Time Capsule Exhibition Featuring the BHDA Oral History Project
Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites
From March 29 to August 26, take a journey with us through the rich history of our very own Bethlehem. The First House of Bethlehem, Anna Nitschmann, the Eagle Hotel, Bethlehem Steel, Calypso Island… these places, businesses and people no longer exist in the Lehigh Valley, but their presence and impact is repeatedly felt thanks to the dedication of historians, community members and organizations to preserve the past for future generations.
Time Capsule Bethlehem: Our City Then & Now showcases surviving artifacts—a large portion being donated by the local community—that tell the stories of the region’s history. Yet not all history is tangible! We welcome the community to make this exhibition their own by telling and showing your own family stories from our city to add to the collection. For more information, click here.
With Our Appreciation
The BHDA Welcome Committee would like to express its sincere gratitude to the following merchants and service providers for participating in the new Welcome Program:
-Historic Hotel Bethlehem
-Just Born, Inc.
-Moravian Book Shop
-Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom
-Steel Fitness Riverport
-The Chocolate Lab
-The Granola Factory
*Photo courtesy of Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites
The Single Sister’s House of Historic Bethlehem
by LoriAnn Wukitsch
The next time you walk down Church Street just before Main, take time to look at your surroundings. You will see historic clapboard and stone buildings – all in the same Colonial Germanic style of architecture constructed by the Moravians between 1741 and 1772. These are the finest examples of this architectural style in all of America and curiously among the largest structures in Pennsylvania at that time found outside of Philadelphia.
In the 1700s, the Moravians lived according to a “Choir System” in groups corresponding to their age, gender and marital status and lived in communal housing known as Choir Houses. The Single Sisters’ House and Widows’ House are right across the street from each other. You can see the Single Brethren’s Choir House just down Church Street. For a time, the Bell House was for the Married People’s Choir. From its earliest days, Bethlehem was a very ethnically diverse community but only Moravians lived here until 1845. More
Photo courtesy of Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites
From the Archives of the Bethlehem Daily Times
“Seats of Pantaloons Painted – For some time past, Marcus C. Fetter and family, residing at the corner of Main and Canal streets, have been considerably annoyed by rowdies who loaf nightly in that vicinity. The loafers generally squat on the fence which surrounds the property. Last evening the top of the fence received a fresh coat of paint, and the loafers who sat thereon will no doubt recall the sitting for months to come.” – September 23, 1885. More from the archives.
Oral History Project: What We’re Learning from Our Neighbors
Did you know that…
During WWII, when Bethlehem Steel was booming night and day, our neighborhood was showered with so much soot that people had to sweep off their houses, cars, and porches every day. –
At one time, there was a reflecting pool on the south side of the library that was filled in because kids kept putting soap in it to make mountains of bubbles. (more)
Important Information about Street Trees
Before you remove, plant, prune, or use pesticides on any trees along our city streets, please visit the Bethlehem’s Bureau of Urban Forestry website for important information including: a list of licensed city arborists, tree planting guidelines, and the list of trees approved for street use.
Permits, available for download, are required for nearly all tree work.
Available Now: Historic Plaques
Enhance the historical ambiance of our neighborhood with a date plaque for your home or business in Bethlehem’s Historic District. The cost for a plaque is $25 for BHDA Members and $45 for non-members. This cost covers the production of your plaque and does not include research or installation.
To apply for a plaque, click here for more information and to download printable versions of application materials including the Guide to Researching Your Home.
Why Everyone Should Be a Member of the BHDA
by Terry Theman
When it comes to community involvement I suppose it is our human nature to ‘watch from the sidelines’ while our friends and neighbors carry out various civic duties. I certainly find it easier and less stressful. While we appreciate the work done on our behalf, it is rare that we feel the need to pitch in and offer help. Strange how this works, this all-too-human nature of ours. (more)
The Bethlehem Historic District Association promotes the historical ambiance and high quality-of-life in our special neighborhood by supporting the preservation and restoration of original architectural features and landscapes.