History

Emma Fries Bahnson

Salemtowne can trace its roots back to 1887, when a sick girl, a homeless woman and a group of women from all denominations across the town of Salem were brought together through kindness and compassion. With concern for their fellow citizens, the women of the Dorcas Circle, a local Moravian service league, reached out to address "the crying need for a home" to help women in need. On October 18, Sarah Porter was the first resident along with Eliza Riggan, a homeless woman to care for her. Together they established Salem Home, a home that provided shelter and comfort to destitute, sick and aged women.

By the tireless efforts of these women a permanent home on the northeast corner of Main and Walnut Streets was built in 1889. As it would throughout its history, Salem Home relied on the generosity of the service leagues, gifts from churches - Moravian and other denominations, friends and private donors. It was this sense of belonging to a community that made the Salem Home special. "We pride ourselves on being a Home, not a hospital or institution – we feel we are unique in this," said Emma Fries Bahnson, leader of the Dorcas Circle.

By 1968, changes in government regulations and associated costs overwhelmed Salem Home. From that point, money raised was put aside for a future provincial home. In 1972, the new Moravian Retirement Home opened its doors to both male and female residents on land that had been part of the original die Wachau tract (Wachovia Tract) that Moravians first settled on. Just like the Salem Home, the character of home was to be simple, which still inspires the Salemtowne mission today.

When the first building of The Moravian Home opened it had the capacity of 40 home for the aged beds and 10 infirmary beds, but demand grew for the services and quality of care that the Moravian Home provided. In the 1980's The Moravian Retirement Home added cottages for couples interested in living independently within the comfort and security of a community and changed its name to Salemtowne, reflecting its early heritage in Salem and its transformation from one home into a growing community.

In 2002/2003, 115 years after the founding of the Salem Home, Salemtowne opened new amenities, which included a new village of cottage homes, apartments, a community center and a fitness center. Salemtowne offers an affordable range of residences, provides financial assistance to residents in need, and reaches beyond its campus to serve those in the community at-large.

Today Salemtowne maintains its longstanding commitment to the community. Last year, through donations from individuals and community organizations, Salemtowne provided over $800,000 in financial assistance to its residents and to organizations in the community at-large. Salemtowne residents are active volunteers within the Salemtowne community and in the broader community of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, and are involved in university alumni activities.

Salemtowne is well-recognized throughout the region for providing the highest standards of service and healthcare in a warm and loving community. Perhaps most importantly, it is known for upholding these values as a matter of faith.