800 years of Waldensian History
Archives & Genealogy
Experience Our Heritage

Our Story

The  museum reflects Waldensian architecture and houses the largest collection of Waldensian artifacts in the United States. You will immerse yourself in a rich history of the struggles of people whose faith was as solid and constant as the ancient alps surrounding their homeland in the European valleys. Learn of their sacrifices, courage and their role in the foundation and formation of today's Reformed Theology. Explore the legacy of the Waldensian people as you retrace their journey through Europe in the Middle Ages to their settlement here in the new world. See where they worshiped, how they lived, made wine, baked bread, and kept their heritage alive. Research their ancestry in our library and archives and discover the price they paid for liberty - theirs and yours.

Our Heritage

During a period of Roman Catholic dominance, Waldenses vowed to live out the teachings of the Bible in a time when only priests were allowed to read and preach the Bible. Going against the church's doctrines, they were declared heretics.

Though many were massacred, miraculously some survived centuries of the Inquisition. Those remaining joined the Reformation in 1532 and suffered more persecution as Christians were killed or imprisoned. Eventually, they were exiled into the Swiss Alps. In 1689, a contingent of men began the journey back to their valleys in the "Glorious Return." The Edict of Emancipation (Feb. 17, 1848) gave the Waldenses political and legal rights. The many beautiful displays in the museum tell the story of how they survived almost insurmountable odds to establish a thriving community in Burke County built upon hope and dreams based on the faith of their fathers.

Upcoming Events
Also Check Out
232848279_381942843452834_7795303060832700437_n (1).jpg

Rock School Arts Galleries

The Rock School Arts Foundation’s mission is to offer new and exciting exhibitions, programs, and art education for adults and children; to serve as a cultural destination for tourists and visitors; and a resource for the art communities.
Smaller for web mill.jpg

Meytre Grist Mill

McGalliard Falls Park has been a favorite gathering place for Valdese citizens and visitors alike for over a century. T…
WaldensianChurch FLOWERS & SIGN.jpg

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.