Old Salem Museums & Gardens Campaign Goes Public

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Old Salem Museums & Gardens Unveils $17.66 Million Capital Campaign

May 2, 2013 – At its annual meeting today, Old Salem, Inc. introduced the public phase of On Common Ground – a comprehensive capital campaign to revitalize and re-imagine the potential of Old Salem Museums & Gardens, including the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA).  The campaign goal is $17.66 million (Salem was founded in 1766). Approximately $11.2 million already has been raised.

The overarching mission of On Common Ground is to enhance the visitor experience at Old Salem and supporting the future sustainability of Old Salem.

“The On Common Ground name arose from our firm belief that the past serves to inform the present and the future,” Old Salem Museums & Gardens President and CEO Ragan Folan said. “Our founders were visionary pioneers, and now the Old Salem Board of Trustees and all the campaign supporters are acting as visionary pioneers of Old Salem for decades to come.”

Capital raised from the On Common Ground campaign will fund a wide variety of crucial projects at Old Salem, including endowed positions and endowed historic preservation funds as well as the restoration of the Boys’ School and Dr. Samuel Benjamin Vierling House. The campaign also will fund improvements to MESDA and the Frank L. Horton Museum Center.

“MESDA will undergo needed renovations in addition to the creation of a new Anne P. and Thomas A. Gray Library and MESDA Research Center,” Folan said.  “Galleries are being updated and renovated; a new state-of-the-art auditorium is planned as well as the addition of more classrooms and meeting spaces for MESDA’s growing number of highly successful lectures and seminars.”

“In addition, by nurturing and furthering the many relationships Old Salem already has, as well as making new ones, we will establish Old Salem as an appealing ‘third place’ for our community,” she said. “Old Salem as a ‘third place’ will provide visitors comfort, enhanced dining, entertainment and satisfaction in a location outside of work and their own homes.”

“I believe those who want to see Old Salem have a bright, sustainable future will value the goals of the On Common Ground campaign,” Old Salem board chair Judy Lambeth said. “In many ways, the cherished American story is reflective of the Moravian story that we at Old Salem hold so dear to our hearts. This campaign is to celebrate our shared history and to preserve our wonderful slice of American and Moravian history for generations to come.”

“With support from the capital campaign, the Town of Salem’s visitor experience will expand to include costumed interpreter presentations at the Boys’ School and a completely new experience at the Vierling House,” she said. “The Boys’ School originally served as a school for young men in the early days of Salem and later contained the Wachovia Historical Society Collection but has never been interpreted as the school for boys as part of the Old Salem visitor tour.  The Boys’ School will become a fresh part of our unique visitor experience that will be particularly attractive to school groups.”

“Similarly, the re-imagined Vierling House, which will be called the “Doctor’s House,” will bring the historic Salem scientific and medical experiences to life for our visitors. It’s going to be incredible and relevant,” Lambeth added.  “Now more than ever, Old Salem needs help to grow and sustain this one-of-a-kind national treasure.”

About On Common Ground
While visitors immensely value the experience of going back in time as they walk the streets, study valued collections or step inside historic buildings, On Common Ground will enable Old Salem and MESDA to go beyond existing as windows to the past.  This historic community must become a trusted path to what lies ahead for America as much as serving as an authentic reflection of what came before.

With an open-minded and proactive response to pressing economic and social realities, Old Salem’s Board of Trustees initiated On Common Ground to serve as a comprehensive campaign to revitalize the historic beauty, values and potential of Old Salem Museums & Gardens in order to ensure that the celebration of early America remains relevant and exciting in 21st Century America. 

About Old Salem
Old Salem Museums & Gardens is one of America’s most comprehensive history attractions. Its museums—the Historic Town of Salem and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), along with award-winning heirloom gardens—engage visitors in an educational and memorable historical experience about those who lived and worked in the early South. Old Salem Museums & Gardens is located at 600 South Main Street in Winston-Salem. For more information call 336-721-7300 or visit www.oldsalem.org.

To make a gift, please contact Frances Beasley, Director of Development, at (336)721-7331 or fbeasley@oldsalem.org.

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