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Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites Receives $500K Grant

March 25th, 2024 |

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The funding, administered through the Save America’s Treasures grant program, will help support the restoration of Grist Miller’s House.

Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, Inc. will receive a key $500,000 preservation grant award as part of the Save America’s Treasures grant program, funded by the Historic Preservation Fund and administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. After more than 20 years, this grant program has awarded more than 1,300 grants totaling more than $300 million to projects across the United States. Funded projects, selected from 4,000-plus applications requesting $1.5 billion, represent nationally significant historic properties and collections that convey our nation’s rich heritage to future generations. The National Park Service administers Save America’s Treasures grants in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“We are honored to have been chosen to receive this funding and appreciate the recognition and trust given to Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites by the National Park Service to preserve this iconic Bethlehem building and national treasure and thank Senator Bob Casey for his advocacy,” said HBMS President & CEO LoriAnn Wukitsch.

The funding, which must be matched, will be used to help support the restoration of the 1782/1834 Grist Miller’s House. The Grist Miller’s House will become the Ralph G. Schwarz Center for Colonial Industries. Ralph Grayson Schwarz’ (1925-2018) inspiring vision spurred the development, planning, and preservation of modern Bethlehem by encouraging the community to embrace its remarkable history. He was a driving force behind the founding of Historic Bethlehem and the initial restoration efforts on many of the early Moravian settlers’ landmarks — including the Gemeinhaus, the Single Brethren’s House, the Sun Inn, and Burnside Plantation, as well as lands along the Monocacy Creek encompassing the Tannery and the Waterworks in the Colonial Industrial Quarter.

The 1782/1834 Grist Miller’s House is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places and sits adjacent to the east of the Luckenbach Mill, a former grist mill on Old York Road. The house was constructed in two distinct phases — the lower levels of the building date from 1782 and served as the original residence of the miller and his family, while the upper two levels were built c. 1834 and expanded the family’s living quarters.

The project aims to not only stabilize and restore the 140-plus-year-old building’s exterior and interior but will enhance an already varied experience offered to the public and student groups by the surrounding buildings in the Colonial Industrial Quarter — considered to be the country’s earliest industrial park. In the mid-1700s Bethlehem had the largest concentration of pre-Industrial Revolution crafts and trades in the American colonies.

The building will serve several purposes. Primarily it’s planned to be a hands-on interpretation and demonstration space for visitors to learn about Colonial industrial trades and crafts. Additionally, the site will serve as an exhibition space featuring the history of The Mill and the daily life of the miller and his family. The architect for the project is Artefact, Inc., an architectural firm in Bethlehem specializing in historic preservation and adaptive reuse. HBMS has raised an additional $1.4 million for the restoration work on the house and the adjoining stone walls of the 1751 Mill.

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