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World Heritage Nominated Properties

1741 Gemeinhaus – National Historic Landmark

A National Historic Landmark that is the largest Colonial period log structure in continuous use in the US. This structure was the 2nd structure built in Bethlehem and was known as the “Community House”. This building was the home of the first place of worship, the first school for girls, and the first hospital. Countess Benigna Von Zinzendorf founded the first school for girls in the 13 colonies with the first classes held in the Geimeinhaus in 1742. It is believed that the Gemeinhaus could have been “America’s First Hospital” because it is a known fact that a Women’s Infirmary and Men’s Dispensary were housed here as early as 1746. Many Moravians had been trained in medicine in Europe before coming to America. A pharmacy was also housed here giving rise to an herb garden and the apothecary across Heckewelder Street. Today the Geimeinhaus serves as the Museum for Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites to showcase the truly unique story of the Moravians.

1762 Waterworks – National Historic Landmark

This National Historic Landmark was built in 1762 by the Moravians as the first pumped municipal water system in America. It would be another 35 years before another such system would be put in service in the American colonies. The system features a water wheel and pumping mechanism with 3 pumps for water power to replace human power forcing spring water to a collecting tower near where Central Moravian Church sits today. This water tower then flowed water to 5 locations on the hillside to residences and also to provide water for the fire pumps critical to protecting the community.

1761 Tannery

This facility built in 1761 annually processed over 3000 animal hides for the production of leather products from clothing and shoes to harnesses and machinery parts. The nearby Monacy Creek was integral to this process to wash the hides for the highly skilled leather craftsmen to do their work. The hides were then soaked in lime and water in wooden vats dug into the earth for up to 3 months in order to remove the hair to then process into the leather goods needed for the community.

Central Moravian Church

This impressive structure was the 3rd place of Worship for the Moravians built from 1803 to 1806 in Federal Style Architecture. The church was built to seat 1500 people when only 580 resided in Bethlehem with the concept that Christian Native Americans would unite with the colonists in worship. Six foot foundation walls and large attic trusses allow the sanctuary to be column free with a magnificent Belfry containing the oldest continuous running town clock with 4 faces.

Old Chapel

Built as the 2nd place of worship in 1751 after the “Saal” in the Gemeinhaus became overcrowded. Many of the Revolutionary War visiting distinguished guests worshipped here with the Moravians during their stay at the Sun Inn. Most notable was the 1792 visit by the great chiefs of the Iroquois Confederacy who stayed overnight on their way to Philadelphia to meet with George Washington. They gathered in the Old Chapel with the Indians in ceremonial feathers and leggings and the brethren and sisters in their plain black and white garb. The Old Chapel remains in use today along with the Central Moravian Church next door built in 1803 for what was deemed to be increased needs of the growing community. Located to the rear of the Gemeinhaus and adjacent to the Bell House.

Bell House

Built and expanded between 1746-1749 as a residence for married couples.This stone structure and belfry are a prime example of Colonial Germanic architecture characteristic of the community. This building later became the home to Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies and currently is closed to the public as private residences.

Single Sister’s House

Built in 1744 to house the single men and women of the community in what were called choirs, it became the Single Sisters Choir upon completion of the Brethren’s House in 1748. In addition to providing dormitories, a dining room, and kitchen this building the served as a work area for handcrafts for the sisters to contribute to the general economy. This building is open for guided tours.

Widow’s House

The last building constructed for the Moravian Choirs was completed in 1768 for the widows and contained large congregational gardens in the rear. There were additions to this original limestone building in 1794 and 1889 to the rear. The building has since been converted to apartments for use by Moravian College and is closed to the public.

God’s Acre

A great place to stroll and read the flat stones in this serene wooded area as the final resting place for Moravians from 1742-1911. Moravian colonists are buried next to converted Native Americans and African born Moravians in what is referred to as the “democracy of death”. The row closest to Market Street was reserved for non-Moravians who died in Bethlehem.

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