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Central Moravian Church

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1803–1806. 406 Main St.
  • Central Moravian Church (Richard W. Longstreth)
  • (Damie Stillman)
  • (William E. Fischer, Jr.)
  • (William E. Fischer, Jr.)

By the start of the nineteenth century, the Old Chapel ( NO22.3) no longer accommodated Bethlehem's population of nearly 700 (and even more in the surrounding hinterlands). Completed in 1806, the church was a significant departure from earlier precedent. Instead of the hearty late Baroque of the eighteenth-century buildings, with their mansard roofs and rubble masonry, the church is neoclassical in form, consisting of a simple gabled volume crowned by a cupola in the form of a round temple. And instead of limestone rubble, the walls were of smooth stucco over stone. Of exceptional interest is the roof carried by six gigantic trusses in which king-post and queen-post elements interact resulting in a clear span of sixty-five feet. Although hewn of massive timbers, they are reinforced by an unusually progressive system of iron tension straps carefully fitted beneath each chord. The shift to neoclassicism is to some extent an adaptation to advancing Anglo-American popular culture, although Moravian architecture in Germany was moving in a similar direction at the same time.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Central Moravian Church", [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, 277-277.

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