Did George Washington visit Washington Park?

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Does anyone know if George Washington visited Washington Park?


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March 22, 2018 4:37 pm

Hi, Pam –
According to Martha Hartley, Director of Research & Outreach at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, George Washington visited Salem for two nights in May/June 1791 on the return leg of his Southern Tour, spending two nights in the Salem Tavern. He traveled from Salisbury to Salem, and that would’ve been on the Salisbury Road. The old route entered the Salem Town Lot in the southwest and ran diagonally through what is now Washington Park to the Salisbury Road juncture with Main Street. That would indicate that he passed through the landscape now known as Washington Park.

Living Places website states that the naming is more ambiguous, “It is generally accepted that Washington Park was named in honor of George Washington, who passed through the area on his way to Salem on May 31, 1791. His route from the south brought him on Old Lexington Road, today’s Rawson Street.[9] However, it is not known when the park received that name. Most believe the park itself has always been called Washington Park, but Ludlow’s plan shows the name “Sunny Side Park” in the ravine. Fries notes in her history of the county that the name Sunnyside was derived from a plantation owned by E.A. Vogler.[10] In 1928 the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) presented the stone gateway at the foot of Gloria Avenue with the name Washington Park in an iron arch above. The ceremony extolled the virtues of George Washington; however, newspaper accounts do not give any indication whether this was a new or continuing name for the park.”

Fam Brownlee, historian and of the North Carolina room of the Forsyth County Central Library for many years, noted that President Washington stayed at Salem Tavern (now a restaurant) located in what is now Old Salem. The area now known as Washington Park was then undeveloped land which later became the Southside neighborhood. The park was renamed for Washington in 1900, although according to him, the park was named such for political reasons and had nothing to do with George Washington himself.

For more information about George Washington’s visit to Salem, visit



For more information about Washington Park, visit


May 18, 2017 9:37 am

I have heard that the flat meadow in Washington Park was where the President’s army attachment camped in 1791 while he stayed in Salem Tavern. Hence the naming. It would take some research to prove it, since the meadow was not named at the time and the neighborhood was built 100 years later.