The Bethaba Historic District was once a small Moravian community located in Forsyth County, North Carolina. It was first settled in 1753 and is now a historical landmark and open air museum.ar
The Husband, daughter and I happened upon this beautiful place one day last year when we were out and about on a day-trip excursion for the Southern Food and Beverage Museum project. When I was thinking about just what to do for my “B” for our Carolinas A to Z post this month, this instantly popped into my head. We had so much fun wandering around the open air museum and exploring the ruins.
The early settlers here were noted for their advanced agricultural practices including an extensive herb and medicine garden. This area promises to be very beautiful in the warmer growing season.
Bethabara is from the Hebrew word meaning “House of Passage” and is also the name of the traditional site of the Baptism of Jesus Christ. This historic village is the site where 15 men from the Moravian Church first settled. They were later joined by other men, women and children. Bethabara was never intended to be a permanent settlement, only really intending to house the Moravians until a more suitable location could be found. That place of course became Salem . When the settlers relocated to Salem, Bethabara was used as a farm to supply the Salem village and other surrounding Moravian villages with food and medicine.
In 1788 Johann Samuel a slave, was named the superintendent of the farm. He became a freed slave in 1801 and continued working in Bethabara, renting the land from the Church. At this time, the village as it had existed was no longer used and fell into disrepair. Many of the original buildings collapsed and the foundations were filled in with dirt to make more area for growing. The Church (Gemeinhaus) and a couple of other buildings continued in regular use.
Today the excavated remains of the village, the restored Gemeinhaus and the gardens are a part of the Historic Bethabara Park. This park covers 183 acres and has become a wildlife preserve and is located in Winston-Salem. It is home to festivals and reenactments and summer archeology programs featuring on-site excavations.
We had such a wonderful time exploring this fascinating place and being the history buff that I am being able to walk around, explore and experience this historically significant place was an amazing experience.