Old Salem Museums & Gardens to Open New Exhibit: “Selections from Across the Creek: Happy Hill” to Honor Mel White


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (May 5, 2022) – Old Salem Museums & Gardens will open a new exhibit in the Old Salem Visitor Center on Freedom Day, Saturday, May 21, 2022, with a 12:30 p.m. program in the James A. Gray Jr. Auditorium that will include remarks by Mayor Allen Joines, Winston-Salem City Council Members Annette Scippio and John Larson, Forsyth County Commissioner Fleming El-Amin, residents of Happy Hill, and descendants. A special presentation will be made to Mel White, a pioneering advocate for the history of Happy Hill. The opening program is co-hosted with the Happy Hill Neighborhood Association and is free and open to the public.

The 1998 landmark exhibit “Across the Creek from Salem: The Story of Happy Hill, 1816-1952” brought together rare photographs, stories, history, and memories of the people of the Happy Hill. “Selections from Across the Creek” brings together many of these original photographs, along with new research, as well as current activities and future opportunities for this historic neighborhood known as the “Mother of all Black Neighborhoods in Winston-Salem.” The exhibit also includes a collection of contemporary portrait works by artist Leo Rucker inspired by the original photographs.

“Selections” is presented in honor of Mel White, Old Salem’s first Director of African American Programs. Mr. White gathered oral histories and documentary photographs from Happy Hill residents and descendants, who graciously shared their collections and memories for the 1998 exhibit. His work also included important research at the Moravians Archives and elsewhere as he developed new information about people of African descent in Salem and Wachovia. Mr. White is a renowned genealogist whose research continues to provide invaluable information.

Event Details

Who: Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, Winston-Salem City Council members Annette Scippio and John Larson, Forsyth County Commissioner Fleming El-Amin, and Happy Hill Residents and Descendants.

What: Opening of “Selections from Across the Creek: Happy Hill”

When: Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 12:30PM

Where: James A. Gray Jr. Auditorium at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, 900 Old Salem Road, Winston-Salem, NC

About Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Old Salem Museums & Gardens is one of America’s most comprehensive history attractions. Its museums—the Historic Town of Salem, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), and the Gardens at Old Salem—engage visitors in an educational and memorable historical experience about those who lived and worked in the early South. Old Salem Museums & Gardens is located at 600 South Main Street in Winston-Salem. For more information call 336-721-7300 or visit oldsalem.org.

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