Preston Place is Salem’s oldest existing home, with two centuries of stories to tell. On Thursday, October 14, Alex Burke, the Museum’s assistant director, will relate the history of the home and the families who have lived there, as well as the Salem Historical Society’s restoration efforts. The talk will be presented at 7 pm on Zoom. The Zoom link will be posted to the Museum’s website, SalemMuseum.org, on the morning of the presentation.
John Johnston built his family a home on the Great Road west of the tiny hamlet that was Salem in 1821. Many of the materials he used in the construction of his house came from a cabin on the property which dated back to the 1700s. The Johnston family eventually sold the house in 1879 to Charles Isaac Preston for $600. Preston was a man of many trades, both a farmer and the town Sheriff. The property now known as the Preston Place passed down through generations of Prestons to Dr. Esther Clark Brown, Salem’s first female doctor. Her family donated the home and grounds to the Salem Museum & Historical Society in 2014 after her death. The Museum has conducted extensive renovations to the property, bringing new life back to Salem’s oldest home. The Preston Place is located at 1936 West Main Street in Salem.
Alex Burke has been the Salem Museum’s Assistant Director for the past five years. A Salem native, he graduated from Glenvar High School and Roanoke College. At Roanoke, he studied history with a major focus on the American Civil War and 18th Century America. Burke is the Museum’s chief historian, exhibit designer, and in-demand speaker.
- Submitted by Frances Ferguson, Salem Museum & Historical Society Executive Director