Buildings that preserve Bethlehem’s Moravian roots surround the Hotel Bethlehem. Some date to Christmas Eve 1741, when the Moravians established their mission there and named it for the biblical town in Judea.
The history is well told in 20 buildings run by Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites. Many of them offer opportunities for off-site events.
Jill Caggiano, the organization’s events and outreach manager, works with planners who would like to sample the past while meeting in Bethlehem.
“We can do cocktails or team building in the blacksmith shop or a picnic lunch at our Burnside farm,” Caggiano said.
An hourlong bus tour with a step-on guide, walking tours and a beer tasting with a man who brews beer the colonial way are among the other options.
Among the historic sites is a 6.5-acre farm a mile from the hotel where groups can build a replica of a barn, watch cooks at work in a summer kitchen and explore the garden.
“It’s a good chance to get outside, do lunch or have a picnic,” Caggiano said.
Another is the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, which will reopen in September after a year of renovation. It has indoor and outdoor spaces for receptions for up to 80 people.
The Blacksmith Shop, adjacent to the hotel, can accommodate 30 people for receptions or for team building that allows participants to forge an iron hook or fold a Moravian Star.
The oldest house in Bethlehem, Gemeinhaus, can accommodate a group of up to 70 for a small reception or lunch in its second-floor Saal, the Moravian’s first place of worship.
An early apothecary shop and garden is an interesting place to visit. When it closed in the 1950s, the shop was the oldest drugstore in the country. The shelves are still lined with jars of stuff.
“We asked the Centers for Disease Control what to do with them,” said Charlene Donchez Mowers, president of the Historic Bethlehem Partnership. “‘Just leave them there,’ they said.”