When you think of historical sites in Rowan County you may think about the Rowan Museum in Downtown Salisbury, the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer, the Hambley Wallace House on Fulton Street, the Civil War Prison-Guard Garrison on East Bank Street, the two National Cemeteries on Government Road and Statesville Boulevard, the Bell Tower Green that is under construction on West Innes Street, or the Historic Salisbury Foundation on Depot Street whose mission is to “preserve, protect, and revitalize the historic fabric of Salisbury and Rowan County”.
There are so many historical places to visit in Rowan County and as the temperatures start to cool this time of year it makes me want to be outside and enjoy the weather. One of my favorite fall activities is the OctoberTour! On this tour you get to see many of the historical homes in Salisbury and Rowan County. This year, just like almost everything else in 2020, the Historic Salisbury Foundation had to rethink how to host their 45 Annual OctoberTour of historical homes in Salisbury. I believe they, along with the help from DKM Media, came up with a great idea to make this year’s OctoberTour virtual.
Thinking Outside of the Box
During these times with COVID-19, many businesses have turned to virtual technology because, let’s face it, it is our new reality. In order to keep people engaged you have to think outside of the box which is exactly what they have done.
This year’s OctoberTour will be a free online interactive tour with 360-degree camera angles that will allow you to feel like you are inside the home. The homeowners actually were given the opportunity to choose how they wanted their videos to look. You will get a tour just as if a docent, which I’ve been fortunate to do several times, was there in the room with you.
The OctoberTour this year will have 5 private homes, one of them being a bungalow home in Spencer, and two businesses. One of the businesses will be the Heart of Salisbury, located on Innes Street in the former Flowers Baking Building, which is a health and wellness business in downtown. I recently spoke with owner of the Heart of Salisbury, Wivianny DeHaas, about being on the tour this year for the first time. She said, “I am honored to be in the tour this year, especially with all that has happened with COVID-19. It’s nice to have an opportunity to do something virtually and I’m glad the Historic Salisbury Foundation is doing the OctoberTour because we need the support of the community.” The Heart of Salisbury has continued to have classes virtually since March and is planning to have an art show on October 17 from 4-6 p.m. which will be free to the public. The other business is the Bell Block Building which is where the Thread Shed is located in Downtown Salisbury on Main Street. Over the years the Historic Salisbury Foundation has wanted to showcase the Bell Block Building, but because of disruption to their business on Saturdays it was not available. This year though, thanks to the tour being virtual, they will be able to participate and I cannot wait to see the upstairs in that beautiful building.
Support, Support, Support
While these tours will be free to the public, donations are always greatly appreciated. Donations “show support for the tour and for the Historic Salisbury Foundation,” stated Leah Campion, Events Coordinator for Historic Salisbury Foundation. We want to “continue engagement during this time whether you live local or three states away,” she added and said “keeping it relative is the name of the game and this will allow us to expand our audience.”
Leah said all you have to do is go to www.octobertour.com and have a look around the website. The tour starts Friday, October 9 at 6:00 p.m. and goes until Sunday, October 11 at 6:00 p.m. When you go to the site you will find a link that will allow them to notify you when the tour goes live and you can also see the pictures of the homes and businesses that will be on the tour this year. Leah said that they have plans to have a scavenger hunt so that people can still come out and walk by the properties that are on the tours and be eligible to win Downtown Salisbury prizes. Also, at each home there will be live plein air artists painting outside. Another fun thing that is happening will be a virtual silent auction where you can bid on vintage items, along with architectural and salvage items from years gone by. These items will be from the Ice House Architectural Salvage Warehouse located in Salisbury.
OctoberTour Tweed Ride
Another fun event that is happening this year with the OctoberTour is that The Pedal Factory in Salisbury, located at 311 East Council Street, is joining in the fun and is planning an “OctoberTour Tweed Ride!” They are encouraging people to bring out their vintage two-wheeled bikes and grab your best tweed jacket. This event will take place on Saturday, October 10 leaving from the Pedal Factory at 4:00 p.m. to take a beginner-friendly ride to all the historic homes on the tour. You’ll be able to stop and learn a little bit of history along the way. For more information on this event go to www.thepedalfactory.org.
Continuing the Tradition
The great thing about the OctoberTour this year is that anyone can watch from anywhere, near or far. It is definitely an opportunity to showcase our beautiful Historic Salisbury and Rowan County. Lastly, I asked Leah her thoughts about this year and she shared this with me, “being forced into a new event strategy can be a good thing. COVID-19 restrictions are encouraging us to embrace this virtual platform so we can still bring 45 years of OctoberTour tradition to the community. It also allows us to expand our reach. People don’t have to miss out on the tour just because they feel more comfortable staying at home or because they live in a different state. Pull up our website, pour your favorite beverage, and enjoy the architectural history that Salisbury has to offer!” Now that sounds like a plan to me!
If you have questions about the OctoberTour you can contact Leah Campion with Historic Salisbury Foundation at 704-636-0103 or go to their website at www.historicsalisbury.org for more information.