Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution


House on the Lecha

Gemeinhaus front view by Hub Wilson

Take your students back in time and discover the city's oldest building!

Discover the 1741 Gemeinhaus, the House on the Lecha, as the place where it all began in Bethlehem. This interactive museum experience in a National Historic Landmark takes visitors back to Bethlehem's earliest days and highlights the building as the centerpiece of Bethlehem's Moravian life, work, society, and worship.

Gemeinhaus in summer by K Mills

The House on the Lecha is a 1½ hour interactive tour appropriate for Grades 3 – 8.

The program will focus on the unique lifestyle of the early Bethlehem Moravians.

Since the 1741 Gemeinhaus was a multi-purpose building where everyone lived in the initial years, nearly every facet of Bethlehem’s early history is connected to it.

Location: Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, 66 West Church Street, Bethlehem, PA.

Length: 1.5 hours


Programs are aligned with the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards and integrated with STEM education.

People working on a craft at the Gemeinhaus by Scott Piccotti
Photo credit - Scott Piccotti

A. “Home Congregation”: Examine items inside “object boxes,” that have been chosen to spark curiosity and conversation. Work in groups to determine what the objects are, how they were used, and their impact on daily life, to gain insight into the daily lives of men and women in early Bethlehem.

B. “Culture on the Colonial Frontier”: Take part in an early Moravian school lesson on penmanship designed to emphasize the necessary qualities of a beautiful hand, to learn the uniqueness of Bethlehem as a center of culture on the colonial American frontier, and appreciate the importance the Moravians placed on education and the arts in the planning of their community.

C. “Mission Bethlehem”: Take part in telling the story of early Moravian mission work, to gain a better understanding of Moravian mission work and their attitudes concerning other cultures.

D. “Who’s in the Saal?”: Learn more about an actual early Bethlehem resident by participating in a “survey” designed to help make a personal connection to the past.

  • Optional Activity: “God’s Acre of Bethlehem”: This activity consists of a search of designated grave sites at God’s Acre.

E. “Fighting Fire in Colonial Bethlehem”: Form two bucket brigade teams and compete to see which team would have been the most successful at extinguishing a fire in early Bethlehem. Gain a better understanding of the early colonial method of fighting fires along with the level of physical work and teamwork required.

In order to make your class’s field trip to the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem the most pleasant and best possible learning experience, we ask that you review these guidelines:

  • Before arriving, please place students into even groups of approximately 10-12 students per group. Please assign one chaperone per group.
  • Please make students and chaperones aware that they will stay in their assigned groups and travel as a group from station to station while at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem.
  • A picnic lunch is permitted on site after the program concludes. If you will be having lunch on site, students must bring their own packed lunch and drink.
  • Please emphasize good behavior with your students.
Girls sitting on a bench at the Gemeinhaus by Kristen Mills
Photo Credit: Kristen Mills

If you have any other questions, call 1-800-360-TOUR, or contact our Museum Sites & Education Manager, Keith Sten.

Close up of the Gemeinhaus and National Landmark sign
Photo Credit: Scott Piccotti

Bethlehem is in the heart of the Lehigh Valley, only 60 miles north of Philadelphia and 90 miles west of New York City.

The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem is located at 66 West Church Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018.


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74 West Broad Street, Suite 310, 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.