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Colonial Industrial Quarter


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As a part of Historic Moravian Bethlehem National Historic Landmark District, the Colonial Industrial Quarter can be considered America’s earliest industrial park.

About the Colonial Industrial Quarter

Located on the hillside below Central Moravian Church and stretching to the Monocacy Creek, the Moravians took advantage of both a prodigious spring supplying potable water and the Monocacy Creek supplying water power for the mills, craftsmen and trades of early Bethlehem.

Along the Monocacy Creek and the Lehigh River, the community immediately began building their heavy industrial area initially using small log structures for their workshops. Within two years of their arrival in Bethlehem, the Moravians built a saw mill, soap mill, and wash houses; constructed their first grist mill, oil mill, tannery, blacksmith shop and brass foundry.

The Historic Tannery building found within the Colonial Industrial Quarter of Historic Moravian Bethlehem
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By 1747, thirty-five crafts, trades and industries were established including a butchery, tawery, clockmaker, tinsmith, nailor, pewterer, hatter, spinning, weaving, cooper, dye house, community bakery, candlemaker, linen bleachery, fulling mill, saddlery, tailor, cobbler, flax processing, wheelwright, carpenter, mason.

As the community developed and needed greater output, they replaced the log buildings with larger limestone buildings. The pottery, tannery, butchery, dye house, smith complex, oil mill, and waterworks were built of stone in the period from the late 1740s through the early 1770s.

A Visit From John Adams

When John Adams visited this community, he called Bethlehem a “curious and remarkable town” stating to his wife Abigail in a letter (April 1777) that “They have carried the mechanical Arts to greater Perfection here than in any Place which I have seen …They have a fine set of Mills. The best Grist Mills and bolting Mills, that are anywhere to be found. The best fulling Mills, an oil Mill, a Mill to grind Bark for the Tanyard, a Dying House where All Colours are dyed, Machines for shearing Cloth.”

JohnAdams

Rehabilitating the Colonial Industrial Quarter

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By the mid 1800s, many of the original 18th century buildings were converted into other uses and some were torn down. By the 1950s, the area had become an automobile junk yard and a blight on the city. Beginning in the late 1950s, there was civic and cultural interest in preserving and restoring one of America’s earliest industrial centers. During a period of Urban Renewal in the 1960s, the site was cleared of debris and rundown structures, archaeological studies began, and restoration work proceeded as funds were raised.

The Sites of the Colonial Industrial Quarter

The 1782/1832 Grist Miller’s House, individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, was constructed to provide a home for the miller and his family. The miller ground grain into flour and so it was important for him to be living close to the Mill. The home, which included a kitchen, one large room and a basement, was one of the early private, family homes constructed after the period of the General Economy ended in the 1760s. In 1832, the house was enlarged, and it served as a residence until the 1970s; it currently awaits restoration. The beautiful Miller’s House Garden is cared for by members of the Bethlehem Garden Club.

The Springhouse c. 1970 is a reconstructed log building of white oak timber on the site of the original springhouse and milk house which was constructed in 1764. Before refrigeration, this building provided cold storage for meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables and milk belonging to the various choirs and later to families. A prodigious spring on the hillside nearby provided fresh water to the community and cooling for the springhouse. In 1747, the spring was surrounded by a fence to keep out the animals. The spring provided water to the city of Bethlehem until the early 1900s when it was capped due to contamination.

The Ruins at the Colonial Industrial Quarter

The Pottery ruin consists of a wall fragment and foundations of the Moravian pottery. In the pottery, the potter made roof tiles for buildings, tile stoves for heating, and plates, cups, bowls, pie plates and other necessities. The building was constructed of limestone in 1749 as a pottery until the first floor became the cloth maker and stocking weaver’s shop and the second floor became home to thirteen widowers in 1758. The building stood until the early 20th century when it was partially dismantled and converted into brownstone dwellings. In the 1960s, a north wall and foundations were saved. Today, the Pottery stands as an archaeological ruin and an archaeological report and pottery shards are in the Historic Bethlehem collection. Yale University Department of Anthropology and Archaeology also conducted a dig at the site.

The Dye House was constructed of limestone in 1771 as a two-story building with a one-story section on the west side where the actual dyeing operations took place. In order to dye yarn for fabric, the Moravians used plants, roots, nuts, and bark to create the dyes for red, blue, yellow and brown and various shades and combinations of these colors. Today, the Dye House is an archaeological ruin with portions of the exterior walls and foundations remaining which were stabilized in 2007. Over several seasons, archaeological digs have been conducted by the Yale University Department of Anthropology and Archaeology.

The Butchery, constructed in 1752, is an archaeological site with only the foundation walls standing, but 18th century illustrations show a two-story building. The butchery, also called the slaughter house, provided meat for the community and hides for the tanning operations next door. By the early 20th century, it had been converted into a laundry and cleaning business. As part of the Urban Renewal project in the 1960s, the building was torn down. Little remains of the 18th century fabric other than the foundations.

The Oil Mill c.1765 was constructed of limestone and operated two undershot water wheels. The Oil Mill was demolished in 1934 as a project of the Works Progress Administration with the stones used for retaining walls along the Monocacy Creek; only the foundations of the Oil Mill remain today. A working scale model is located in the 1869 Luckenbach Mill. Extensive research was completed by Carter Litchfield and his team in the early 1980s with their findings published in a book, The Bethlehem Oil Mill 1745-1934, about milling operations in 18th century Bethlehem, which is available for purchase at the Visitor Center.

A diagonal road, known today as Ohio Road, leads down the hill between the Smithy and Pottery and across the stone bridge over the Monocacy Creek. This road, following an early American Indian trail, and the bridge appears on the Plan of Bethlehem dated 1766.

The current stone bridge constructed circa 1820 replaced the earlier wooden bridge that appears in the 1766 plan. It has two limestone arches with a central stone pier. Next to this bridge, on the west side of the Monocacy Creek was the site of the Indian Hotel constructed in 1752. The bridge is located in proximity to the Butchery and Dye House and, today, serves as a pedestrian walkway.

What's Happening?

Community Heritage Day

Celebrate Bethlehem's Creative Roots at our 7th Annual Community Heritage Day!

May 12, 2018

Historic Turkey Trot 5K & Fitness Walk

Burn off Thanksgiving calories with our 16th Annual Turkey Trot!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Site Rentals

Chose the Colonial Industrial Quarter to be next spot
for your event.

10.10.15 Wedding Clark and Snyder CIQ outdoor kiss

Plan Your Visit

GO ON A TOUR

Luckenbach Mill: Monday - Sunday: By Appointment please call 1.800.360.TOUR

Colonial Industrial Quarter
Walking Tour

Tour America's earliest industrial park & learn how Moravian settlers used trade skills to become self-sufficient.

Dates: Friday - Sunday

Time: 1:30 pm

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
Colonial Industrial Quarter and more!

Want to see more of what Historic Bethlehem has to offer?

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74 West Broad Street, Suite 260, Bethlehem, PA 18018 | Phone: 610-882-0450 | FAX: 610-882-0460 | info@historicbethlehem.org

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.