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About Winston-Salem

Old Salem


Salem dates back to January 1753, when Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg, selected a settlement site in the three forks of Muddy Creek. He called it “die Wachau” (Wachovia) after the Austrian estate of Count von Zinzendorf. The land, just short of 99,000 acres, was purchased from John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville. On November 17, 1753, the first settlers arrived at the town of Bethabara. Despite its rapid growth, it was not designed to be the primary settlement. Instead, the guidance of the Lord was sought for selection of a new town by drawing lots among sites which were suitable.

The town established was named Salem (for “peace”) chosen for it by the Moravian’s late patron, Count Zinzendorf. On January 6, 1766, the first tree was felled for the building of Salem. It was a typical Moravian settlement congregation with public buildings grouped around a central square, today Salem Square. They include the Church, a Brethren’s House and a Sisters’ House for the unmarried members of the Congregation, which owned all the property in town. For many years only members of the Moravian Church were permitted to live in the settlement. This practice had ended by the American Civil War. Many of the original buildings in the settlement have been restored or rebuilt and are now part of Old Salem.


In 1849 the town of Winston was founded, named after a local hero of the Revolutionary War, Joseph Winston, who was well-known in the town of Salem. Shortly thereafter both Winston and Salem were incorporated into the newly formed Forsyth County. It thrived as an industrial town, producing tobacco products, furniture and textiles. In 1851 Winston was designated the county seat, and, with plans to connect the cities of Winston and Salem, the county courthouse square was placed just one mile north of Salem’s square.


Winston-Salem is a city in the state of North Carolina. In 2004 the city annexed an additional 17,483 raising the city population to 203,259. It is the county seat and largest city in Forsyth County and the fourth-largest city in the state. Winston-Salem is a prominent municipality in the Piedmont Triad region and is home to the tallest office building in the region, the Wachovia Center. It is often referred to as the “Twin City” for its dual heritage, although “Camel City” is another popular nickname, referring to the city’s prominent tobacco industry (after Camel Cigarettes). Many locals, however, use the shortened name “Winston” in informal speech. Winston-Salem is the home of Wake Forest University, a nationally distinguished private university. Of historical interest is Reynolda Village (includes Reynolda Gardens and Reynolda House Museum of American Art). Other sites of interest include the Horne Creek Historic Farm, Tanglewood Park, the SciWorks educational facility, and SECCA, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. The city’s major sports/entertainment venues are organized in a group known as the Winston-Salem Entertainment-sports complex.

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