Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Moravian Book Shop's Historic Haunts

On Memorial Day weekend, Moravian Book Shop offered a daytime variation to it's popular candlelight walking tour of the Historic Haunts of Downtown Bethlehem.

Available to the public on May 28th and 29th only, Moravian advertised their Ghosts of the Revolution walking tour, which would explore the legends, lore, and lingering spirits of the Revolutionary War. The tour would take you down the very roads that it's Founding Fathers had walked, leading you to the places where the soldiers had stayed, and may still linger....

I initially learned of the tour through the bookshop's twitterfeed. I've always meant to drive up there for their candlelight tour in October, and I knew I couldn't miss out on this exclusive event. Packing my mother and youngest son into the car, we headed out to Bethlehem to see what all the fuss was about.

As it turns out, we were Moravian's very first tour members.

Kristy Houston, our tour guide, gave us a brief history of Bethlehem - how it came to be named, who the Founding Fathers were, and what life was like back in the late 1700's.

Here are some of the highlights of the tour:

The 1758 Moravian Sun Inn - This building housed an impressive list of our country's Founding Fathers. It offers a self-guided tour where visitors can view the "Gast-Stube" room - a gathering place where guest would await their stage, enjoy a drink, and chat about the day's events; the "Suite" - a room set up to showcase the type of accommodations guest would have had; the Kitchen and the Innkeeper's Desk. Our tour guide informed us that every now and then, as people are snapping photos at the back of the building, they claim to see faces in the upstairs window, or floating orbs appear on the film.

McCarthy's Tea Room - Supposedly this quaint irish restaurant is haunted by the spirit of a woman who only becomes active during renovations. Knocking in the walls, doors opening and closing.. your typical "get out and leave me alone" signs from the other side. Though the haunting doesn't seem to invoke fear in it's owners, because according to our tour guide, multiple renovations have taken place. Thank goodness no one has been reported to have been hurt during the times of other-worldy activity.

Moravian Cemetery - An interesting cemetery for a few reasons. As you can tell from the photo I took, all of the markers are flat. There are no headstones, no mausoleums. The Moravians believed that no man was higher or greater than another, and so when they were put to rest, their graves were marked identically. It was one of the first cemeteries that buried it's dead together, regardless of race or religion. It's said that people sometimes see dark shadows move from tree to tree in this cemetery. And there have been a few sightings of a little girl dressed in old fashioned clothes, clutching at her neck, as though she wants to speak but cannot. Whenever she is approached, she vanishes.

Makeshift Hospital During the War - I do not recall what this building was named, though I believe it is part of Moravian College. Our tour guide informed us that this building was temporarily turned into a makeshift hospital to care for the wounded soldiers of the Revolutionary War. Many soldiers died here, right out in the open, and were buried in mass graves. Students and visitors to the town claim to have seen the ghost of a nurse wandering the halls of the music room, while others say they have seen a soldier in full uniform walking the fields out here, as though still completing his rounds.

The tour ends with us in the middle of the Moravian Book Shop, where Kristy, our guide, shows us the display of Bethlehem history and haunting books they have for sale. She shares a few chilling bits of the ghostly encounters their very own staff members have experienced. Though no ghosts were seen while we were on the tour, and I am very thankful for that, I fully plan on coming back up to Moravian in October to take part in their candlelight walking tour of historic haunts. Can I expect to see you there as well?

Visit the Moravian Book Shop's website to see what author and other events they are having this summer! On June 10th, go meet Jonathan Maberry - author of Rot and Ruin and Patient Zero, as well as David Lubar - author of Attack of the Vampire Weenies. Kick back in the air conditioning and grab a cold drink and sandwich from the Retro Deli (I recommend the Ruben with a Greek Salad). Tell them TNBBC sent you!!!!

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