A new urban park is coming to the Triad. The Peter Oliver Pavilion Gallery will be situated in the heart of Winston-Salem.
Oliver was an enslaved man with a remarkable story. Leased by the Single Brothers in Salem in 1785, and purchased by the Moravian Church the following year, he went on to be baptized, become a Moravian Single Brother himself, a skilled potter, and eventually was able to purchase his freedom.
Oliver married, leased a small parcel of land just north of Salem Square, and had a home built. In 2017 researchers from Old Salem Museums & Gardens’ Hidden Town Project discovered the Oliver farm in the same location where the park will be established.
The unveiling was held in the Single Brothers House — a dormitory of sorts where single men lived, worked, and worshiped until they were married — and where Oliver himself roomed two centuries ago. Several descendants were in attendance, including Robin Paul, mother of NBA great and Winston-Salem native, Chris Paul.
“It was amazing when I got the call,” says Paul. “And I mean, Peter Oliver, we knew — you know we had heard the name throughout our family — but then, for them to say they had found this land, I was like, ‘Seriously?’ You know, it was just unbelievable, and to see how this stuff is coming full circle, it’s just amazing.”
The park will be designed by renowned landscape architect Walter Hood. A silent capital campaign led by Creative Corridors Coalition is already underway to solicit contributors. Their goal is to raise between $6 and $10 million dollars for the project.