Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution


Moravian Museum of Bethlehem

Gemeinhaus front view by Hub Wilson

View incredible history and architecture, at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem. Designated a National Historic Landmark.

About the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem

The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem introduces guests to the earliest history of the Bethlehem community. On tours, guests discover the remarkable stories behind Bethlehem's founders, including early Moravian medicinal practices, communal living, missionary work, and a progressive educational system.

The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem complex includes some of the most important and oldest buildings in the Lehigh Valley. Due to its incredible history and architecture, the Gemeinhaus has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is part of Historic Moravian Bethlehem's National Historic Landmark District.

Moravian Museum - Night

Bethlehem's Oldest Building, a National Historic Landmark

Close up of the Gemeinhaus and National Landmark sign

The 1741 Gemeinhaus, home of the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, was designated a National Historic Landmark as birthplace and residence of Lewis David von Schweinitz, the Father of American Mycology. Today, the Gemeinhaus, or community house, is believed to be the largest 18th-century log structure in continuous use in the United States.

Built of white oak timbers in the German Colonial style, it was constructed in two stages with the center and western portions begun in 1741 and the eastern section begun in 1742 and completed in 1743.

The Gemeinhaus has a two-story attic and a partial cellar, with herringbone-patterned double doors on the south façade with wooden entrance porches, and steep roof with kicked eaves which is very traditional of this architectural style. The original roof was made of wooden shingles which were replaced with slate in the 19th century. There is a small clapboard one story addition on the northwest façade, part of a series of wooden sheds which no longer exist.

For a few years the entire community, approximately 80 people, lived together in this structure providing home, church, classrooms, kitchens, workrooms and healthcare as the community was building their choir (residential) houses along Church Street.

Banner-1170x300-Gemeinhaus Lawn
Photo Credit: Paul S. Bartholomew

In 1751, the Old Chapel was built into the northeast end of the structure. At one time, in the mid 1700s, the logs were painted red to help preserve them. In 1777, the Gemeinhaus was parged with stucco and scored to resemble coursed stone, remnants of which remain under the southwest entrance porch.  In 1868, the parging was removed and replaced with wooden clapboards.

The Gemeinhaus remained a residence for single and widowed women until 1966 when it became home to the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem. According to the cross sectional view of the building from 1742-43 and pre-1772 floor plans, the basic floor plan of the building remains virtually unchanged.

In January 2021, 88 shutters on the 1741 Gemeinhaus were removed to be refurbished and painted with historically accurate paint color. They were reinstalled in April 2021 and repairs were made to the shutter dog or shutter catch, the device that keeps the shutters open against the wall.

Watch the video the the left and see photos below to learn more about the project.

This restoration project was funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and completed by R.J. Doerr Company, LLC.

How can you visit the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem?


  • Monday-Friday: By Appointment
    • If you would like to schedule an appointment, please email the Director of Outreach & Visitor Services, Tavia Minnich, at [email protected] or call 1-800-360-TOUR at least 48 hours in advance.
  • Thursday-Sunday January 6-9, 11 am - 6 pm
    • Tickets are required


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
Lehigh Valley Happening List winners badge

Voted Best Historic Spot in the Lehigh Valley's Happening List!

Need Directions?

Start your visit by stopping by our Visitor Center.

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

Moravian Museum Site Rentals

Chose the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem as the location for your event.

The Moravian Museum's storied halls and gorgeous Saal make an intimate and unique setting for special events. Capable of holding up to 100 guests, wedding vows have been exchanged inside the historic Saal of the Gemeinhaus since colonial times.

Get your Insiders Guide!

Original Cover Historic Moravian Bethlehem Book

Everything you need you know about the
Moravian Museum and more!

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

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74 West Broad Street, Suite 310, Bethlehem, PA 18018 | Phone: 610-882-0450 | FAX: 610-882-0460 | [email protected]

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.