As Salemtowne Retirement Community celebrates its first 40 years of service to older adults, we reflect on our heritage of compassion and care, and how two Single Sisters made a lasting difference.
Moravians have historically been progressive in caring for others. In fact, the origins of what is today’s Salemtowne community draw from that very strength of Moravian women. In 1887, two Moravian women realized the need for a home to welcome and care for society’s forgotten, then took action.
The sisters met with a group of women from Salem, Winston, and surrounding areas to form an interdenominational circle (comprised at the start of only 12) dedicated to the vision of a home to shelter the destitute, sick, aged, and neglected no matter what their age, as well as orphaned children.
This group of women pledged a mere $2.00 per month to support The Salem Home, which opened in 1887. By 1889 a permanent house on the northeast corner of Main and Walnut streets in Salem had been purchased. It operated there for 80 years. Unfortunately in 1967, its doors closed due to increased governmental regulations. The home was sold and the $125,000 in proceeds was put aside for a future “home for the aged.”
In December 1972, a mere five years later, and on land that had once been part of die Wachau tract, The Moravian Home, Inc. (known today as Salemtowne) received its first residents in a single building that could minister to fifty individuals in need.
Over the years our community has grown in acreage, as well as residents. In 1990, Salemtowne became licensed as a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Since that time the campus has expanded with three villages of cottages, apartment complexes, a new health care center, community center and fitness center with pool. A gift of 58 adjacent acres, The Babcock House and estate, has aided our recent growth. Today, Salemtowne is home to more than 300 residents.
It is incredible to imagine how the vision of a group of 12 women over a century ago could create a home that has developed into a community as vibrant as Salemtowne today. As we look back at our rich and poignant history over these first 40 years, we look forward to carrying on the mission of those far-reaching women by continuing to provide competent, compassionate and committed care to older adults.
From those first 12 fearless women to the countless groups from many different denominations and backgrounds united in love and a desire to be of service, Salemtowne continues to benefit from the crucial and dedicated support of women’s service leagues including the Emma Bahnson, Mary Ann Fogle and the Louise Haywood Service Leagues.
In addition, we receive ongoing support from over 50 Moravian Churches and nearly 50 Moravian Church Circles, Sunday Schools, and other church groups in the Southern Province, as well as neighboring non-Moravian Churches. This sustained advocacy continues to be a clear and singular strand of the larger Church’s core identity of caring for the other, and it enables Salemtowne to be a grateful community, indeed, “where every life shines.”
Renee Brumagin, Marketing Coordinator, and Dale Melton, Director of Development, at Salemtowne Retirement Community contributed this article.
From the November 2012 Moravian Magazine