Architectural Monographs: Moravian Architecture of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

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A religious sect of Germans known as the Moravians purchased five thousand acres of land in the ‘Forks of Delaware,’ founding their first settlement in Pennsylvania in 1740. Deeply spiritual and devoted to their own community, the Moravians established their own particular variety of colonial architecture as they spread throughout the state, building stunning log cabins and stone cottages.

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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was named by Count Zinzendorf, the leading bishop of the Moravian church, in honor of the Christmastime completion of the town’s first log cabin. While quite a few of these buildings still survive today, three in particular are noted in Volume XIII, Issue IV of the historic White Pine Monographs: ‘Brother’s House’, ‘Sister’s Home’ and the seminary.

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These buildings are singled out for being the most exotic, showing “a well-defined architecture of German derivation,” the authors explain. “We are reminded, by the heavy stone and timber construction, the steep roofs with two rows of sloping dormers, and the flanking buttresses, of the medieval buildings of the old world.”

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Read more about the Moravian architectural legacy in this area of Pennsylvania and see detailed images taken in the 1930s at the White Pine Monograph Library.