Monday, November 10, 2014

old salem on a quiet autumn sunday

After developing the towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth in Pennsylvania, the Moravian missionaries who had journeyed to this country from Europe purchased 100,000 acres of backcountry in North Carolina, in an area then called Wachovia. They began building 5 different congregations (or communities) within that acreage. The first was Bethabara, which was settled in 1753, and then they moved on to develop the settlement they named Salem. Founded in 1766, Salem became the center of Moravian life for the sect and for the surrounding towns. The area is backcountry no longer. Old Salem sits quietly amid the noise, bustle and hurried city of Winston-Salem, but to enter the protected limits of Salem you truly are stepping back into a quieter, simpler time.

 You can attempt to cross the busy streets that surround Old Salem, but crossing over the traffic on the covered bridge is to really be welcomed. Moravian Stars hover overhead and during this season, greenery is added to mark the beginning of the holiday season.
The village is the home for some very lucky families who lovingly care for their old dwellings...
                                       ...but also holds restored community buildings.
Guides dressed in the garb of the period tell stories of life so long ago. 

two gents take a break to chat with the young lady in the long lavender dress

Still a living and breathing community, Salem College, Salem Academy
and a very large and active Moravian church thrive. 
We stood outside the old church and listened to a saxophone ensemble practicing for upcoming holiday services. Hymns, carols, church bells...the atmosphere was extra special on this visit. 

Old trees fill "God's Acre", an old cemetery filled with simple stones set upon rolling hills. The deceased are buried—not in family groups—but in well organized and beautifully maintained rows according to the date of their passing. On most of the older markers, the country/county of origin is listed along with the deceased's name.
The oldest stone there is dated 1771.  

Gardens are seen throughout the village... are traditional Moravian Stars.
Carriage mounting/dismounting stones and horse hitches are among the signs
of times gone by, hiding in plain sight.
If you look carefully at these peg and beam constructions, you can see Roman numerals etched into the wood, giving direction to the builders/restorers.

 On this day, as the "golden hour" began, family groups, small children, and brides could be seen posing in especially quaint spots, with photographers snapping keepsake portraits.
We'll be visiting autumn.


Tracy Altieri said...

What a wonderful place! I do love spots like this. I could visit Williamsburg over and over again!

nadine paduart said...

just so stunning, your report on a part of country that sits peacefully and yet symbolises so much. i would so very much like to visit! thxs for the tour. n♥