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[graphic header] A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
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[graphic] Gemeinhaus-Lewis David De Schweinitz Residence

Gemeinhaus-Lewis David De Schweinitz Residence
Photograph from National Historic Landmark collection
The Gemeinhaus (or communal house), an excellent example of German-Moravian architecture, has been owned by the Moravian Church since 1733. It is a two and one-half story log building with a double attic. Clapboards were added to the exterior in 1868. Since 1743 the building has measured 94 feet by 32 feet, and contained a chapel, 12 rooms, and two dormitories. As the second building in Bethlehem it provided a gathering place for all Moravian activities; later it was primarily used as a residence for Moravian Church officials and their families. Lewis David de Schweinitz was born in the Gemeinhaus in 1780. At the time, his father, Hans Christian, a Moravian clergyman, lived in the building with five other clergymen and their families. The house was his home until he left Bethlehem to attend school in Nazareth at the age of seven. In 1822 de Schweinitz returned to Bethlehem from Salem, North Carolina. As an official of the Moravian Church, he and his family were lodged in the Gemeinhaus. The house remained his home until his death in 1834. Lewis David de Schweinitz is significant in the history of science in America as one of the leading botanists and the leading mycologist at the turn of the 19th century. He wrote The Fungi of North Carolina (1818), containing descriptions of more than 1,000 species and followed this work with "A Synopsis of North American Fungi," published in Transactions, the journal of the American Philosophical Society, in 1834. Lewis David de Schweinitz's work in botany and mycology reflected the state of American science of the period, when men who wished to pursue natural history either possessed private means or supported themselves at other professions. He corresponded widely with European colleagues, but, as a clergyman, science was secondary to de Schweinitz. The Gemeinhaus was designated a National Historic Landmark and is now a museum open to the public.

The Gemeinhaus-Lewis David de Schweinitz Residence is located on West Church St. in Bethlehem. Take Rte. 309 North to Rte. 378 North, across Hill Bridge. Turn right at Main St. exit and right onto Market St. Turn right onto New St. and right again onto West Church St. and go to number 66. The Gemeinhaus is open February-December, Tuesday-Saturday 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Other times call for appointment. There is a fee. Please call 610-867-0713 or visit the website.

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