801 East Main Street
Salem, Virginia 24153
(540)389-6760 info@salemmuseum.org

UPCOMING EVENTS

 Salem Museum & Historical Society News

Recent Press Releases:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

SALEM MUSEUM TO HOLD HERBAL WORKSHOPS ON APRIL 26th

          The Salem Museum on April 26th will be the place to get some “sage” advice-- just in the nick of “thyme!” The Third Annual Salem Museum Herb Faire will offer fascinating--and aromatic-- workshops on how to grow, use, and appreciate herbs, with sessions for the novice and the expert. And a fabulous plant sale will allow you the chance to practice some of what you learn at home.

            “This has been a great educational event for us the past two years,” said Museum Director John Long. “We love to offer this sort of event alongside our focus on local history. It’s a great combination.”

The Herb Faire is also sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Roanoke Master Gardener’s Association. A schedule for the workshops is below:  

  • 9:30 a.m. Registration and Sign-in
  • 10:00 – 10:30 Compatible Herbs Go to Pot by Roanoke Master Gardeners. Learn how to combine and plant your favorite herbs to meet your kitchen needs. Grow in pots inside or out. You can have your fresh herbs right at your fingertips!!
  • 10:45 - 11:15Olive Oil 101 by Oliveto. Learn about the difference in “store bought” olive oil and the fresh, “authentic” olive oil we offer at Oliveto.  This class will give you a quick lesson in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and what that term actually means. Tastings will be provided for some of our oils and balsamic vinegars.
  • 11:30 - NoonHerbal Bread Secrets w/ Laura Van Ostrand  Join “The Little Red Hen”, owner of Nick of Thyme Bakery and Catering, as she demystifies the making of herbal bread.
  • 12:00 – 12:45LUNCH . A $5.00 Chic-fil-A box lunch available. Place your order before 11:15 a.m.
  • 12:45 – 1:15Take the Confusion Out of Infusions!  We will show you how to make and use herbal infusions to add unique and delicious taste surprises to cakes, cookies, and drinks.  You will have an opportunity to taste the difference.
  • 1:30 – 2:00Scentsational Herbal Crafts! Learn how to use fragrant herbs to decorate and scent your home, provide a soothing bath, or keep the insects away.  Herbal crafts make great and inexpensive gifts for friends and family.  Using lavender, scented geraniums, fresh bay leaves and other herbs, we will demonstrate how to make hearth strings, bath soak bags, spicy trivets and more.
  • 2:15 – 3:00No Time to Water?   Create Your Own Miniature Garden using Succulents.  Visit our plant sale and pick out your favorite succulents.  This  make-and-take workshop will share some unique ways to display and “dress-up” your succulents indoors or out. Roanoke Master Gardeners will help you repot your purchase.  Containers and soil are furnished.

In addition to the workshops, there will also be an Herb/ Plant Sale and “Plant an Herb Pot” station open all day. The admission to the workshops is only $5/per person all day, including all cooking demos and tastings; however folks not attending the workshops may visit the Herb Sale on their own with no admission fee. Proceeds from the plant sale support the maintenance of the landscape at the Museum. 

            To register for classes, email herbfaire2014@gmail.com.

            The Salem Museum, located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from 10 to 3. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

SALEM MUSEUM TO HOST STUDENT ARTISTS FROM GLENVAR FOR SPECIAL EXHIBITION

For the second year, the Salem Museum will soon present to the public a special display of local art; the impressive works of students at Glenvar High School’s art department.

“We are thrilled to introduce some budding young artists to the community,” said Salem Museum director John Long. “Our museum started several years ago this outreach to the local schools, and it’s been one of the best programs we’ve offered here. I know our visitors will be impressed by what they find.”

The exhibit will include more than 70 pieces, including sculpture, ceramics, and framed paintings. Twenty-seven Glenvar students are slated to participate. While it will be the first public exhibit for some of the students, it certainly won’t be the last for many of the talented young artists.

“This is a win-win idea,” said Long. “We get a great exhibit that our visitors really enjoy. Meanwhile the students get hands-on, practical experience in designing an exhibition. We hope a lot of them list this experience on college applications and take away fond memories of their first show.”

The Glenvar exhibit opens on Tuesday, April 15 and continues through April 26. It is the second exhibit of high school art at the Salem Museum this year, coming on the heels of a display of the works of Salem High students earlier.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from 10 to 3. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

 

mARTch Madness: SALEM MUSEUM TO HOST STUDENT ART EXHIBITION FOR THIRD YEAR

            For the third year, the Salem Museum is pleased to host a special exhibit of Salem High School student art, just in time for National Youth Art Month in March. “mARTch Madness,” as the students have titled their exhibition, brings the works of members of the school’s International Baccalaureate Art program to Main Street Salem, introducing some budding young artists to the community.

“This exhibit is one of the best programs we offer the public each year,” said Salem Museum director John Long. “We always get a great response, and it’s always a great experience for the students. Plus our visitors are endlessly intrigued by what the artists have created.”

Dozens of works--paintings, sketches, and sculptures--by the students of the Class of 2014 will be featured, reflecting the great talents and eclectic tastes of the teenaged artists. “Prepare to be impressed,” said Long. “These are remarkable kids with great vision and unique ways of viewing the world.”

Salem High School art teacher Patty Pope is also enthusiastic about the opportunity for her students. "Our Salem High School artists wouldn't have a platform to bring our art out to the community without the support and connection we have made with the Salem Museum,” she said. 

Three years ago a member of the Museum’s board visited an exhibit of student art from Salem, crammed into the lobby of a Roanoke radio station. Surely, she thought, this should be right on Main Street Salem instead. She approached Pope and Long with the idea, and with that mARTch Madness was born.

“That conversation began a wonderful working relationship between the art department and the museum,” said Pope. “We now conduct testing for the International Baccalaureate Art and Design Program at the museum for our seniors, as they showcase their work in their own senior show. The students have been working hard, and are eager to present their works!"  

The talented teens agree. "I am excited to be showing at the Salem Museum again,” said senior artist Breanna Carr. “The museum provides my classmates and me with such a wonderful opportunity to have a taste of what a true formal art show looks and feels like."

The exhibit “provides a great opportunity to both show our artwork to the community and to get our names out there," added artist Brittany Graham, also a senior.

“mARTch Madness” this year will be featured in the Powell Gallery, the main exhibit gallery of the expanded museum, for the first time. “The last two years the students have been tucked upstairs,” said Long. “This year we wanted them to be the main focus of our exhibitions.”

“mARTch Madness” continues through April 5. A second exhibition of student art from Glenvar High School will follow the Salem show, and in May the sophomore and junior students in Salem’s IB Art program will get their chance to exhibit. .

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from 10 to 3. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

SALEM MUSEUM EXHIBIT EXPLORES THE DRIVE TO IMPROVE THE VALLEY IN THE 1920s

Mere blocks from prosperous businesses, hulks of cars rust away in trash filled lots. Lick Run floods over what is today the busy Route 460 near the Civic Center; a mile or so away the creek becomes an open sewer. Across downtown Roanoke, unsightly and uncontrolled signage creates an eyesore. New-fangled automobiles compete with horse drawn wagons for passage along sub-standard streets.

This was the Roanoke Valley that was in 1928. It was the Roanoke Valley that many thought should not be. Things needed to change, and a dedicated team of reformers were determined to drag the region--kicking and screaming if need be--into the modern world.

A new exhibit at the Salem Museum documents the drive to improve civic conditions in the Roanoke Valley in the late 1920s. Based on a unique set of photographs in the museum’s collection, “Civic Dreams and Unsightly Scenes: Envisioning a New Roanoke Valley” shows the region on the verge of major changes that would overcome early growing pains and help to mature the valley into a modern community.

“We have had this set of photos for years, but few have ever been exhibited before,” noted Salem Museum Director John Long. “Individual photos are fascinating, but taken as a whole they form an intriguing look at what needed to change back then.”

The photos were taken by the newly-formed Roanoke Planning and Zoning Commission from 1928 to 1931. The earlier ones were part of the famed Nolen Plan of 1928, Roanoke City’s first attempt at a comprehensive plan. Those taken in ensuing years were presumably part of the drive to implement John Nolen’s visionary ideas.

Nolen was a widely respected civic planner from Massachusetts who in 1907 had been contracted by a private group to envision what the Roanoke Valley could become. Few of his 1907 ideas were ever put into effect. But 21 years later the Planning Commission again hired Nolen to chart a course of civic improvement for not only Roanoke but the entire region, which Nolen considered an integrated whole. His 1928 plan would guide the development of the valley for decades to come.

“Nolen really was a prophet in many ways,” said Long, who has done extensive research into the Nolen Plan and its aftermath. “A lot of radical ideas he proposed are things we take for granted today, like zoning rules, trash laws, weed control ordinances. None of us would be content to live in the city that Nolen was trying to fix.”

A pair of before-and-after photos illustrates some of the problems Nolen and the Planning Commission wanted to address. The first, taken in 1928, shows an end of Bullitt Avenue in Roanoke. The street is unpaved, there is no curbing, ramshackle sheds and out of control weeds mar the scene. Three years later, the photo shows a modern thoroughfare with better paving and grading and a general attention to appearance. A little bit of effort has made a profound difference. Elsewhere, the reformers highlighted the need for more public parks, better roads, an up to date airport (proposed to be in east Salem), and other hallmarks of a modern community.

Probably most fascinating is a series of photos dubbed “unsightly scenes” by the Commission. A tree grows in the middle of a southeast street. The rubble of collapsed buildings lies neglected in vacant lots. Weeds, rubbish, and polluted streams present hazards not only to aesthetics but to health. “100% disgusting” reads a handwritten note on the back of one of the original snapshots.

“These were conditions which needed correcting, and eventually they were,” noted Long. “It’s interesting to see how determined the reformers were to improve things and, and how much progress they made.”

The Planning Commission photographer, whose name is not known, also captured images of historic buildings around the Valley, though for what reasons were not explained. A colonial era fort (later demolished to construct Interstate 581), an early stagecoach tavern, and even the agrarian community that would be inundated to fill Carvin’s Cove can be seen. Other candid photos show evocative streetscapes, a city-wide marbles tournament, and a plane taking off from Trout Field--then the closest thing the Valley had for an airport.

While not all of the Nolen Plan proposals ever came to be in the form he proposed or which the Planning Commission wanted, many of the forward-thinking ideas did indeed come to pass. Such concepts as sensible zoning laws, local sign ordinances, better roads and bridges for the automobile age, additional public parks and a public pool, a modern airport, better libraries, and even greenway walking paths are now things citizens take for granted. But they were born in those heady days when a planned community was a revolutionary idea.

“For folks who know the Roanoke Valley, it will be a fascinating experience to see these photos. It’s like a trip back to a simpler time, but a time when some things were perfectly horrid,” said Long. “It will make you appreciate all the more the Roanoke Valley we all know now.”

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from 10 to 3. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

 

At the annual membership meeting of the Salem Historical Society, the Board of Directors took the opportunity to thank W. Frank Chapman for his service above and beyond the call of duty in directing the Salem Museum Capital Campaign for the previous six years. Frank's dedication to the cause and devotion to funding our recent expansion project was deemed worthy of admiration and great gratitude, and the Board passed the following resolution in his honor:

The Board of Directors of the Salem Historical Society, Salem, Virginia

A Resolution in Honor of W. Frank Chapman

Whereas, W. Frank Chapman is a lifelong resident of Salem, Virginia, with deep family roots in the community and innumerable friends therein; and

Whereas Frank has been a successful businessman and a respected member of Salem community, is a veteran of the United States Navy, and has served on numerous nonprofit boards including the Boy Scouts, Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce, the Salem Rescue Squad and the Salem-Roanoke County Food Pantry; and

Whereas, he served a four year appointment to the Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries, serving as Vice Chairman his last year; and

Whereas, he has been a generous benefactor of the Salem Historical Society and many other worthy charities for many years; and

Whereas, Frank has served admirably, tirelessly, and with great dedication as a Board Member of the Salem Historical Society for many years, serving a term as President of said organization and also serving on a number of active committees and volunteering for numerous events; and

Whereas, he has in particular served with selfless devotion on the Building Committee of the Salem Museum, thereby performing valuable service in planning, overseeing, and administering the recent expansion project of said Museum; and

Whereas, most notably Frank has tirelessly served since 2007 as the Chair of the Salem Museum Capital Campaign Committee, a body tasked with raising the funds necessary for the expansion and completion of the Salem Museum; and

Whereas, the said committee set a goal of raising the necessary $3.3 million to pay for this expansion, a goal which was not only met, but exceeded; and

Whereas, this inestimable achievement was accomplished in the context of a very difficult economic environment, at a time when many other such campaigns were foundering or falling short of less ambitious goals; and

Whereas, the high regard in which Frank is held by those around him and his many friendships within and without the Roanoke Valley helped to rally our community around the goal of completing the Museum’s expansion project; and

Whereas, Frank’s leadership and tireless efforts helped to make possible the early repayment in full of the Museum’s construction debts; and

Whereas, he has been and continues to be a leader of his community in numerous other ways, with his warmth, generosity, engaging personality, and selfless nature endearing him to all who know him and are privileged to call him friend;

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Board of Directors of the Salem Historical Society does hereby state and record boundless admiration for and deep appreciation to W. Frank Chapman for his vast contributions to the Salem Historical Society; and

Be it further resolved, that the Salem Historical Society will continue to strive in the noble cause which has so engaged Frank, namely the preservation of the vital history of our community and the education of future generations about our rich past; believing, as does he , that by recognizing and preserving the best efforts of our forebears we will be inspired to achieve higher cultural, historical, humanitarian and spiritual goals into our bright future.

In witness whereof, the Secretary of the Salem Historical Society has caused her signature to be duly affixed hereto on this 18th Day of November, 2013.

Judy Goodwin, Secretary of the Board of Directors, Salem Historical Society

 

SALEM MUSEUM TOUR INVITES VISITORS

TO “COME HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS” DECEMBER 8th

Let your imagination take you back many Decembers to a simpler day. Decades ago in sleepy little Salem, Christmas is a pleasant time. Families gather for dinner in the warmth of quiet bungalows or in stately mansions. Children eye the presents with anticipation; moms lovingly put finishing touches on the big meal. Carolers meander down side streets, while Main Street reflects the garish charm of new electric lights.

A lifetime of Christmases later, the Holidays are brasher and busier. Families scurry across the nation, bringing new-fangled gadgets wrapped in festive paper. Digital displays beckon the buyer into crowded stores where a dozen Santas can barely keep up.

Yet in Salem some things stay the same. Houses that celebrated the Yuletide season decades ago are still here, with new generations of family filling the stockings. Friends greet each other on the snowy street corners; great-grandma’s ornaments grace the trees. Much has changed, but much has stayed the same.

This year the Salem Museum invites you to “Come Home for the Holidays” and to relive those uncomplicated times when chestnuts really did roast on open fires. The 2013 Holiday Homes Tour, back after a year’s hiatus, will open to eager visitors six wonderful buildings, with halls bedecked and stockings hung with care. Two are younger but lovely private homes; four are “re-purposed” old houses with a new lease on life.

“Rebirth might be a good theme for this year’s tour,” noted Helen Johnson, assistant director of the Museum and coordinator for the tour. “Our stops on the tour feature two older family residences which have been lovingly remade. Then there are four former homes which have been adapted for other uses. It’s a great way to see the past.”

A local tradition for many years, the Salem Museum Holiday Homes Tour will be held December 8 from 1 to 5 pm, the culmination of the city’s Ye Olde Salem Christmas celebration. Below are the sites open for the tour:

Monterey 110 High Street

One of Salem’s most fabled mansions, Monterey was built about 1850, one of the legendary “Deyerle houses” of the Roanoke Valley. Through the years it has served as a home, a hotel, a frat house, and most recently part of our local college campus. Members of the College Historical Society will welcome guests to this stately edifice, and visitors will be able to learn, among other things, about Averell’s Raid on Salem, 150 years ago this December. Captain Thomas Chapman, who lived in Monterey in 1863, was the sole Salemite killed in the Union raid on the railroad in town. Look for evidence of later history as well, such as a vintage 1930s elevator installed for an infirm resident. In addition, for the first time the upstairs of Monterey will be open to the public.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Monterey is a beloved local landmark and will make an unforgettable visit. As a bonus, several campus organizations will each decorate a room in Monterey with appropriate themes--delightful displays you won’t see anywhere else!

Roselawn 226 High Street

Once the home of the Roanoke College presidents, this lovely house was built in 1915. It sits on the site of an early, antebellum president’s house, and gained its floral name from the beautiful landscaping projects of Mrs. Charles Smith, wife of the school’s legendary president. Visitors to Roselawn will delight in the rich furnishings, formal portraits of college leaders, the lavish decorations. Look for special exhibitions from the college archives in both campus buildings as well, such as a unique 19th Century Christmas card collection!

The Logan-Mongan Home 615 Mt. Vernon

The comfortable home of Quinn and Lisa Mongan exudes the grace and charm of a hometown Christmas. Built in 1950, the house has been in the family for three generations. Quinn and Lisa have happily resided there since 2002, completing impressive renovations to make the home a showplace for Salem. For instance, they took three cramped downstairs rooms and opened them into an impressive great room by removing walls. Later they added a large family room opening onto a lovely deck, and revitalized the old kitchen into a modern masterpiece.  Also look for spectacular decorations by local legend George Seymour!

The Henrickson Home 729 Virginia Avenue

Mark and Jodi Henrickson’s deceptively large home dates to 1938, and has also been in the same family since construction. The original house, though, was too small, so the couple have lovingly enlarged and reconfigured virtually everything. They wisely kept many of the charming features from homes of the era—arched doorways, oak floors with 14-foot boards, a wall telephone niche, built-in bookcases, and eight-paneled doors with brass hardware.  But it will be the modern touches that will inspire the oohs and aahs. The “hearth room,” added in 2006, leads to a brick patio where the family can enjoy breathtaking views of Salem. Architectural features and antique furnishings have been “re-purposed” or “upcycled” to serve a modern family, but none of the grace and charm has been lost. While ladies enjoy such features as the antique grandfather clock and dazzling decorations, their husbands can explore Mark’s extraordinary “Man Cave” below. No one will leave unimpressed!  

Dartmore 710 Apperson Drive

Nestled along Lee Highway, this elegant structure was once the home of Harvey Black Apperson, later to become Virginia’s attorney general after a successful legislative career. It is now owned and occupied by the American Legion, and the house serves as a meeting space and a tribute to generations of veterans. As a special treat, from 2 to 4 on the day of the tour, local veterans of D-day plan to be on hand to share their memories. Look for lovely table decorations from Cornerstone Collectibles in Salem as well.

The Salem Museum 801 East Main Street

The landmark 1845 Williams-Brown House, home to the Salem Museum, now boasts a $3 million, environmentally-friendly addition which is the pride of Salem. While there, visitors can peruse the informative exhibits, partake of stunning views of the wintry landscape, and enjoy a cup of cheer at our annual Tea Party. If you’re in a shopping mood, the Salem Museum Gift Shop is a great place to get unique holiday treasures! And of course, you’ll want to see the fabulous exhibition of handmade Christmas wreaths and bid on one in the Museum’s silent auction--bids close at the end of the tour.

Tickets for the Holiday Homes Tour will be on sale by November 12 and can be purchased at the Museum or in Salem at Countryside Classics, the Salem Times-Register, and Brooks-Byrd Pharmacy. They can also be purchased at the featured homes during the tour.  To pay by credit card, call 389-6760.

The cost is $12 in advance and $15 the day of the tour. Maps of the tour will be available at any of the stops along the way. The tour is self-guided, and the houses may be approached in any order. Parking is available on area streets, but some walking will be involved.  Carpooling is recommended. No spike-heeled shoes, smoking, or cameras are allowed. In case of bad weather, the tour will be rescheduled for Dec. 15th. Proceeds support the educational programs and preservation projects of the Salem Museum.

The Salem Museum, located in the historic 1845 Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from 10 to 3 pm.

 

Salem Museum Halls to Be Decked by Unique, Hand-crafted Wreaths

 When you see that circle of green, lavishly decorated and prominently hung on the front door, you know Christmas is around the corner. There’s just something about a Christmas wreath that awakens the Christmas Spirit in the most miserly Scrooge. Soon visitors to the Salem Museum will have the chance not only to enjoy some beautiful wreaths, but also to take one home!

For the third year, the Salem Museum will show off the talents of local Christmas elves with a festive Wreath Exhibition, marking the joyous season and brightening souls. Best of all, all of the wreaths will be available for purchase through a silent auction that will support the Museum.

The special exhibition will feature some thirty handcrafted wreaths, each lovingly created by the local community and donated for the cause.

Museum board member Vicki Piper coordinates the wreath project, and in fact originated the idea two years ago. Each year, Piper’s committee distributes plain, undecorated wreaths to interested businesses, clubs, individuals and schools to decorate according to their own vision of the season. The result is an eclectic display of wreaths from the breathtaking to the whimsical. Even visitors who choose not to bid on a wreath enjoy the Yuletide spectacle. And of course those who take part in the silent auction get the chance to take home a unique piece to enjoy year after year.

In addition, the Museum will offer a series of “Brown Bag Lunch Programs” through the run of the exhibit. Participants are invited to pack a lunch and join in a seasonal discussion or activity. The schedule for the Brown Bag Lunches is as follows:

  • Nov. 7: Dr. Grace Toney Edwards on Appalachian Christmas customs.
  • Nov. 14: Book Review and discussion with Dr. Peggy Shifflett
  • Nov.19 “Make a Chalkware Santa” with Karen Beasley (pre-registration and a fee is required)
  • Nov. 20: International Christmas Music with Rev. Judy Spruhan

The Salem Museum Wreath Exhibition opens Nov. 9th and runs through the Dec. 8th. Throughout that time visitors are invited to make bids on as many wreaths as they like in the silent auction. Bidding is anonymous, so a bidding number can be picked up from the reception desk at the Museum. Bids close, and the winners may take their wreaths home, after 6 pm on Dec. 8th, the date of the Salem Museum Holiday Homes Tour.

Visitors to see the wreath exhibition, which is free and open to the public, are also invited to see the fascinating exhibits at the Salem Museum, including “The Fiery Ordeal Through Which They Passed: Salem and the Civil War” and the ever popular “Lakeside! Sixty Summers of Ups and Downs.”  The Salem Museum Gift Shop will also be open through the run of the Wreath Exhibition, offering unique gift ideas for the shopper who wants to fill stockings and support a great cause at the same time.

The Salem Museum is located in the antebellum Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, at 801 East Main Street in Salem. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Salem “Ghosts” To Tell Their Stories October 19 and 22        

If someone says the word “cemetery” what is your first response? A shiver of apprehension? Sorrow for loved ones gone on before? Visions of a restful, quiet place to meditate?

At the Salem Museum, the first thought is “history buried at our feet!”

For the 16th year, the Salem Museum will sponsor the ever-popular Ghost Walk, a “living” history tour through the historic East Hill Cemeteries. Instead of ghouls and goblins hiding behind tombstones, participants will meet actual people from Salem’s past, talking about their lives and the history of the town.

“We started the Ghost Walk not knowing if there would be any response,” noted Salem Museum Director John Long, who helped begin the October tradition in 1998. “But we quickly found out people loved this event. We’ve found no better or more entertaining way to teach about the history of our community.”

“Imagine if the people buried in a cemetery could rise up and talk to us. How much could we learn about our past?” asked Helen Johnson, Assistant Museum Director. “Of course we can’t do that literally, but we do recruit some wonderful volunteer actors to make it happen.”

Through the years, more than 75 scripts have been presented in the Salem Ghost Walk, uncovering stories that might have languished in the historical shadows otherwise. This year past favorites such as James Bryant, Salem’s first professional firefighter, and Confederate veteran Thomas Chapman will be resurrected. Chapman was the sole Salemite killed in Averell’s Raid on Salem, which was 150 years ago this winter.

In addition, several new characters will make their appearance. Rev. Franklin Pierce Robertson and his wife Josephine will talk about the Salem of their day, while early suffragette and civic reformer Annie Whitner will tell of her efforts to improve society through women’s activism.

The Robertsons (who will be portrayed by descendants) are only one of three husband/wife combinations slated to appear, an innovation for the Ghost Walk, said Long. Larkin Burwell, a slave who ran away to join the Union Army in 1864, will appear on Saturday with his wife Anna. Farther up the hill, famed General Andrew Lewis will be found with, for the first time in more than two centuries, his wife Elizabeth.

“Andrew Lewis is the one ghost we’ve presented every year,” said Long, “and certainly the most prominent. But almost no one knows anything about his wife. We hope to change that this year.”

Elizabeth Givens Lewis is little known in the historical record, but it is presumed that she (like many frontier wives) ran the family estate while her influential husband traveled widely on military campaigns and affairs of state.

The sesquicentennial of the Civil War provides an occasion to present some interesting stories. A group of Confederate veterans, for instance, will reminisce about the Battle of Gettysburg, 150 years ago. Throw in the town’s gravedigger on Tuesday, a group of gossipy teenagers on Saturday, and the fascinating exhibits at the Salem Museum-- and it all adds up to a great October evening.

The Ghost Walk will be staged on October 19 and 22, with tours leaving the Museum every fifteen minutes from 6:30 to 8:30. To control the size of the groups, it is strongly encouraged that guests call and schedule a tour time. Reservations can be made by calling 389-6760 or emailing info@salemmuseum.org. A minimum $6 per person donation is requested. In case of rain, the event will be held inside the Museum.

Before and after the tour, visitors are invited to experience the featured exhibit “The End of the Road: Coffins, Gravestones, and Other Things People are Dying to Get.” It explores some of the ways funeral traditions have changed over time, and some of the interesting cemeteries and grave markers found in the valley. Other museum galleries will open during the Ghost Walk as well, exploring Salem’s development through two centuries, Salem’s Native American pre-history, and Lakeside Amusement Park.

The Ghost Walk involves a walk of some distance, part of it uphill. It may not be suitable for those who have trouble walking, and all should wear comfortable shoes. While not a scary event, it may not be suitable for very young children.

The Salem Museum, located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from 10 to 3. Admission to the museum is free.

Salem Museum Program to look back at local desegregation 50 years later

It was the autumn of 1963 that schools in the Town of Salem were integrated for the first time. At 7:00 pm on October 21st, the Salem Museum will commemorate that process with a special program, held in the auditorium of Andrew Lewis Middle School

In 1962 a federal judge had ordered Roanoke County schools (of which Salem was then a part) to develop a plan for desegregating. That very fall, a few African American students enrolled in formerly white county schools, but the process did not reach Salem for another year. Then in 1963, the first black students began to move into Andrew Lewis High and other schools in Salem. Little if any protest was expressed publicly; not even the local press paid much attention. The process proved so painless that the county integration plan was finished two years early.

The program on the 21st will assemble a panel of alumni who lived through those momentous, if quiet, days. They will share their recollections in a facilitated discussion on what it all meant. Due to expected high turnout, the program will be held in the Andrew Lewis Middle School Auditorium instead of at the Museum.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from 10 to 4. Call 389-6760 for more information.

SALEM MUSEUM EXHIBIT EXPLORES THE

“END OF THE ROAD”

            A few people might be a little squeamish about the Salem Museum’s new exhibit, warns Museum Director John Long. But only until they realize what an interesting, and seldom considered, topic is being explored: the history of funeral customs through the years.

            “Let’s be honest: this is a topic all of face and few of us discuss,” noted Long. “We’ve all been to more funerals than we ever wanted to attend, but have we thought about why we do things the way we do? Or how our customs have changed over the years?”

            From such thinking comes the Museum’s new exhibit “The End of the Road: Coffins, Gravestones, and Other Things People are Dying to Get.” Based on a smaller, short-run exhibit presented in 1998, the display highlights how caring for the dearly departed has changed over time, and how local folks have dealt with the inevitable end of life. It opens September 14 and runs through October.

            “The End of the Road” is based heavily on the collections of two local institutions: John M. Oakey and Sons Funeral Home and Sherwood Memorial Park. From Oakey’s came a unique collection of 19th Century mortuary artifacts, including coffins, mortician’s tools, and a glass embalming table. Sherwood, by far the largest cemetery in Salem, offered memorabilia dealing with, among other things, “Thy Kingdom Come,” an outdoor religious drama staged in the 1950s. At the time, Salem boasted the only such program ever offered in an American cemetery.

            “Oakey’s and Sherwood have been great supporters of the Museum for many years, and were very generous in loaning us items and providing us information,” said Long.

            Among the topics explored in the exhibit are the rise of funeral homes in the 19th Century (prior to that, the family members typically handled all the details of a funeral themselves); the history of prominent local cemeteries and interesting grave markers therein, and how funeral customs moved after the Civil War from “gloom to beauty,” celebrating the life that has ended rather than fixating on death. “Death is the one constant in all societies,” noted Long, “but how we’ve dealt with it has changed appreciably.”

            Interesting stories emerge: the African American gravedigger who, in appreciation for his years of service, was buried in John M. Oakey’s own family plot; the Salem soldier who was buried three times on two sides of the continent, and the New Orleans tourist who remarked on the beauty of a local cemetery, only to suddenly die that night and be buried there. Throw in a missing pauper cemetery in town, a chance for kids to try their hand at gravestone rubbings, and a look back at the days when a hearse doubled as an ambulance, and you find a lot of fascinating history in the exhibit.

            “Morbid? No. We think people will appreciate this exhibit for what it is: an exploration of how our forebears handled death,” said Long. “Every time you drive along Main Street, you pass cemeteries. We hope you’ll leave with a greater understanding of why they are there and what they meant to our ancestors--and us.”

          The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from 10 to 3. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

Salem Museum Changes Saturday Hours

In response to changing expectations and visitation patterns, the Salem Museum will change its Saturday hours to 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, replacing the older hours of noon to five. The change will go into effect Sept. 7th.

“We’ve noticed fewer people come in the late afternoon hours,” noted Salem Museum Director John Long. “But on occasions where we’ve been open earlier, there seems to be a lot of interest.”

The gallery hours during the week (Tuesday through Friday 10 to 4) will remain unchanged. The Museum is closed Sunday and Monday.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem. Admission to the museum galleries is free. Call 389-6760 for more information.

 

WWII Relic in Collection of the Salem Museum Documents Nominated as one of “Virginia’s Top 10 Most Endangered Artifacts”

A rare ship’s flag from World War II in the collection of the Salem Museum has received statewide recognition as one of Virginia’s “Most Endangered Artifacts.” Supporters and interested history buffs can vote now to recognize the flag of the troop transport George W. Goethals for the special “Top 10” designation.

The ship’s flag from the WWII troop transport USAT General George W. Goethals, along with several other items associated with the vessel, was donated to the Salem Museum many years ago by the widow of an officer who served aboard the ship. However, until recently it was not fully identified; merely listed as “US Navy ship’s flag” with no other information. Extensive research over the past few months into the artifact’s history has revealed the significance of the flag. The flag was not, in fact, a Navy flag: it is a rare surviving example of an ensign from a ship of the United States Army.

“We discovered, among other interesting data, that the George W. Goethals was not a naval vessel,” noted Salem Museum director John Long, who also teaches WWII history at nearby Roanoke College. “It was a ship of the United States Army. It's a little known fact that the Army operated more ships in WWII than the Navy did!”

More poignantly, Long noted, this flag is significant because it would have been aboard ship during Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy in June, 1944, more commonly known as the D-Day invasion. “The Goethals served in that campaign by bringing elements of the 2nd Infantry Division to Omaha Beach on June 7, the second day of the fight,” said Long. On that day, the ship’s personnel witnessed, among other things, the sinking of the Susan B. Anthony, another troop transport in the flotilla.

The flag features the logo of the US Army Transportation Corps, a multifaceted emblem representing all elements of transportation offered by the unit. A ship’s wheel is easily seen, representing maritime transport, followed by a shield representing the highway markers of the day--overland transportation being obviously essential to the war effort. Finally, a train wheel with wings stands for rail and air transport. After WWII, the maritime and air arms of the Army were folded into the navy and the new Air Force, so this flag was retired by 1946. The Goethals at that point became a naval vessel, continuing to serve in the Atlantic through the Korean War period. She was inactivated in 1959 and scrapped in 1971.

Ship flags are often found in poor shape, and this one is no different, noted Long. The ravages of age, salt spray, and wind took their toll during the war. The Goethals flag is also soiled and torn, and in need of professional textile conservation. The first step in conservation is always raising awareness of the need, Long said.

Last year, the Salem Museum nominated a fragile set of birth records reflecting the career of local African-American midwife Georgianna Saunders. “The program raised awareness of this lady we thought had been forgotten, but in fact we had multiple visits, letters and emails from folks who were delivered by Mrs. Saunders,” noted Long. The Museum finished third in the statewide polling. This summer, in part due to the success of the program last year, a volunteer is transcribing the records into a searchable database.  “The Saunders Midwife Records are one of the program’s success stories,” said Long. “Demographic and genealogical information that was once almost lost--in fact to be burned as kindling in a wood stove--will now be preserved. That’s what the Endangered Artifact polling is supposed to do.”

The “Endangered Artifact” campaign from the Virginia Association of Museums is designed to create awareness of the importance of preserving artifacts in care at museums, libraries and archives throughout the Commonwealth and in the District of Columbia. Collecting institutions from across Virginia and DC have nominated items that they believe tell a significant story and deserve to be recognized on this prestigious “Top 10 List.” The campaign showcases the importance of Virginia’s diverse history, heritage and culture and the role that artifacts play in telling those stories.

Supporters can see the Salem Museum nomination and all the other nominated items and vote for their favorites by visiting www.vatop10artifacts.org from August 1st – August 29th. A Youtube video describing the Goethals ship flag can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yINE4VY_mGA (or search George W. Goethals flag).

Nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel of collections and conservation experts, and Top 10 designees, as well as “People’s Choice” designees, will be announced in September. The public voting will be considered by the panel as they make their final selections.

Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts is a program of the Virginia Collections Initiative, which is a project of the Virginia Association of Museums, made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. For more information, visit www.vamuseums.org or call 804-788-5822.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Salem Museum August Program to explore the “Skirmish at Pearisburg”

The August program of the Salem Historical Society will feature local attorney and historian George A. McLean on his recent book “Skirmish at Pearisburg.” The program is part of the Salem Museum’s ongoing efforts to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. The presentation will be August 19, 7:00 pm at the Salem Museum.

McLean’s book tells the little known story of a Union incursion into the small Giles County town. By the spring of 1862, Union forces controlled almost all of what was to become West Virginia, and hoped to advance into western Virginia as well. Our area was of particular interest due to the presence of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, a vital southern supply line. To threaten the railroad, a Union regiment (which included two future presidents) would move south and occupy the village of Pearisburg, placing federal forces within striking distance of the V&T. Although the fight that followed was small by Civil War standards, says McLean, it reflected much of what was happening in the larger war.

McLean’s talk is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served afterwards, and copies of his book will be for sale.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. Call 389-6760 for more information.

 

SALEM MUSEUM’S “YOU-SEUM” LETS THE PUBLIC DESIGN THE EXHIBIT

The July 15th program of the Salem Historical Society will give participants the chance to design a “crowd-sourced” exhibition for one night only--a sort of “show and tell” on a museum scale.

The Salem Museum’s second “You-Seum” event invites folks to bring in an item for display illustrating a central theme, which for this evening will be “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.” Guests are encouraged to bring something that fits this theme, and to see what other people thought was worth including. The idea is to get a group discussion going of how much better--or maybe worse--things were in the past.

“We had a great time at our first You-Seum in April,” said museum director John Long. “It’s a great way to engage the public and show off some interesting items along the way.”

Based on the ‘Pop-Up Museum” concept that originated on the West Coast, the Salem You-Seum allows the public a say in what goes on display for the one-night event. Every visitor can bring in an object, a photo, a document, or whatever it is they think is not made like that anymore. In an informal setting, they’ll have the opportunity to discuss with others why they chose that item, and what it says about our society, past and present.

“We want to see what the public comes up with,” said Long, “so we’ve set very few ground rules.” All exhibited items should be safe and appropriate for younger visitors, and are displayed at the owner’s risk. Any object-- say a piece of furniture--that is too large or valuable to bring easily to the museum may be represented by a photo instead. Each exhibitor will have the opportunity to explain why they chose that particular item to fit the theme. Facilitated discussions will aid the visitors in exploring the exhibition.

“No one needs to bring anything,” noted Long. “You can just come to look and learn. We hope to inspire conversations about how much things have changed, for good or ill.”

Admission to the You-Seum is free, and light refreshments will be served.

The Salem Museum, located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from noon to 5 pm. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

 

For Immediate Release 

Salem Museum to Offer WordSparks Creative Writing Camp

             The Salem Museum will be hosting an innovative camp for young writers July 15 through 19, 2013. WordSparks Creative Writing Camp offers young people (age 9 to 16) a fun and high-energy approach to writing that uses hands-on art and historical applications as a spring-board for creativity.

             The camp is led by Mary Crockett Hill, who is the author of several award-winning books of poetry, co-author of the history A Town by the Name of Salem, and co-author of a series of early reader ebooks for children. Her collaborative young adult novel will be published in 2014. Hill has taught creative writing at the University of Virginia and Roanoke College. She has also led young writer’s workshops through the YMCA's Writer's Voice program and other community groups.

             Hill is also the former director of the Salem Museum. Current director John Long is thrilled to have her back working with local kids. “All museums need to engage the next generation,” said Long. “One of our goals is to offer programs like this one for a younger demographic and stir up their creative impulses. We’re a history museum, and we believe some of these kids just might make history down the road.”

             “I'm very excited about the upcoming camp,” said Hill, a Salem native and Roanoke College graduate. “Usually a camp like this just focuses on writing and nothing else, but WordSparks isn't your usual camp. We'll be doing some really fun hands-on art projects that will help young people generate ideas and tap into their creativity.”

             The camp will be split into two groups. A tween camp for ages 9 to 12 will be offered from 10 AM to noon daily, and a teen camp for ages 13 to 16 will be offered from 1 PM to 3 PM. The cost is $100 per person, with discounts for members of the Salem Museum. There is also a special 10% discount for siblings or friends who register with a single payment.

            WordSparks Creative Writing Camp will be held in the historic Salem Museum, 801 East Main Street, Salem, Va. You can register online at www.wordsparkswriting.wordpress.com or by contacting The Salem Museum, 540-389-6760 or Mary Crockett Hill at marycrocketthill@yahoo.com .

 

 SALEM MUSEUM AND SALEM ROTARY TO PAY TRIBUTE TO VETERANS JUNE 6th

The Salem Museum and the Rotary Club of Salem will join forces to honor the men and women who have served their nation in uniform and mark the 69th Anniversary of the Normandy invasion. The special commemoration will be held on June 6th at 4:00 in the Museum’s Veteran’s Plaza. The public, and especially veterans of the armed forces, are invited to attend.

The Salem Museum Veteran’s Plaza is located to the rear of the museum and adjacent to Longwood Park. It was dedicated last year as a tribute to local servicemen and -women from throughout American history.

The commemoration will feature patriotic music, an invocation by Rev. Bobby Pickle, a veteran of the Air Force, and a color guard provided by the Salem Police Department. The keynote speaker will be Major General James Archer (US Army retired), who will highlight the crucial role and invaluable sacrifices of our nation’s military. Archer is a native of Salem and a graduate of Andrew Lewis High School and Virginia Tech.

The Museum is still accepting applications to place inscribed pavers in honor of or in memory of veterans in the Plaza. Active duty servicemen, military personnel of past wars, or those who served in peacetime may be so recognized. Proceeds from the inscriptions support the Salem Museum’s programs.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. Call 389-6760 for more information.

 

Salem Museum to Host Two Great May Events

            It’s a busy springtime at the Salem Museum! Two great May events are scheduled on back-to-back weekends to make the month special!

Springtime Tea for Mother’s Day May 11

            Mom deserves the best, doesn’t she? An afternoon of refined elegance in one of Salem most attractive locations? Good food, good company, airy music and the beauty of a Virginia spring? Then she deserves to be treated to the Salem Museum’s Springtime Tea on May 11th.

            Last December, the Salem Museum hosted a Yuletide tea party to ring in the season. The response was so enthusiastic that several attendees asked for a similar event for Mother’s Day. And so a committee of volunteers embraced the idea and the first ever Salem Museum Springtime Tea was born.

            On May 11 guests will be welcomed to the Museum’s lovely community room overlooking Longwood Park to enjoy a splendid repast and the elegant atmosphere of one of the Valley’s most charming cultural centers. With or without your mother (all are welcome, after all) you’ll find this a memorable afternoon.

            The menu for the Springtime Tea includes spiced tea and black tea; ham biscuits; sandwiches of pimiento cheese, cucumber, chicken salad, and smoked salmon spread; and mini cupcakes, truffles, and almond milk chocolate crème to satisfy Mom’s sweet tooth.

            The cost for the Tea is $10 per person. Seating is limited, so reservations are strongly urged. Contact the Salem Museum at 540-389-6760 for more info or to make a reservation, or email info@salemmuseum.org. 

Block Party Blues May 18

             The music will be blue, the grass will be green, and the food will be delicious at the Salem Museum’s second fundraising concert on May 18. “Block Party Blues” will feature the impressive the talents of the Fat Daddy Band and The Spin-Outs, with proceeds supporting the ongoing building program of the museum.

            The concert will be held on May 18 from 5 to 9 behind the museum, adjacent to the lovely Longwood Park. The Museum’s Veteran’s Plaza will serve as the venue, and eager blues fans can spread out blankets or bring lawn chairs to enjoy the music.

            Tickets to the concert are only $5 per person, but hungry fans can get a ticket for $12 which will include dinner. Listening to music outdoors and enjoying a picnic dinner-- what better way is there to conclude a hard work week?

            Tickets for “Block Party Blues” can be purchased in advance at the Salem Museum or at the gate the night of the event.

             The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. Call 389-6760 for more information.

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

SALEM MUSEUM’S “YOU-SEUM” LETS THE PUBLIC DESIGN THE EXHIBIT

Normally, when you visit a museum display, you see the end result of a long process. Curators, fabricators, researchers, caption writers--they’ve all spent long hours at work, and the visitor is only the passive spectator, enjoying the show.

So what would you have if the museum turned all of that process over to an impromptu public display? Answer: the Salem Museum’s novel “You-Seum,” a spontaneous one-night exhibit designed by--you!

“A lot of museums are looking for innovative ways to involve the public,” said Museum Director John Long. “Especially the younger generation looks for more hands-on, interactive programs that engage the mind. We think the You-Seum will do just that.”

On April 26th, from 7 to 9, visitors will have the chance to bring in an artifact, chosen to illustrate a central theme, for display and discussion. The theme for the first-ever Salem You-Seum is “Great-Grandma could never have imagined…”

Never have imagined what? That’s up to you to decide!

Based on the ‘Pop-Up Museum” concept that originated on the West Coast, the Salem You-Seum allows the public a say in what goes on display for the one-night event. Every visitor can bring in an object, a photo, a document, or whatever it is they think Great-Grandma could have never imagined. In an informal setting, they’ll have the opportunity to discuss with others why they chose that item, and what it illustrates about how much has changed since our ancestors’ time.

“It’s sort of like show-and-tell,” noted Long. “Participants should be as creative and thought-provoking as they can be, and be ready to have their own thoughts provoked.”

Hoping to rely on the vision of the participants, the Museum has set few ground rules. All exhibited items should be safe and appropriate for younger visitors, and are displayed at the owner’s risk. Each exhibitor will have the opportunity to explain why they chose that particular item to fit the theme. Facilitated discussions will aid the visitors in exploring the exhibition.

“But no one needs to bring anything,” noted Long. “You can just come to look and learn. We hope to inspire conversations about how much things have changed in a short period of time, and how unexpected some of that change has been, for good or ill.”

Admission to the You-Seum is free, but participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to a local food pantry. Light refreshments will be served.

If the idea catches on, the Salem Museum has other ideas for future “crowd-sourced” activities. “The next generation of museum visitors doesn’t expect to be passive spectators of static exhibits,” explained Long. “They want to be part of the experience. Really, a museum doing this sort of thing is itself something great-grandma never envisioned!”

            The Salem Museum, located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from noon to 5 pm. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

SALEM MUSEUM EXHIBIT LETS KIDS EXPLORE HOW GRANDMA DID THINGS

 

            Little Carrie in 1896 had to feed the chickens and learn to sew by lamplight. Her son Jim in the 1920s listened to baseball games on the radio. Reggie, growing up in the nearby African American neighborhood in the 1940s, had to haul water from the town pump. But little Jack in 2013 surfs the internet and already knows how to text. He’s never seen a kerosene lamp or touched an old-style radio, and can’t imagine a house without running water.

But if he visits the Salem Museum this spring or summer, he just might learn a thing or two about how we did things before cell phones and microwaves.

“The idea for this exhibit came from a rotary-dial phone that was donated to the Salem Museum,” said Museum Director John Long. “We turned the dial like we did when we were kids, and wondered how many of today’s children have heard that sound.”

From that encounter with old technology came “Learn and Play Grandma’s Way,” a new featured exhibit at the Salem Museum.  From manual typewriters to washboards to old-timey, non-digital games like marbles, the exhibit allows kids to explore the way things were once done when words like “tivo” and “tweeting” did not exist.

Three Roanoke College student interns, Amanda Hursch, Michelle Graham, and Katrina King, planned the exhibit and researched the old ways that kids have never seen. Themselves growing up in the internet age, they found they had a good deal to learn about their grandparents’ time.

Carrie, Jim, Reggie, and Jack form a “day in the life of” section where each describes and ordinary day. Old photos of other children in bygone days line the walls, and in the center of the room are stations where kids (or adults!) can explore such topics as Playtime, School Days, and Keeping in Touch.

King, a junior from Draper, was in charge of a section titled “Keeping Clean” about how people did laundry and handled personal cleanliness in the olden days (hint: they didn’t do either as often as we do!). “I think the most interesting thing for me was seeing the evolution of the idea of cleanliness,” said King. “It started as a disease-prevention method and became an expected daily activity only more recently.”

The exhibit also complements an experimental program of the museum on April 26th: the first ever “Salem You-Seum.” Participants will craft a unique, one-night exhibition around a central theme of “Great-Grandma Could Have Never Imagined…” “Anyone who comes can bring an item to illustrate the theme,” said Long, “but it’s up to them what it is that Great Grandma would find so suprising. It’s sort of like show-and-tell for adults.” The You-Seum runs 7 to 9 on the 26th.

 “As a history museum, we want to remind people of the past, but we also want them to consider how much their current lives are different,” noted Long. “Both the exhibition and the You-Seum program will drive that point home.”

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

 

 

SALEM MUSEUM TO HOLD HERBAL WORKSHOPS ON APRIL 20

The Salem Museum on April 20th will be the place to get some “sage” advice-- just in the nick of “thyme.” The Second Annual Salem Museum Herb Faire will offer fascinating--and aromatic-- workshop on how to grow, use, and appreciate herbs for the novice or the expert.

“We are thrilled to open our facility up for the Herb Faire again this year,” said Museum Director John Long. “It’s a great community event and educational to boot. Last year’s event was very well received and we expect this year’s to be even better.”

The Herb Faire is sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Master Food Volunteers and the Roanoke Master Gardener’s Association. A schedule for the workshops is below:

·                     10-10:30 a.m. “Rocking with Rosemary”-- Learn to process fresh or dried herbs as we explore the rockin’ world of Rosemary and sample delicious snacks!

·                     10:45-11:15 a.m. “Let’s Make Herbs de Provence”-- Make a sample to take home of this versatile herb mixture and taste a traditional herbed vegetable dish from Provence.

·                     11:30-12 “Adding Asian Flair with Herb Cookery”--Use common garden herbs and inexpensive Asian ingredients to add uncommon Oriental flavors to BBQ chicken and coleslaw!

·                     12-12:45 Lunch break –Smokehouse BBQ will be on site if you wish to purchase lunch; or brown bag it on your own.

·                     12:45- 1:15 “Air Dried Herbs: Two Simple Techniques”-- You will learn options for herb preservation with emphasis on air drying, rack drying, and proper storage. Enjoy a dish too!

·                     1:30- 2:00 “Design an Herb Garden” --Learn to use your garden space effectively to grow the herbs you enjoy!

·                     2:15- 2:45 “Edible Flower Cuisine”-- Enjoy a sampling of edible flower cookery prepared with real flowers and learn to create appetizers and garnishes using flowers and herbs.

·                     3:00- 3:30 “Herbs and Beneficial Insects”--Investigate the value of herbs in luring pollinators and butterflies to your garden.

In addition to the workshops, there will also be an Herb Plant Sale and “Plant an Herb Pot” station open all day. The admission to the workshops is only $5/per person all day, including all cooking demos and tastings; but folks not attending the workshops may visit the Herb Sale on their own with no admission fee!

To register for classes, email herbfaire@gmail.com. For more information contact your local Extension office at 540 -772-7524.

The Salem Museum, located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from noon to 5 pm. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Famed Catawba Cave to be Illuminated by

Salem Museum Program

The Salem Museum April program will explore a deep subject: the famous Murder Hole Cave in Catawba.

Marian McConnell and her husband Dan own the property on which the cave is located, and have extensively researched the history of the site. Most recently Marian has authored a new book titled “Murder Hole.” Her presentation will take you through the cave, address issues in preservation of such natural resources, and unveil the origins of the cave’s name--sorry, it has nothing to do with homicide!

McConnell’s talk will be held at the Salem Museum on April 15th at 7:00 pm.

Light refreshments will be served afterwards. The program is free and open to the public.

 

SALEM MUSEUM TO HOST STUDENT ARTISTS FROM GLENVAR FOR SPECIAL EXHIBITION

Where else would one expect to find the best of local art but in a local museum? The Salem Museum this month will bring to the public a display of impressive works by students at Glenvar High School, introducing some budding young artists to the community.

“We never cease to be amazed by the talents that lie undiscovered in our local schools,” said Salem Museum director John Long. “We are thrilled to welcome these Glenvar artists into our museum, and I know our visitors will be impressed by what they find.”

Approximately 50 pieces, including sculpture and framed paintings, by 30 students will be included in the exhibition. While it will be the first public exhibit for some of the students, it certainly won’t be the last for many of the talented young artists.

“We're excited about the opportunity to exhibit our art work at the Salem Museum,” said senior art student Amber Montgomery. “As a senior, it’s exciting to see our show go to a museum setting.  Glenvar has a lot of artistic talent and we will get to display it for a larger audience. It’s something new, professional, and I really hope it will continue for years to come.”

The Glenvar exhibit opens on Friday, March 29 and continues through April 25. It is the second exhibit of high school art at the Salem Museum this year, coming on the heels of a display of the works of Salem High students earlier.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

mARTch Madness: SALEM MUSEUM TO HOST STUDENT ART EXHIBITION FOR SECOND YEAR

For the second year, the Salem Museum is pleased to host a special exhibit of Salem High School student art, just in time for National Youth Art Month in March. “mARTch Madness,” as the students have titled their exhibition, brings the works of members of the school’s International Baccalaureate Art program to Main Street Salem, introducing some budding young artists to the community.

“We are thrilled to host this exhibition again,” said Salem Museum director John Long. “We got a great response last year, and it was a great experience for the students. What better way to show off the talents of our local students than to open up the local museum to them?”

Dozens of works--paintings, sketches, and sculptures--by the students will featured, reflecting the great talents and eclectic tastes of the teenaged artists. “Prepare to be impressed,” said Long. “These are remarkable kids with great vision and unique ways of viewing the world.” Some larger pieces will attract immediate attention from visitors: a life-sized robot made from recycled computer parts, a jellyfish composed of a charcoal grill top and yards of electrical cable, or a fantastical dragon made entirely of plastic water bottles. “These students are clever and creative and expressive--their work is worth a look.”

"IB Art Senior Students at Salem High School are excited to display to the public the artwork that they have worked on the past two years in their college-level credit class,” said art teacher Patty Pope. “Please come by to see their diverse artwork!"

“mARTch Madness” continues through March 23. A second exhibition of student art from Glenvar High School will follow the Salem show.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Roanoke College Professor to Speak at Salem Museum on Slave Kitchens and Cooking

The Salem Museum February program will celebrate Black History Month with a special presentation by Kelley Deetz, Roanoke College professor of Public History. The talk will be held at the Museum on February 18th at 7:00 pm.

The program will cover “Slave Kitchens and Cooking” in 18th and 19th century Virginia. What did slaves eat and how did they prepare it? What did dinner time mean when freedom was only a distant dream? Deetz’ presentation will enlighten listeners about this often misunderstood time.

Professor Deetz earned her B.A. from the College of William and Mary and her M.A. and Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley. She is an archaeologist and historian who specializes in 19th-century African American history and material culture. 

Light refreshments will be served afterwards. The program is free and open to the public.

 

SALEM MUSEUM EXHIBIT LOOKS DOWN--AND BACK IN TIME

The new featured exhibit at the Salem Museum is not for folks with a fear of heights. But it is for anyone who wants to see amazing views of the Roanoke Valley as it was in 1924.

“A View from Above: The Underwood Photos of 1924” offers a fascinating look at a rare set of aerial photos in the Salem Museum collection. Reprising a popular exhibition from 2006, the display features dozens of stunning, crystal clear photographs of the Roanoke area, all taken from the air in 1924 by the Underwood and Underwood Company of New York. Visitors will be impressed at how much has changed--and how little.

“This is a marvelous historical record of what our area was like nine decades ago,” said Museum director John Long. “People who grew up here are transfixed by these images.”

The Underwood and Underwood Company was founded in 1882 by brothers Elmer and Bert Underwood in Ottawa, Kansas. Initially, the company specialized in producing stereoviews, the double photographic image which, inserted into a viewer, produced a three-dimensional image. But as that fad died out in the late 19th Century, the company began to concentrate on syndicated news photography and, with the dawn of aviation, aerial photography.

“There are many mysteries surrounding this collection,” notes Long. The names of the photographers, the pilot, the type of camera used, the model of plane flown, all are seemingly lost to history. Nor does anyone seem to know exactly why the Underwood Company took these photos in 1924. “Our folio in the museum’s collection is marked ‘Made For Appalachian Electric Power Company,’ so it may be the power company was trying to determine the need for future power lines,” guessed Long.

But no matter why the photos were taken, they are an intriguing look at the Roanoke Valley that once was. While most of the images feature downtown Roanoke City, photos of Salem, Vinton, Troutville, Fincastle and Cloverdale are seen, along with shots of industrial facilities, three colleges, several private homes and farms, and Lakeside Amusement Park.

“I love to watch visitors experience this exhibit,” said Long. “They study the photos, tracing streets and trying to identify landmarks they remember.” The standard rule in a museum is “Do Not Touch,” but despite this Long notes that they still have to wipe fingerprints--and even nose prints--off of the glass when visitors are particularly drawn into the scenes.

            Copies of the Underwood photos may be ordered through the Salem Museum gift shop. “A View from Above” is open now, and continues until March.

            The Salem Museum, located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from noon to 5 pm. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Salem Museum Announces Upcoming Programs

The Salem Museum is pleased to announce its upcoming program schedule for the spring. The monthly lecture series explores topics of regional history and is always free and open to the public. Programs are held the third Monday evenings of each month at the Museum, beginning at 7:00.

· January 21, 7:00 at the Museum: Salem author Peggy Shifflett on her new book about growing up in Appalachia “On the Way to Toe Town.” Peggy’s popular series of memoirs explores her roots growing up in the Appalachian town of Hopkins Gap, VA, with recollections of the folklore, superstitions, material culture, and colorful characters of her past.

· February 18, 7:00 at the Museum: New Roanoke College Public History Professor Kelley Deetz will present her fascinating research on “Slave Kitchens and Cooking.” What did slaves eat and how did they prepare it? What did dinner time mean when freedom was only a distant dream? Deetz’ presentation will enlighten listeners about this often misunderstood time.

· March 18, 7:00 at the Museum: Mr. David Ramey Sr. on his new book “The Times and Life on Henry Street.” Ramey’s exquisitely illustrated memoir of growing up in segregated Roanoke will take us back to a day when a thriving culture existed in the face of discrimination.

· April 15, 7:00 at the Museum: Marian McConnell on her new colorful new history of The Murder Hole, the cave she and her husband own in Catawba. The legendary cavern evokes many legends-- McConnell separates fact from fiction in a subterranean wonderland.

The authors will be available to sign books after their programs. For further information, call the Salem Museum at 389-6760.

 

 

 

 

SALEM MUSEUM TO LOOK BACK ON CHRISTMASES PAST WITH “YULES OF YORE” ON DECEMBER 9TH

             Christmas, probably more than any other holiday, is the stuff of memories. This year the Salem Museum wants to help folks relive what the season was like in times gone by.

            “This year, instead of our homes tour we’ve offered for a while, we wanted to showcase our museum,” said Salem Museum director John Long. “We are here to preserve history, and Christmas is a great time to remind people of what life was like in the past.”

            Thus was born “Yule of Yore,” a celebration of Christmases past for the whole family. On December 9th, from 3:00 to 6:00, the Salem Museum will be alive with the spirit of Christmas and the love of history.

            “Yules of Yore” will be a multifaceted event, noted Long. Displays of Holiday traditions, festive music to cheer the soul, children’s crafts and activities, great Christmas shopping in the Museum’s gift shop, a quilt raffle, door prizes and more will mark the day. Lavish decorations provided by the Salem Garden Club will heighten the experience and warm the heart. Best of all, visitors can enjoy the Museum’s second annual Wreath Exhibition and Silent Auction as well as a festive High Tea experience on the second floor of the venerable old building.

            “Our Wreath Exhibition is one of our important fundraisers,” said Long, “but more than that it’s guaranteed to awaken the Christmas spirit.” Some thirty hand-crafted wreaths, created by local organizations, businesses, and individual supporters will be on display, and all are open to bidding in a silent auction. Bidding will close at 6:00 that evening. “Your favorite could go home with you!” Long said.

            Meanwhile, guests may join us upstairs for an elegant Christmas tea. Live music will create the ambience while guests enjoy a delicious High Tea experience like none other. In addition, throughout the day the Ghosts of Christmas Past (costumed re-enactors) will inform guests about the way Salem marked the Yuletide in bygone winters.

            Tickets to the special Christmas Tea will be $8 for adults and $4 for children in advance; or $10 and $5 on the day of the event. Reservations will be available for parties of 6 or more. Tickets are available at the Museum. Other activities and displays are free and open to the public, including the ever-popular Lakeside exhibit.

            The Salem Museum, located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from noon to 5 pm. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Nobel Prize Laureate to Speak at

Salem Museum November Meeting

The Salem Museum is pleased to present for its November program Dr. James Buchanan of Blacksburg, to speak on his “Easy War.” Buchanan was a young naval officer in WWII who somehow found himself posted on the staff of Admiral Chester Nimitz, allowing him to experience WWII in the Pacific while observing the top brass from a “Bird’s Eye Perspective.” Though he was only at sea for a few weeks, he was intimately familiar with the crucial battles of the War from his vantage point at headquarters, and is one of the last men alive who worked closely with the top brass of the Pacific War.

After the war, Buchanan continued his academic career teaching economics, culminating in winning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1986. Don’t miss your chance to hear from this representative of the Greatest Generation on November 19th, 7:00 at the Museum!

 

 

 

A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED HAUNTING IN SALEM

 

            Ever stroll through a moonlit cemetery in October? Imagine autumn leaves crunching beneath your feet as you advance warily down the path, shadows of weathered tombstones on either side. Suddenly you become aware of an ethereal figure in an old grey uniform…what do you do? Scream and run away? Close your eyes and hope he fades away?

The Salem Museum suggests you stop and listen to him, because he probably has a story to tell.

On October 20 and again on the 23rd, Salem will be alive with spirits and stories of her past.  The fifteenth annual Salem Museum Ghost Walk through the historic East Hill Cemeteries features actual Salemites of the past buried in the two graveyards, portrayed by costumed re-enactors and eager to share tales of the town in days gone by.
            “We have found no more effective way to teach folks about local history than the Ghost Walk,” said Museum Director John Long.  “Think about it-- if the people in a cemetery could rise up and tell us about their lives, how much could we learn?  Our Ghost Walk gives us the chance to talk to the dead, in a sense.”
            Among the characters who will be portrayed in the 2012 Ghost Walk are Jacob Frier, the town sergeant (policeman) in the 19th century; Eliza Fox, an African American leader of her day; and James Bryant, one of Salem’s first firemen. Revolutionary War general Andrew Lewis will make his annual appearance, and back by popular demand the Deyerle brothers, who haven’t risen from their eternal resting places for several years.            “What makes the Ghost Walk enjoyable is the quality of the acting,” opined Long.  “All of our actors are volunteers, but they really bring the characters to life.”

            “Several of the actors are teachers by profession,” added Assistant Museum Director Helen Johnson.  “I think that testifies to the educational value of the Ghost Walk.  Folks learn history and have fun doing it.”
            Ghost walkers will gather at the appointed hour inside the Salem Museum, where they will be welcomed by Mary Jane Brown, a one-time resident of the house that now serves as the Museum. From there the groups will proceed into the night to meet other characters from Salem’s past. All the tales are based on fact, and taken together, they combine into a history of Salem itself.
            The tours run approximately every fifteen minutes from 6:30 to 9:00, and take about an hour. To keep the size of the groups to a reasonable level, reservations are strongly suggested. A suggested donation of $6 per person is requested for the event.  In the event of rain, the Ghost Walk will be held inside the Museum. Call the Museum at 389-6760 for more information and reservations.
            The Ghost Walk involves a trek of some distance, much of it uphill. It may not be suitable for those who have trouble walking, and all should wear comfortable shoes. While not a scary event, it may not be suitable for very young children.

            The Salem Museum, located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from noon to 5 pm. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Author and Researcher to Give Presentation on Traditional Music

            Stephen Wade, author of the recently released and critically acclaimed book The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience will give a presentation and performance at the Salem Museum on October 20, covering his extensive research into traditional American music, including local ballad singer Texas Gladden and her brother Hobart Smith.

             The Beautiful Music All Around Us presents the extraordinarily rich backstories of thirteen performances captured on Library of Congress field recordings between 1934 and 1942. Included in those ground-breaking recordings by Allen Lomax were performances by Texas Gladden of Salem and her brother Hobart Smith of Saltville, both of whom are still fondly remembered today by aficionados of traditional American music.

            Musician, recording artist, and writer Stephen Wade is best known for his long-running stage performances of “Banjo Dancing” and “On the Way Home.” He also produced and annotated the Rounder CD collection that gave rise to this book, A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings. Since 1996 his occasional commentaries on folksongs and traditional tunes have appeared on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Wade lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.

            An accomplished banjoist, Wade will perform during his presentation along with Lexington musician James Leva and his daughter Vivian Leva. The Levas “give tangible evidence of viable family tradition in music,” says Wade, “perhaps the deepest lesson that Hobart Smith and Texas Gladden gave us all.”

Wade’s fascinating book, which includes a cd of some of the music he’s preserved, will be for sale.

            “Appalachian culture is one of the themes we’ve been tracking this year in our programming,” noted Salem Museum director John Long. “So when we found out Stephen was available we jumped at the chance.”

            The lecture and performance will be held in the Ritter Community Room of the Salem Museum at 1:00 pm at the Salem Museum on October 20th. No admission is charged.

             The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Local Archaeology Dig to be Subject of Salem Museum Program

 

            October is National Archaeology Month, and the Salem Museum will use the occasion to welcome regional archaeologist Tom Klatka of the Department of Historic Resources for its monthly program. Klatka will speak on October 15 at 7:00 on the topic “The Conditions of Cultural Contact in the 17th-Century Hinterlands of the Virginia Colony: Evidence from the Graham-White Archaeological Site in Salem, Virginia.” In the early 1990s Klatka worked on a dig at the site of today’s Moyer Sports Complex in Salem (the Graham-White site) which turned up an interesting array of artifacts, including the trigger from an English gun.

            Klatka’s talk is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served afterwards. The Salem Museum, located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday from noon to 5 pm. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

 

Area’s Appalachian Heritage to be Celebrated by Salem Museum

 

The Roanoke Valley is, after all, a valley. That means it’s surrounded by mountains. And in those mountains, a unique and colorful culture prevailed for generations, a way of life nearly forgotten today.

 

“We forget that Salem and Roanoke until recent times were small towns surrounded by numerous rural communities,” said John Long, Salem Museum director. “Our grandparents’ way of life was totally different than what we experience. Those traditions need to be remembered.”

 

For the first time ever, the Salem Museum will help to revive the old ways of life with its Appalachian Heritage Days on October 12 and 13. A full slate of exhibits, demonstrations, performances, and readings will bring back the forgotten days when everyone knew how to milk a cow. This event is co-sponsored by the National League of American Pen Women, Roanoke Branch. The NLAPW dates to 1885 and is made up of women writers, artists, and musicians. Several of the local members will be presenting their talents on Saturday.

 

“While many people think that Appalachia is a completely distinct area, the study of Appalachian Heritage opens a window onto many traditional areas of the world today in terms of the culture of survival,” said Peggy Shifflett, organizer for the event. “Food production and use, folk music, storytelling, and customs prevail even after the impact of economic change, war, and politics.”

           

Shifflett, a retired Radford University professor and author of several books on growing up in Appalachia, will be one of the regional authors featured during Saturday’s events. She will be signing her latest book “On the Way to Toe Town.” Regional authors Becky Mushko, Ethel Born, Charles Lytton, and Scottie Pritchard will also be featured on Saturday. Margaret DuBois will be displaying her unique paintings.

           

The festivities kick off on Friday, October 12 with a keynote address by famed Appalachian author and award winning Southern writer Sharyn McCrumb. Best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, McCrumb will share her thoughts on the writer’s art and the inspiration she finds in the people of Appalachia. Her talk will be at 7:00 p.m. with a reception featuring traditional Appalachian foods following. Tickets to McCrumb’s address are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and can be purchased at the Museum. Hurry-- seats are limited!

           

On Saturday, October 13 Heritage Days will feature Appalachian history presentations all day long including the following:

  • Local writers with their books.
  • Traditional music by musicologist, author and specialist in Appalachian music Stevan Jackson, playing guitar and harp; and Dan & Marian McConnell, roots musicians from Catawba.
  • Story Telling by Warnie Shifflett, Beth Rossi, and Charles Lytton sharing tales of growing up in Appalachia.
  • Food—homemade apple dumplings, country ham biscuits, and fresh cider will be for sale, giving a taste of Appalachia to the fast-food generation.
  • Moonshine history—Jack Powell, a retired revenue agent and author of several books, will be discussing the history of moonshining and will illustrate the process with a 90-year-old copper still from Hopkins Gap, Va. (sorry, no samples of the real stuff!).
  • Traditional Appalachian toys, artifacts, quilts, and other relics of the past will be on display.
  • Plus the fascinating historical exhibits of the Salem Museum, preserving the history of one Appalachian town from Native American settlements to the days of Lakeside Amusement Park. “Vanished Salem: Late Lamented Local Landmarks” will be the featured exhibit, recalling local homes, businesses, and institutions which are no more.

 

All of the events and presentations on Saturday are free. “This will be a great event for kids,” added Long. “It’ll be a great way to show them how things were once upon a time!”

 

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Salem Museum Features Art Exhibition by Byron Dickson


            The paintings of architect and painter Byron Dickson is currently featured in an exhibit at the Salem Museum. “To Learn To See” features some two dozen of his most recent paintings, many of which are for sale.

Dickson is a 1957 graduate of Andrew Lewis High School in Salem, which is where he began to paint. A teacher asked him and some other students to collaborate on a painting of a paddle wheel steamboat on the Mississippi. Dickson became so engrossed with depicting the smoke from the stack that he failed to notice he had it blowing forward instead of behind the boat. Nevertheless he was hooked.

Later, serving in the Army, Dickson supplemented his meager lieutenant’s income by painting portraits of senior officers in their dress uniforms. When he left the Army, he opened his architecture firm, but continued to paint. He is best known as the designer of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

“The key ingredient in art,” says Dickson, “is to learn to see. “When you paint something, you really start to see it.”

Dickson recently was awarded First Place honors in the oils division in the League of Roanoke Artists annual showcase, as well as honorable mention in the Westlake Library juried show.

“To Learn to See” will be on display at the Salem Museum through October.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Salem Museum Documents Named one of “Virginia’s Top 10 Most Endangered Artifacts”


            Nearly 11,000 voters and an independent panel of experts have recognized a rare set of documents in the archive of the Salem Museum as one of the state’s most endangered artifacts in a museum collection. The Midwife Records of Georgianna Saunders received the distinction from the Virginia Association of Museums and the Virginia Collection Initiative in the state’s second “Most Endangered Artifacts” poll.

            The Saunders documents join artifacts from across the state in the Top Ten List, which was designed to recognize and publicize the threat to museum collections in the Commonwealth and the District of Columbia. Other regional museums which were so recognized included the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, the Crab Orchard Museum in Tazewell, and the Alleghany Historical Society in Covington.

            Online voting, open through the month of August, was one consideration in determining the Top Ten designation. The Salem Museum finished third statewide, after Alleghany and the Wilton House museum in Richmond, with 11,000 votes. More than 120,000 were cast during the program.

            Although the Top Ten designation is merely honorary and carries no financial award, the Salem Museum is very pleased to receive it. “This has been a great program for us, and we are very happy to have raised awareness of these documents,” said John Long, Salem Museum director. “We were pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming support we garnered.”

          Georgianna Saunders served Salem and the surrounding region as a midwife from about 1916 to about 1940, delivering hundreds of babies. A prominent member of the African American community in Salem, her clientele included all races, but concentrated on the lower socioeconomic levels who could not afford a physician or hospital. Her records, dutifully kept in pocket-sized registers, form a unique demographic look into Salem's population during her career.

          “When we nominated the Saunders records, we thought few people had ever heard of Georgianna,” noted Long. But soon after the voting started, local residents began to contact the museum to ask questions or share stories. “We talked to seven or eight of ‘Aunt Georgie’s Babies’ over the past few weeks, and heard of others. We really touched a nerve in the community.”

          Among the details uncovered by the museum was the fact that Saunders delivered more babies than even the registers reveal. “Apparently she was trusted by physicians in town,” said Long. “They would call her in, maybe when labor was expected to be lengthy, and she’d assist in the birth.” In those cases, the doctor filled out the paperwork, not the midwife. “So we’ll never know how many babies she actually brought into the world, but it had to be a considerable number” he noted.

          Long intends to continue to collect oral history of Saunders, and requests anyone with memories of her to share them with the Museum. He would especially enjoy hearing from others whom she delivered, and would be most interested in obtaining a photograph of the midwife. “To our knowledge no photos of her exist, but we’d love to find out otherwise.”

          The Museum’s long-term plan for the records, which were rescued from a woodstove’s kindling pile by a concerned supporter several years ago, is to conserve the documents and then have the information they contain transcribed into a public database. “The records are too fragile to handle as they are, but we’d love for the public to have access to the info,” said Helen Johnson, Assistant Museum Director.

          Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts is a program of the Virginia Collections Initiative, which is a project of the Virginia Association of Museums, made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. For more information, visit www.vamuseums.org or call 804-788-5822.

          The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Salem Museum Documents Nominated as one of “Virginia’s Top 10 Most Endangered Artifacts”


            A rare set of documents in the collection of the Salem Museum has received statewide recognition as one of Virginia’s “Most Endangered Artifacts.” Supporters and friends of the Museum will soon be able to vote to recognize the Georgianna Saunders Midwife Records for the special “Top 10” designation.

“For much of the first half of the 20th Century, the Salem Community was served by local African American midwife named Georgianna Saunders,” said Salem Museum Director John Long. Seemingly self-taught and with no official medical training, Saunders “delivered hundreds of children, black and white, in Salem and surrounding areas,” added Long, and she kept meticulous records of each birth she attended. These birth records provide an untapped demographic look into Salem's population from the nineteen-teens through the late 1930s, recording such details as stillbirths, incidences of illegitimacy, and the profession of the parents. Because they could not typically afford a doctor or a hospital birth, Saunders typically delivered babies from the lower socioeconomic levels, Long noted.

The Saunders Midwife Records were once slated to be used as kindling for a woodstove, said Long. Instead, a concerned donor found them and, recognizing their importance, donated them to the Salem Museum. While the Museum has stabilized the fragile booklets-- about 25 in number--in acid-free envelopes and archival housing, the records are generally too fragile to handle, rendering the valuable information they contain inaccessible. The booklets are printed on acidic paper and are extremely brittle. Many are missing covers, and some of the ink is fading into obscurity.

 “In a sense, the physical objects that make up this collection are less important than the information they contain,” noted Long. The Museum’s long term goal would be to have these records conserved, but “the more important focus for us in the short term would be to get them digitized so that we can increase accessibility to the information without further damaging the original documents.”

The “Endangered Artifact” campaign from the Virginia Association of Museums is designed to create awareness of the importance of preserving artifacts in care at museums, libraries and archives throughout the Commonwealth and in the District of Columbia. Collecting institutions from across Virginia and DC have nominated items that they believe tell a significant story and deserve to be recognized on this prestigious “Top 10 List.” The campaign showcases the importance of Virginia’s diverse history, heritage and culture and the role that artifacts play in telling those stories.

Supporters of the Salem Museum can see the nominated items and vote on their favorite by visiting www.vatop10artifacts.org from August 1st – August 29th. A Youtube video showing the Saunders Midwife records can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=545MybiD0K4 (or search Georgianna Saunders).

Nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel of collections and conservation experts, and Top 10 designees, as well as “People’s Choice” designees, will be announced in September. The public voting will be considered by the panel as they make their final selections.

Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts is a program of the Virginia Collections Initiative, which is a project of the Virginia Association of Museums, made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. For more information, visit www.vamuseums.org or call 804-788-5822.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

Salem Couple Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Art Exhibition


            How do you celebrate fifty years of marriage when both parties are avid painters? With an art exhibit, of course!

            From August 4 to Sept. 8 the Salem Museum will exhibit a special display called “The Art of the Hills,” featuring the work Bill and Mary Lou Hill, Salem residents with more than a century of painting experience--and half a century of marriage experience-- between them.

            Bill, retired professor from Roanoke College, and Mary Lou, a retired educator, have both been painting since childhood. Married in 1962, the Hills celebrate their 50th Anniversary this summer. When their children rented space at the Salem Museum for a party and suggested they hang some of their work for the party, the idea evolved into a month-long exhibit exploring the relationship between art, family, and love.

            The varied subjects in “The Art of the Hills” include regional scenes and far-flung landscapes, such as two depicting Anasazi ruins in Arizona. Generations of the artists’ family can be seen, including Mary Lou’s grandparents and the couple’s grandchildren Isabelle and twins Crockett and Samson.

            “Bill and Mary Lou are wonderful folks and fixtures of the Salem community,” said John Long, Salem Museum director. “We are thrilled to help them celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary in this way.”

            “The Art of the Hills” will remain on display through Olde Salem Days, September 8th.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

SALEM MUSEUM TO PAY TRIBUTE TO VETERANS WITH NEW PLAZA

            The Salem Museum will dedicate a new plaza recognizing our nation’s veterans on June 6th at 4:00 in the afternoon. The public, and especially veterans of the armed forces, are invited to attend.

 The new Salem Museum Veteran’s Plaza is located to the rear of the museum and adjacent to Longwood Park. In the future, it will serve as the main entrance to a planned art gallery on the Museum’s ground floor.

“This plaza is a wonderful addition to a history museum,” said June Hall Long, coordinator of the event, “and a beautiful tribute to the men and women who have served our nation.”

The dedication will feature music by the Salem High Jazz Band and a flag-raising my local veteran Douglas Dowe. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Harry Minarik of Salem, a WWII veteran and winner of the Navy Cross.

The Museum is still accepting applications to place inscribed pavers in honor of or in memory of veterans in the plaza. Military personnel of any war, or who served in peacetime, may be so recognized. Proceeds from the inscriptions support the Salem Museum’s programs.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. Call 389-6760 for more information.

 

 

Blues with a Feeling!! May 19, 2012

Blues With a Feeling , our first ever fundraising concert event, will be held on the grounds of the Salem Museum on May 19th, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bring your chairs and blankets to “cozy-up” around our expanded Veterans Plaza; enjoy food and drink purchased from vendors onsite; and experience some of the best Blues in the valley presented by THE FAT DADDY BAND. Kerry Hurley, a local musician, leads this group and has a very large following of fans. This is a family-friendly event!

 Tickets can be purchased at the Salem Museum, Countryside Classics, Brooks Byrd, and from the event’s sponsor Wells Fargo. Adult tickets are $20.00 prior to the event and $25.00 at the gate that evening.  Tickets for children between the ages of 6-12 years are $7.00 prior to the event and $10.00 at the gate.  All proceeds from Blues With a Feeling go to support the Museum. Please come and enjoy!

 

Salem Museum Receives Second Taubman Grant

For the second year, the Salem Museum is a recipient of a Taubman Grant, in the final round of the special two-year program. The Museum was awarded $100,000, double the grant from last year.

“We are ecstatic with this grant,” said Salem Museum director John Long. “The Taubman money definitely makes our museum more sustainable by helping us eliminate our construction debt.”

The Taubman Sustainability Grants were initiated last year by Ambassador and Mrs. Nicholas Taubman of Roanoke. The goal was to increase the viability of arts and cultural organizations in the Roanoke region, which face increasing challenges in the current economy.

“Grants to decrease debt are extremely rare,” noted Long. “What the Taubmans have done for arts organizations in the Valley is immeasurable.” The museum’s debt is left from the 2010 project of the museum which tripled the size of the facility with a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly expansion.

“Whoopie!!!” shouted museum board president Willie Robertson when notified of the grant. “This is a big step in meeting our goal of eliminating our debt by the end of 2012.”

A portion of the Taubman grant for 2012 is a matching grant, said Long. The Museum will begin working immediately to raise the matching funds.

The Salem Museum, located in Longwood Park in the 1845 Williams-Brown House, is the local history museum and cultural center for Salem and the surrounding area. Admission to the museum and to most of its programs is free.

 

 

Surprising Array of Artifacts on Display at the Salem Museum

             A new exhibition at the Salem Museum might surprise a visitor or two. Who would expect to find an Indonesian garuda or a thousand-year-old Peruvian textile on display in a small local history museum?

             “The Brand Collection: Aboriginal Art from Across the Globe” is on display now in the Wiley Lobby of the Salem Museum. The exhibition showcases part of the collection of local businessman and community activist Cabell Brand and his wife Shirley, and features objets d’art from Africa, South America, China, Indonesia, and other exotic locales.

             “This collection is the sort you’d expect to find in much bigger museums in much bigger cities;” said Museum Director John Long. “You’d have to travel a long way to see items like these, but here they are on Main Street Salem.”

            The collection is a bit of a departure from the usual curatorial philosophy of the Salem Museum, noted Long. “Usually we try to acquire items of local origins. But these wonderful artifacts reflect the travels and collection of one of Salem’s most prominent families. We’re proud to have them on display.”

            Items in the Brand Collection include a hand carved Indonesian garuda, a winged creature ridden by the Hindu god Vishnu, an exquisite miniature painting of a 1687 battle in India rendered on ivory, a portrait of Brand by renowned Ecuadoran artist Oswaldo Guayasamin, and a Chancay doll from Peru, reflecting an ancient burial tradition of the indigenous peoples there. An African mask and an assemblage of ethnic jewelry from around the world are also included.

            Cabell and Shirley Brand are beloved members of the Salem community for many years. Mr. Band is a veteran of World War II who in 1949 took the helm of his family business, the Ortho-Vent Shoe Company (later Stuart McGuire), which he ran until it sold to Home Shopping Network in 1986. Always concerned with the needy in our community, he founded Total Action Against Poverty in the Roanoke Valley in 1965, and helped start other innovative programs such as Head Start, the Child Health Investment Project, Virginia CARES, and the Virginia Water Project. 

            The Brand Collection will be on display through the summer. It coincides with “Vanished Salem: Late, Lamented Local Landmarks” in the main gallery of the museum.

 

 

March Program at the Museum to Feature Cabell Brand

The March program of the Salem Historical Society will feature one of Salem’s most prominent citizens speaking on his family’s legacy in the Roanoke Valley. Cabell Brand, nationally known businessman and community activist, will speak on March 19th at 7:00 pm at the Salem Museum.

            Cabell Brand is a veteran of World War II who in 1949 took the helm of his family business, the Ortho-Vent Shoe Company, which he ran until it sold to Home Shopping Network in 1986. Always concerned with the needy in our community, he founded Total Action Against Poverty in the Roanoke Valley in 1965, and helped start other  innovative programs such as Head Start, the Child Health Investment Project, Virginia CARES, and the Virginia Water Project. Brand’s talk will highlight his family history and his own involvement in the community.

            This program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served afterwards. Call 389-6760 for more information.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

 

 

SALEM MUSEUM UNVEILS TWO EXCITING NEW EXHIBITIONS

 

            Celebrating its 20th year open to the public, the Salem Museum will offer visitors two new exhibits this spring. “Vanished Salem: Late Lamented Local Landmarks” explores some of the buildings, businesses, and institutions that once graced Salem’s landscape, but which have now disappeared. “mARTch Madness!” is a fabulous exhibition by students of Salem High’s International Baccalaureate Art program, open through the nation’s Youth Art Month of March.

 

VANISHED SALEM:

Salem is not the town it once was. No community is. Cities change as one generation follows another; a building that is so familiar one year is gone the next. It is the nature of society, and few if any wish it otherwise. At the same time, there is regret when a beloved local landmark is lost, when fire ravishes a lovely home, when a business succumbs to economic pressure. Something irrecoverable is lost when a local landmark meets its demise. When memory is all that is left, at least that must be preserved. 

The springtime exhibit of the Salem Museum titled “Vanished Salem: Late Lamented Local Landmarks” explores the history of some local landmarks that are no more. From Leas McVitty Tannery to the old Town Hall to the Fort Lewis Hotel, visitors will be enthralled by the ghosts of Salem’s past.

            The exhibit, opening March 10, is sure to bring back memories for those who have been around a while. But other sites are beyond any living memory today. “Probably no one alive today remembers the old Tabernacle, for instance,” noted Salem Museum Director John Long. “It was torn down in 1919. But for a generation it served as Salem’s first Civic Center.”

            Former teenagers who are now a little older and wiser will relive some carefree days of youth. “One of the more popular aspects of Vanished Salem will be a look back at the old Lendy’s Restaurants,” said Long. “If you went to high school in the 50s or 60s, chances are you spent a lot of Saturday nights there.” The restaurant chain spanned the state, but began on Apperson Drive in Salem, where a radio station broadcast each weekend from atop the roof to teenagers circling the parking lot.

            But bringing back memories is only part of the point. Encouraging people to look around them is one of the Museum’s goals. “We’ve lost too many cherished landmarks through the years,” said Long. “Not everything can be saved, but before a great structure is demolished, we should ask some questions. That hasn’t always been done.”

            “We hope this exhibit will raise awareness of the need for historic preservation,” he added. “We hope it will get you thinking about what was once here, and what is here now that may be gone tomorrow.”

            If you recall the Longwood mansion or the Salem Theatre; if you had relatives who worked at the tannery or at Valleydale; if you’ve ever wondered how Lake Spring Park or Camp North Rd. got their names, or stopped to consider what was over there before that strip mall appeared, then this exhibit is for you.

“Vanished Salem” opens March 10. In addition to this featured exhibit in the main gallery of the Museum, the acclaimed Civil War exhibit has moved upstairs, and the popular exhibit “Salem’s Attic” has relocated to where it belongs--on the very top floor. The exhibits “Lakeside: Sixty Summers of Ups and Downs,” “Pre-Salem: What was here before 1802,” “The Courthouse Portraits of 1910” and “Seven Lives: A Biographical History of Salem” continue in the upstairs galleries of the Williams-Brown House.

 

“mARTch Madness!”

March is National Youth Art Month, and the students of Salem High School’s International Baccalaureate Art program are ready to celebrate in a big way. Through the month, a special exhibit at the Salem Museum will highlight their impressive work and introduce some budding young artists to the community.

“We are thrilled to host this exhibition,” said Salem Museum director John Long. “What better way to show off the talents of our local students than to open up the local museum to them.”

More than sixty works--paintings, sketches, and sculptures--by more than 30 students are featured. “Prepare to be impressed,” said Long. “These are remarkable kids and great artists.”

“mARTch Madness” continues through March. A second exhibition of student art is slated for May.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

 

Salem Museum Program Will Explore the Legacy of Martin Luther King

What:     The Salem Museum February Program

 When:     Feb. 20, 2012, 7:00 pm

Where:   The Salem Museum
              801 East Main Street, Salem, VA 24153
~~  540-389-6760; info@salemmuseum.org
              Located in the historic Williams-Brown House of Longwood Park

Cost:    Free and open to the public. Donations are accepted.

  SALEM MUSEUM BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROGRAM TO LOOK AT KING’S LEGACY

 The February program of the Salem Historical Society will commemorate Black History Month with a look back at the role of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the Civil Rights struggle. The free talk will be Feb. 20 at 7:00 in the Ritter room of the Salem Museum.

The speaker will be Dr. Perneller Chubb Wilson, a well-known activist in the Roanoke Valley. Dr. Wilson will address the influence of King and the SCLC on our nation’s history and on her own interest in Civil Rights. Wilson was a leader in getting a bridge in Roanoke named for King and a memorial sculpture dedicated in his honor.

This program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served afterwards. Call 389-6760 for more information.

The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to five. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.

 

 

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