Historic Attractions

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.

Waldensian Heritage Winery

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.

Waldensian Heritage Museum

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

What to see...What to experience...


Old Rock School
July 4, 1922: A parade cheered through town, marching bands played, school children sang, and speeches were made to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone of the Old Rock School. A little over a year later, in October of 1923, it opened as an educational facility to all children. The building remained in continuous use until 1977. In 1986 renovations began after the Town of Valdese purchased the historic building to turn it into a multi-use facility. The Old Rock School is now the home of a 500 seat auditorium, 4 classrooms, 4 private businesses, 3 non-profits, an art studio, the Town of Valdese Community Affairs & Tourism Department, and a large event space that is rented by the public year-round. Also located within the Old Rock School are The Rock School Arts Foundation Galleries I & II and Art Studio 101, the Piedmont & Western Railroad Museum, and the Old Colony Players Community Theatre. The Community Affairs Office manages the full event calendar of the Old Rock School which includes movies, concerts, craft shows, pageants, and public celebrations throughout the year. The Old Rock School averages 2 events per day. The Old Rock School Auditorium has seen many talents from Bluegrass Favorite Alison Krauss to Legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd Drummer Artimus Pyle. The memories in this building can still be felt by the grooves worn into the original staircase from the thousands of feet that have traveled them. The Old Rock School remains an iconic symbol of our community. All of the spaces in the School are available for public rental, so renters can enjoy the rich history of the Town while hosting their own special event. The Town of Valdese makes a tremendous effort to uphold the integrity and beauty of this historical site. The building was listed under the National Registry of Historical places in 1984.

Waldensian Trail of Faith - Brochure
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. 

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

Piedmont & Western Railroad Museum - Brochure
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.

The Arrival 
In honor of Valdese celebrating 125 years since their founding in 1893, the Valdese Public Arts Commission and the Town of Valdese have come together to create a commemorative art piece that will be located across from Valdese Town Hall on Massel Avenue. The art installation depicts the arrival of the original Waldensian settlers who came to Valdese on May 29th, 1893 as they departed the “No. 11” train at the Valdese Depot. The installation was created by the artists of Oak Hill Iron & Wood of Morganton and was designed by local artist Greg Mastin. The project features a full scale train and silhouettes of original settlers made out of iron. Standing between twelve and fifteen feet tall and extending parallel to Massel Avenue for over thirty feet, the installation will honor those who founded Valdese. The original settlers will be listed on a bronze plaque which will be created by the Waldensian Heritage Museum. 
The installation also features a boardwalk and gazebo.

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).

Waldensian Heritage Museum
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
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.

Day Trips Available for groups of 15 or more - Find out more here

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