SOUTH BETHLEHEM, PA

Northampton County




SOUTH  BETHLEHEM  MORAVIAN  CHURCH

This article first appeared in the Souvenir History Book of The Borough of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania issued in connection with the semi-centennial celebration Oct. 3-9, 1915.


     The history of the First Moravian Church, on the corner of Packer Avenue and Elm Street, dates back to the years immediately preceding the Civil War. The congregation had its origin in the successful Sunday School work which the late Miss Amanda Jones, of the Bethlehem Moravian Church, began on the south side of the Lehigh, May 1, 1859. In June of the same year, the Rev. Lewis P. Kampmann, President of the Moravian Theological Seminary, conducted the first church service in the District School House. With the exception of the services begun in 1850 at Oppelt's Water Cure on the site of St. Luke's Hospital for the benefit of the patients and summer guests, this was the first Moravian work on the south side.

     Two years after Miss Jones had commenced her efficient labors, the Sunday School and the services were transferred to a vacant grain depot near the railroad, the school-house being too small to accommodate the rapidly-growing Sunday School any longer. At this time the population of the town was about 950. Before long the south-side Moravians became anxious to have a congregation and a church of their own. this desire was fulfilled, December 25, 1862, when the congregation was formally organized in the old grain-house. Some time later the corner-stone of the first church was laid on the lot donated by the Honorable Asa Packer and located "between Schreiner and Birch Streets back of Hauck's at the edge of the woods". This building, now known as "Christmas Hall", while still in an unfinished state was sold to the trustees of the newly-founded Lehigh University, April, 1866.

     The congregation then chose the present site for the erection of another edifice, and on March 29, 1868, the consecration of the new church took place. For over forty years the members worshipped in this building, when it was replaced by the beautiful, modern, thirty-thousand dollar brown-stone brick church, formally opened to the worship of God and the service of man, May 28, 1911. The equipment of the present church includes a splendid gymnasium, a large dining-room and a well-appointed kitchen. Adjoining the church is a large, modern parsonage and the sexton's house, both owned by the congregation.

     The first regularly-appointed pastor of the congregation was the Rev. Henry J. VanVleck, who was afterward consecrated a bishop of the Church. He took charge of this work in 1866 and served the congregation for eight years. Since his time the congregation has been served by the following pastors: William F Oerter: Bishop Edmund A. Oerter; Julius Wuensche; William Hock; Charles B shultz, D.D.; Al dobler: Wilson A. Cope; Lewis P. clewell, who died in office after serving ten years; Bishop Edmund a. Oerter; Frederick Wantzell; William Strohmeier; William Henry Rice, D.D., who death ended his service after two years; and Harry E. Stocker, Ph. D., the present incumbent. The total membership of the congregation is between 350-400.







BISHOPTHORPE  MANOR

This article first appeared in the Souvenir History Book of The Borough of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania issued in connection with the semi-centennial celebration Oct. 3-9, 1915.

     Bishopthorpe Manor is the only seminary for girls and young ladies in the State of Pennsylvania conducted under the auspices of the Episcopal Church. This select high-grade school, situated on Fountain Hill, has had, as Bishop Talbot so aptly states, an honorable career extending over a period of nearly fifty years. Its alumnae are now numbered by the hundreds, including many of prominence in different sections of the country.

     In 1850, the present property and adjoining lands belonged to Auguste Fiot, a Frenchman, of Philadelphia, who improved them for a country seat, and had them laid out with great beauty. In that year he built the Manor House of stone, a stately and massive mansion, and named the estate Fontainebleau after the historic park and place near Paris. With its extensive grounds, fine walks and terraces, grand old trees, beautiful flowers and fountains, it is said to have been the most attractive place in the picturesque Lehigh Valley. The borough that grew up around it on the mountain side was called Fountain Hill, the name being, it is claimed, a free translation of the original.

     After Mr. Fiot's death, which occurred in 1866, the property was sold to Mr. Tinsley Jeter, an ardent Southerner and a devoted churchman of broad culture, who proposed to use it as a church school for girls, and it was purchased for this purpose in 1867. At the suggestion of the Rt. Rev. William Bacon Stevens, DD., Bishop of Pennsylvania, as the Diocese of Bethlehem had not at that time been separated from that of Pennsylvania, it was re-named "Bishopthorpe", the term signifying a Bishop's demesne, after the country seat of the Archbishop of York, England, where he had recently been a visitor.

     But few alterations were necessary or were made in the mansion which still remains the main building. What is now known as the Middle House in which are the dining-room and the large study hall was then built and the school opened in 1868 under the control of a board of Trustees of which the bishop was president. When the Diocese of Bethlehem was organized in 1871 it became the owner of the property. The school's capacity at that time was twenty-five resident students. It has also considerable day patronage. The school from the beginning had maintained a high standard of character and scholarship, and had been very successful in its work. In 1885-1886, in order to meet the demands for increased capacity, it was greatly improved by the addition of the New House which contains the gymnasium, music rooms, studio, several bedrooms, the kitchen, pantries, etc.

     The institution sustained a serious loss during the session 1893-1894 in the death of Miss Walsh, the Principal for twenty-five years. Its success up to that time had been due largely to her strong personality. After her death the position was held by successive principals, some of them very capable, with varying success until 1902, when the school was closed temporarily for financial reasons. The property was sold in 1908 to Mr. Clause N. Wyant, its present owner, and an associate.

      Mr. Wyant who has had much experience in high-grade schools in Virginia and Ohio decided that Bishopthorpe Manor, conducted according to approved modern methods, should continue to be a school of exceptional advantages for a discriminating patronage.




NATIVITY PARISH

This article first appeared in the Souvenir History Book of The Borough of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania issued in connection with the semi-centennial celebration Oct. 3-9, 1915.


     As early as 1854 occasional services were held by visiting Episcopalian clergymen in hotel parlors, and in the year following, Mr. William H. Sayre, Jr., of St. Mark's Parish, Mauch Chunk, arranged for more frequent and regular services. In 1860-1864 Mr. Tinsley Jeter held lay-services on Sunday afternoons in his home, and in 1862 these alternated at Mr. R. H. Sayre's residence. From May 11, 1862 until Christmas, 1864, a Church School met on Sundays in the passenger station of the North Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1865 the first church building of the Parish of the Nativity was consecrated by Bishop Stephens, Bishop Nail, of Kansas, and eight priests, and two years later the present Rectory was finished.

     In 1873, St. Mary's Sunday School was opened with 40 pupils, and in the year following, St. Mary's Chapel was built, and was consecrated by Bishop Howe in 1875.

     In 1884, St. Joseph's Chapel was built, and on October 18th of that year Bishop Whitehead of Pittsburgh acting for Bishop Howe, consecrated this Chapel.

     In 1887, services were held in the new Church of the Nativity which had been adorned by many memorials--litany desk, lecturn, organ, etc. In 1888, the new Church being free from debt was consecrated by Bishop Rulison, assisted by Bishop Coleman of Delaware, and Bishop Whitehead of Pittsburgh. In 1890 the Vestry granted the Church of the Nativity to the Bishop of the Diocese as a Pro-Cathedral, and such it has been ever since.

     In 1895 the present Parish House was built.

      The first rector of the parish was the Rev. E. N. Potter. Then followed the Rev. Robert J. Nevin; the Rev. John I. Forbes; the Rev. Cortlandt Whitehead, now Bishop of Pittsburgh; the Rev. C. Kinloch Nelson, Jr., now Bishop of Atlanta; the Rev. Gilbert H Sterling.

     The present Rector who is also Dean of the Pro-Cathedral, the very Rev. Frederick W. Beekman, was called from St. Peter's Church, Uniontown, Pa., after the death of Dr. Sterling, entered upon his duties in this Parish on May 15, 1913; and the present assistant, or Canon, The Rev. Brayton Byron, came here from Christ Church, Rochester, N. Y., in December, 1913.




ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL

This article first appeared in the Souvenir History Book of The Borough of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania issued in connection with the semi-centennial celebration Oct. 3-9, 1915.


     A charter was granted for the establishment of St. Luke's Hospital by the Legislature, March 29th, 1872, amended by the Court of Northampton County, 1873, and then again by the Court of Lehigh County, 1880. On November 1st, 1881, the first buildings of the present pavilion establishment were completed and opened for the treatment of patients. At first there were three pavilions, viz.: one Men's Pavilion, an Operation Pavilion, and a Kitchen and Laundry Pavilion.

     In 1885 The Women's Pavilion and the Boiler House were completed. The Administration building was completed in 1888. The Children's Pavilion was completed in 1890. An Isolation Pavilion was erected for the treatment of contagious diseases which might develop in the Institution, in 1893. This gave a total capacity of sixty-two (62) beds. The Women's Pavilion was erected in Memory of Anna P. Lockhart by her husband, Mr. Robert Lockhart. The Children's Pavilion was erected in Memory of Merritt Abbott Wilbur by his parents Mr. And Mrs. Elisha P. Wilbur.

     The cost of the other buildings was defrayed by the income of the Asa Packer bequest, together with the aid of Railroads, Mining companies, and other industrial establishments and their employees, and by many other friends of the institution. The Operation Pavilion was erected in Memory of Rebecca Thomas by her husband Mr. Samuel Thomas in 1902.  The Robert Sayre Pavilion was erected by R. H. Sayre in 1902 in Memory of all who have contributed by their means or labor to the good of the hospital.  The Pathological Laboratory, also presented by Mr. Sayre, was erected in 1907.  Lastly, the Coxe Pavilion was erected by Eckley B. Coxe, Jr., of Philadelphia. It is intended especially for the reception and care of lying in cases. It was opened July 1st, 1914.

     At the opening of the first Men's Pavilion, the present management was established and has continued ever since. St. Luke's Hospital was the pioneer in establishing the modern system of hospital management, namely, the placing of the whole care and responsitility of the management and treatment of patients under one head and direction. This system has been taken up and followed by all the best hospitals in the country.  The Training School for Nurses, the fourth Training School for Nurses in the United States, was organized very soon after the beginning of the present administration, namely, December, 1884.  At present the hospital has an ordinary capacity of one hundred and five (105) beds, and a total capacity of one hundred and twenty (120) beds, and is now treating about two thousand (2,000) patients, a year.Undenominational, it extends its benevolence to all classes without distinction of creed and color, in the community.





CHILDREN'S HOME

This article first appeared in the Souvenir History Book of The Borough of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania issued in connection with the semi-centennial celebration Oct. 3-9, 1915.


    The smallpox epidemic, in the Spring of 1882, left so many orphans and half-orphans in this community that Mr. William H. Thurston, then President of the Bethlehem Iron Company, felt the necessity of a place of refuge for these unfortunate children. This was the beginning of the children's Home of South Bethlehem. A little house was rented on Cherokee Street and a matron, Miss Lizzie Frick, put in charge. For about four years Mr. Thurston bore the whole expense of maintenance, but as the number of children increased, he deemed it necessary to place it on a more permanent basis, and it was duly incorporated in 1886.

     The number of children increased until the first house was too small, and Mr. Thurston donated a lot for a new building, also on Cherokee Street, upon which a house was built by a fund secured by Mrs. George Jenkins and the ladies of the Board of directors, the total amount of which was $3,749.53. The new house on Cherokee Street was completed in June, 1888, and the children with their efficient matron, Miss Frick, installed.

     In 1895, when the still increasing number of children had again rendered the Cherokee Street quarters inadequate, the Board of Directors decided to purchase a country site where the children would have more space. The carrying out of their resolutions at this time was made possible by the generous donation of Capt. James Wiley, of a sum of money towards the erection of a suitable building, this gift being made in memory of his wife, Annie Lewis Wiley. The directors, having secured an option on a tract of six acres of land, in Salisbury Township, Lehigh County, began immediately to solicit funds for its purchase. Through their activities, special donations (amounting to $4,253.00) were received.

     The property having been purchased, the building, which is the Children's Home of to-day, was immediately started. The structure erected from designs prepared by Mr. A. W. Leh, the well-known architect of South Bethlehem, (J. S. Allam, Contractor and Builder) is a substantial three-story building of brick, standing well back from the street. It has in many respects, admirably answered its purpose. From time to time fruit and shade trees have been planted, and cows and poultry are kept for use of the Home. By means of the constant activity of the Board of Directors of these years in soliciting sufficient funds for the proper equipment of the new building, the Home was able to move into its new quarters, and entered upon a fresh field of usefulness. This fact is proved by the current reports which show at this time an increasing number of children under the care of the Home.

     As the public schools of Salisbury Township could not accommodate the children, a private teacher (Miss Agnes Moore) was engaged in 1897, and the children instructed by her according to the public school curriculum. This custom has ever since that date been maintained. The Board has been fortunate in its matrons. After a most efficient service of several years, Miss Frick was compelled to resign, and Mrs. Dry took her place serving until her death. Mrs. Kintner then took up the work, and for six years did most admirable service proving a most motherly person to the children. She was succeded by Mrs. Herman, who has proved her worth many times. It is to the credit of the Home that its record is one of constant development and growth.

     During the Presidency of Mrs. J. F. Meigs (1902-1908) a new wing had to be added to the building and, by special Act of Legislature, a small appropriation of State aid was secured, which, it is hoped, will be substantially increased in proportion to the increased needs of the Home. This is a pressing necessity which should commend the interest and attention of the public. In the thirty-three years over a thousand children have been cared for. The health of the children has been excellent. There have been three epidemics, but very few deaths. The object of the Home is to furnish temporary shelter for homeless, destitute or unfortunate children until suitable, permanent homes can be found for them.





HOLY INFANCY CHURCH

This article first appeared in the Souvenir History Book of The Borough of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania issued in connection with the semi-centennial celebration Oct. 3-9, 1915.

The people of the parish of the Church of the Holy Infancy will celebrate the Church's Golden Jubilee or fiftieth anniversary this Fall coincident with the town's celebration, and the event will mark some noted improvements in the church edifice, at Fourth and Locust Streets, which will include handsome marble altars and a marble communion rail and sanctuary, the main altar being a gift from one of the members of the congregation, Michael L. Connolly.

Prior to 1856 the Catholics of all this section worshipped in St. Joseph's Catholic Church, South Easton. In 1855 Rev. John Tanzer, its pastor, purchased from Aaron Radley the lot or piece of ground on Union Street, Bethlehem, size 71 x 100 feet, on which was erected the frame church which still stands there. The price of the lot was $300.00. The church was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1856, and was called the Church of the Nativity of Our Lord. Father Tanzer conducted services in the church every third or fourth Sunday of each month, he also having charge of all the churches in the Lehigh Valley to Mauch Chunk. He was assigned as an assistant to Rev. Father Tuboly, in 1857, who resided in Allentown, and took charge of the Bethlehem church, coming here every month. He was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Schrader, who was succeeded by Rev. Rudolph Kuenzer. On May 15, 1862, Rev. Michael McEnroe was appointed pastor with Rev. Xavier Kaier as assistant. In 1863 Father McEnroe started the English congregation in South Bethlehem and built a church on the site of the present Church of the Holy Infancy at the southeast corner of Fourth and Locust Streets, the lot of ground having been donated to the congregation by the United Brethren (Moravian Society) of Bethlehem. Up to this time Father McEnroe had resided in Allentown, but in 1865 came to South Bethlehem and took up his residence here. He still continued the pastorate of the little Church in Bethlehem. The corner-stone of the old church was laid in the Fall of 1863, by the Most Rev. Archbishop Wood, of Philadelphia, who dedicated the church in the following year, 1864. Originally it was intended that the church should be called the church of the Nativity, but owing to the fact that Bethlehem had a church of that name and also that this place had one in the Episcopalian Church, it was decided at the suggestion of Archbishop Wood that it should be called the Church of the Holy Infancy.

The congregation bought a house at the northwest corner of Fourth and Locust Streets, and Father McEnroe took up his residence in it as a rectory. He continued his pastorate of the church until 1877, when he was succeeded by his brother, Rev. Philip McEnroe. The growth of the congregation necessitated a larger church, and in 1882, having obtained the approval of Archbishop Wood, the present edifice as begun, ground being broken on May 22, 1882. The erection of the new church was prosecuted around the old edifice until the Sunday after Easter, 1883, after which the old church was torn down. The present church was completed exactly in four years after its erection was begun. In the meantime sercices were held in St. Michael's Hall, which was subsequently sold and is now used as a place of worship on East Fourth Street, near Spruce, by the Hungarian Reformed Congregation. Services were conducted in the basement of the new church until 1886. The church was dedicated by Archbishop Ryan of Philadelphia, and Bishop Farrell, of Trenton, N. J., preached the dedicatory sermon. One great fact that Father McEnroe always was proud of was that there was not a dollar debt on the church when it was dedicated.

The present church is 67 feet front on East Fourth Street and has a depth of 147 feet on Locust Street. It is built of Trenton sandstone and broken range masonry. It is surmounted by a spire 196 feet, 4 inches high to the top of the cross. The church was designed by Durang of Philadelphia and is of Gothic architecture. It is furnished with a nassive sweet-toned organ. Prof. W. K. Graber is the organist and choirmaster, which position he has most successfully filled since 1865.

In recent years there have been added to the church property a parochial school and convent. The school is in charge of a Mother Superior and eleven Sisters. There are 600 pupils in attendance. The School and Convent were erected in 1894 and the Sisters of St. Joseph are in charge. Both buildings were erected under the pastorate of Father McEnroe, whose death occurred on October 13, 1910. He was succeeded by Rev. J. J. O'Connell, who immediately on assuming his duties as pastor began making improvements to the church property. The two lots immediately east of the church were purchased and he erected the present handsome rectory on the site. Father O'Connell was not destined to remain long with his people, his death occurring in December, 1912. Rev. H. J. McGettigan, the present pastor, was appointed his successor and assumed his duties on December 28, 1912. His assistants are Rev. Thomas McLaughlin and Rev. Edward Stapleton.

Home     South Bethlehem     Interesting Facts     Communities     EMail: ritar@enter.net

Click Here!