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Burnside Plantation


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View the beautiful 6.6 acre plantation right in the heart of Bethlehem.

From the time of its original purchase by James and Mary Burnside until today, this site has remained a farm. Today, Burnside Plantation is an historic site interpreting farming and farm life from 1748-1848 in this Moravian community.

About the Burnside Plantation

In the mid-1980s, a group of preservationists and environmentalists led by Gertie Fox petitioned Lehigh County to purchase the last remaining tract, 6.5 acres, of the original 500 acre Burnside Farm.

Their goal to save as open space and to preserve the heart of an 18th century farm within the city limits of Bethlehem.

The site includes one of the only remaining working High Horse-Power wheels in the U.S. Burnside Plantation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Who lived here?

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James Burnside, originally from County Meath, Ireland, traveled to Georgia, and in two years suffered much tragedy - two devastating fires and the death of his first wife. He befriended a member of the Moravian Church in Georgia and came north eventually becoming a Moravian missionary. His daughter Rebecca died at the age of six of smallpox. The following year, he married Mary Wendover, a Moravian widow from the Moravian congregation in New York.

In 1747, James and Mary Burnside decided to not follow the choir system of Moravian Bethlehem and purchased 500 acres just north of the Moravian settlement of Bethlehem. Their farm, Burnside Plantation, was the first privately held property in the settlement and first private home. In 1752, James was elected as the first representative to the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly from the newly formed Northampton County. He was a contemporary of Benjamin Franklin serving with him on the Committee for Indian Affairs. Three years after his death, Mary sold the farm to the Moravian Church and it became Plantation #4 in the Moravian farming system.

In 1760, the farm became home to two preeminent Moravian organ builders, Johann Gottlob Klemm and David Tannenburg. For five years they built organs here in the German style. 20th century organ builders believe that the second beehive oven in the farmhouse kitchen was installed to cure the wood for the organ pipes. Tannenburg went on to become the foremost 18th century American organ builder making 50 organs known nationally and internationally for their sound and craftsmanship.

In the early 1800s, the Hillman family petitioned the Moravian leaders to enlarge the house to accommodate their larger family. The house on the farm today is called the 1748-1818 Farmhouse.

Operated as a farm by tenant farmers until the end of the Moravian lease system, in 1848, the land was sold to Charles Luckenbach who also purchased much of the property of the other Bethlehem Moravian plantations for future development. Over the years, parts of the Burnside property were sold off for development until only 6.5 acres remained.

The Sites at Burnside Plantation

The farmhouse was built by James and Mary Burnside in 1748. From 1760-1765, Johann Gottlob Klemm and David Tannenberg crafted organs here. The addition of a beehive oven on the west wall of the kitchen is believed to have been used in the process of forming instruments.

The Summer Kitchen was added so the heat of cooking would not warm the farmhouse during the summer months. Today the kitchen is a center for Colonial culinary experiences during festivals and special events.

The apple orchard produced tasty fruit for the Moravians. From these apples they made pies, apple butter, cider, and schnitz or dried apples. Today the the orchard along with the rest of Burnside Plantation is the site of Historic Bethlehem's annual Apple Days.

This garden is a representation of an early American Kitchen Garden. Named for a dedicated volunteer, this kitchen garden is holds herbs, spices, flowers, and vegetables.

It is believed the corn crib and wagon shed was built in the 1800s. Other buildings such as a sheep stable, a smokehouse, a milk cellar, and a lime kiln used to also be functions, but have been lost over time.

The Johnson Barn, a typical mid-19th century bank barn, was built to increase storage.Farmers would drive their grain wagons up the ramp , or bank, to the threshing floor. On the lower level was a stable.

On the 1800s, horses, cows, and other animals, usually penned in the stable, could roam freely here. Farmers composted manure, spreading it on farm fields before plowing in the spring and fall to amend the soil.

With this ingenious machine one horse could do the work of fifteen men. The restored High Horse-Powered wheel is now a teaching toos used to demonstrate historic agricultural production practices.

Watch the High Horse-Powered Wheel Turn

The Haas Barn is a smaller example of a mid-1800s bank barn. Today it is used as a children's activity center for Historic Bethlehem Museum & Sites.

In 1757 the Moravians and Native American converts began construction of the village of Nain. The last remaining structure, the Nain-Schober House, built in 1758 was moved to Bethlehem in 1765 and restored in 2012.

What's happening at Burnside Plantation?

Turn Your Tongue Blue At The Blueberry Festival

The sweetest festival of the summer!

Saturday, July 15 from 10am - 7pm
& Sunday, July 16 from 10am - 6pm

Fall In Love With Everything Apple

Enjoy fun activities and delicious dishes at our two-day 4th Annual Apple Days!

September 9 & 10, 2017

Explore Burnside Plantation

Have fun with workshops by the Penn State Master Gardeners, Open House Events with live cooking demonstrations, and Open Gate Farm Tour.

Burnside Plantation Site Rentals

Burnside’s majestic scenery and rustic buildings make a beautiful backdrop for special events.

Situated along the Monocacy Creek, James Burnside's property includes the 18th and 19th-century farmhouse and summer kitchen, a large garden, and two barns. Host 250 guests at the Plantation, or 20-80 guests at the Barn or Wagon Shed. The possibilities are endless!

How can you visit the Burnside Plantation?

GO ON A TOUR

Visitors are encouraged to stroll the pristine plantation and enjoy the historic gardens, open from dawn till dusk.

To see inside the Burnside farmhouse, summer kitchen, and bank barns, visitors will need to set up an appointment tour. Add on a colonial cooking demonstration and luncheon in one of the beautiful barns for the full Burnside experience.

If you plan on visiting Bethlehem and would like to explore Burnside Plantation with a guide from Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites,
call 1-800-360-TOUR at least 48 hours before your visit.

 

BECOME A MEMBER

Thousands of people have walked these streets, farmed these lands, built these buildings and industries. Thousands of stories, thousands of lives to cherish.

Join a community of people who share our mission to preserve:

  • 20 historic structures
  • 60,000+ collections and artifacts
  • 3 centuries of rich history

Need Directions?

Start your visit by stopping by our Visitor Center.

Order your tour tickets, gather information, and shop in the museum store!

Get your Insiders Guide!

Original Cover Historic Moravian Bethlehem Book

Everything you need you know about the Burnside Plantation and more!

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Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Registration and financial information about Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc. may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999, or on the web at www.dos.state.pa.us. Registration does not imply endorsement.