Touring the Salem Museum & Historical
(or bringing the Salem Museum to you-- scroll
down for available Offsite Programs!)
The Salem Museum exhibit galleries are self-guided and
handicapped accessible. Group tours of the Salem Museum may be arranged by
calling the Museum office at 540-389-6760 or emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org. We also offer walking tours of the downtown historic
district or the East Hill Cemeteries for groups of 10 or moreon a donation basis.
Admission to the museum is free, but donations are always welcome!
Walking Tour of Salem
House-Store (c. 1845) -
801 E. Main Street
||Built by William
C. Williams, builder, merchant,
hotel keeper, as
residence/store/post office. In
1852 J.R.C. Brown, Jr., bought
it. Used as fraternity house in
1930s, later as apartments.
William Watts donated house to
Salem Historical Society, which
moved it to current site. Opened
as The Salem Museum in June
East Hill Cemetery North (1871)
- Longwood Park
bought for $82 in 1871, was
burying ground for African
American community of Roanoke
County. Among prominent citizens
buried here are the Rev. B. F.
Fox, founder of Shiloh Baptist
Church, branch of First Baptist.
Site of Longwood Mansion (1904)
- Longwood Park
Cooper, coal operator, built
luxurious 18-room residence on
this 11-acre tract in 1903.
Heirs sold it to Town of Salem
in 1942. Used for meetings until
fire destroyed it in 1968.
Carriage house remains and is
used by park services.
Old Courthouse (1910) - Main
Street at College Avenue
County was established in 1838,
first courthouse served as
meeting place, muster point and
hospital during Civil War. In
early 1900s Salem erected this
courthouse on same site. In
1980, the county built another
courthouse immediately to the
east and Roanoke College
acquired the old structure. The
Southern Cross Chapter of United
Daughters of Confederacy
dedicated the Confederate
Monument on the lawn in 1909.
Monterey (c. 1840) - 110
by Powell H. Huff, Monterey was
constructed with bricks handmade
by slaves on premises. Greek
Revival home features 12 rooms,
two-story entrance hall,
twelve-foot ceilings. Served as
hotel around 1900, boarding
Roanoke College (1847) -
north end of College Avenue
established in 1842 as Virginia
Institute in Augusta County,
College was relocated in Salem
five years later. Copies of
Roanoke College Walking Tour are
available from Admissions Office
located in Roselawn, 226 High
Streetcar Station (1890-1931) -
119 East Main Street
ticket window is still evident
on western side of what is
currently The Computer Store,
marking site of station for
electric streetcars from 1894.
Earlier, streetcars to Roanoke
and Vinton were pulled by steam
As you walk along this
part of Main Street, notice
tops of buildings decorated
with the original tin work
so popular at turn of
century. Many storefronts on
Main Street are original.
1923 Post Office - 301 East
program that introduced great
architecture to many towns, this
was Salem's first federally
owned postal building. Earlier,
post office was located at
various points along Main
Salem Presbyterian Church (1851)
- Main Street at Market
congregation outgrew its
original church on Academy
Street and erected this
building, using slave labor,
with bricks fired on premises.
Structure incorporates numerous
architectural designs from
popular antebellum handbooks.
Benjamin Deyerle, known for
Greek revival buildings, is
thought to be architect.
Old Post House (1821) - 42
East Main Street
doubled as residence for builder
Jacob Stevens and his wife
Sarah. Initially providing
travelers with a mail drop, an
exchange for fresh horses, and
possibly overnight lodgings, it
was later used as private
residence and tea house. St.
Paul's Episcopal Church
purchased it in 1952 and uses it
for church purposes.
Farmer's Market - Main
Street at Broad.
Salem unofficially for many
years, city market was only
formally established in 1992.
Open from 6 a.m. to dusk,
City Hall (1912) - 114 Broad
Jeffersonian Revival Style,
building served as Salem High
School for over 20 years until
fire caused it to close for
renovations. It reopened and
served as Broad Street
Elementary 1934-76. Converted
into City Hall in 1983.
Evans Webber House (1882)
of Second French Empire
architecture, the house, built
by John Evans, still boasts its
original carved wood cornices,
brackets, eaves and 13-foot
ceilings. Windows made of cast
Rice House (1867) - 223
||Built by Salem
attorney D. B. Strouse, house
did not originally support those
massive Corinthian columns.
Owner renovated original long,
thin, one-story porch after
seeing porch similar to this one
on trip north in early 1900s.
House still has fireplace in
every room, including six
bedrooms, and original wrought
Walkers may proceed along
alley between the Evans
Webber and Rice houses, a
typical nineteenth century
passageway for townspeople
on horseback or foot.
Academy Street School (1890,
1895) - 121 Academy Street
buildings, of Italian style of
Flemish Bond construction,
served students for better part
of century, until 1977. Initial
structure, on right, was used
for lower grades; second school
was added for upper level
students. Buildings are now
Union Street (1802)
||In early 1800s,
headquarters of Roanoke
Navigation Company, on southwest
corner of Main and Union, which
sent several shipments of cargo
on canal running down Union
Street to Roanoke River. In
1859, railroad eliminated need
of canal. During Civil War,
Northern troops marched down
Union Street toward rail depot
to destroy tracks, creating,
according to newspaper account,
"a lively spectacle. There were
wagons, carriages, carts,
omnibuses, horsemen, footmen,
citizens, students, running
pell-mell hollowing Yankees."
New Castle (c. 1820, 1853) -
12 Union Street
brick building at rear of house,
one of oldest structures in
Salem, originally served as
residence but became slave
quarters when larger house was
constructed. New Castle was
later converted into factory
that produced chewing tobacco.
After World War II, Mrs. Howard
Butts founded private
North Cross School here. It
currently houses Olde Salem
Queen Anne House (c. 1888) -
103 Union St. at southwest
corner of Union and Calhoun
||Rare example of
its type in area, home was built
when trends moved away from
simple Colonial architecture to
more flowery and creative
styles. Note fan-type
decorations and many spindles on
porch and cupola over front bay
First Baptist Church (1867)
||After meeting in
private homes for many months,
First Baptist Church was
constructed under direction of
the Rev. J. R. Cooper. A pioneer
Baptist congregation for African
American Salemites, this church
spawned two others, Shiloh and
Oakey Duval House (c. 1880) -
206 East Calhoun Street
W. D. F. Duval, hotel proprietor,
this Victorian era home has
served both as private residence
and business location in Salem
for many years. It hosts seven
fireplaces and floors of white
Old Manse (1847) - 530 East
||Built by John
Day, local blacksmith, this
building was later sold to Salem
Presbyterian Church, which used
it as home for their ministers
until 1939. Since then, it has
been a private residence and bed
East Hill Cemetery (1869) -
East Main Street
burial grounds in Salem became
too crowded, thirty stockholders
in Roanoke Cemetery Company
purchased these ten acres from
estate of Nathaniel Burwell.
General Andrew Lewis' body was
moved to East Hill in 1897 from
an overgrown family graveyard.
Confederate soldiers who died in
battles and hospitals in and
around Salem are buried here as
Historical presentations available from the Salem Historical Society
part of fulfilling our mission of “preserving the past, informing the
future” the Salem Museum & Historical Society offers a variety of talks
to civic groups. The talks are given on a donation basis, although those
involving out-of-town travel may require an appropriate travel stipend.
Most use slides or Powerpoint presentations.
The Founding of Salem 1802
Speculator James Simpson platted the original town in 1802, but unlike
many similar towns in southwest Virginia, Salem survived its adolescence
without disappearing from the map. What factors allowed for Salem’s
early growth and prosperity?
Forgotten Founding Father: The Life of Andrew Lewis
Though crucial in developing the
Virginia frontier and securing her independence from Britain, pioneer
patriot Andrew Lewis is little known today. Why should Lewis be honored
two centuries after his death?
Edward Beyer’s Vision of Salem, 1855
German artist Edward Beyer
traveled through Western Virginia and painted the towns and landscape he
experienced. In Salem, he produced three paintings and a lithograph
which is lost. His canvases give us one of the clearest glimpses of what
life was like in the Salem of the 19th Century.
The Salem Flying Artillery
This local unit of the
Confederate Army played a surprisingly active role in the War Between
the States, from First Manassas to the “last shot” at Appomattox. Learn
more about the boys in Gray who became men too soon…
Lakeside: Sixty-Six Summers of Ups and Downs
The Roanoke Valley’s favorite playground from 1920 to
1986 was Lakeside Amusement Park, where generations spent many an hour
seeking thrills. Relive the memories of speed, cotton candy, and
carousel music on hot summer days…
Losing the Farm: A 19th Century Gypsy Scam
About 1886, local farmer David
Trout was duped by a passing “Gypsy Queen” out of a small fortune,
resulting in the loss of his farm and likely his untimely death. Why
would a solid citizen and community leader be so foolish?
The Battle of Leyte Gulf
The largest naval battle in history turned on chance,
misperceptions, miscommunications, and human error. Learn why fortune
favors the bold, and sometimes the lucky!
Community and Courage: The African American Experience
The Water Street Community of
Salem was for generations a haven in a world of segregation. Learn more
about the hidden history of perseverance and faith of this fascinating
“Fork Me out The Dimes:” Carrier
Addresses of 19th Century Salem
For much of the 19th Century, the newsboy
who delivered your paper was unpaid—except at Christmas. Then he
presented to his customers a special holiday poem in exchange for a tip.
He got his dimes, but also left behind a unique body of folk poetry and
an interesting glimpse of small town life.
The Indian Captivity of Charles Johnston
In 1790, Charles Johnston, one of
the early developers of the Roanoke Valley, was captured by Shawnee Indians
on the Ohio River. His experiences later were told in his memoir, the first
book written in our area. His fascinating tale deserves to be remembered...
The Poorhouses of Salem
In the early 20th Century, the most desperate
residents of Salem could find refuge in the local almshouses. Their
forgotten history, including a lost pauper cemetery, emerges from the
shadows of history in this talk.
Local History Resources: An Annotated Bibliography
Researchers interested in local
history often hit roadblocks in finding sources. What books are available?
Which are reliable? How can I find the answers I seek in our local past?
Our National Anthem-- In Its Entirety
Did you know there are four
verses to “The Star Spangled Banner?” Hear the full story Francis Scott
Key’s account of a battle won and a nation that would not accept defeat.
"'I ain't going until they catch me': The story of Jack, a runaway slave."
Hear a story lost for more than a century: a
runaway slave’s account of surviving by his wits in the last months of the
Civil War in Franklin County, VA. Jack, the only name by which he is known,
was sent to Richmond to build fortifications under a draft for laborers.
Jack managed to escape the dangerous work and survive through his own
resources in isolation--right in his master’s back yard.
John D. Long,
Director of the Salem Museum, has taught history at Radford University,
Virginia Western Community College and is Senior Lecturer in History at
Roanoke College. A magna cum
laude graduate of Roanoke College, Mr. Long earned his Masters of Arts
in History from the University of Virginia in 1991.
With the Salem Museum, he has spearheaded a school outreach program,
overseen a popular college internship for museums, curated substantive
historical exhibits, researched and written numerous articles for the
Historic Salem newspaper and other local publications, and initiated an
innovative living history tour through Salem’s cemeteries.
He is a contributing columnist for the Roanoke Times, and is
the author of South of Main: A History of the Water Street Community of
Salem, Virginia and co-author of A Town by the Name of Salem.
He is winner of the 2002 Heritage Award from the Roanoke Valley
Preservation Society. Long is
active with his church, the Boy Scouts, and other community groups. He and
his wife, Candy, live in Salem and are the parents of three daughters and