Events & Activities

Mask requirements are subject to change based on CDC guidelines. At this time, masks are recommended for everyone, and required for those who are unvaccinated or who are attending as part of a group or meeting.

American Flyer Christmas Train

It’s not Christmas without a model train! Jim Burke is back with his vintage American Flyer layout, so popular for the holidays. Travel back in time to visit the charming village of “Plasticville,” set in the 1950s and ’60s. The layout changes every year. In addition to the trains and buildings of all sorts, there’s an interesting cast of little characters, playing in the snow. There’s a scavenger hunt to help you find all the little delights. Kids can blow the whistle! Through January, 2022.

Gingerbread Festival and Gingerbread House Competition
House Drop Off Dates: November 23-24 or 26-27
Preview (avoid the crowds!): Nov 27 & 30, Dec 1-3
Gingerbread Festival: December 4, 10 am to 2 pm

Masks are required for all visitors inside the Salem Museum regardless of vaccination status. Attendees will be expected to follow the directions of staff and volunteers in order to maintain a safe and enjoyable event for all. Admission is free.

The Gingerbread Festival is a Salem Holiday Tradition! Outside, Longwood Park will be full of holiday fun on December 4 from 10 am to 2 pm! This free, family-friendly event features entertainment, vendors, s’mores treats, caricatures, a petting zoo, and visits with Santa!

Gingerbread House Competition Rules:

  • There are categories for all ages. SIGN UP HERE!
  • Each entry will be assigned a number which must be displayed with your house, along with a description including the creator’s name, category and the title of the piece.
  • Size cannot be larger than 20” x 20”
  • Each entry must be constructed of only edible materials. Creations that include inedible construction materials will not be eligible for awards.
  • The Salem Museum is not responsible for collapses or other damage to the gingerbread creations.
  • Entries must be delivered to the Salem Museum on November 23-24 or 26-27 between 10 am and 4 pm to be eligible for awards.
  • Entries may be picked up after 2pm on December 4, and must be picked up by December 11. The Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. Entries left at the Museum after December 11 will be disposed of.

An Old Home Gets a New Tenant:
GLOW Healing Arts’ Ribbon-Cutting and the Dedication of a New Historic Marker at the Preston Place

The oldest house in Salem is now the home to one of Salem’s newest businesses, GLOW Healing Arts. A ribbon-cutting to officially open the healing center will take place on Friday, December 3 at noon at the Preston Place, 1936 West Main Street, Salem, Virginia. To celebrate the historic significance of the property, the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation will dedicate its new Historic Site Interpretive Marker describing the Preston Place’s past. The marker is located on the front lawn adjacent to the parking area. In addition, the Salem Museum & Historical Society, which now owns and operates the home, will announce a special recognition.

In addition to the ribbon-cutting, GLOW Healing Arts will host an Open House on Saturday, December 4 from 2 to 6 pm to tour the space and meet the practitioners. The public is invited to both of these events.

The Preston Place, the oldest standing home in Salem, was built in 1821, reusing materials from an even older cabin on the site. The Preston Family purchased the property in 1879, giving the home its name. The last Preston descendant to live in the house was Dr. Esther Clark Brown, one of the first female physicians in the Roanoke Valley. In 2014, her heirs donated the house to the Salem Museum & Historical Society which conducted extensive renovations. The first tenant, the very popular White Oak Tea Tavern, fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic and closed. “We are delighted to welcome to the Preston Place an organization focused on healing, following in the legacy of Dr. Brown,” said Lisa Bain, the president of the Salem Museum’s board. “We thank Henry Scholz with MKB, REALTORS for his assistance in locating our new tenant.”

GLOW Healing Arts has operated as a holistic wellness community center since 2018. Previously known as West Salem Holistic Healing Center, they offer classes, workshops and group gatherings to educate and empower individuals to embrace their full potential. Practitioners offer one-on-one healing services such as therapeutic massage, reflexology, Reiki, yoga, sound healing, spiritual counseling, and natural pain relief solutions. A gift shop features crafts, jewelry and artwork by local artisans, as well as crystals, essential oils, nutritional supplements and gift items to enhance and heal an individual’s mind, body and spirit.

The Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1988 to preserve the historic, natural and cultural resources of the Roanoke Valley. The Foundation’s Tours and Interpretive Markers Committee partners with businesses, nonprofits, local governments, neighborhood groups, and others to develop Historic Site Interpretive Markers. These markers help tell the story of significant historic sites, helping to keep their history alive. Markers have already been installed at a variety of historic sites throughout the Roanoke Valley. After several years of research and design, the Foundation completed and installed the interpretive marker preserving the history of the Preston Place.

Celebrate Catawba Day!
December 11, 10 am to 3 pm

Celebrate Catawba Day marks the official opening of the Salem Museum’s newest exhibit, The Other Side of the Mountain: Life in the Catawba Valley. On December 11, from 10 am to 3 pm, special guests will share stories and information about Catawba’s history, culture, and outdoor adventures. Ted Carroll will launch his newest book, Volume Four in his popular Echoes From Catawba series. He will be on hand to sign copies of all four of his books exploring life in Catawba through the decades. Marian McConnell will also be signing copies of her book, Catawba Murder Hole Cave. Members of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club will offer information about hiking to McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth, and will have Club T-shirts for sale.

Ted Carroll

Celebrate Catawba Day marks the launch of Ted Carroll’s fourth book in his popular Echoes From Catawba Series. The newest volume, The Other Side of the Mountain, includes the heartwarming story of a little girl spending her summers at Craig Healing Springs in what was a fairyland experience. Other chapters feature the Great Wagon Road, McAfee Knob, Catawba’s first Boy Scout troop, the Homeplace Restaurant, and the Garman, Martin, and Wingate families. All four books will be available to be signed. Ted Carroll, a Catawba native, was milking a cow at a young age. He worked for 25 years as a member of the VA Tech Extension faculty and served four terms as the Mayor of the Town of Orange, Virginia. Answering a call to the ministry, Carroll became an ordained minister and pastored a church in North Carolina for 14 years before retiring to the Roanoke Valley.

Marian McConnell will be on hand to sign copies of her book Catawba Murder Hole Cave. The cave is a renowned local landmark, a place of danger and beauty. In her book, and in a 28-minute documentary (available in DVD and Blu-Ray), McConnell shares a fascinating collection of legends, the history of the cave’s early explorers, and stories from those who survived accidents in its dark depths. A caver, musician, and artist, McConnell is a member of the National Speleological Society, the Roanoke Blue Ridge Grotto (caving club), and a member of the Virginia Governor’s Cave Board. The documentary includes drone footage above the cave entrance, and amazing video and photographs of cavers as they descend into the depths of this underground world.

The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club will also be on hand sharing the history of local sections of the Appalachian Trail running through Catawba, and providing information about how best to hike the Blue Ridge Triple Crown: McAfee Knob, Dragon’s Tooth and Tinker Cliffs. The Club, founded in 1932, maintains 120 miles, 16 shelters/privies and 53 bridges on the Appalachian Trail from Lickskillet Hollow in Giles County to Black Horse Gap in Botetourt County.

The Salem Museum’s newest feature exhibit, The Other Side of the Mountain: Life in the Catawba Valley, explores everyday life beginning with the Virginia Indians who first settled in Catawba; the culture that developed in the largely agrarian community; the stunning scenery—Dragon’s Tooth and McAfee Knob; and the modern institutions that have formed there. This exhibit will continue through March, 2022. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10-4. Masks are recommended for all visitors and required for those who are unvaccinated or attending with a group.

Home Alive in ‘45: A Christmas Celebration
December 18, 10 am to 4 pm

Honoring the 76th anniversary of the end of World War Two, come see a display of military and home front artifacts from the war era. Experience a glimpse of military and civilian Christmas celebrations during wartime with period music, toys and decorations. Displays will include 1940s toys, cards and other Christmas related items, plus a soldier’s Christmas tree with soldier gifts. There will also be a display of military war trophies (German and Japanese). Period style Christmas cards will be for sale as a fundraiser to purchase veterans bricks at the D-Day Memorial in Bedford. The event is presented by the 24th Virginia Infantry Living Historians.

The Salem Museum’s Speaker Series is usually held on the second Thursday of the month. 

Did you miss one of our talks, or want to watch again? CLICK HERE TO ACCESS ALL OF OUR VIDEOS. For Zoom Meetings: Please remember to mute yourself when you join our Zoom meetings.  We will be recording our session, so please turn off your video if you don’t want to be recorded. Your best view will be Speaker View, not Gallery View. Put questions in the chat and our speaker will answer them after the talk.