The 1758 Sun Inn was
a successful 18th-century inn, constructed by the leaders of
the Moravian community at Bethlehem. The inn provided accommodations
for merchants who had business with the community while maintaining
a proper separation between the Moravian brethren and outsiders.
Because of Bethlehem's proximity to Philadelphia, the Inn housed
numerous figures famous in colonial politics, including Generals
Gates, Mifflin, and Sullivan, John Hancock, John Adams, Samuel
Adams, the Marquis de Lafayette, and George Washington. Bethlehem
served twice during the American Revolution, as medical headquarters
for George Washington's forces. Following the Battle of Brandywine,
over 900 wagons, containing heavy baggage and stores of George
Washington's army, were parked in the lowlands to the rear of
the Inn. At this time the Sun Inn was heavily burdened by the
influx of those individuals fleeing the Philadelphia area in
the aftermath of the battle. Another reason for the attraction
of so many well-known figures was its high quality of accommodations.
In 1782, a traveler expressed his happiness with the Inn by
saying that it "is not inferior to the best large inns of England".
In 1799 the Inn served as the prison for 17 local "Freis rebels"
resisting the unpopular window tax. The original Sun Inn, built
in 1758, was a two-story stone building with a mansard roof.
In 1826, extensive repairs to the roof were required and a third
story, containing 17 rooms, was added. In 1866 the building
was enlarged for a hotel and commercial use and bears little
resemblance to the original inn.
Images of the Moravian
Sun Inn from 1959 and from the late 19th century - after
the inn was enlarged to four stories
Photographs from National Register collection and
courtesy of Historic Bethlehem Inc.
Image of the Sun Inn from
1896, after a brick building was erected next to the inn
which enclosed the veranda
Photograph courtesy of Historic Bethlehem Inc.
The Moravian Sun Inn is located at 564 Main St., Bethlehem,
and is run as a museum by the Sun Inn Preservation Association,
Inc. Guided tours are given Monday-Saturday from 11:30am to
4:00pm; Friday and Saturday from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. There is
a fee. Call 610-866-1758 for further information.