459 Old York Road
Bethlehem, PA • Founded 1741
On Christmas Eve in 1741, David Nitschmann and Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, leading a small group of Moravians, founded the mission community of Bethlehem along the banks of the Monocacy Creek by the Lehigh River in the colony of Pennsylvania. They came to set up missionary communities among the Native Americans and unchurched German-speaking Christians. They named the settlement after the Biblical town Bethlehem of Judea, the birthplace of Jesus. “Count Zinzendorf said, ‘Brothers, how more fittingly could we call our new home than to name it in honor of the spot where the event we now commemorate took place. We will call this place Bethlehem.’ And so was Bethlehem named after the birthplace of the Man of Peace.'” Originally it was a typical Moravian Settlement Congregation, where the Church owned all the property. Until the 1850s, only members of the Moravian Church were permitted to lease land plots in Bethlehem. The historic Brethren’s House, Sisters’ House, Widows’ House and Gemeinhaus (Congregation House) with the Old Chapel are remnants of this period of communal living.
Fun Fact #1
The steel used to construct the Golden Gate Bridge was fabricated and manufactured by Bethlehem Steel in various plants throughout the northeast.
The raw steel used in for fabrication was created in the company’s flagship plant, right down the street from our wedding venue.
The Historic Luckenbach Mill
John Adams stopped in the newly-formed town of Bethlehem in the early winter months of 1777. He was enamored with many things that Bethlehem had to offer, and he even compared the streets and architecture to that of Philadelphia.
But one particular thing stuck in his mind the most: The Mill.
In a letter to his wife Abigail, he describes – in detail – his fascination with the Moravian’s technical abilities, and the mechanical workings of the mill:
They have carried the mechanical Arts to greater Perfection here than in any Place which I have seen. They have a sett of Pumps which go by Water, which force the Water up through leaden Pipes, from the River to the Top of the Hill, near an hundred feet, and to the Top of a little Building, in the shape of a Pyramid, or Obelisk, which stands upon the Top of the Hill and is twenty or thirty feet high. From this Fountain Water is conveyed in Pipes to every Part of the Town.
– John Adams, February 7, 1777
Fun Fact #2
The Billy Joel song “Allentown” was actually referencing the town of Bethlehem, and Bethlehem Steel. Problem was, nothing rhymed with “Bethlehem”.
♪ And we’re living here in Allentown… and they’re closing all the factories down. ♫
I love John Adams.