Historic Attractions

Where to visit:

Waldensian Trail of Faith


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The Waldensians were a devout religious group whose origin many believe was a result of the apostles traveling through valleys on their way to Spain, Romans 15:24. When the Moravians started their movement, they insisted that a Waldensian pastor ordain their first pastor because they believed the Waldensian roots went back to the apostles. It has taken more than 10 years and many trips to the Waldensian Valleys in Northern Italy to meticulously duplicate to exact size and feature the original buildings and monuments that tell the powerful Waldensian story. The Trail of Faith is a collection of 15 scaled buildings and monuments are dedicated to preserving the courageous history of the Waldensian people. Almost from the time the apostles came through the valleys of the Italian Alps to their founding of Valdese in 1893, they suffered persecution and martyrdom for their faith. Napoleon called one battle they fought for religious freedom the "greatest military victory in the annals of military history." At the Trail of Faith, see Barbi College where young men were trained and sent out as missionaries in an age when this was punishable by death. Explore a cave where the Waldensians worshipped while in hiding. Step inside the world's oldest Protestant Church, the children's school and original 1893 homesteads. The Trail of Faith includes the site of the first full Bible translation into French in 1535. Eventually becoming known as the Geneva Bible, the Bible is used to swear in the presidents of the United States. During the Christmas season the Trail of Faith comes alive each evening with many scenes and thousands of Christmas lights. 

Waldensian Heritage Museum & Gift Shop


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Hours: Tuesday - Friday Tours at 11am and 2pm or by appointment

In the early 1970s, Valdese’s growing collection of Waldensian historic exhibits, coupled with increasing numbers of annual visitors, created the need to expand this interesting site which preserves our heritage and history. Like their Italian ancestors, the descendants wasted little time and built a beautiful structure on the corner of Rodoret Street and St. Germain Avenue. The resulting Waldensian Museum reflects Waldensian architecture. Displays, including photographs, clothing, crafts, home furnishings, church furnishings, farm implements, carpentry tools, wine making tools, toys, and other household items fill the interior of the museum. Books and other gifts reflecting Waldensian history are available for sale. The Waldensian Museum is owned solely by the Waldensian Presbyterian Church and is maintained and staffed by full-time Executive Director and volunteers. Hundreds of special tour groups and thousands of visitors from 36 states and 23 foreign nations have toured the museum.

Waldensian Heritage Winery


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4950 Villar Lane, NE Valdese, North Carolina 28690

Open Thursday through Sunday 1 - 6pm
Waldensian heritage flows with wine (certainly not the worst historic trait to have). Centuries ago, in the Cottian Alps, west of Torino, Italy and in the Western Piedmont of Italy, the Waldensians learned the craft of creating great wines. One reason that Historic Valdese was favored by Waldensian settlers is the terrain, climate and soil composition here was similar to their homes in Italy. And today, these wine-making skills are preserved by Waldensian Heritage Wines, located a couple of miles north of downtown Valdese. Visitors can witness processes that reflect a combined 250 years experience in wine making. Built of local field rock and timbers, the Waldensian Heritage Winery opened in 1930. The grape-wine process is mostly manual – a year-round cycle that includes crushing the grapes, fermenting, filtering, blending, bottling, and labeling. No wine is bottled from bulk storage until there is a need or sold until it has at least one year of aging because, to quote an old adage, "Life is too short to drink bad wine." Manual operation of producing quality wines by using old world technologies, coupled with some modern equipment and innovations, creates wines that have a "true taste of the grape." Specialty wines available at the Waldensian Heritage Winery include Concord, Niagara, Seyval, Vudal, Cayguga, Delware and Catawba. Three of the winery's bottles are original and five wines are blends from dry to sweet. The Winery has a presentation vineyard and an outside covered "boccia" (lawn bowling) court with an adjacent covered seating area. There are no salaried or paid workers at the Winery. All production, distribution, marketing and tours are with volunteers. Of course there are some side benefits to working in a small winery. Besides the free wine-tasting held after production runs, there is the camaraderie and fellowship found only through a cooperative effort such as this. Visitors are welcome to join a conducted tour along with tasting various wines and an opportunity for purchasing. The Waldensian Heritage Winery is available for parties, meetings, reunions, wedding events or any scheduled gathering of friends.

Valdese Heritage Arts Center


146 W. Main St. Valdese, NC
A co-operative of local artists presenting original arts and crafts in an historic Waldensian setting. Offering local and regional arts and crafts, Valdese Heritage Arts Center has pottery, baskets, wood carving, jewelry, stained glass, quilts, paintings and more.
10am-5pm Tuesday - Friday
9am- 3pm Saturday
(Center will remain open until 9pm on Fridays from May through September)

Rock School Art Galleries I&II, Studio 101


The Rock School Arts Foundation mission is to offer new and enriching exhibition, program, and art education for adults and children; serve as a cultural destination for tourists and visitors; and act as a resource for our local art communities. 
Galleries I & II, Studio 101 - 400 Main Street West | Mon-Fri 9-5pm, Weekends by Appointment
Exhibit Guide 2017  

Piedmont & Western Railroad Museum


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Founded in July of 1988, the Piedmont & Western Model Railroad Club has combined the talents and passions of local railroad enthusiasts to create a fictitious rail line serving Western North Carolina. The HO scale railroad runs from Marion, NC to Leadvale, TN, carrying loads across the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. The layout fills a small room in the Old Rock School and sits on platforms that stand roughly chest high. It covers approximately 800 square feet. The mainline is mostly single track and is approximately 250 feet long. Total trackage covers over 1,000 feet. The club plans to eventually have several dozen locomotives and several hundred freight and passenger cars. Currently, they are installing a new signaling system and upgrading the control system and dispatcher’s station. Anyone interested in joining the club is welcome and no prior model railroad experience is necessary. The club meets on Thursday nights with business meetings the first Thursday and operating sessions on the fourth Thursday. There are modest membership dues. The club has open house during the Valdese Christmas parade (first Saturday in December and during the Waldensian Festival (second Saturday in August). Visit the Museum Monday through Friday from 9-5pm  (To see the trains in action call in advance to attend a Thursday night meeting with the club members). 

Old Colony Players, Local Community Theatre


Old Colony Players is a community theater company based at the Old Rock School in Valdese, NC. Live theater productions are performed year-round in the Old Rock School Auditorium. In addition to productions in the Old Rock School, Old Colony Players is also the producer of the Historic Outdoor Drama "From This Day Forward" written by Fred Cranford. 

Village Park Mural


The Valdese Village Park Mural is a stunning outdoor painting and small picnic park on Main Street in Valdese. Spanning the depth of the building and visually integrated adjoining landscaping, this beautiful and unique monument to the history of Valdese includes depictions of the town’s attractions and 51 "hidden" objects awaiting discovery by children of all ages.

Waldensian Presbyterian Church


The history of the Waldensian Presbyterian Church is so intertwined with the history of the town of Valdese that it is impossible to study one without embracing the other. In education and industry, as well as in the religious life of the community, the Church has been and continues to be the center of Waldensian life in Valdese. The "Celebration of the Edict of Emancipation" is an annual event at the Waldensian Presbyterian Church in Valdese. Commemorating the granting of political and civil liberties to the Waldenses, this tradition began on the night of February 17, 1848 as the villages throughout the valleys of Italy lit fires to celebrate the rights they had finally been given. Today's celebration concludes with a bonfire. Each Christmas, the Presbyterian Church stages an outdoor, living drama reenacting the story of Jesus' birth. For the 2017 Christmas Season the Live Nativity will be performed in December (dates & times to be announced).

 

Upcoming Big Event

Valdese Christmas Parade

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