What’s Old is New Again

by | Jul 19, 2022 | Greenspace

Green space is not a new concept.  In fact, in 1881 the Rev. Jethro Rumple wrote A History of Rowan County, North Carolina in which he talked about a park that was referred to as “the common,” calling it a place “where the inhabitants might resort at will… and refresh themselves by breathing the pure air that comes whispering through the rustling leaves of the trees.”

Everything old is new again in this month’s blog, from the bell tower of Bell Tower Green to historic architecture and finally to lingering spirits! Join me as we spend much needed time in Your Rowan’s green spaces.

Green Space: Why Is It So Important?

According to Oxford University Press, Green Space isan area of grass, trees, or other vegetation set apart for recreational or aesthetic purposes in an otherwise urban environment.”  Most cities construct what are known as “urban heat islands,” areas with high concentrations of buildings, concrete, and pavement where heat is absorbed and trapped.  The higher heat has negative effects on health, air pollution and energy costs. Green space, on the other hand, provides a place to exercise, socialize, relieve stress, relax, enjoy nature, and have fun.


Past Meets Present:  1881–2022

Fast forward 135 years from 1881 when Rev. Rumple wrote of “the common” to 2015 when plans were made to create a new park encompassing three acres in the heart of Salisbury.  Six years later, in October of 2021, the dream became reality with the opening of Bell Tower Green.  Not only did the founding fathers of Salisbury understand the importance of “green spaces,” but our current generation does as well.

The historic bell tower, built circa 1892, was part of the First Presbyterian Church and Salisbury Female Academy and has found new life as a beautiful backdrop to weddings, prom pictures, and enjoyable family times.

Thanks to the members of Bell Tower Green, Inc., we have a green space that has something for everyone. The park has beautifully landscaped green spaces full of wonderful amenities for the young and young at heart.  Children and adults alike will enjoy the play area, seating areas, tables, areas to hang a hammock, and a huge area to run, walk, jog, or play.  There are water fountains for the four-legged guests as well as their two-legged friends. Restrooms and the great parking that surround the park help make it not only a great day out, but an easy one!

Climbing Gym at Bell Tower Gym

Photo by Tara Melton

Yoga on the Green

Another relaxing activity is Yoga on the Green hosted by Bell Tower Green board member and SoFul instructor Meredith Knowles Abramson.  “While in NYC one summer visiting family, I witnessed an outdoor yoga class at Bryant Park.  It was filled with hundreds and hundreds of yogis, and a seed was planted.  I wanted to cultivate something similar in Salisbury.”

“We did a yoga fundraiser on the asphalt before construction started (April 2019), and then as soon as the park opened, we had our first class on the Bell Tower Lawn in October 2021.  Since then, we’ve been moving between the Bell Tower Lawn and the Main Stage. It’s been a lot of fun, and I have so much pride and excitement about having such a strong connection to the park itself.  I feel like our yoga classes have been a part of the Bell Tower Green’s mission to cultivate community.”

Yoga on the Green classes are always on Sundays at 4:30, and information can be found on Instagram page @big_love_yoga.

Meredith Knowles Abramson

photo by Veronica Leasure

Yoga on the Green

photo by Veronica Leasure

Magical Nights

While Bell Tower Green is a wonderful place to spend time during the day, it is the evening that is the most magical time to me, thanks to the Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department.  For those of us who love to enjoy our beautiful Carolina nights, don’t miss Salisbury’s Reels and Riffs movie and music series.

Grab your blankets, lawn chairs, your picnic baskets, and join your neighbors for free evenings of entertainment.  If you enjoy movies, then be there at 9:00 pm on Fridays for family fun.  If your thing is great music, then 7:00 pm on Saturday evenings is the time for you to be at Bell Tower Green, and make sure you have your dancing shoes on!

My favorite part of Bell Tower Green is viewing the color-changing water wall at night, where the water dances and the sounds chase away the stress of everyday life. There is nothing more relaxing on a warm summer night than an evening stroll, stargazing, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the Water Wall.

Water Wall at Bell Tower Green

photo by Colleen Smiley

History on Tap

Where else can you enjoy a sampling of craft beer produced locally by award-winning New Sarum Brewing while getting the chance to learn, explore, and meet your neighbors?  Here in Salisbury, our history is intriguing, and the architecture is beautiful. Let the Historic Salisbury Foundation take you on a journey through time at the latest H.O.T. (History on Tap) session. The Thursday, July 28th session at Alley and Main in the Old Textile Products Building features country music singer Jessica Yates.  The Thursday, August 25th session at the Bell Block building, a well-known local landmark on downtown Main Street, features the music of C.J. Peters. Events are from 6:00–8:00 pm.  These two events include group tours starting at 6:00 pm, with the last tour group beginning at 7:30 pm.

A shout out to New Sarum Brewing Co. & Greg Rapp, Salisbury Real Estate, for being the 2022 Sponsors of H.O.T.  Attendance is limited and H.O.T. events are often sold out. Please register here to reserve your spot.  For more details on other HSF events, follow Historic Salisbury Foundation on Facebook, visit its website or call 704-636-0103.

The H.O.T events are free, but a $10.00 donation is encouraged unless you’re a member of the Historic Salisbury Foundation.  Not a member?  Click here to join, new members are always welcome!

Bands on Bank Street

Start August off with some sweet sounds.  Join Emanuel Wynter, Captain Lunchbox, and Courtney Puckett at Bands on Bank Street on Saturday, August 7 from 6:00–8:30 pm.  This is a BYOWHATEVER event, so pack your picnic baskets, bring your chairs, a blanket, beer, wine, tent, etc., and enjoy hearing an NC native.

Emanuel Wynter is a violinist/singer/songwriter in the North Carolina music scene.  His sweet yet soulful sound is “a blend of the contemporary sounds of neo-soul, funk, and R&B with the sounds of a traditional instrument, the violin.”  Along with Captain Lunchbox and Courtney Puckett, this is going to be an evening of great music!

The Hall House, one of Salisbury’s most popular historic homes, will be open for tours. While this is a free event, a donation of $10.00 is encouraged.

The historic Hall House

photo courtesy Historic Salisbury Foundation

Ghost Walk

Ever wonder about the people who lived in Salisbury before us? Join the Ghost Walk tour and enjoy listening to tales of the notorious people and infamous murderers that walked our streets.  Some might say that several of them have never left. As you travel through time with John Tacher as your knowledgeable guide, you will learn interesting facts and accounts from the Great Wagon Roads, the American Revolution, and the Civil War, as well as some very recent paranormal investigations.

Ghost Walk is based off historically accurate data collected from The Carolina Watchman, The Post, and the Sanborn Map. According to Tacher, “this, at its core, is the history of historic Salisbury, beginning in the 1700s. Once the facts were established, several paranormal organizations came in to authenticate the spirited tales.” The walk-through of historic Salisbury will thrill and chill you!

Ghost Walk became so popular that it led Karen C. Lilly-Bowyer to set the tales to paper, resulting in the book entitled “The Wettest & Wickedest Town: An Illustrated Guide to The Legends & Ghosts of Salisbury, NC.”  Put on your walking shoes, grab your flashlight and a friend, and don’t forget the camera for this six-block adventure around historic downtown. Join in the fun and learn how Salisbury earned its reputation for being the “wettest & wickedest town.” As the tales are told, you might find that spirits from yesteryear continue to show themselves. Tours are available by reservation.

If you are interested in joining the Ghost Walk, please know the tours align with the weather.  Walks are only canceled when lightning is detected. Rain delays might be enacted when lightning is not present.  To make reservations please call 704-798-3102 or visit salisburyghostwalk.com.  If you are interested in reading the book once you’ve taken the tour, it is available to read on the 3rd floor of the Salisbury branch of the Public Library.

John Tacher leads a Ghost Walk

photo courtesy John Tacher

Recipe of the Month

With the theme of “What’s Old is New Again,” I’d like to share one of my favorite recipes.  It’s a new twist on a classic pasta salad… perhaps the perfect dish to take on a picnic to Bell Tower Green!

Kids Corner

I loved collecting fireflies with my children, and now I enjoy this activity with my grandchildren. This little DIY project will remind you of days long ago, or maybe encourage you to find your inner child. Using foraged plants and mosses, you can create an adventure lantern that will light up your nights. It’s the perfect accessory for an evening in the park or to take on a Ghost Walk.

About The Author

Colleen Smiley

I am a proud graduate of Catawba College, and I also have my state Environmental Educators certification. I love spending time outdoors with my family and friends. I enjoy kayaking, hiking, boating, cooking, and entertaining. If there is a live theatre production going on, I am there. I think you can find beauty anywhere you look here in Rowan County. Life is an adventure, and I can’t wait to share my love of everything green, sustainable, or environmental with all of you. Everywhere we look there really are some amazing places to see and discover in Rowan County. I’m excited about the chance to meet so many people and discover the sites of our beautiful county with all of you. It’s Your Rowan!