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Digging Up The Past In Old Salem's First House

Archaeologists in Old Salem are excavating the site's first house built in 1766. The simple cabin, called the Builder's House, is where the Moravian workers lived who built the settlement.

Michael O. Hartley, Archaeology Director for Old Salem Museums and Gardens, said Moravians were devout Christians and expert craftsmen. He said the building was standing for 141 years, was run by the Moravian Church until the 1850s, and remained sturdy long after the builders moved out.

"It then became a farm house, and then became a pottery operation. It was to be an expediently used building, but it stood, for a good long time," Hartley said.

A picture of Michael Hartley
Credit Old Salem Museums and Gardens
Michael "Mo" Hartley

Hartley's team is helping excavate the site. He said they located the original hearth of the house, a long and narrow structure.

"While the hearth is the focal point, we're really looking at the lives of these people who began this construction of a town at this place," Hartley said.

The excavation is in anticipation for Old Salem's 250th anniversary in January 2016.

A picture of the Builder's House in Old Salem
Credit Old Salem Museums & Gardens
A picture of the Builder's House in Old Salem


Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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