians, realizing this, let him be the sole maker of gingerbread cakes, as well as all the church services bread. He sold bread as well. That stove looks like it could have been made at Cornwall Furnace! It is over 250 years old.
The Vierling House, where the town doctor lived. This guy was wealthy, but he must have been constantly busy. There were few hospitals in these times so he made house visits for all physical issues, including child birth. He was also the local dentist, veterinarian and pharmacist (apothecary). Amazingly he’d been trained as a surgeon in England, so these people were especially fortunate. Under Doctor Vierling’s direction the Moravians advanced public health in the Back Country. He promoted smallpox vaccinations, clean water supplies, a market house on Salem Square for fresh meats and a carefully supervised “corpse house,” where the dead were kept until burial.
We bought some fabulous chocolate dipped ginger cookies at the C Winkler Bakery, in operation since its beginning 200 years ago. They even use a dome bake oven. I believe that’s for special items only. Boy, those ginger cookies are incredible! They sell some other items as well, like these Moravian Stars.
At the Market-Fire Engine House we learned they held a fresh meats market here weekly. The fire engine has hand pulled, no engine.
Next we came to the Timothy Vogler Gunsmith Shop learning lots about guns. The top gun was for the wealthy who cared about appearances, the lower gun was just as good a gun, just more plain (and cheaper). We loved the windows of his shop-can you see how they keep the shutters open?
He closed his doors as we left – it was 4:30 pm and closing time!! We managed to purchase a couple postcards in the Visitor Center, then made our way home. We didn’t manage to see Salem College, established in 1772, one of the oldest women’s colleges. A testimony to the Moravians’ progressive belief that women deserved education on par with those available to men.
A beautiful trip on a beautiful, warm fall day.