Fifty years ago, 200 Salisbury citizens became preservation activists. They were concerned that historically significant structures were being demolished for banks and parking lots. On April 12, 1972, they joined founder Ed Clement as charter members of Historic Salisbury Foundation. Five decades later, our city is known far and wide as Historic Salisbury and our citizens embrace its preservation spirit.
In 1975, the foundation provided a glimpse inside some of the historic houses and buildings they helped preserve. Foundation volunteers selected 10 historic houses in West Square for the first OctoberTour.
This golden anniversary year, Historic Salisbury Foundation is hosting its 47th OctoberTour Saturday, Oct. 8, and Sunday, Oct. 9. Not only will locals and visitors be welcomed inside eight houses and three other historic structures, but they will also enjoy a free, expanded, family and pet-friendly Bank Street Festival.
The houses open for this year’s tour are within easy walking distance. Stroll the shady sidewalks and stop to watch the plein air artists as they capture the tour houses in pigment. The tour houses include the 1929 Franklin Smith Jr. House at 209 South Fulton St., the 1871 John Knox House at 303 West Bank St., the 1868 Murdoch-Wiley House at 203 West Bank St., the 1914 Torrence Corners House at 416 South Jackson St., the 1852-1876 Thomas Maxwell House at 300 West Horah St., and the 1820 Dr. Josephus Hall House at 226 South Jackson St. In addition, two Arts and Crafts homes on North Main Street, the 1919 L.C. Hines House at 925 and the 1912 Holshouser-Beaver House at 905 may be visited virtually, in your pajamas if you prefer, at OctoberTour.com.
OctoberTour 2022 continues downtown. Step back in time and tour the iconic Empire Hotel. Visit the first and second floors of the 1855 hotel before it is transformed into a boutique hotel, apartments and retail space. Then check on the improvements to the elegant second floor of the 1898 Bell Block Building. Finally get a close-up look at the stunning stained-glass windows of the 1925 St. John’s Lutheran Church. These sites are only a few blocks from the tour houses and can be accessed via a free trolly.
For years, October tourists have enjoyed lunch and music on Bank Street. That tradition continues, but this year the Bank Street Festival has expanded to include South Jackson Street. Children will enjoy the new Kid’s Corner, hosted by Communities in Schools and Family First. They can explore the Hall House grounds to find hidden treasure and enjoy a ride on a vintage fire truck.
Historic demonstrations on the Hall House lawn will include pottery making, ancient herbs as medicine, woodcarving, the evolution of 18th and 19th century clothing and how to save and repair old windows. Throughout the weekend to keep things lively, there will be music with 11 acoustic musicians, folk singers and young dancers performing on the Hall House stage.
If you like to roll through your tour, check out the Sunday Biketober event. Check the details at octobertour.com/biketober/.
The tour and festival begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and at noon on Sunday and end at 5:30 p.m. both days. OctoberTour admission is $30 per person. For members of Historic Salisbury Foundation, it’s $25. Tickets for children ages 6 to 10 are $10.
Tickets can be purchased online at octorertour.com, by calling Historic Salisbury Foundation at 704-636-0103, or during OctoberTour at the Ticket Tent on the corner of Bank and Jackson streets in front of the Hall House. Ticket pickup begins Oct. 3 at Historic Salisbury Station, 215 Depot St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or at the Ticket Tent during the event.
You can support historic preservation by being part of the celebration — and fun — of OctoberTour 2022.