In 1950, a group of dedicated volunteers established Old Salem, Inc. as a way to begin preserving and restoring the town of Salem for future generations. As Old Salem grew, more buildings were restored and new facilities were added – including the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA).
In 2006, Old Salem changed its name to Old Salem Museums & Gardens – to better reflect the increasing importance of the garden program and to clearly distinguish that there are multiple experiences available within the Old Salem district. What used to just be known as “Old Salem” was also renamed the Historic Town of Salem, again for clarity purposes.
Today the museum site operates with more than 200 employees, a thriving retail department, a book publishing arm, a research center, and more than 11 gardens. The site also has a new focus on renting its numerous meeting spaces to local businesses and for special events, including weddings.