I thought I’d start off with a bit of history. After all, Salem began as a village
built by, and for, members of the Moravian Church.
The Moravian Church began during the 15th Century, when John Hus
of Bohemia led a movement to reform the Catholic Church. Hus was
eventually burned at the stake, prompting his followers to revolt, leading
to years of turmoil and war. Forming the religious group “Unitas Fratrum,”
his supporters then chose to move away from the areas of conflict, to Bohemia
and Moravia (today’s Czech Republic), where they could continue, unrestricted,
to dedicate their lives to the teachings of Christ.
By 1722, a small band left Moravia and went to live on the estate of Count
Zinzendorf, where they founded the village of Herrnhut. This small group
was soon joined by other Brethern, as well as by other European Christians.
At this same time, the church became known as the Moravian Church,
since so many of its members came from Moravia.
Eventually, the Moravians’ missionary work led them to America in 1735.
Settling first in Georgia, they soon found it necessary to head to Pennsylvania.
By 1752, Lord Granville proposed that the Moravians settle on a portion
of his vast land holdings in what is now North Carolina. Salem was one
of three communities (Bethabara and Bethania were the other two) that was
settled by the Moravians upon their move. Begun in 1766, Salem was designed
to be, and did become, a town of tradesmen.
Here, now, are images of a few of Old Salem’s buildings:
Moravian women were called “Sisters,” and Moravian men, “Brothers.” All single
women lived and worked in the Single Sisters House. Each Sister learned and
practiced various homemaking skills, such as spinning, weaving, and cooking.
They also gained valuable skills managing the general affairs of their House.
Single Moravian men, meanwhile, lived and worked in the Single Brothers House.
Younger men and boys were apprenticed here to the more experienced in their
chosen trade, be it carpentry, tailoring, blacksmithing, etc. Girls and boys entered
their respective houses at the age of 14 to begin their apprenticeships and
education, and remained there if they never married or acquired homes
of their own.
A kiln firing was held while we were attending the ALHFAM Conference. Making
pots was, of course, one of the trades that a male Moravian could undertake.
For this particular firing, I believe assorted pots were stacked, and then the kiln
was built up around them. This photo was taken two days after the firing, but
there was still smoke coming out of various little cracks and openings.
I thought these houses (above) were simply fascinating. Love the architecture.
Unfortunately (for visitors), they’re all private residences, so they’re not open
to the public. They’re not noted on any map, either, which I found odd. I mean,
golly, they’re a vital part of Salem’s history!
And finally, a cute little house around the corner from the Single Sisters House,
complete with matching blue shutters and door:
NOTE: Much of the above information was gleaned from the pamphlet,
The Moravians and Their Town of Salem, by Gene Capps; published
by Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.