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Gemeinhaus (Community House)

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Community House
1742. 66 W. Church St.
  • (© George E. Thomas)
  • (William E. Fischer, Jr.)
  • (William E. Fischer, Jr.)

This large communal residential building, the second structure erected at Bethlehem, is the town's oldest extant building. Consisting of two stories on a raised basement and topped by the characteristic double attic, it measures 32 × 94 feet and is constructed of heavy timber framing. Dovetailed corners at interior cross walls indicate that an initial footprint was lengthened twice, evidently in the course of construction. The original roof was a single large gable, which was altered and received its jerkinheads as adjacent buildings were added. The clapboards over the white oak log walls are a somewhat later addition. The house originally contained kitchens in the basement, a chapel, twelve rooms on the two principal floors, and two dormitories in the attic, which retains its sixteen-inch-wide pine plank flooring. Today the Gemeinhaus serves as a museum.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Gemeinhaus (Community House)", [Bethlehem, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 273-273.

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