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One look at the skyline of south Bethlehem will tell you that it is the home to many churches; their steeples dot the landscape from east to west. Short, tall, single or multi-towered, or onion-domed: they tell the story of the Southside’s ethnic history.The earliest Southside churches were founded in the mid-1860s, and parishioners worked hard to raise funds to build what have become lasting monuments to their faith. Some congregations met for years in basements they had dug out by hand, gradually building upward as they could afford to, until they were able to create beautiful sanctuaries filled with stained glass, statuary, and paintings that represented each group’s ethnicity and beliefs. Other congregations found temporary... Read More →
During the 1950s, Bethlehem’s the neighborhood between Packer Ave, Martel, Morton and Webster Streets was a bustling community that was home to local families, small businesses, two schools, and communities of faith, and it surrounded a growing Lehigh University that was contemplating expansion. In the early fifties, Lehigh began its expansion by purchasing land in the neighborhood using “straw buyers”—for example, the secretary at the university’s law firm—to obscure the university’s interest in acquiring land for expansion and keep property-owners from raising prices. Throughout this time period, the federal government’s urban renewal plan encouraged cities to promote development through... Read More →
On University Day in 1869, William Bacon Stevens, Bishop of the Dioceses of Pennsylvania and President of the Board of Trustees of Lehigh University, reflected on the founding of Lehigh University by the Honorable Judge Asa Packer (1805-1879) with a gift of $500,000 and the first meeting of the Trustees on 7 July 1865 at the Sun Hotel in Bethlehem, Pa. He writes, "To the large gift of money, Judge Packer now added the gift of fifty-seven acres of land- the great body of the domain on which the university stands. To plan out the buildings, to frame a system of instruction, to organize a corps of professors, occupied many anxious days of thought and conference." (Stevens, Origins and Aims, 14). Stevens describes the process of selecting a... Read More →
Lehigh University will celebrate its 150th Anniversary during the academic year 2015-16. During the several semesters leading up to this Sesquicentennial Celebration, dozens of Lehigh students conducted original research about Lehigh's history. These students, enrolled in classes taught by Professor Vincent Munley (Economics) and Professor Scott Gordon (English), worked in teams on topics as varied as Packard Lab and the history of the Gryphon Society. They consulted published sources, such as Catherine Bowen’s History of Lehigh University (1924) and Ross Yates’s Lehigh University: A History (1992), and unpublished ones available only in the archival holdings in Lehigh’s Special Collections. They also drew on the digitized Brown and White... Read More →