Although the descendants of the German-speaking Moravians do not comprise more than 10 percent of Winston-Salem’s current population, much of their history that is tied to Salem’s development is preserved in numerous writings from the period, traditions that continue to be practiced, and the well-preserved architectural heritage found in the historic district of the city.
In 1766, the Moravians, a Protestant group that has its roots in the Czech Republic founded Salem from an earlier settlement in Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. Apart from the grand Moravian Church, no other structure in the nationally designated historic district in North Carolina showcases traditional Winston-Salem, NC roofing as the building known as the Single Brothers Workshop. Built in 1769 and reinforced with brick in 1786, the structure housed both workshops and living quarters for unmarried male Moravian settlers ages 14 and above.
The grand old bachelors’ pad was home to the many skilled craftsmen from Bethlehem who went on to build most of the old district’s historic buildings, including the surviving family homes which most Single Brothers Workshop residents constructed upon getting married. Another historic structure, the Single Sisters Workshop, was built in 1785 to house unmarried women and adolescent girls.
According to Old House Online, “Salem’s Moravians used construction techniques they knew well from their previous life in Europe, but New World materials required some rethinking. They would have preferred, for instance, to build two-story houses of stone or brick, but stone found in their first years in North Carolina was no match for that of Germany, and the initial scarcity of high-quality lime for mortar limited all-brick construction.”
In the museum village of Salem, whose town plan was drawn up by Christian Reuter, and in the nearby Moravian sites of Bethabara and Bethania, the surviving buildings display the traditional Germanic building method called fachwerk, which requires a “massive wooden framework interspersed with handmade brick.” Workshops, basements, and steeply pitched roofs made of that skilled Winston Salem roofers had to install by hand are three of the most distinguishable features that are present in many Salem heritage homes.
Although the museum village takes up only a small portion of the present-day Winston-Salem metropolitan area, many of its residents take great care of the beauty of their personal space. ABC Roofing, a contractor based in the Piedmont triad, has helped many homeowners in keeping their home’s elegance with services for roof maintenance and repairs, using only the best modern roofing materials that have the classic beauty of slate of a celebrated older era.